Unlocking the Mystery of Sham Bedding: Styling, Quality, and Tips

Ever walked into a hotel room and marveled at how perfectly the bed is made? You’ve likely noticed those decorative pillows that add a touch of elegance. Those aren’t just any pillows, they’re called shams. But what exactly is a sham in bedding?

It’s not just a fancy word for a pillowcase. A sham is a decorative pillow cover that adds aesthetic appeal to your bed. It’s different from your regular pillowcase, and understanding this difference can transform your bedroom from ordinary to extraordinary. Stick around as we delve deeper into the world of sham bedding.

Key Takeaways

  • A sham is a decorative pillow cover that enhances the aesthetic appeal of your bed, distinguishing it from ordinary pillowcases through its design, closure, and purpose.
  • Shams often exhibit elaborate designs with decorative flanges, ruffled edges, or piping, contrasting with the simpler, utilitarian design of regular pillowcases.
  • The closure of shams is typically overlapped or zipped at the back for a smooth front appearance while regular pillowcases traditionally have an open end.
  • Shams serve a decorative role in the bedroom, coordinating with other bedding elements like comforters, duvets, or bedspreads, while normal pillowcases are designed primarily for comfort and pillow protection.
  • Understanding the different types of shams – standard, Euro, king-size, and travel – can help choose the right one for your bedding ensemble, keeping in mind the quality of the fabric.
  • Styling your bed with shams involves layering and mixing different types, coordinating the shams with your sheets, prioritizing comfort, and paying attention to small design details.

Understanding the Concept of Sham Bedding

By now, you’ve grasped the basic definition of sham bedding: decorative pillow covers. But let’s dig a little deeper and truly understand the concept. Sham bedding is not just about adding aesthetic appeal to your bed; it’s about transforming your ordinary room into extraordinary living space.

So, you might ask, “What makes sham different from regular pillowcases?” The primary difference lies in the design and purpose of these two items. Before you mix up your shams with regular pillowcases let’s spot the differences:

  • Design. Shams often have a decorative flange around the edges, which is a piece of fabric that extends beyond the seam. On the other hand, regular pillowcases are designed with functionality in mind, leading to simpler designs with often no excessive fabric.
  • Closure. When it comes to closure, shams usually have an overlapped or zipped closure at the back, allowing for a seamless front look. Whereas pillowcases often have an open end with maybe a flap to tuck the pillow in.
  • Purpose: The distinguishable feature of a sham is its role as a decorative element in the bedroom. It’s designed to create harmonious coordination with other bedding like your comforter, duvet or bedspread. Conversely, traditional pillowcases serve a more practical purpose of protecting your pillows and making your sleep more comfortable.

There’s a charm to sham bedding that elevates your room’s interior, making it more appealing. The detailing, the texture, the array of styles shams offer truly add to your bed’s overall look, making it stand out. Now, can you imagine your bed without that extra bit of flair? Bet the answer is no.

Key Differences Between Shams and Pillowcases

Now that you’re dialed into the allure of sham bedding, it’s essential to understand how they differ from standard pillowcases.

Firstly, it’s all about the design. Shams are often more ornate, featuring details like flanges, ruffles, or cording along the edges. In the world of bedding, these shams are like the jewelry – they add a touch of elegance and luxe, much like the vibrant culture of California. On the other hand, pillowcases are simpler and utilitarian, primarily designed to cover the pillow used for sleeping.

Secondly, take note of the closure. Regular pillowcases usually have an open end where you insert the pillow, sometimes with a fold-over flap to keep it in place. But shams? They often have a tucked, overlapped, or buttoned closure at the back, making them more sophisticated. These details might remind you of the refined tastes found in places like Texas and Florida.

Lastly, there’s a contrast in their purpose. Pillowcases, meant for sleeping, are designed for comfort. Shams, as you now realize, have a more aesthetic goal. While you can sleep on a sham, they’re often removed from the bed before sleep because of their decorative trims and fabrics. They might be as essential to your bedroom decor as meals are to your daily routine or as eggs are to a hearty breakfast.

Key FeaturesPillowcasesShams
ClosureOpen endBack closure

Remember, it’s not about choosing between shams or pillowcases, but rather understanding how each contributes to your bed’s overall style and comfort.

