Cozy Sheets + How To Layer Patterns

December 30, 2009

I want to mix and match my bedding more in 2010, how about you? I need to live on the edge a little (smile) because there is nothing sweeter than slipping into a gorgeous bed after a long day, especially one that is alive with pattern and color. In addition to giving you a few how to tips for layering patterns, I’d love to share with you a few of my bedding favorites at Anthropologie. Aren’t these sweet? Lemons, pears, limes… I can feel Spring just looking at these despite the cold temps and snow outside.

Cozy Sheets + How To Layer Patterns

Do you ever wonder if there is a secret to mixing patterns so that it looks good versus goofy? I wrote a little pattern mixing how-to nearly four years ago, but it’s still relevant so feel free to browse my suggestions here. I’ll leave you with a quick and dirty version below in case you don’t feel like reading the rather lengthy original post.


  • Use patterns that coordinate somehow, working off of the same color palette. Let’s experiment with three patterns in this example.
  • For your first layer, incorporate either a solid or a small understated print into the mix for a foundation.
  • For the next layer go for a favorite pattern, perhaps something floral or geometric. Make sure you have at least one coordinating color from your “foundation” pattern in this one. You can go as bold as you’d like with pattern or simple – opt for medallions, a check or a pin stripe. Look for a mid to large size pattern.
  • Now for the third layer, this is where you’ll play with scale a little. Look for a pattern that complements your second layer but on a smaller scale (at least 50% smaller).
  • Example: I like to start with my solids first, so a solid or tiny understated pattern on my fitted sheet. Next, either use the large or the small pattern for the top sheet, then add your pillows in the pattern that is left. I usually go with a large pattern for the top sheet and a smaller one for the pillows. But you can mix all of this up however it appears to you visually. You can even layer in four or more patterns with many different pillowcases and throw pillows.
  • I use solid color duvet on top, usually white or cream, with a floral or geometric pattern of the same color (white or cream so that it’s understated) or I find a cover with some texture – which I think makes the overall mix look pulled together and neat.

If you would like to explain how you layer patterns on your bed, please comment as I’d love to learn of your technique and may find it to be much easier than my own!

(images: anthropologie)


  • Reply Antii Sullivan December 30, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I love the yellow and white one

  • Reply Samantha December 30, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Ok heres how my bed is made up,
    White sheets, top and bottom must be cotton, (must get a valance)
    Blue and shite stripe duvet, (Ikea)
    blue and white flower pillows (I like to mix it up a little+ they match the curtains)
    A blue and biege throw which I bought in france in the summer.
    Then lastly and only when my husband is not around, a biege mohair throw from The white company. Its lovely but it sheds its fur on my husbands trousers! Hehe.
    I think it works because the strips and flower are in the same colour and are of similar size.

  • Reply Laura December 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I lovelovelove patterns and really want to add some of these sheets to my
    repertoire! I recently got ahold of some vintage vera nuemann sheets and they are TO DIE FOR. So soft, never wrinkle, and never pill. Oh what wonders polyester blend will do! See my photos below to see how I mixed patterns in my bedding and picked up colors in the art above my bed!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente December 30, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Oh, I do love these linens from Anthro so much…..2,3 & 5 are calling to me! :) Thanks for this hun!
    .-= Melissa de la Fuente´s last blog ..Cheap & Chic: Inspired by vintage on etsy & a new year! =-.

  • Reply Deleilan December 30, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Oh, such gorgeous patterns!
    I don’t use flat sheets anymore since purchasing a duvet, but even before I never used matching sheet sets. It’s so much fun putting different patterns and colours together!
    .-= Deleilan´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply Kim December 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

    SO lovely! Anthropologie just makes the best home stuff!

    .-= Kim´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply 31everything December 30, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Hmm… fun, but I’m still a firm believer in white – I think hotels use white bedsheets for a reason – classy, timeless, clean-looking, crisp :) I could get easily sick of the patterns/colors… I can’t get sick of the white.
    .-= 31everything´s last blog ..Gallery Walls That Inspire =-.

  • Reply Marie December 30, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I looooove this post! The patterns are adorable. I know what you mean…I always look at the pretty designs on bed sheets but never actually buy them. Good idea and I will definitely try it come Springtime! :)

  • Reply Vanilla Press December 30, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Hi there
    I love mixing & matching bedding!

    I love the bedding you have posted about, Anthropologie is gorgeous, although I have never bought anything from them!

