Making The Bed
Monday, November 30, 2009 | by Annliese Scott
THE BEDROOM IS A VERY PERSONAL SPACE that is home to some of our greatest comforts. The linens we choose for our beds, therefore, will be a direct result of our sleeping habits and personal tastes, and will ultimately dictate the bedroom’s overall style. Bedding manufacturers, retailers, and designers know that it’s the one area where clients spend one third of their lives (or maybe more) and want it to be a place of respite and comfort.
Gray is the hot neutral this season—from stone and putty tones to more indulgent pewters and platinums.
The most important decision one makes when planning his or her bedroom is choosing the bedding. “I notice that people’s tastes are always across the board,” says Helena Marchwicki, manager of fine French linen retailer Yves Delorme’s Georgetown location, “Some people want very crisp, modern, clean lines and others want a soft and romantic feel. It’s so personal, and everyone is different.”
Interior Designer Michelle Miller of Baltimore’s Jenkins Baer Associates agrees, noting that she tends to go with more neutrals when choosing bedding with clients, but that ultimately, their preferences fall into such a wide range that it’s hard to classify an overarching style or theme that is most popular.
Deborah Dean, owner of home store Gore Dean, with locations in Baltimore and DC, says she asks a lot of questions of customers when they come in looking for bedding. And more often than not, they realize that they’re more particular about their bed linens than they might have originally thought. “Some people need the sheets and blankets tucked in at their feet, while others can’t stand it,” she begins. “Some people need to sleep under just the duvet, but their spouse thinks they need a top sheet. We really talk to our customers about what they want and how they sleep.”
Dean, Marchwicki, and Miller all name gray as the hot neutral this season—from stone and putty tones to more indulgent pewters and platinums. Dean points to Dransfield and Ross, a manufacturer who has introduced Beauford, a bedding line that features a yellow and gray combination in a striking pattern. Miller recommends the stone gray bedding from Restoration Hardware for clients who like a clean look but don’t want a stark white.
Softness greatly depends on the quality of the cotton used which is why a 200-thread count Egyptian cotton sheet can feel softer than a 400- thread count sheet that uses an inferior grade of cotton.
A CLOTH FOR ALL SEASONS
When it comes to choosing sheets, some are more sensitive sleepers than others. For those who prefer a more crisp and clean feel, percale is the way to go, as it is a very tightly woven cotton that many people favor in the warmer months. For a softer, more luxurious feel, a sateen cotton sheet will have an almost satiny finish.
For those who are looking for more eco-friendly options, many manufacturers have organic cotton and even bamboo bedding. Amenity Home, an eco-chic company out of California, specializes in limited edition organic duvets and shams, individually printed with non-toxic, water-based dyes. Pottery Barn offers several collections of 100 percent organic bedding that is Oeko-Tex (a worldwide testing and certification system for textiles) certified. For bamboo options, Gore Dean carries a line by Home Source in a variety of colors.
Dean and Miller both recommend quality over quantity, and tell clients to invest in two pairs of linens. Marchwicki says it can’t hurt to have just one more. “It’s said that you should have three sets of linens,” she explains, “one in the bed, one in the wash, and one in the closet. Not only do different sets of linens coordinate with the seasons, but it also extends the life of your linens. If you rotate them, you’ll get years and years and years out of them.”
Although thread count is often thought to be the best way to judge quality and softness of linens, there are other factors to consider. “Thread count refers to the number of threads, both vertical and horizontal, in one square inch of fabric,” says Miller. “One cannot buy bedding based purely on thread count because the bedding is affected by additional factors including the thickness of threads being used and the ply.”
Thread count can mislead consumers, because as Marchwicki explains, “some manufacturers show very high thread counts on their products with the use of plied yarn, produced by twisting very thin threads together and counting that as two.” This will yield a higher count, but the quality of the fabric is compromised.
Retailers and designers alike will all tell you that when it comes to quality cotton, Egyptian reigns supreme. Because it has the longest staple (a staple is a measure of the length of a fabric’s fibers), it is the strongest and softest option. “Egyptian cotton has a staple of one and a half to two inches whereas Pima cotton, for example, has a staple of less than an inch,” Marchwicki continues. “Softness greatly depends on the quality of the cotton used which is why a 200-thread count Egyptian cotton sheet can feel softer than a 400-thread count sheet that uses an inferior grade of cotton.”
When it comes to choosing sheets, sensitive sleepers who prefer a more crisp and clean feel should use percale, as it is a very tightly woven cotton that many people favor in the warmer months.
Luxury linens like those from Anichini, DEA, Dransfield and Ross, and George Henry are made with the highest quality fabrics, and are designed to last for 30 years. So, although the beauty and longevity put fine European bedding at a higher price point, it can be worth the investment.
“I tell people they should have a luxurious bed if that’s what they want, but it doesn’t mean they have to have luxury linens for every room in the house,” says Dean. “A teenaged boy doesn’t need Italian linens in his room just because his parents have it in their master bedroom.”
Miller recommends Yves Delorme for the more traditional, fine linens, Restoration Hardware for both percale and sateen bedding with a more transitional look, and Thomas O’Brien for Target for the budget-conscious shopper. The best piece of advice she can offer consumers is to feel for themselves. “Department store brands are more limited in the color and patterns and don’t always offer the high thread count percale sheeting that custom stores do,” she admits, adding, “[but] I own Calvin Klein bedding from Macy’s. They are only 300 thread count, but after a couple of washes, they have become the softest, most luxurious sheets, and have turned out to be some of my favorite bedding.”
At the end of the day, everyone wants to end it on a restful note.
There are a multitude of bedding options available to suit every taste and décor, whether trendy or traditional; starched or soft. But at the end of the day, it’s just that: the end of the day. And everyone wants to end it on a restful note. “People are looking for a very calming, relaxing space, whatever that means to them, whether that’s very clean, modern lines or something very soft and elegant with a more traditional pattern,” says Marchwicki. “Everyone just wants a comfortable and relaxing space to come home to.”
CLICK HERE to see more of Michelle Miller’s favorites for this season.
CLICK HERE for tips from Deborah Dean on buying linens.
Annliese Scott is Assistant Editor for ChesapeakeHome.