When you’ve been in the bedding biz as long as Annie has, you’re bound to hear a lot of the same questions about putting together the perfect sleep setting. So Annie’s kicking off the new year with her favorite tips. Pour yourself a cuppa something toasty, grab your favorite throw, and curl up with this definitive guide to bedding.
1. Thread count is important, but it’s not the most important consideration. Truth is, a whole lot of marketing dollars go in to hyping sheets and duvets that have a high thread count but poor fabric quality. First, get the real lowdown on thread count. Then look for fine cotton sheets, which have stronger, softer threads that hold up wash after wash, even at lower thread counts. And for that drapey, jersey-knit feel without the pilling or college-dorm look, try Tencel sheets.
2. Even top quality doesn’t last forever. You’ll sleep a lot better (and healthier) if you follow a few basic replacement rules. Good mattresses last up to 10 years; swap them out sooner if you consistently wake up feeling tired or sore, or if the mattress looks like something out of CSI, with the perma-outline of your body still visible after you’ve been up for several minutes. (Check out Annie’s post on mattress shopping for even more helpful tidbits.) Replace your pillows once a year, or more frequently if you wake up with neck pain or you can easily fold your pillow in half . . . and it stays that way. Duvet inserts can be kept for longer periods, but if they’re lumpy or misshapen or start to show sheer patches in the fabric, it’s time to donate them to your favorite animal shelter. Good-quality sheets typically last for 5 years, sometimes more. (And the oldies make great dropcloths for painting.)
3. Keep it clean. Anything that touches your skin directly, like sheets and pillowcases, absorbs body oils and can harbor skin cells and bacteria, and should be washed once a week. Pillows are havens for all sorts of nasties, so wash the down versions every other month and synthetic pillows monthly. Duvet insert should pay a monthly visit to the laundry room. And if you have pets, keep your sheets clean and fur-free by tossing an extra quilt over the made bed. Then, come bedtime, simply fold it out of the way or hang it over a chair.
4. Mix, don’t match. Pick a focal piece—a gorgeous quilt, a luxurious duvet, or a printed sheet set—that has lots of pairing possibilities. This will allow you to change up your look by the season simply by switching out companion items. Annie likes to use a quilt or duvet as her starting point, and she keeps three sets of sheets in rotation for each: one on the bed, one in the laundry, and one in the linen closet. Once you have your color palette established, it becomes easy (and fun!) to mix patterns for a more sophisticated look. Check out this guest post from Rachel of Pencil Shavings Studio for some great tips on pattern play.
5. Go haute hotel. If you love the high-end hotel look, choose a light neutral as your foundation for sheets and blankets. Top them with a pale neutral duvet or quilt with interesting details—ruching, smocking, appliqué—and add a pair of shams that match the bedcover. Then ground those lighter colors with a neutral bed skirt in a darker shade, like chocolate, charcoal, or navy. Need more inspiration? Take a peek at this post from Annie.
6. Cheat the sheets. If you love a crisp, smooth feel to your sheets but your partner doesn’t, or if you just don’t have time for a lot of ironing, iron just the pillowcases and the folded-over edge of the flat sheet.
7. Don’t forget to layer. This is especially important if you find yourself struggling to stay warm—or cool—during the night, or if you share your bed with someone who doesn’t appreciate your sleep style. Annie favors several lightweight layers—sheets followed by a matelassé coverlet, topped with a quilt, and finished off with a cushy duvet—that can be peeled back for just the right level of snuggleability.
8. Pump it up with pillows. Annie always lines the back of the bed with some comfy Euro pillows—two for queen and three for king; she matches them to the bed skirt, if she’s using one—then layers sleeping pillows in front. Finally, she finishes off the bed with two or more decorative pillows. This is where you can really have some fun, matching them to the quilt or pairing different patterns in the same color palette.
9. Throw it together. For a sophisticated look, choose two complementary throws; these can be the same color in different fabrics or two patterns in coordinating palettes. Using two throws gives paired sleepers the ability to warm up their side of the bed without disturbing their partner, and they’re easy to toss off during the night.