Fatten Your Airbnb and Vacation Rental Bookings

With This Easy Bed Making Strategy




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August 30, 2016
messy elegant bed vacation rental

I have noticed a new bed-making trend in vacation rental bedrooms recently, particularly among the chic set. It’s not a new trend in interior design overall (in fact, it’s been trending for a while), but only recently I’ve noticed it happening in Airbnb’s and vacation rentals.

I love it and here’s why.

It saves time. And saving time saves you money.

Definitely a win-win for short-term rentals.

Got you curious?

Let me introduce to you…..

The Rumpled Bed

Riviera Cabins, Eze-sur-mer

All the bedrooms in the Riviera Cabins on the Eze-Sur-Mer feature elegantly “messy” beds.

Well, actually, it’s not just a rumpled bed; that sounds dumpy. Let me rephrase….

It’s the elegantly rumpled bed. In other words, if the bed could talk, it would say….

“Come hither between these sheets and your world will be changed.”

I’m sure you can guess the subliminal message to elegant, messy bedding, right?

Sex. Vacation sex (the best kind).

The elegantly messy bed tells anyone looking they’re getting great vacation sex if they book the house. The bed is the lure.

Marketing really can’t get any better than that.

Take a look at these beauties and you’ll know instantly what I’m talking about….

vacation rental sexy bedroom

The elegantly messy bed sells sultry romance and the owners of Montreal’s Creative Flats are cashing in on the look. Wow!

Provincetown vacation rental

The Old Homestead Provincetown pulls off the wrinkled duvet splendidly.

vacation rental bedroom

Mastering the look of the chicly messy is The Estate Trenton. Love the touch of the fold line in the gray sailcloth bedspread.

Here’s the secret of the appeal of the messy bed: it doesn’t merely market sex, it’s even bigger than that. Those messy duvets, sheets, and lopsided pillows symbolize vacation relaxation. Remember that guests want to kick back on their down time. They yearn to lose the business suit, take off their shoes, walk around barefoot, eat crackers and cheese without worrying about calories. The beautiful, messy bed is a reminder that they can let their guard down. In other words, the absence of perfectly tucked in hospital corners on the periphery of a wrinkle-less, proper bedspread with perfectly balanced pillows holds deep appeal. The wrinkled linen shams bring out a longing that people didn’t even know was there.

The beautiful, messy bed is a reminder that they can let their guard down. In other words, the absence of perfectly tucked in hospital corners on the periphery of a wrinkle-less, proper bedspread with perfectly balanced pillows holds deep appeal. The wrinkled linen shams bring out a longing that people didn’t even know was there.

It says, “no worries, enjoy yourself. Do nothing.”

How can you beat that?

Aside from all the great marketing in the messy bed, there’s another excellent reason to embrace the look.

Pulling it together doesn’t take a lot of ingredients. I mean, after all, you don’t have to buy much bedding.

You don’t have to fuss around with seven different types of pillows (that guests throw on the floor anyway).

Jamaica vacation rental

Little Bay, Jamaica on VRBO has a simple bed-making strategy: white sheets, white pillowcases, two white Euro shams with a matching, folded-over white duvet. Thrown on top are two Jonathan Adler pillows. Everything is a little wrinkled. Honestly, don’t you want to throw yourself on that bed? Like immediately?

You needn’t iron sheets…

messy elegant bed vacation rental

A lot of media attention has centered on this very unusual “floating” farmhouse in upstate New York. I can see one reason why – the bed is messy, gorgeously elegantly. All there is is a bed skirt, duvet with matching pillowcases, and white bedding. No ironing required. Home Away.

No more folding down the bedspread just so….

sexy vacation rental bedroom

The bedroom in House la France features white sheets, two thrown on the bed Euro shams, a halfway folded bedspread, and a linen bed skirt. I love the casual elegant touch of the linen bathrobe and the slippers on the floor. Winning!

You keep it simple.

Now here’s the thing (and it’s crucial): if you’re going to run with the elegantly, messy bed, you have to adhere to two golden rules of nailing the look:

1. Stick with solids; avoid patterns.

Patterns tend to make people’s heads spin and there’s also the fact that although you like the pattern, your guests might gag.

Solids are soothing and simple. If you want to add in a pattern, throw in a pillow or a folded blanket or throw at the bottom of the bed and you’ll get your fix.

2. You absolutely must use natural fabrics. As in cotton, linen or wool.

No exceptions.

In order to explain why this is a rule, I like to first make a simple analogy.

You know how certain men, sporting linen clothing on a hot summer day, manage to look elegant, despite dripping humidity? Remember Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby, slinking around in a white linen shirt unbuttoned down to there, pink linen pants, driving moccasins, no socks, lost tie, looking like he just threw a party in the Hamptons that lasted 48 hours? And remember that somehow – somehow! – despite the hangover, sweat, and booze oozing out of his pores, he looked devastating? Arresting even?

chic linen suit

Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby pulls off wrinkled linen on a hot summer day. The Great Gatsby

Now ask yourself, honestly, if the scene would have been the same if he had been wearing a polyester blend.


Enough said.