    .-= Vanilla Press´s last blog ..Avoca Wicklow =-.

  • Reply Cheryl December 30, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Appreciate this information on how to combine patterns in a room, esp on a bed. This leads me to a related question: let’s say I applied this technique to my bedding from sheets to duvet/coimforter to pillows. Let’s move to the window treatments in this bedroom. What works there? A print to complement the bedding? A solid to complement the print or solid on the bed. A neutral (soft grey, taupe, natural, white, ivory) that complements “any” bedding choices, should I choose to change things up? (which is likely) I seem to have this tension between playing it safe and inviting a certain edginess or ‘play’ into my styling approach. I’m all for experimentation (thus, the value of mood boards) but once the drapes are chosen and up (and paid for), I want to live with them for a long time.

    • Reply decor8 December 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      Cheryl: I would opt for a small scale print in at least one of the main colors in your bedroom or a solid drape. To get a little bold, you can add a border to the curtains, like white with black border for a more formal clean look or a patterned trim against a white curtain for instance. I personally keep my windows neutral and very understated but everyone is different.

  • Reply Andie December 30, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I do a white on white color scheme and I mix and match fabric textures to get the same layered effect.
    So in love with Anthropologie and their products.

  • Reply Erica Sara December 30, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Perfect timing! I am making over my bedroom right now & am dying to add lots of patterns & colors. Thanks for these gorgeous ideas!

  • Reply Lydia, Clueless Crafter December 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I use the bedskirt either to neutralize a dramatic bedscape or to pump up a neutral one. Anthropologie has some fun bedskirts on sale now.

    Basically, I begin with my bedskirt and work my way up to the pillows. I use the subordinating color in the flat sheet, for example, as the primary color in the accent pillows. I love how the bed serves as a practicing ground for how to think about decorating larger spaces.
    .-= Lydia, Clueless Crafter´s last blog ..On Continuity =-.

  • Reply Fresh Design Blog December 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I like your bedding pattern recipe, it makes a lot of sense!
    .-= Fresh Design Blog´s last blog ..Silver champagne flute from M&S =-.

  • Reply Bitel December 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I do something similar. I have the “Big Blooms” duvet that Anthropologie put out last year. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it big peony flowers in really great purples with touches of turquoise, and a taupe background.

    So, what I do is this. First I have two sheet sets in the same color of purple, but one has subtle stripes and the other is solid. I mix and match those, so the fitted sheet is solid and the sheet is striped, or vice versa. Then, instead of putting my comforter in my duvet, I lay the duvet over the top of a light tan comforter. This way the comforter doesn’t slip around inside the duvet, plus I get an extra layer of color that matches the taupe nicely. Finally, I layer pillows with solid colors. Two cream in the back, then two that match the sheets, then two raspberry for an extra kick of color. Hope this is helpful!

  • Reply Katherine aka. Urban Flea December 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    love this idea, it’s something i never really thought of doing before! perfect for the new year!

    xo katherine aka. urban flea :)
    .-= Katherine aka. Urban Flea´s last blog dreaming =-.

  • Reply nina December 30, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    they’re so expensive! But I am a proud owner of their quilts and it’s just worth every penny! You sleep better for some reason!
    .-= nina´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Miss troublemaker =-.

  • Reply Nuit December 30, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    wow, gorgeous! I love these… The lavander one would just make my dreams sweeter =D The last one with the yellow leaves is the one I find the most interesting, I think it really makes a statement and its easy to coordinate. Thanks for this post Holly… x
    .-= Nuit´s last blog ..Make it new!!! =-.

  • Reply paperinstyle December 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    beautiful patterns!

  • Reply Anna December 30, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Holly, I don’t know if you are a fan of Anthropologie on Facebook (I am, of course), but they just posted this entry! Congrats!

    You should check it out:

    • Reply decor8 December 30, 2009 at 5:20 pm

      Anna thank you!! How cool that I’m even on their radar, I’m flattered. :)

  • Reply shay December 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I’m crazy about my bedding..changing it seasonally. I am in love with Matteo
    linen,and Yves DeLorme cotton.I usually mix textures with similar color tones.Wool blankets in the winter add coziness.

    P.S. it always unmade.

  • Reply Chantelle {fat mum slim} December 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I have never seen such beautiful linen… I’m sure it doesn’t exist in Australia. The closest I have is some sweet polka dot sheets.

    I think that’s a very stylish resolution to have, and a fun one too.

