Turn Your Bedroom into a Cosy Retreat

As part of my ongoing collaboration with Marks & Spencer, they asked me to look at their bedding range. “Let’s make a video,” they said. “Cool,” I said. “What of?”

“You. Making a bed,” they said simply. And so we did. It’s quite short, as you will see, but it’s about how to make your bedroom into cosy retreat and who doesn’t need a bit of that at this time of year?

white waffe bedding from M&S image by Sam Mellish
white waffle bedding from M&S image by Sam Mellish

Three of us were asked to choose the bedding we liked for the purposes of the film and to explain how we create our own relaxing sanctuaries. Mine wasn’t a huge stretch. We have had white bedding as long as I can remember. The Mad Husband’s father used to make bed linen and, until he retired, kept us in bountiful supply. Once, about 15 years ago, I suggested that we might, ahem, buy a pretty duvet cover I had seen with – brace yourselves – a pattern on it.

You’d think I’d suggested using gold grout in the bathroom (I did that too. Three years ago. Similar reaction). “Bedding,” said Himself firmly, “is white.”

white waffe bedding from M&S image by Sam Mellish

And because I am completely a grown-up and know how to pick my battles and give in gracefully – especially when I don’t actually mind that much –  the bedding stayed white. But I found little touches to zing it up a bit – like white stripes on a white background, embroidered details and pattern in the same colours – in short adding lots of texture to liven it up a little.

This will always be my preferred way of dressing a bed. I am, truth be told, a sort of monochrome maximalist (I may be the only one) and while I love lots of layers and textures I do NOT like a riot of colour in the bedroom. That is entirely UNrelaxing.

white waffe bedding from M&S image by Sam Mellish

So it’s about keeping it light –  in colour at least – and adding texture to make it interesting. Below you can see the bedrooms of Rebecca Sterling of Rolltops and Roses who has layered up lots of grey and cosy throws and then the geometric modern space by Bianca Hall of French for Pineapple.

Mind you it’s not just about the pattern (or lack thereof) – although it turns out there are over 900 options in M&S bedding so you might want to leave a little time for browsing as it might take a while – but there’s also this thread count business.

pom pom throw by M&S image by Sam Mellish

I have never really understood what that was about bar the basic principle that more is better and celebrities in posh hotels rave about it. For those of you who have lived in blissful ignorance, here comes the science bit: It’s the number of threads going across and down in a square inch. The higher the better. M&S goes up to 1000 but you should look for a minimum of 200. Having said that it’s also about the quality of the cotton – anything Egyptian will be good, as is the US supima yarn. Keep an eye out for 100 per cent Egyptian though, or it may only have a small percentage. It’s the same with buying cashmere jumpers – have you ever bought a jumper that shouted cashmere on the store banner and then read the label (usually after buying it) and found it was only five per cent? Surely not just me?

Finally, you will often see percale, a plain weave often used on everyday sheets which is breathable and gives a crisp, clean look, and sateen, which, as the name implies, has a smoother silky feel and is often used with high thread counts for a more hotel feel.

diamond quilted cushions from M&S image by Sam Mellish
diamond quilted cushions and mono bedding set from M&S image by Sam Mellish

So, er, wanna see my video? And here are the links for Bianca and Rebecca too… watch mine for a poorly executed hospital corner and which way to put the pillow openings….

To shop the collections visit M&S Sleep Retreat – the collection is 61 per cent bigger this Autumn with many of the new lines a direct response to customer feedback. All the duvets are machine washable and the store is also launching Siberian goose filled pillows and duvets.

So where was I? Oh yes cosy retreats? You will need:

Good bedding lots of it – loads. The more you have the cosier it feels.

Bedside lighting – preferably within reach of an idly stretched arm

A good book.

Fabulous pyjamas.

Hot chocolate or wine optional – M&S are launching liquid repellent sheets for those of us who might be so relaxed in our cosy retreats that we are incapable of moving mug to mouth without spilling something.

Method: Bring all ingredients to the bedroom. Jump in.



All images by Sam Mellish video by iCrossing

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I agree with the other comments how you came alive on the video clip from the page. loved your hair, glasses and striped pants. of course the bedding was good too!

  2. Fantastic wallpaper and storage solutions. But my question – not at all House related – is where are your fabulous glasses from? Am going through varifocal nightmares.

  3. Monochrome maximalist, love it! It’s not just you, I am one too! White on white on grey. And only a hint of pattern, usually only a stitched border, like the Savoy line from the White Company. I love the waffle pillowcases, but I don’t think I could actually sleep on one – I’m worried I’d wake up with a waffly imprint on my cheek. 🙂

  4. What a STAR and loved hearing your voice because I have so enjoyed reading your words Kate!
    There is nothing…absolutely nothing as pleasurable as clean bed linen …every day,(white for preference), especially if you are unwell. But twice a week is the norm here and it makes such a difference to how we sleep. Only the linen pillow slips are ironed though.

  5. Haha, I love the video! Isn’t it funny when you see/hear somebody in real life and you are surprised that they’re not exactly as you have created them in your mind? I agree, always white. I do have very pale pink velvet pillows which we are not allowed to actually put our dribbly faces on. Obviously. I have only linen and velvet on my bed now but these look interesting. I like the texture.

  6. Yup bedding is white but just occasionally little very subtle embellishments could creep in. I refused to visit my mother for several years until white linen sanity was restored after a bout of nightmare inducing bedding choices lol

  7. I am a total defect who can not properly decorate the room. In my head all looks so beautiful, and then everything looks tragic in real. Your projects are beautiful, I can always copy them. 😉

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