The art of European bed making and why I love it

I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with the way some Europeans make their bed.

In other words, I’ve become a fan of the ‘one bed, two duvets’ method.

The first time we visited Europe, we were a little confused by the bedding situation. It’s a little weird, right? We thought they had forgotten to give us a top sheet. All we got was a fitted sheet with two single duvets (aka quilts/doonas – I’m from New Zealand, so we call them duvets) placed beautifully on top.

We looked at each other with confusion and wondered whether we should say something. We didn’t want to be those people. But also – were we really expected to sleep under just a duvet?

The art of European bed making and why I love it

But, we trusted in the process, and each cautiously climbed in under our individual duvets. Yes, it was strange at first, but after a moment or two it felt pretty darn good.

There was no tug-of-war during the night. I didn’t have to worry about the sheets getting untucked at the bottom (I hate that). And, we could each rug ourselves up with as much or little cover as we wanted. Bliss.

And so the obsession began.

The art of European bed making and why I love it

The art of European bed making and why I love it

During our most recent trip to Europe I would say that 90% of our nights were spent in the ‘one bed, two duvets’ method. In fact, it got to a point where we actually became disappointed upon seeing a bed made any other way. You mean we have to share blankets?!

Because we spent most of our time in Finland, we started referring to the ‘one bed, two duvets’ method as a Finnish Bed.

Every location we visited afterwards, we’d grin with delight finding a ‘Finnish Bed’ inside. “Yuss! We got another Finnish Bed!” and “Is the bed Finnish?” became the first things we’d say to each other as we walked into our room for the night.

The art of European bed making and why I love it

As our European adventure came to an end, we started to question our usual bed-making habits. Did we really want to go back to the ‘one bed, one duvet’ method? Would we be happy, no longer sleeping in a Finnish Bed?

The simple answer was ‘no’.

So, we did what any normal couple would do, and completely changed our bedding. Our flat sheet was kicked to the curb, and our queen duvet was replaced with two single ones.

I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner. Our bed is so much easier to make now. No more tucking sheets in, or trying to get our big old duvet even on both sides. And the great thing is, once Summer is over we can either replace our duvets with winter weight versions, or pull one of our blankets on top for some extra warmth.

Want to know how we did it?

How to make your bed ‘Finnish’

1. Place a fitted sheet over your mattress.

2. Replace your duvet with two single ones. (We opted for matching duvet covers, but you could totally use different or complimentary colours.) Make sure your duvet covers are a good quality thread count. There’s nothing worse than scratchy fabric on your bare legs!

3. Fold the duvets so they each cover only half of the bed. You can do this by folding them lengthwise in half or thirds; or by tucking the sides under, so they meet in the middle. Fold the bottom edge under to keep it tidy.

4. Cover the top of your bed in as many pillows as you can handle.

And that’s it — you’re now ready to sleep like an angel.

The art of European bed making and why I love it

So what do you think?

Are you also a self-confessed lover of the ‘Finnish Bed’? Please tell me we’re not alone in this!

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The Art of European Bed Making




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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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  • We are currently traveling in Europe from the US and we too are going to switch to European bedding. I’m always hot and my husband is often too cold, this is such a great solution. I have spent my life with a tucked in flat sheet and love the freedom of no flat sheet. I don’t think I’m going to like washing and putting the duvet cover on all the time, but I don’t like washing the bedding the way it is anyway. I don’t think it’s just Finnish. We have come across it all over Europe. Excited to get home and go shopping!

    • Yes! We’re the same – I’m always too hot, and my partner likes to be wrapped in blankets. Actually, we’ve found changing the duvet cover so much easier this way – because they’re much smaller. I hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  • I Love This! We have a platform bed that has been kicking my OCD into high gear! It is impossible to make our bed in the conventional way using a top sheet which has been driving me bonkers. That is, until I discovered the European way of making a bed. Hallelujah! No more hospital corners! No more backaches! Such a relief, I can’t tell you. Your article made me smile. Now I’m inspired to find the perfect duvets; one for hubby and me!

    • I’m so sorry for the delayed response! I’ve only just seen your comment now. So glad it brought a smile to your face. I could never go back to our traditional way of making beds now – I love our European way too much.

  • i have been wanted to change up for years…this sounds pretty easy to manage!! This is a random question but i still need to ask! How often do you wash the duvet cover? I mean I usually wash my king sized duvet every season because i use a top flat sheet that protects it from my skin. Soooo, once a week with the bottom sheet? Sounds like a lot of work, taking the filler in and out for each wash!

    • We usually wash our duvet covers every two weeks. Where we live, it doesn’t get super hot, so we don’t find a need to wash more regularly than this. Because we’re using single duvets, it’s not too bad taking the covers on and off – we actually find it easier than when we used a queen duvet 🙂

  • I know quite a few people some European some Australian and the all use the “Finnish Bed” method. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. Thanks to your explanation it now makes sense.

