What is a bed sham?

focus is on a made-up bed from Southshore Fine Linens that has all white bedding: pillows, bed shams, sheets and duvet. There is an off-white nightstand to the left of the bed.

Where you sleep matters. When you prioritize comfort with soft sheets, duvet cover sets, throw pillows, and pillow cases, you’re creating the right environment for a restful and restorative night. By focusing on the decor, aesthetics, and organization of your bedroom, you may be able to improve sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed rather than overwhelmed.

Bed shams, also called pillow shams, are one way to give your bed an easy upgrade that may be just what you need to fall in love with your bedroom again. Here’s everything you need to know about bed shams.

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What are shams in bedding?

Pillow shams are decorative pillowcases meant to add a luxurious element to your bed with intricate designs, creative patterns, dreamy textures, and detailed embellishments. Depending on your personal style and preferences for your bedroom, you can go for simple designs that have solid neutral colors, or you can go bold with unique statement shams that provide a pop of color and design.

Typically, a sham for bedding is more for show than function. Because many shams have different elements — including buttons, beads, or hand-sewn details — on the front side, they’re not meant to be used for sleep. Rather, they enhance the look of your bed and add to the overall atmosphere of the room.

Are there different bed sham sizes?

Bed shams are available in different sizes to fit your bed and pillows appropriately. You’ll need to choose the right sham and pillow size to create luxurious layering that perfectly fills out the space of your bed.

  • King shams - Shams designed for a king or California king bed are made to match king bedding sizes. King pillows measure 20 x 36 inches, which is wider than queen and standard sizes. Two king pillows with shams next to each other should span the width of the mattress.
  • Queen shams - A queen sham measures about 20 x 30 inches to fit bed pillows that are specifically made for queen mattresses.
  • Standard shams - The standard sham has the smallest dimensions, with a measurement of 20 x 26 inches. They fit standard pillows typically used for twin or full-sized mattresses.
  • Euro shams - Rather than having a wider rectangular shape, the Euro sham is designed to fit square pillows that are 26 x 26 inches. Many people choose to use this pillow size as a way to contrast their other rectangular pillows and create an elegant layered look.

What materials are used to make bed shams?

Viewpoint is from the end of a made-up bed and shows a gold headboard and lace/beaded bed shams. The pillows also match the bedding. There is a small nightstand with a lamp on it to the right of the bed.

Bed shams are made using different materials and textiles that complete a decorative look. Common fabrics you’ll find in shams include:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Flannel
  • Bamboo
  • Wool
  • Blends
  • Quilted fabric

Because you won’t actually be sleeping on your shams, you’ll want to focus more on the look of the fabric than the feel of it. However, choosing quality materials that are easy to clean could mean your shams will last longer. You can also avoid any irritation or allergic reactions if you purchase shams made from natural materials.

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What type of pillow should I use with my bed shams?

Here is where you can tighten your budget just a little bit. The decorative nature of bed shams means you don’t need to purchase high-end pillows for comfort or support. You can choose inexpensive pillows that provide some fluff to use with your bed shams.

The only thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the pillow size. The pillows should match the size of your bed shams, so make sure to note if they are king, queen, standard, or Euro shams before buying any pillows.

How often should I wash my bed shams?

You probably won’t need to wash your bed shams as often as your other bedding because you’re not actually using them for sleep. This can help to prevent wear and tear on the shams, especially if they have detailed beading or intricate woven patterns.

Keep in mind that good sleep hygiene and regularly washing your sheets are essential to your overall health and sleep quality. If you do use your pillow shams to support your head or body while you’re in bed, you should wash them according to their care instructions to ensure they don’t build up dead skin cells, sweat, or even pet dander.

How many shams should I have on my bed?

For most beds, two shams should do the trick to give your bed a more luxurious or fuller feel, although you can get creative and do what looks best for your room. Some people prefer to have three Euro shams rather than two king or queen shams. You can also try using one king sham on a full or queen bed rather than two standard shams. It depends on your preference and what bedroom style you most prefer.

Choosing the right bed shams

When looking for the best bed shams for your bedroom, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do they align with the decor in your room?
  • Do they match the rest of your bedding? How versatile are they?
  • Are they easy to clean?
  • Will they fit my pillows and mattress size?

The fun part is shopping for the perfect shams and bedding that will instantly transform your bedroom and sleep environment. Southshore Fine Linens carries luxury sheets, comforters, quilts, duvet covers, and decorative accessories to help you get the rest you need in a bed you love. Check out our new arrivals today!

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