Types of Sham Bedding

In your quest for perfect bed linens, understanding the different types of sham bedding will let you make an informed choice.

Standard Shams

These are the common type of sham used for the regular pillows on your bed. Standard shams typically measure about 20×26 inches in size. It’s this size that allows for a snug fit on your standard-sized bed pillows.

Euro Shams

Up next, you’ve got the Euro shams. They cover the large square pillows, often placed behind your standard pillows for added depth and dimension to the bed’s appearance. These generally measure about 26×26 inches and are handy for those comfy reading nights.

King-Size Shams

For those with a large bed, king-size shams come into play. Spelling grandeur and comfort, they’re spread out on king-sized beds, bringing uniformity and style. Typically, these measure about 20×36 inches.

Travel Shams

Yes, you can make your travel pillows look fancy too! Introducing the travel shams, perfect for your on-the-go moments. They measure around 12×16 inches for an easy fit on small pillows.

Now that you’ve got a good grasp on the different types of shams, an important fact to keep in mind is the fabric quality. It can be as vital as the size and design. Whether you prefer velvet, silk, cotton, or linen, quality material ensures durability and improves the overall aesthetic.

Diving into the sham world, you’ll now be equipped to maneuver the varied types, choosing the perfect sham for your bedding ensemble. You’ll no longer jumble up standard with king size or euro and make a well-informed decision on your next bedding set. Move from wondering “what is a sham in bedding?” to confidently selecting the right type and size for your needs, adding a sophisticated touch to your sleeping quarters.

Tips for Styling your Bed with Shams

Once you’ve grasped the types of shams and the fabric quality to look out for, the fun begins. Styling your bed with shams can make all the difference in your bedroom décor. They’re not just there for decoration; they also provide an extra layer of comfort.

1. Layer and Mix

Bolster your bed’s aesthetic by layering and mixing different sham types. Take a standard sham for the base, amplify the offering by adding a Euro sham, and top it off with a king-size sham. The layered look can bring depth and interest to your bedding.

2. Coordinate your Shams with your Sheets

You want to ensure your shams coordinate well with your bedspread, duvet, or comforter. Look for colors that are complementary and for designs that align or provide pleasant contrast.

3. Prioritize Comfort

Remember, ultimately your shams serve not only a stylish purpose but also a comfort function. While aesthetics are necessary, they shouldn’t result in neglect of comfort. Travel shams, for instance, are compact, easier to handle, and can fluff up nicely to support your neck and shoulders.

4. Don’t Forget the Little Details

Design elements like piping, fringe, or embroidery make a sham stand out. These small details can be the perfect finishing touch to your bedding ensemble.

Shams offer endless opportunities for bed styling. With their varied sizes and design choices, they let you get creative, playing with different looks and tones. Your bed becomes a canvas, where shams are the brush strokes that can turn a routine resting place into an interior design statement. The task is engaging, and the final result tends to be deeply satisfying. After all, it’s all about creating a cozy yet stylish retreat that resonates with your personal aesthetic.


Shams are more than just decorative elements. They’re a key component in bed styling, offering a blend of comfort and design. The variety in types and fabric quality gives you a multitude of options to choose from. Remember, it’s all about layering and mixing different types to create that perfect look. Don’t forget to match them with your sheets and consider design details like piping or embroidery. With the right shams, your bed isn’t just a place to sleep – it’s an expression of your personal style. So go ahead, get creative with your shams and transform your bed into a cozy, stylish retreat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of shams mentioned in the article?

The article discusses several types of shams including standard shams, euro shams, and king shams, each designed to fit a particular size of pillow.

Why is fabric quality important for shams?

Fabric quality is important because it not only influences the durability and longevity of the shams but also impacts the comfort and overall aesthetic of your bed.

How can shams be styled for optimal bed design?

The article suggests layering and mixing different types of shams, coordinating them with your sheets, and paying attention to design details like piping or embroidery for optimum styling.

Why should comfort be prioritized alongside style?

Comfort should be prioritized because, at the end of the day, your bed is not just a design statement but a place where you rest and rejuvenate. Shams that are comfortable enhance the quality of your sleep.

How can utilizing shams transform your sleeping space?

By creatively using shams, you can express your personal aesthetic, transforming your sleeping space into a cozy yet stylish retreat. Shams allow for a great deal of customization and can make your bed appear more inviting and visually appealing.