The exact same can be said of bedding. Many a bed has been destroyed by synthetic fabrics (like the kinds you see in mass in big box stores). Don’t do it.

Don’t be Leo in polyester. You’ll ruin a good thing.

Be Leo in linen.

Polyester and other man-made materials don’t cut the cake. Stick with cotton, linen, and wool. You can’t go wrong.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are some not-too-expensive options to get you started….

The Ofelia Vass Duvet and accompanying pillow shams from Ikea – 

You can’t go wrong with an Ofelia Vass from Ikea. The material feels crisp when you run your hands over it, the pleats give it a naturally elegant wrinkled look and it goes with any type of decor. Add in some white sheets and pillowcases, one decorative pillow, and you’re good to go.

Ikea Ofelia Vass

The Ofelia Vass duvet is exquisitely soft, crisp and elegant; because the design is so versatile, it goes with virtually any type of decor, modern or traditional. Queen is only $49.99.

Here’s the Ofelia Vass in an Idaho cabin I designed last year. I paired it with Centium Satin sheets and pillowcases from Standard Textiles and threw in a linen, Restoration Hardware striped pillow for good measure:

Ofelia Vass from Ikea

I specified the Ofelia Vass duvet and pillow shams in this Idaho cabin for a crisp, fresh look. It looks effortlessly chic wash after wash. The brown striped, linen pillow was bought for $20 on sale from Restoration Hardware.

French linen bedding sets from Smart Bedding

I first got excited about Smart Bedding last year in their pre-launch phase when I learned they invented a top sheet that snaps to its accompanying duvet (how cool is that!?). Their bedding sets – which include a duvet in 6 color options, a white top and bottom sheet and two pillowcases – go for $349. I recommend buying two shams to match the duvet for an additional $39 and you’re guaranteed a magnificent “messy” bed.

Smart Bedding

A set of Smart Bedding French linen bedding, which includes a duvet, top and bottom sheet, and pillowcases, is $349. Add in additional matching shams for $39 and you’ll spend a total of $388 for the whole shebang.

West Elm

I adore West Elm for dependably chic designs in almost everything they do, including bedding. Although patterned bedding dominates, they always offer some beautiful flax or linen solid duvets and shams that look stunning.

Word of warning: if you see something you like (especially if on sale) snag it immediately. Nothing lasts long on West Elm and is rarely featured again. Seize the day!

Belgium Flax Linen Duvet

West Elm has this to say about their Belgium Linen Flax duvet cover and shams (I couldn’t say it better), “Our Belgian Linen Duvet Cover is woven from fine Belgian flax, which is washed for a luxe, lived-in look. Prized for its breathability and softness, linen keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making it the natural choice for the master bedroom.” I’ll correct them and say “any bedroom will do.”

Any other messy beds, share below….

Please share your elegantly messy bed with the community if you have one in the comments section. Also, if you have a bed that you are wringing your hair over, share too and I’ll give you some ideas.

  • Ron Bennett

    Thanks…this idea serves as a great relief! I’m slightly concerned about executing it correctly (an getting a housekeeping service to do the same), but the simplicity and the ability to be less than perfect completely lend to an easier hosting experience, I believe. I’m also excited as our soon to open first vacation rental property is intended in a beach bungalow theme…so this approach to bed dressing should lend seamlessly to the intended experience.

    We’ll share images once we finally set our place up later this month…wish us luck!

    Ron & Jill Bennett

  • Aruna M.

    While I appreciate your expertise, I’m not a fan of the rumpled bed. As a renter I don’t want to get into one because it looks like they didn’t change the sheets after someone else’s sexy night.
    As a host I would be very nervous what my guests thought of a semi unmade bed. It works for Pottery Barn/West Elm catalogs but I don’t think it works in real life.
    Only time of disagreed with you!

    • I get it. It’s not for everybody, Aruna. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gosh, Mercedes, I’ve tried and tried to do that, and it always looks just plain messy when I do it! I’ll give it another shot. So far, this is the best bed picture I’ve achieved:

    • Debi, I can see the problem is with your decorative pillows. They don’t look like they belong at the seashore. I’d update them with a more beachy vibe. And they don’t look like they have down inserts inside, right? Down inserts make a huge difference in how pillows sit on a bed. (I will write a post on pillow inserts). I’d also get two sleeping pillows for each person and stack them. Then I think you’ll get closer to the “elegantly messy bed.” Hope that helps!

      • Thanks Mercedes! Looking forward to the post on pillow inserts!

  • Nancy Omachi

    So funny that you are sharing the example of french linen. I’ve been shopping for some for my bed this week. I don’t know why but I’m obsessed with getting a set. Another source I’ve found is Etsy. I may order from one of those shops. As for my rentals, I have soft cotton
    duvets on the beds in the master. I like the look of comfort and agree that it invites a person to come and relax!

    • Nancy, if you find an Etsy seller you like, I’d love to know who it is. I collect Etsy sellers like a hobby. ;)

  • Donna Paulson

    Ok, I adore this look & use Belgian linen sheets in the Hobbit House in Cashiers…and guests love them. The sheets are white, the duvet cover & shams charcoal. It did take explaining though, to the the housekeeper who said, “Those sheets came out of the dryer all wrinkled…want me to iron them?”…and that last part was said with fear & loathing. No one likes ironing it seems. I call the look wrinkled chic!

