You don't need to be a professional designer, or even much of a sewer, to create one-of-a-kind bedding that looks as nice as the stuff of dreams.
First, your existing bedding can be embellished with sew-on or iron-on appliques, available in craft and stitchery supply stores.
Writer and crafter Kim Ray offers suggestions on the website www.doityourself.com. Trim the edges of sheets with flowers or butterflies for a feminine touch. Monogrammed initials give a smart, tailored and custom look. Ray also recommends edging a sheet with lace, making simple ruffles out of rayon seam binding and embellishing coverlets with flowers made of various-size buttons.
Allison Hepworth of Austin, Texas, chronicles her efforts to creatively and affordably decorate her “cookie-cutter” home on her blog, House of Hepworth. When shopping for a bedding ensemble for her daughter's room, she found what she liked at PB Teen but didn't want to spend $400. Instead, she bought a couple of basic sheet sets from Walmart, cut one up to make a pretty pink band on the sheets, and used heat bonding to attach a grosgrain ribbon trim on comforter and sham. Her final cost was under $70.
“I rarely sew and couldn't make a dress if my life depended on it,” Hepworth says. “I can, however, sew bedding sets and curtains, because it only involves a straight line and patience.”
If you'd rather have someone else put your bedding together, check out Inmod's Design Studio. The online option page at www.inmod.com lets you pick a pattern from a selection of nature and graphic themes. You then move on to fabric choices — cotton, linen/cotton blend or Dupioni silk, then embroidery colors. You're given the opportunity to see your final design in a virtual room before purchasing.
Got specific colors in mind? You can customize duvets and sheet sets in any color combination at www.custom-bedding.com.
If you want to really get custom, you can make your own mattress. Former Manhattan interior designer Lynne Cimino started having back problems and found that the marketplace had options, but pricey ones. Working out of her Marbletown, N.Y., home, she came up with a no-sew buckwheat mattress that's similar to a Japanese futon.
Sections of cotton canvas are filled with the hulls, then twisted and tied in sections for a custom-size finished product that looks like a big cloud. Since the hulls have no nutritional value, she says, pests aren't a problem. The hulls are virtually nonflammable so no harsh retardants are needed, nor is buckwheat typically farmed with pesticides. The cotton covers are machine-washable. You buy both elements separately and do the assembling yourself. Learn more at www.openyoureyesbedding.com.
Nest Bedding of Albany, Calif., offers a range of DIY mattress components including natural latex cores, vegan or cotton and wool covers, kapok and wool comfort layers and toppers. See the options at www.nestbedding.com.