Style at Home: Tips from the pros for bedded bliss

Mary Carol Garrity
Special to The Detroit News

Sisters Kathy and Paula have spent their lives working as a team. As little girls, they shared a bedroom, and always got along. They never fought. Never wore each other’s clothing (without permission, stretching it out). They never tugged a little too hard when asked by mom to do the other’s hair. Wink, wink.

Beautiful pillowcase sets and sheets can take your bedding to the next level. (Mary Carol Garrity/TNS)

Now, these almost-twins still get along famously. (Except, that Paula is always eager to point out that Kathy is the older of the two, and Kathy is quick to retort that at least she’s the natural redhead.) At Nell Hill’s, they have joined forces to design bedding ensembles for our inspiration beds and for customers. I asked this Sister Act to show us exactly how they make the beds so darn inviting.


If your bed frame has attractive sides, you don’t need to cover them up with a dust ruffle. But you do need to cover up the exposed boxed springs. We sell a few styles of box spring covers to add a dash of texture. But you can also use a fitted sheet.


We’re wild about sheets with a pretty finish. To show off the lace or embroidery detailing, we put the top sheet on the bed upside down, then fold it back over the coverlet. Beautiful pillowcase sets and sheets that have embroidered or lace edges can take your bedding to the next level.


We like to add a light coverlet to our beds because they are nice to sleep under when you’re not yet ready to dive under a warm duvet. They add some delicate detailing, like a trellis pattern or diamonds. And the best part, the more you launder them, the softer and cuddlier they become.


Getting the fill neatly inside the duvet cover is not as easy as it seems. It can be hard to get the fill into all the corners and get it to lay cleanly. Kathy and Paula have figured out a fool-proof system, which works best if you have two people, one on each side of the bed.

First, grab the corners of the fill and slide them in to the end corners of the duvet cover. Hold the corners in place while you pull the duvet down over the fill. Shake it out, then smooth it down.

The custom duvets usually have different fabric on each side so all you need to do is flip them over for a whole new look. Fold the duvet over the sheet and coverlet just a bit, so the buttons and contrasting fabric on the duvet’s back both show.

The duvet fills have a little ring sewn on the corners. So when making custom duvets, the seamstress sews a little tie in the inside of the duvet corners. When sliding in the insert, we tie it in place so it does not move.


Our inspiration beds, which are all queens, usually have seven decorative pillows. The back row features a set of 27x27 square pillows. If you have a king bed, we recommend you have three of these. We rest this back row of pillows on top of the sleeping pillow.

Our accent pillows all have a high-quality down fill. That makes them fluffy, yet dense enough to hold their shape. To get the fill into the pillow, Kathy and Paula give the fill a good chop to fold it in half, stick it in the sham, then unfold it inside the sham, making sure it extends to each corner.

We like to finish with a focal point pillow. Sometimes it’s made of a zippy contrast fabric. Sometimes if features a monogram or great trim. For a queen bed, the smallest size we use is 16x30, and sometimes we go as large as a queen or king sham.


Stacks of pillows aren’t for everyone, so definitely tweak the look to fit your style. Use a bedspread instead of a duvet. Add extra layers, folding a duvet or coverlet, or both, at the bottom of your bed. Tailor the look to achieve your bedding bliss.


This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at