  • So, are you saying we’d have to pull out our duvet and clean our duvet cover every week? Isn’t that
    1) a pain, 2) harsh on the duvet cover?

    • We wash ours every two weeks, and the only difficult part is getting them dry as we don’t have a dryer (and live in an apartment). But it’s really no different than using and washing regular sheets 🙂

    • Yes, exactly that and it’s not a pain or harsh.

      First off, although fitting the duvet into the cover is more involved than just fluffing the duvet onto the bed, it’s no more of a pain than carefully fitting a flat sheet each week. Further, since making the bed consists of fluffing two duvets each morning, it’s a net time saver. Over the years, I’ve come to look for covers with ties in the corners. With ties, all you have to do is reverse the cover, secure the duvet to the top two ties, then turn right side out. No stuffing!

      Secondly, the duvet covers you use when bedding this way are not the kind with tassels and fringe. They’re literally made of the same material flat sheets are. They launder the same, the only difference being they take a bit longer to dry. Dryer balls help a lot and make sure to button the opening!

  • Great idea! Specially for a single man like me… much easier.
    You always carry on with tradition without asking why.

  • When I first moved out of my parents house in 1991, IKEA had just opened their first California location. I built my first bed this way, buying bedding at IKEA, and never looked back. 30 years later, I’m still amazed that it hasn’t become universal. Of course, all those flat sheets I’ve never used are turning out to be great for making masks.

    • I feel the same! I don’t think I could ever go back to sheets and one duvet cover. Love that you’re repurposing your old flat sheets, too! Keep safe out there 🙂

  • We’ve traveled to Europe a few times and loved this set up and have been considering taking the plunge to change out our own bedding. The only thing that stops me is that we have a basset hound that gets on to the foot of our bed at night. As it stands now, we drape a thin blanket over the whole bed to catch his fur. I wash the entire amount of bedding weekly because of him, but the king duvet is a pretty big pain in that process. I wonder how it would feel to have separate duvets and a big, thin blanket over all of it at night? Any advice from those who have dogs that sleep on their bed?

    • I don’t have a dog, but we have taken to putting a blanket over the top of our duvets and it works great! Especially in winter, it’s nice to have an extra layer. In Summer, a lighter blanket would be totally fine, too. I say go for it!

    • We are in the same boat as you! We love the split mattress and two duvets that we have experienced in Spain and Germany but our basset loves to cozy up to us in bed at night, sometimes at the foot of the bed but more often at the top of my side near my pillow. I think a thin blanket spread over the top to catch fur would work, at least I’m willing to give it a try. Our basset runs the show so really it’s up to him 🙂

    • Perhaps getting a third duvet cover, stitching closed the opening, and draping it over the foot of the bed over the individual duvets?

      My dog (Pembroke Welsh Corgi – professional shedder) currently sleeps at the foot of my bed, over the two layers of a queen duvet cover, which lies over the unencased queen duvet, over the flat sheet. Two layers of fabric between the fur and the duvet does the trick and protects from both fur and minor drooling. Stitching the duvet cover closed prevents having to fish wool dryer balls out of the duvet, and having the whole thing turn partway inside out while laundering.

      (Caught my eye because I am also looking to switch to the European method and am also curious if anyone has come up with a better method of separating the dog layer from the people layer…..)

  • Help!! I need that blanket in coral that’s at the end of yoru bed.. Can you also share what comforters and duvets you bought? Thanks! 🙂

    • That was from a hotel we stayed at, I’m afraid. I’ve just bought our duvet inners and covers from local manchester/linen stores and department stores.

  • Having slept under a separate duvet for years after living in Germany as a teen, I would not have it any other way. I wash our duvet covers every other week. I alternate one duvet cover weekly so each week one gets washed. I find this does not crowd the washer and dryer. My only problem is finding duvet covers to fit the smaller duvets. I have made them each out of a queen size top sheet and installed a zipper closure. Works but it would be nice to buy them instead of making them. Where do you buy yours? Thanks for the article.

    • Oh wow – that’s amazing that you’ve made your own! And I agree – we’ve each purchased a couple of covers so we can easily alternate between them when it’s time for washing. Has made life so much easier! We haven’t found any trouble finding duvet covers that fit, but I’m not sure if the sizing is different over here? I get mine from local manchester/department stores such as Spotlight, Target, and Big W.

  • I am looking for European sized comforters. They are narrower than twin size. I cannot find them in the US, esp down alternative. Anyone know how to get them

    • I hope you’ve managed to find some! The ones I use are for single beds – I’m not sure if that’s a different size than twin, but two fit quite nicely on a Queen bed, once you fold the sides under.

  • Ha! This is really funny to read as a German! I’m used to this type of bed-making ONLY and I’ve never slept with anything else.