Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How to Make a Bed

When I wake up in the morning, I usually go straight to the shower because I feel dirty or straight to the kitchen because I feel hungry. It is not until I return to my room to grab a book or to refresh my hair that I realize that the bed has not been made. Panic ensues as I check the clock. Classes start in fifteen minutes. Making the bed takes between five to twenty minutes.
Of course, there is the easy way out, pulling the blanket over the mess to hide the unsightly bundle of sheets. This is the rule of choice most days, as I grab and apple and run out the door.
Making the bed is much more complex than that these days, with all the types of beds and blankets and our hectic schedules. We are not all hotel maids, trained in transforming strewn cloth into welcoming perfection.

Sheets, whether red, polka-dotted, or paisley, are a staple in the bedroom. When making a bed, you must have the right size of sheet, or else you will find hideous wrinkles as you slip into sleep. This is most obvious with the fitted sheet. Now, it used to be that fitted sheets were bunched on the two ends of the bed: the head end and the foot end. However, lately, I’ve been finding fitted sheets that have been bunched on the two sides. This causes great confusion while making a bed, especially under a strict time-limit. To avoid this confusion, it is always best to find the tag before laying a fitted sheet on a bed. The tag will indicate which side of the sheet faces up and also where the foot of the sheet can be found.
If fitted sheets were our only worries, making the bed might not be such a chore. The flat sheet is where a lot of trouble comes in. Do you fold it over at the top or does the sheet just come up to a certain point? How far from the top of the bed do you make the fold? This is usually personal preference. Remember to keep the ultimate objective in mind. Decide beforehand how you want the sheet folded or not folded; if you do not, you waste a lot of time adjusting and re-adjusting the sheet for the perfect look. It might be best to do this when you have more time. Practice making the bed on a Saturday afternoon until you get it just right. Always tuck the foot end of the sheet in first before you continue on to the sides.

The biggest problem with beds is the orientation. Nearly always, the bed is situated against a wall on one or two sides. Having the head of the bed at a wall is not normally a large problem; practice over time will fix that, but having the side of the bed against the wall will increase the making the bed time by at last a couple of minutes. The fitted sheet doesn’t pose too much of a problem, but the flat does. Unless you can fit yourself in the small space between the wall and the mattress, you end up having to climb on top of the bed, lift the top mattress while you are on it and quickly shove the sheet between the two mattresses. The most common problem with this is the evenness of the tuck and any wrinkles that occur because you were on the bed. The best bet with this is to tuck the side near the wall first, so that when you tuck the open side, you can compensate for any wrinkles or unevenness. It is also fine to not tuck that side of the sheet between the mattresses, but let it hang against the wall; no one will notice.
The size of the bed is also problematic. Making a twin size bed can easily be down by yourself; however, a full-, queen-, or king-sized bed might require two or more people. Now, it is possible to make one of these larger beds by yourself, but only if you don’t mind running around the outside of the bed, back and forth, while you get it right. This technique will lengthen the amount of time it takes to make the bed. There is also the make-the-bed-while-you-are-on-top-of-it technique, but the maker who follows that course of study will lose points in the wrinkle department. Ideally, when you make a large bed, find a friend and use the buddy-system; doing it together will speed up the process (minding that you don’t argue about the technique or style while doing it).

Comforters and blankets
Comforters are relatively easy, they can be thrown onto a bed, and as long as it hangs evenly off the edge, it will greatly improve the look of the bed making. Sometimes, in colder regions, it is necessary to have more than one blanket for the purpose of keeping warm at night. If such a blanket is needed, this blanket is tucked into the mattress like the sheets are (foot end first, sides second). The comforter is then laid on top of the blanket in the usual fashion.

Pillows and throw pillows
Pillows are essential in sleeping. It is customary to keep the pillows near the head of the bed. Whether or not they lay under or on top of the comforter is personal preference and style. This also needs to be decided before attempting to make a bed.
Throw pillows are usually found on bed in which women sleep. Because of this, before placing them on the bed, check with the female sleeper how she wants them to be placed. If you do not do this, consequences could be disastrous, especially if you also want to be sleeping in that bed later and not on the couch. It is also fashionable to keep the throw pillows at the foot of the bed in a dramatic and stylistic pile.

Headboards, Footboards, and Four-poster beds
Extra stylistic addendums to the bed can also create trouble. Headboards are highly common and only create problems when the maker is applying the fitted sheet. Blessed is the bed with only a headboard, for the maker can cut minutes off his chore. Having a footboard not only complicates the fitted sheet, but the flat sheet, too. I once had an oak bed that had head- and footboards. Tucking the flat sheet between the mattresses is a painful chore. The best way to avoid scrapes on your knuckles and wrists during this step in the process is to slightly lift the mattress as you shove the sheet in there. I highly recommend having a partner help with this, unless, of course, you have a large supply of Disney Princess Band-Aids on hand. In dealing with four-poster beds, use the same techniques.

Loft and Bunk beds
Any woman attempting to make her child’s bunk bed understands the mess involved. This high-wire act can only be done while on the mattress, making the tucking more difficult. There are also other dangers such as unsteady ladders up to the bed or ceiling fans near the maker’s head. Authorities on this subject recommend wearing a sneaker for climbing up the ladder so as to avoid splinters and to keep a keen balance. Please make sure that any ceiling fan is turned off and the blades are away from the maker. Do not attempt making a bunk bed unless you have at least 10 minutes devoted to tucking and re-tucking. Blankets pose a natural problem; the safest solution is to fold the blanket neatly and keep it at the foot of the bed. Doing this will avoid unnecessary tucking and consequent scrapes.

Once the bed is made, the maker usually rushes out to run daily errands. The bed is left alone all day and there is no one to appreciate it until later that night, while crawling around in the dark, the sleeper slides a foot between the wrinkle-free sheets, and takes a deep breath, “Ahhh…”

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