Making the Bed the Brocante Way

By Alison May 23, 2013 10 Comments 3 Min Read

** This is a very old post I am re-issuing because so many of my housekeepers are having trouble finding it…**
It is late and HouseKeepers,  I am exhausted. Some mornings I open my eyes and I just can’t wait till bedtime so I can crawl back into bed. Then other days I am so wrapped up in what I am doing that I put going to bed off until I am nearly dropping with tiredness. Tonight is one of those nights. Upstairs my cosy bedroom is waiting for me and here I am talking about it when it would serve me much better to be in it…

I am fussy about my bed. It has to be made exactly the way I like it and just one little thing out of place can make all the difference to my day…

So here I present the BrocanteHome guide to a scrumptious nights sleep…

1. First the mattress should be prepared. I vacuum it once a week to make sure it’s dust free, the spritz it with linen spray, and apply a quilted mattress protector.

2. On top of this I layer a sheepskin liner,(scrumptious), a feather filled mattress topper, then a cotton  base sheet and a second heavier guage cotton sheet, and the bed is then ready to start layering on the top sheets etc.

3. We have six pillows: feather is my preference because I like a fluffy (occasionally spiky!) pillow. We have four housewife pillows and two square European ones for reading. All of the pillows have quilted pillow protectors, then white cotton pillowcases and then decorative pillowcases to suit. I usually go for two ruffled pillowcases and two plain ones and search for decorative square covers for the pillows at the front. A lavender sachet is slipped inside each pillow and all the pillows sprized with linen spray.

4. I then tuck a top sheet onto the bed, place the pillows on top and then because I can’t sleep without a duvet, the duvet goes on top of this.

5. The bed is finished off with a patchwork quilt and a crocheted blanket folded at the bottom of the bed, two bolster cushions and two decorative cushions.

Making the bed and indeed laundering it is a mammoth task, because of all the layers, but the extras like the feather filled mattress topper and the extra sheets and pillowcases make all the difference, and are something I first noticed in a beautifully luxurious hotel in London…

Just as if I was in a hotel, I start to prepare the room for bed early in the evening. When Finley is in bed I open the window in the bedroom and turn back the duvet. I burn a little lavender oil and close the door so the scent is captured in the room. I turn on the bedside lights, replace our drinking water and go downstairs for the evening.

By the time I retire to bed, the room is cool and comfortable, the lights are low and my senses aren’t jarred by having to switch on the lights to see. The scent of lavender lulls us to sleep and the bed is nothing short of heavenly.

Just occasionally as I drift off to sleep I remember how much I have ached to be there at certain moments of the day and I open my eyes and really try to be in the moment: in the pure, luxurious, security of my very own bed.

Nite Nite…


  1. Ali says:

    I like that, but if I may make a suggestion. Do NOT scrimp when it comes to buying a mattress. The most comfortable is whats known as a “pillow top”. That’s an extra quilted layer that sits over top of the springs. And invest in a box spring for the mattress to sit on. Makes all the difference to the life of the mattress. Its common practice where I’m from, but seems to be a rarity here in England.
    Ali x

  2. Tiffani says:

    I would love to have a big fluffy bed but my husband is allergic to down. The down alternative stuff is a joke. Luckily our mattress is a pillow top, so it is comfy.

  3. Nicola says:

    Thank you so much for re-posting this, such a beautiful post! I shall definitely be making more of an effort with my bedroom after reading it!

  4. Rose says:

    Alison can you do a bit of translating please, what are ‘housewife’ and ‘european’ pillows? I’ve got five pillows on the bed which are — pillows! 🙂

  5. Fantastic as always, you have given me the oomph I need to get the rest of our bedroom in order!

  6. Fiona says:

    So lovely to see this again. I remember when you posted it before I loved it so much I copied it out into a notebook. I’ve still got it somewhere. With a 2 yr old and 6 mth old I LOVE my bed but don’t get to spend enough time in it or to make it as beautiful as you describe above. One day I will. Lovely to have come back to your lovely site again after a long time. Fiona x

  7. Wilhelmina says:

    A ” housewife” style pillow is traditional in Britain and an oblong shape. It’s 25 inches by 17 inches. 63.5 cm by 43 cm roughly.
    Continental European pillows are traditionally square in shape. It’s 23 inches by 23 inches. Just under 60cm by 60 cm. Pillows are rather fluffy so hard to measure. My guess is they’re meant to be 60x 60 cm as the Continent is metric.

    Square pillows became popular in Britain as a second pillow, behind the houswife style pillow. Like Alison wrote you can prop them up very conveniently for reading.

    There is now an ” emperor” size pillow for sale for those with huge beds. I live in a small London apartment so haven’t seen one up close!

    Hope that helps overseas readers…….

    1. Brunette says:

      Yeah, the housewife size sounds like what we just call a “standard” here, and we refer to the big square one’s as Euro’s. Anyone who wants to see what they look like can find lots on Pottery Barn’s website.

  8. Karla Neese says:

    I have gotten away from having a pretty bed. Perhaps it’s time to go back to having it dolled up. I’m afraid I can’t do all of the layers listed due to expense, time and heat factors (we get hot when we sleep). But it may be time to thrift some pretty sheets and pillowcases again.

  9. Laney Quigley says:

    I so wish I could have layers on my bed as you do Alison. When I didn’t have to share my bed with anyone else, I had down everything, it was under me and top of me and it was like sleeping in a very fluffy cloud. Now that it is our bed, it is much simpler. No down except the pillows. Ben is a human heater and anything more than a sheet and lightweight comforter is thrown off when he comes to bed as he says, “are you trying to light me on fire?” *sigh*

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