Friday, December 03, 2010

Back in the Olden Days...




While making my bed this morning, I was thinking. I have a lot of time to think while making my bed because there seems so much to do. There's the tucking in of the sheets and blanket, putting the blanket cover back on top of the bed, and arranging the mohair throw at the end of the bed. Then there's fluffing of the four (yes, four) standard pillows and placing them neatly at the head of the bed, not to mention the two Euros and the boudoir pillow. We just seem to have so much "stuff" on our beds today. And beds are high off the ground now. I used to have my bed perched up on those plastic cones that you get from the hardware store, but then I realized that that was just plain stupid. I'm no pygmy- I'm 5'8"- but it's silly when I have to stand on my tip-toes just to get into bed. And forget about Alfie. There would be no way that my canine short stuff could even make it up on the bed if I still had it jacked up. (And by the way, that's not my bed at top. Pretty linens, though. A lot of pillows, too.)

So what I was thinking about this morning was this:





Remember when we used to make our beds up like this? When we tucked our pillows (usually just one layer) under the bedspread? This was the way I learned to make my bed. In fact, I believe that I spent much of my childhood doing it this way. It's as if one day, this simple bed making method just went "poof!" and the next thing you knew, there was an explosion of pillows, duvets, covers, and throws.

I'm not necessarily advocating a purging of our bed accoutrements. I like my pink and white Schweitzer Euro shams and Yves Delorme mohair throw too much. All I'm saying is that it used to be much easier when our beds were minimalist.

And I'll let you know where my thoughts take me tomorrow morning when I repeat this daily exercise.






A London bedroom by designer Joseph Braswell.




This bedroom decorated by Louis Bromante is rather Mad Men.





This bedspread is a look that does not need revisiting.




A master bedroom designed by Arthur Smith





Thomas Jefferson's bed at Monticello.

(Second image in post is the bedroom in the Madrid apartment of designer Duarte Pinto Coelho.)

25 comments:

  1. John J Tackett8:26 AM

    It is very likely that Ralph Lauren, former Parish-Hadley client and now the reining king of the turned-back bed, was influenced by the sumptuous beds dressed by Bunny Williams. I still expose the sheets for a welcoming guest presentation, but the coverlet/bedspread gives a protective cover from dust and pollen to the pillow cases and sheets on a daily basis, otherwise.

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  2. I have to say - I've ditched the stack of pillows on the bed. I felt the room looked a mess when there were piles of pillows tossed on the chair waiting to be heaped back on. And the bed can be straightened in a minute. I have beautiful linens and a gorgeous bed - now you see them instead of Mount Pillow. The husband is happier with it too.

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  3. We once stayed in a guest house near Chichester (UK) and there were so many pillows and cushions on the bed it looked totally ridiculous. No one uses them, they are just there, to look pretty (but pretty useless!) We have just our four pillows (two each) and then a cushion in front of them during the day in case we want a nap. But they do serve a purpose; attractive they may be, but they are also practical. I suppose when we used to cover the pillows with the bedspread (or counterpane as it used to be called here) it was at a time when we didn't launder our bed linen as often as we do today. Only pristine pillows on top of the bed cover look good!
    Margaret P

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  4. John J Tackett9:34 AM

    A friend pointed out that I should add that another of Mr Lauren's influences was display merchandiser turned interior designer Naomi Leff, famous for her creative contributions to the fabulous Martex sheet ads in the late 70s; she was hired to give the flagship store its image when Mr Lauren bought the Rhinelander Mansion. Lots of pillows was good for business!

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  5. Jennifer - what a flash from the past. I remember being obsessed with lining up the welts on the bedspread with the corners of the bed. My in-laws still have these sorts of beds and when we visit in Florida it seems I still have to spend a fair amount of time walking back and forth around the king bed to adjust the fold down on the bedspread so that the fold over the pillows is just right. Oh all that walking made me tired!!

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  6. I like simple beds myself. I just need 2 pillows to sleep and maybe a little decorative pillow while reading or under my knees while watching tv (yes i'm so grandma!). Maybe it's the architect in me but I've never gotten into all these exteraneous pillows, bolsters, blankets, etc. Like my favorite going says "keep it simple, stupid".
    Thats also how I learned to make my bed though and I haven't done it in years - wrapping the bed spread over the pillow. I don't think it would work as well with a duvet!

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  7. I can't do non-functional pillows, but I can't live with an amount that would fit under a bedspread. I think it is the reading/surfing in bed issue. But what I miss from those photos are the bedspreads that went to the floor. Can you even find them these days? Clearly no one had come up with the full/queen size (which drives me crazy).

