Nothing says comfort like a well-made layered bed. Climbing into bed at night should be a relief, not a chore. Think of a turn down service at a luxury hotel, complete with chocolates on the pillow. Sateen high thread count sheets and a down duvet speak of royalty and providence. Extra pillows add a feeling of comfort and relaxation. An extra throw for the cold nights and a neck roll to add height and support and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed. Add a bench or chair to sit on to remove shoes, a pitcher of water on the night stand and a lamp for reading. A comfy carpet or area rugs are a welcome addition to stretch your toes. Soft music, a small TV for viewing and a charger for cell phone. Don’t forget to set the alarm.
Start with the bedding. A comfortable and attractive bed starts with a comforter, duvet and cover or quilt and matching shams. A down comforter and/or feather bed is especially nice in cold winter months.
Comforters and Comforter Sets
The market place is full of ready-made synthetic fill comforters and sets. They are usually inexpensive. These are easy to launder and generally hypoallergenic, but the quality and desirability can be questionable.
Duvets: according to Wikipedia, are a type of bedding consisting of a bag filled with down, feathers, silk, or other synthetic fibers. They are generally made of white cotton and then protected with a removable decorative cover. There are a number of natural duvet options, but down is most often recommended due to its flexibility. Except in rare occasions, feather and down allergies are a result of dust and dirt collected inside the duvet, not the down itself. Shelter magazines use a high fill count down duvet and beautifully crafted duvet covers.
Synthetic Fibers: More economical than feathers or down, synthetic duvets are easy to clean, but not as insulating as feathers or down. They also are considered more hypo-allergenic.
Feathers: The contoured shape of feathers provides a supportive quality which makes them appropriate for use in sleeping pillows, decorative pillow inserts and feather beds. They are generally not used for insulating purposes.
Down: The three-dimensional plumage found under the belly feathers of ducks and geese is referred to as down, which work as insulation. Unlike feathers there is no spine, making them more comfortable, insulating and breathable. Fill power refers to the volume one ounce of down occupies. The higher the value the more volume the one ounce will occupy. Fill power also provides an index for determining the lofting, insulation properties and quality of the down.
Silk: Silk duvets are generally expensive and are prized because of their superior thermal properties, and hypoallergenic properties. The best silk duvets are made from wild silk.
Feather Bed: A feather bed is much like a duvet, except it generally uses a lower quality of feathers/down and is placed just over the mattress, under the bottom sheet.
Baffles: The construction of vertical walls of fabric between each box allows the fill to achieve its greatest loft and a smoother surface texture. The boxes are stitched closed to prevent shifting of the fill material. The box shape is more visible because the top and bottom layers of fabric are sewn together
A down comforter will last many years if cared for properly. Always protect your comforter from direct contact with body oils by using a duvet cover or by placing between two flat sheets and launder no more than once or twice per year unless there is obvious soiling. More frequent washing will shorten the life of your comforter. In between laundering we recommend you occasionally place it outside in fresh air and direct sun to restore freshness. Frequent fluffing will help retain the loft that makes your comforter so lush and inviting. Dry cleaning is an option, if you must, but we prefer not to see the chemicals added to your beautiful down bedding.
Profession laundering (note laundering, not dry cleaning) is recommended based on the fact that most consumers over apply detergent and fail to rinse and dry the item properly. If you choose to home launder please use the following guidelines:
• Check seams and fabric carefully – if weakness is evident do not home launder!
• Machine wash in an over-sized machine without a center agitator, using warm water and mild detergent on the delicate cycle.
• Do not use bleach or fabric softener.
• Repeat the rinse cycle an additional 1-2 times to ensure the detergent is completely removed.
• Dry using the low heat. Place a couple of clean tennis balls or dryer balls inside the dryer to add the process. Removing frequently to shake will help minimize wrinkling and aid the drying process. Dry well beyond the point where the outer fabric feels dry so that the down clusters will be fully dry – this often takes 3-4 hours.
• If possible, allow the comforter an additional 24 hours to air dry and release any moisture before placing inside a duvet cover. If you notice a lingering odor or clumping then the item was not fully dry when it was removed from the dryer.
Matelassé is a weaving or stitching technique which yields a pattern that is quilted or padded. Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a loom, or a quilting machine. Because of its tightly woven nature, it stands up to heavy wear and tear, is washable and ages beautifully. It is very pet friendly bedding. The tight quilting is durable enough to stand up to heavy pawing and clawing and provides a sturdy protective layer over fine linens.
Pillows, whether down-filled or fiberfill add to the ambiance of the perfect bed.
Euro Shams: European shams and pillows are the standard in French décor. 27” x 27” square pillows are often covered with fabric to match sheets, duvet covers or accent fabrics. They are usually are placed next to the headboard for extra support or to add interest to the bed. Shams are covers only, and fillers are generally purchased separately from the shams.
Standard Shams: American shams generally fit standard sized pillows. These are usually 21” x 27.” Queen and King shams are also available on some products, which fit larger pillow forms.
Accent Pillows: Accent pillows are added to enhance design or for specific uses such as neck-rolls for neck support.
Bed skirts and dust ruffles, although usually commandeered to Country or Rustic designs, are making a come-back. Look for soft voile, gauze and burlap fabrics to embrace the new rustic and industrial markets.
Sheets and Pillow Cases
Cotton sheets are the most comfortable because they absorb perspiration and “breathe”. Egyptian cotton is the best quality, but other high count sheets are also acceptable. The higher the thread count the smoother and silkier the sheets will feel. Avoid blends of cotton, polyester or other fabrics, since these tend to pill and are not as absorbent.
Lastly. Add a throw to the foot of your bed for these cold winter nights. It adds an extra layer for drama and a little extra warmth.
Climb in and enjoy!