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Bed Shopping on a Budget

I’ve been bed shopping lately. “Lately” being a relative term, because it feels like much, much longer than that. It started off innocently enough, with Adam and I on our floor mattress, dreaming about what bed would be the one to finally lift us up off the concrete. Our bedroom is rustic and fairly masculine, and it has all the traditional elements you need for a great room – wood, stone, metal, white, some color, and plants. The only thing it was missing was leather. A leather bed would be perfect.

leather headboard

I ran across a huge stumbling block on my search for a leather bed though. Turns out real, rustic, sexy leather is WAY out of our price range. Adam and I talked about making one on our own, but honestly, neither one of has the energy for that right now.

So I started looking for alternatives, and ran across the Arne bed from West Elm.

bed shopping

This bed seemed like a good compromise. It was wood, but it had leather cushions on the headboard. I also really liked the simple slatted wood headboard and MCM aesthetic, it would look great next to the white spindle leg nightstands in our room. The price for this bed in a king is $1,600 (you can also buy it without the cushions for $1,200), and when you add in tax and shipping the price borders on two grand. So I decided to stalk our local West Elm outlet for a drastically cheaper one while I was looking at other options.

Here are a few of my favorites….

Alexa Reclaimed Wood Bed – West Elm

bed shopping


Linea Platform Bed – Houzz & Amazon

(Also know as the Glidden Platform Bed on Wayfair)

bed shopping


Bench Made Live Edge Panel Bed – Bassett

bed shopping


Drommen Acacia bed with leather headboard – CB2

bed shopping


Patterson Tufted Bed – Horchow

(I *almost* bought this one because the price only $1,050 for a great looking king size leather bed…then I realized its not leather, it’s upholstery. It’s a great fake though, it had me fooled!)

leather bed


Then I came across this one, which was being sold everywhere for about $550 for a king.


cheap wooden bed

I thought it was a pretty decent look-a-like to the West Elm bed, and when I came across it on totallyfurniture.com for $400 (including tax and shipping!) I pulled the trigger.

It arrived in three small boxes and a hundred pieces, but it went together pretty easily. The quality isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst either…and for $400 Adam and I didn’t even care because we were getting off the floor.

budget bed

Not a bad knock-off, right?

Next, it was time to conquer the bedding.

bed shopping

So here’s the thing about the bedding…I don’t love the way it turned out and I’m changing most of it, so this is more of a first draft.

So let’s chat about all the elements, starting with the leather pillows.

What I was trying to do was copy the West Elm bed with the leather cushions, only for a much cheaper price. So I bought three of these 24 x24 faux leather pillows from Amazon for $36 each. Real leather ones were insanely expensive, and these looked like a great fake and have amazing reviews.

faux leather pillow

They are a great fake, but they are too tall and hide pretty much all of the headboard (which is so much shorter than I thought it would be…or maybe we just have a super thick mattress? Either way). Also, the fake leather against the wood headboard to too slick, they slide all over and refuse to stay on the bed. So I’m returning them.

The sheets are from a company called Saatva, and they sent them to me (free of charge) to review on the blog. They aren’t cheap sheets, a queen set is $195 and a king is $215. Admittedly, this isn’t a price point I would have considered if I were paying for them. I’ve always bought cheap sheets…and I now realize that my sheets have always sucked.

the softest sheets

These sheets are SO SOFT. They’re organic and fair trade, plus cozy, breathable, and perfect. They’ve completely ruined me. FYI, they would make an awesome Christmas gift for frugal parents who would never splurge on their own.

Saatva also sent pillows to try, and I really like these as well. It’s hard to recommend pillows because everyone has different pillow preferences (I’m a latex foam kinda girl), but it’s hard to imagine someone not liking these. The pillow is made of shredded latex foam wrapped in a layer of cloudlike cushioning, and its supportive, soft, and surprisingly heavy.

Next up we have the blue and white striped lumbar pillow.

leather and white bedding

You may have noticed that it looks a little funny, and that’s because it’s not a pillow, it’s a rug.

I wanted a really textured, thick, extra long kilim style pillow, but I couldn’t find one that I liked and was in my price range (this was the theme of all my bedroom shopping). I did find this 2×3 rug though…which when you fold it in half, fill full of stuffing, and sew it closed becomes a beautiful pillow. I haven’t gotten around to actually making it yet though, so this is purely hypothetical. I really like the texture, it’s not scratchy, and the colors are perfect, so I bought another one and plan to (somehow) make two rug-sham pillows for against the headboard. Then a leather lumbar will go in the front, because I want to get leather in here somehow (even if it’s just a tiny amount).