    • Donna, I love your bed! Beautiful and simple. I love the touch of the sheep skin on top of the patterned rug too, by the way. And those lamps! Everything is beautifully and artfully put together.

  • katerina

    Been doing it for 18 years !!! I loath……repeat, loath tucked in bedding…..will NEVER do those prissy florals etc …curtain tie backs, little scatter cushions……yuck !! My entire home is whites , neutrals and wood and BIG mirrors. Heavenly ….

  • Let me just say first that I had a great time reading this blog Mercedes, I love your irony and sense of humor! Then, the Idaho cabin you did is gorgeous, super chic with your signature in it! I would LOVE to use the “wrinkled chic” as Donna Paulson calls them. And before being concerned on how to make it look chic instead of just messy I would love to know where I can buy those in Europe. Ofelia Vass from Ikea is not sold in Spain, probably in Europe I would say. Mercedes or any reader here can recommend where to buy Di Caprio bed linen in Europe or Spain? thanks! Paola

    • Thanks Paola! There are other Ikea options in Europe that are similar to the Ofelia Vass. I know they have linen duvets and shams that wrinkle nicely and look elegantly simple. It’s funny. I am always so jealous of European Ikea’s options, wishing they were here and in this situation it’s the reverse. :0

      I’ll keep my eye out for bedding like this that can be obtained in Europe.

  • Ria

    HELP! I just updated my master with a yummy PATTERN (before I read this, of course) and moved the linen duvet to another rental. I only had an hour to do some quick photos and they came out terrible! In fact, I’m sticking with my old photos until I have time next month to retake them. Any suggestions for accessories or rumpled styling? My mattress always looks ‘boxy’.

    • Hi Ria, I love the patterned quilt! Suggestion: Get a linen duvet in an oatmeal color along with some matching shams. Fold the quilt at the bottom so the paisleys are showing. Do away with one of the decorative pillows but keep one in the middle. You’re good after that.

  • Karen

    I like the rumpled romantic look. I feature pictures of the bed perfectly made and then I add the rumpled romantic look also. The bed is however made perfectly upon arrival.

  • Karen

    I like the rumpled romantic look. I feature pictures of the bed perfectly made and then I add the rumpled romantic look also. The bed is however made perfectly upon arrival.

    • I think that’s a good point and I should add that to the article. You want to display a made bed for guests upon arrival and stage the messy bed for photos. Thanks for sharing!

  • I think you have a point that there is a discrepancy between overacting with pillows and the practical aspect of using a bed for sleep or sex or whatever..

  • Jessica

    Awh darn- you shared my secret weapon ;) I LOVE linen bedding and use it exclusively for our home bed. I figured I would treat the guests at our upcoming rental with some linen bedding when I spy it on sale.

    Here is another SUPER CHEAP but decent quality source: H&M! They have linen duvet cover set’s that come with pillow cases that aren’t bad! i purchased the dark gray & white set just to see if the quality was horrible and was shockingly surprised after washing and drying that they are comparable with some of the west elm 100% linen I’ve purchased!

    Anthropology also has some AMAZING linen bedding sales throughout the year…I purchased our coral euro shams & linen duvet covers for $7.95-49.99 a piece last year during a super sale!

    • Thanks for the tips, Jessica. I had no idea H&M sells bedding. I’m going to check it out. Many thanks for sharing with everybody!

    • Helena Chase

      You used some flowery words describing the imagery provoked in guests upon seeing the rumpled bed esthetic , those could be used in the listing as well to as you say , ” warn the guest ” !
      I love it , thanks. I’m just getting started in air bnb and appreciate all the ideas and tips. I just found a vintage dear antler lamp with a 50’s shade for 5 dollars on Craigslist , ha ! It’s too much fun

  • Great overview and guidelines here, Mercedes!

    Personally love the “messy” bed for both look and efficiency reasons. Guests’ perception is definitely something to keep an eye on, but I find that people don’t “hate’ things like this, even if they prefer a different style. They “hate” being surprised by something they didn’t expect (bedding or otherwise). Be aware that it’s disliked by some, call it out in the listing and welcome guide, and people will be just fine with it :)

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Tyler. You make an important point and one that I may edit into the article. The fact that the bed is staged “elegantly messy” does not mean it should appear that way when guests arrive; in fact, the bed should look “made.” You make an important distinction between staging and appearance upon arrival. Thanks for helping out!

    • Wow! I love it and it looks so “hygge” too! Thanks for sharing. I think this is a perfect 10!

  • Phyllis Whitehouse Frome

    I am a realtor and a vacation property manager. I listed a cabin for sale (one of our rentals that we are sad to lose!) and included a messy bed photo in the listing, along with a photo of the bed made up “proper.” Not sure what people thought about the messy bed photo, but I got a kick out of doing it!

    • I love it! Especially the touch of the glasses and the book. Brilliant!

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