    Happy New Year Holly. xx

  • Reply Dodi December 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Laura’s sheets look so nice! Thanks for this helpful post–I’ll throw in my 2 cents. Until recently I’ve been very timid with color and pattern. I started experimenting in the bedrooms as they are not as “public.” I frequent the web sites of Pottery Barn and Garnet Hill looking only at the clearance sections. Many times there will be wonderful shams for very little money. I’ve found several different sets at $4 each. Once I have them, I play around with the bedding I already own…sometimes a combination I wouldn’t have considered works out. If not, I hold on and look for coordinates. I’m looking forward to January linen sales.

  • Reply Stacey December 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Ah, Anthropologie. In my opinion, they can do nothing wrong. I haven’t tried layering patterns on my bed yet – that’s one area of home decor where I feel timid! But your layering suggestions were very helpful, so I may muster up the courage to be bold with my bed!
    .-= Stacey´s last blog ..Love’s differences =-.

  • Reply Cynthia December 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Just love your site! Congrats on being in the Homie Finals! Too exciting! Love layering and love Anthropologie!

  • Reply Sarah December 30, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I always mix up patterns but coordinate the colours. Love Cath Kidstons bedding particularly the candy stripe and rose sets. Great post.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..WEEKLY REMEDIES =-.

  • Reply heather garl December 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Me and hubby didn’t mix and match our bedding…but, I recently purchased a striped set of sheets and a polka dot set and we switched the top sheets for the girls to be creative and fun.

  • Reply whorange December 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    for the past 10 years, i’ve pretty much stuck with the same brand — dwellstudio. they always manage to put out fabulous patterns and colors that all somehow go together.
    .-= whorange´s last blog ..a peek beneath the WHORANGE tree =-.

  • Reply Kristin December 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Wonderful post, Holly!
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Happy New Year! =-.

  • Reply Meredith from PenelopeLovesLists December 30, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    WhoOrange: Thanks for the recommendation to dwellstudio. I just found they’re at Target.

    I love the Decor8 community!
    .-= Meredith from PenelopeLovesLists´s last blog ..Here’s a bird I’ve got to have: pretty ways to store your paperclips =-.

  • Reply laura trevey December 30, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I love this idea!
    .-= laura trevey´s last blog ..Harold, the Rooster, 8 by 10, Watercolor Print =-.

  • Reply Lori December 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    I had never thought about mixing my bedsheets so this is an interesting post and I’m going to have to consider this for the new year. I love those purple sheets! Thanks for the post!
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Merry Christmas from our family to yours! =-.

  • Reply Betsy Head December 31, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Really great tips and fun prints! Thanks for the tutorial.


  • Reply Sue December 31, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Holly – I’m a bit off topic here but have you tried Garnet Hill for bedding?

    If you love a delicious bed then by all means get some of their sheets. They are the softest, most wonderful sheets. Can’t get enough of them. And if you like flannel – their flannel is so thick it feels like you’re sleeping between marshmallows!!! Yummmmmm
    .-= Sue´s last blog ..Adorable pixie, elf or gnome hat for baby – free pattern! =-.

  • Reply Nicole RJ December 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Those sheet are fab! Love them!

    We have a duvet and don’t use a top sheet, and no accent pillows on our bed, so it leaves very few options for playing with patterns! :(
    .-= Nicole RJ´s last blog ..Bride on a Budget: I do! =-.

  • Reply jek January 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    oh boy! a girl after my own heart.

    i’ve made a project of making my bed and all i do is mix the patterns! i usually begin with a color i think represents the month and then i pull out a couple of vintage cases and then the fitted sheet and begin playing around from there. it usually takes me all day in a pass by and play a little more kind of way. since i’ve committed to my making the bed project i have to work extra hard not to keep using my favorite cases. the best part is figuring out what to add for the “decoration”! i’m almost finished with my january bed and the pics will be up soon. happy new year!

  • Reply Fleur Designs May 8, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Hi- I’m a designer and new to this blog. I love love love bedding and love pattern. This new site that i absolutely adore is I have almost all of their sets in every room in my house. There is a great white set a great cream set and then a few with patterns. You could use any of the sets for adults teens or even little ones. All of the patterned sets are reversible. It takes the guess work out of mix and match. The colors are great for all ages. My seven year old twins each got Edison- one loves the striped side, one the hotel side, but at least their room always matches. See it- i think any bedding buff will like it.

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