Having a Moment

The Minimalist Bed: Monastic Bed-Making Is In—And We’re Here for It

This minimalist bed style is designers’ go-to for creating a sense of calm
Supermodel Martha Hunt's Tribeca apartment designed by Giancarlo Valle.
Supermodel Martha Hunt's Tribeca apartment, designed by Giancarlo Valle.Stephen Kent Johnson

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“I call it grandma-style,” says Colin King, the stylist and longtime AD contributor, of his favorite way to make a minimalist bed. You know this super-simple look: a flat coverlet is laid across the bed, folded down a little at the top, and then back over a pair of standard pillows. “It always felt a bit traditional and almost religious,” he says of the ethereal look, commonly used in hotels. “It’s clean and tidy, simple but elegant. It gives the room the feeling you want your bedroom to have—serenity.”

King’s favorite references include a Diane Arbus photograph shot in a motel, Luis Barragan’s monk-like bedroom in Mexico City, and even the bedroom from the Sagredo Palace at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though we’ve noticed this look cropping up in recent AD home tours too. Indeed, some of them are styled by King, but others seemed to have picked up the style independently.

Either way you see it, the verdict is in: Gone are the piles of decorative pillows and fussy, overstuffed duvets. Back is a simple coverlet that is perfectly happy not to take center stage.

In his Manhattan loft, Colin King styles a minimalist bed—or “grandma-style,” as he dubs it.

Rich Stapleton

AD100 designer Giancarlo Valle, who is known for using this style of bed in many of his projects, calls the look “monastic,” and likens it to a classic white tee. “It’s carefree—it can look messy and pulled together at the same time.” He, in many cases with an assist from King, has used this style in nearly all of his projects, from his own Brooklyn bedroom to Hotel Esencia in Mexico.

Other designers have been implementing the back-to-basics look: The simple style was paired with a long bolster pillow in a restored Brooklyn Heights apartment by Augusta Hoffman. In John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s California bedroom, designed by Jake Arnold, a coverlet is tucked tightly into their De La Vega bed. And in Andre Mellone’s Manhattan sleeping quarters, a tailored bedspread is used to similar effect.

Designer Jane Hallworth went with a natural, free-flowing bedcover in the primary bedroom of Tinder founder Sean Rad and wife Lizzie Grover Rad’s Los Angeles home.

Sam Frost

A muddy gray-toned bedcover softens a monochrome bedroom in West Village home transformed by designer Sebastian Zuchowicki.

William Jess Laird

For photoshoots in particular, King points out, a bed has a tendency to dominate a room, and depending on the shot angle, this large rectangle can get distorted. The monastic, minimalist bed helps with this problem. “The elephant in the room gets a lot more calm and quiet, not stealing the show,” King explains. “It also looks cleaner on camera.” Particularly on a shoot that does not have a soft stylist (professionals whose job it is to zhuzh pillows, blankets, sheets, etc.), this is a fail-proof way to make the room feel polished. Plus, King insists, “It works in any type of bedroom.”

To get the look just right, follow these steps: Remove all pillows from the bed, completely flatten the top sheet, then lay the bedcover flat on the bed, smooth out the top. Fold down the top of the cover about a third of the way down the mattress. From there, grab two pillows (preferably exact in size) and lay them flat, side by side with a small gap between. Pull them down to be on top of the folded bedcover, about three inches over the crease towards the edge of the bed. Lift one side of the bedcover over the pillows towards the headboard, then the other and smooth out.

From there, fuss with the pooling of the excess fabric around the bed, allowing it to hit the floor in a way that feels natural. If you wish to tuck the bedcover into the platform, King advises, styling with some bolster pillows and a nice large blanket or quilt at the end of the bed is recommended.

In a client’s Booklyn Heights bedroom, designer Augusta Hoffman pairs a scenic wall covering with an ivory bedcover.

Tim Lenz

In Andre Mellone’s Manhattan home, the toned-down bed allows the surrounding art and decor to flourish.

Stephen Kent Johnson

Ultimately, King says, “duvets almost always look messy and loose pillows never hold their shape—grandma style is the way to go.” Fittingly, he is currently working with Australian brand Cultiver, on a collection of his own bedding which will be released mid-November.

Valle concurs. “I think the bedroom is still the place you go where you want to escape everything,” he says. “Simplicity and ease should be at the top of the list when thinking about a bedroom.” In other words: When it comes to making your bed, let’s get back to the basics.

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