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  8. Robin H11:17 AM

    I love this post! I am an interior designer and love the pillowy, coordinated look for clients, but in my own apartment, I have to admit that I find it annoying to have to stash all these pillows at night! Plus I don't iron the sheets--I have 2 young kids and no help so let's get real--so it doesn't look that great to see the bed pillows and top sheet anyway. I have taken to pulling the duvet all the way up and I stash the bed pillows behind the euros, with a bolster and boudoir pillow in front. Perhaps not 'professional' but very practical!

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  9. I gave up on the "pillow thing" years ago. Couldn't find a place to put them at night, hated ironing the shams and now I love just a couple of full pillows with great crisp percale sheets, down comforter, portuguese blanket cover--on my 19th c. Louis XVI style bed. Simple and classic.

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  10. delicious post. Yes away with the too many pillows for the bed. xx peggybraswelldesign.com

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  11. The pillow thing is a purely American invention. When my father comes to visit from Sweden he thinks I'm nuts with the pillow debacle!!

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  12. I remember being bullied into submission by something that Mario Buatta said about bed pillows many years ago~that they must be exposed and not shrouded by the big ol' bedspread~and I followed that rule for quite some time and hated the messy overfurnished look of all those pillow crazed beds, along with the chaos that is inflicted upon a peaceful bedroom once those euro squares and bolsters are removed so that you can actually put your head down and sleep. Which is to say, that I have reverted to the old fashioned under-and-over the pillow routine that was drummed into me as a child. No regrets whatever! Take a look at Mrs Lancaster's bed at the coach house or in London and tell me whether that looks wrong. It's cozy and it's simple.

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  13. I too remember learning to make a bed and being taught by my grandmother because she was more particular about it than my mother. Every sheet wrinkle had to be smoothed, or it would show under the bedspread. The only thing that the duvet/comforter phase has brought to me is a lazy attitude about what the sheets look like underneath!

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  14. Anonymous2:19 PM

    A little off topic: Carolyn Roehm says in today's Wall Street Journal that her favorite bed linens are from an Italian company called Dia, aka Cotton Joy. Anyone know ANYTHING about them?

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  15. Well, this is a tricky one...I have debated as to why I even bother to make the bed, as I don't have 'House Beautiful' coming to photograph the room (my little joke)--but, when I lived in England, I was introduced to the huge down duvet. No top sheet, just the fitted sheet and the duvet with two or four pillows. Voila! pull the duvet up, neaten, bed made in less than 2 minutes...loved it, miss it, must go back to this methodology!! :0

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  16. Growing up in Austria we did not have bedspreads. It was a single generously-sized down sleeping pillow and a down comforter covered sheeting material that matched the pillow. The duvet was folded in half and neatly placed on the bed. That was about it. But now of course I love a layered bed with shams, pillows, decorative pillows, blanket etc. So making the bed is a bit more time-consuming,especially since I feel that sheets must be crisply ironed. Of course it takes forever to iron king sheets. So I finally broke down and decided to take them to a French laundry. But still give them a final touch-up with the iron to get out the folds.

    Seems like a lot of effort, but I love the way a well-made bed looks.

    Cheers,

    Claudia

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  17. Thanks for the revisit. I remember tucking my pillows under the bedspread when I was little. Love the pics. Carla

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  18. while the clean tucked under look is good it reminds me of hotels. i like a little more lived in look. but then again i'm usually running out the door before i even have a chance to attempt making my bed!

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  19. I totally simplified the bedding for my son's room and we all are happier...the bed gets made with less fuss.

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  20. Anon- I've never heard of that line of linen before. Hmmm. I need to go Google it.

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  21. I'll take the Braswell bedroom, please! Or the blue-velvet bedroom, which would come in handy when I'm feeling sulky.

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  22. Anonymous12:16 PM

    Here's the exact quote from Ms. Roehm:

    "The most beautiful sheets in the world are pure cotton sateen sheets with lots of beautiful embroidery and lace made by an Italian company that used to be called Dia but is now also called Cotton Joy, which makes no sense whatsoever."

    I'm intrigued, but can't find much.

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  23. So true! I'm constantly chaning up and trying to perfect my pillow situation.

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  24. On a Monticello tour they told us Jefferson slept in that bed sitting up.

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  25. Oh my gosh! This post made me laugh. I can remember making my bed like that when I was growing up. Thank you for bring me back!!!
    Best,
    Amy Meier

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