Last but not least we have the bedspread. It’s from Wayfair, and it was only $40 for an oversized king. It’s a  great deal and the quality is pretty good, but it’s going back. It’s WAY too white against the stone wall and off-white furniture and curtains.

too white bedding

I already knew that I wanted an off-white linen duvet cover, but at $260 I thought that a $40 bedspread (with 12k reviews and 4.5 stars) would be almost as good and a budget saver. But it wasn’t, so I sucked it up and ordered a reversible linen duvet cover from an Etsy shop called Dejavu Linen.

linen duvetThe bed is still a work in progress, but I love it so much and I never want to get out of it.  I’m writing this post from bed right now, and its cold in my room and warm in bed, and it’s just so dang cozy and soft. If I didn’t have to get up and get my boys off to school then I wouldn’t even be considering getting out of it right now.



the perfect master bed on a budget

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  1. Hi Ashley,
    I feel your pain about the search for bedding. I have looked until I am sick of looking for what I want vs. what I can afford. I also have the added problem of having a very tall bed. I need a bedskirt that is at minimum a 24″ drop. This is by choice; I really like the look and storage underneath, but it presents additional costs when choosing the bedding. I do quilt, so sewing is an option. I wanted bedding in a taupe-ish neutral that I can add color through pillows, throws etc. My solution is to use the canvas drop cloths to make my own bedskirt and duvet cover. I hope you find what you are looking for with your search for leather. If you could obtain leather yardage, pillows are not difficult to sew. That might be an option.
    I’m glad you’ve had the pleasure of a quality set of sheets. That is the one thing I will spend on. One of life’s little pleasures….yay!

    1. Finding the balance between what you want vs. what is in the budget is always difficult! I think your solution sounds great, I have always liked using dropcloth for projects… it’s surprisingly soft and a great neutral.

  2. You probably thought of this and decided against it, but you could semi-DIY and just add a slat to the headboard to rise above those faux leather amazon pillows, and add a back strap or velcro to the back of the pillows to make them stay put. Just a thought. Also, I heard on the cheap sheets, we only have good ones when my mother-in-law gives them to us as gifts. We too have a king bed that we only paid $400 for including the mattress, so paying half that just for sheets feels too pricey.

    1. We did think about that, but the bed isn’t real wood so we couldn’t add on and make it not look weird. I should have measured the headboard height before ordering, it just looked so tall in the stock photo!

  3. Hi Ashley,
    We too have been bed shopping since we only had a smaller version of a Queen, that I bought when I was 17 for $50 from Ikea. It is solid wood and has held up for 20 years now. So I am looking for a solid wood one on a budget, and that seems to be hard to come by. Is your new bed solid? How do you feel about the overall quality? I really like the style of it!

    1. Dang, go Ikea bed! I never shop at Ikea because there isn’t one nearby, but I heard that it is great on a budget. This one isn’t solid wood, so if it’s your forever bed I would probably keep looking. It looks nice and its sturdy, but the quality isn’t top notch.

  4. Very timely post for me – our bed broke the other day so we are in the market for a new one. I love the Patterson Tufted Bed/Horchow one you posted but with how often we move, I’m hesitant to purchase a bed without seeing it in person…craftsmanship can be so varied!

  5. I completely relate- to the lack of energy to DIY it, and the not quite enough money to buy what I’d really like to have, and the trials and returns to get close to what I want with the budget I have. If only leather could be sewn on a sewing machine, I’d totally buy myself some cowhide and do things with it! Your mattress does look pretty thick IMO compared to ours at any rate! It makes a big difference on these low rise platform beds we’re using now.

    Your bedding sounds awesome! I always buy the best, smoothest cotton sheets I can afford but that isn’t exactly the over $100 expensive stuff. I’m currently super happy with my 50/50 linen/cotton sheets from Target because they feel great summer and winter, and their texture is linen-y and awesome! I fold down about 2 feet over our comforter so I can enjoy the sight.

  6. Great idea to turn a rug into a pillow cover. I agree that the back pillows are too tall. Maybe you could make your own, then you’ll have the dimensions just right.

    Keep up the good work – I always enjoy seeing what you come up with. Great ideas :)

  7. Thanks for posting, Ashley!
    I feel your pain (sounds like we have a club now!), but at the same time I’m glad that I’m not alone. I’d call it a bedroom perfectionist syndrome.
    My bedroom is a constant WIP, since it’s a pretty tough task to build your family nest from scratch. I was a futon fan for a long time, and when I finally decided to change it for a good ol’ bed I spent a lot of time searching for a bed frame that would be not only good-looking but good for my back as well.
    Btw, the final result is amazing.

  8. well it’s not easy to find your dream thing on a budget, but finally you got a great one. I think the leather pillow will make cool feeling as we use it. Anyway thanks for sharing your interesting experience.

  9. I’m finding for a bed, and all these information in your post is helpful, the beds look nice, and one more important thing that is trying the bed, you need to try before you buy it. Anyway thanks a lot.

  10. It’s on its way! I’m looking forward to seeing what a difference the linen duvet cover makes. I think that’s going to be gorgeous. As far as partial DIY’ing that headboard goes, could you take it apart from the platform and extend the legs a bit at the bottom, then reattach? Then it would be taller and you wouldn’t see the area that had been altered because it would be behind the mattress. Your bedroom is coming along beautifully. It must be so great to be off the floor!

  11. These are some pretty impressive hacks. The first thing I noticed was actually the lumbar pillow–I loved the textured and how it reads nubby and organic but still linear and clean….when I read that it was actually a rug, I thought that was ingenious! This “first shot” is already magazine worthy, so I’m curious to see what the final draft looks like!

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