Image courtesy of Snowe
In any season, we spend a significant portion–and probably not as much as we’d like–between the sheets. Assembling a dream-worthy bed can be confusing, not to mention expensive. As with all things home-related, much of it comes down to personal preferences, trends, and pricing. Below is a guide to the best bedding available online, what’s new, and where to score fabulous sheets, duvet covers, and more, for less.
All of these products have been hand-selected by team 6sqft. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these affiliate links. All prices reflect those at the time of publishing.
Image courtesy of Magic Linen
When it comes to bedding, cotton is the traditional gold standard. The highest quality sheets use cotton with extra-long (“long-staple”) cotton fibers, including Egyptian and Pima. Percale is the cool, crisp, breathable and durable plain weave fabric typically used for sheets, with a thread count of at least 180. Sateen is cotton with a satin weave, which gives it a silky, lustrous feel; though they may have a very high thread count, sateen sheets aren’t as cool to the touch, and they can pill with time.
Linen is having a moment; long a luxury preference, this soft, natural fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant is catching on in the mainstream bedding market, with availability and pricing making it more accessible. The fabric is a looser weave, so thread count is of less concern; just look for 100 percent linen, Belgian linen, or flax.
Linen isn’t hard to care for. Laundering isn’t any different from what you’d do with cotton bedding. Linen sheets and duvet covers can be machine washed and dried at a warm setting. Fold right away for fewer wrinkles, but the wrinkled, effortlessly laid-back look is part of linen’s charm.
Though it’s pricey, linen has its benefits. It gets amazingly soft over time. It’s static-free, absorbent, and it keeps you toasty in winter and cool in summer. Pre-washed linen will be softer from the beginning. If it’s not pre-washed it may seem coarse at first, but it will soften over time.
As for other options, silk, flannel, jersey, and bamboo also have their loyal fans.
Image courtesy of Brooklinen
Does thread count really matter? The answer to this frequently asked question is yes…except when it doesn’t. And higher isn’t always better. Thread count addresses the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch. Generally, sheets with a higher thread count are usually softer and feel even more luxurious over time. But sheets with sky-high thread counts aren’t necessarily that much better. For example, sometimes multiple yarn threads are twisted together to inflate the thread count while the weave isn’t any tighter and the fabric isn’t any softer. Thread count alone doesn’t determine the feel of the fabric; how tightly the fabric is woven also determines quality and “hand” as does the type of fibers used.
Generally, with cotton percale fabric, less than a 200 thread count means lower quality, though perfectly functional. High-quality cotton percale sheets are usually 300 threads per square inch or higher. As many of the newer start-up bedding companies like to explain, there are other factors that determine quality and feel.
THE GREAT TOP SHEET VS. DUVET DEBATE
Most European (and many other) countries have never had use for a top (flat) sheet. The bed is made with a fitted/tucked sheet over the mattress or mattress pad and a minimal down-filled duvet inside a sheet fabric envelope on top. The duvet cover functions as a top sheet and is changed and laundered with the sheets and pillowcases. In Scandinavian countries, couples often use two twin duvets, so each person can have their own cover.
More accepted in the US (but slowly changing) is the fitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket or uncovered comforter bed. Sheets are laundered regularly while the top cover is not. Arguments for the former include the idea that the top sheet serves no purpose and gets tangled up at night, and the bed is much easier to make with just a duvet. The opposite side feels it’s unsanitary to sleep without a top sheet that can be washed often, as it’s too much trouble to wrestle a duvet/cover setup. Hot sleepers (or people who live in warmer climates) prefer the option of having a light sheet rather than having to use a heavy down duvet.
If you’re team duvet (or want to try one out), Ikea’s down, feather and synthetic duvets are legendary and an amazing value; they come in warmer and colder fill levels.
A secret to duvet wrangling: Better duvet covers come with ties at each corner to easily keep the pad secure inside. Some people even sew ties into covers that don’t already have them. There are also many forms of the handy invention known as the “duvet donut” that can be snapped down on each corner to hold the duvet in place inside.
THE BEST BEDDING YOU CAN BUY ONLINE
|Ikea Sotvedel down-filled duvet, in “warmer” weight, $99 for a full/queen from Ikea; also comes in twin and king. A lighter version, Fallbracka, comes in “light warm.”
Photo courtesy of Ikea
|Duvet donuts keep your duvet in place inside its cover.|
HIGH-END BEDDING SOURCES
For generations, the most covetable luxe linens were made by Italian brands like Frette, Sferra, and Pratesi, with high thread counts, microfine stitching, and a reputation for providing linens for the world’s finest hotels. This top echelon of nesting material can also be snagged–often at a hefty discount–from online distributors like Amazon and Wayfair. The high thread count cotton percale basics will last forever and only get better with time.
Department stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus and Bed, Bath & Beyond are also good sources for top-quality bed linens. Department store brands like Charisma are consistently high-quality bedding choices.
|Sferra Giza 45 Percale bedding|
|Frette Cruise Queen Duvet Cover, $525 at Amazon|
|Charisma 310 Thread Count Classic Stripe Cotton Sateen Queen Sheet Set|
Also enjoying celebrity status are designer darlings like Area, the New York City-based Scandinavian-style textile brand, cognoscenti-favored LA-based Matteo, and the Cali-boho-organic Coyuchi. These brands offer gorgeous, unique colors and patterns, and were known for offering linen bedding before the masses caught on.
|Perla extra-fine cotton sateen bedding
Photo courtesy of Area
|Coyuchi Pacific Grove relaxed linen duvet cover.|
NEWCOMERS, DISRUPTORS, AND DEEP DISCOUNTS
As is bound to happen with high-priced luxury items, start-ups and clever entrepreneurs have brought some democracy to the world of bedding. The LA-based Parachute was among the first, offering fresh, crisp, quality cotton bedding basics at a reasonable price. Brooklinen has skyrocketed to near-ubiquitous status with accessibly-priced core starter sets. Bedding basics brand Snowe is positioned at a slightly more luxe level, with an emphasis on lifestyle and integrated home decor. All of these newcomers have expanded their lines to include a range of linen bedding, with prices to match their luxury-disruptor status.
Ikea, not surprisingly, has some solid offerings. The Ofelia Vass duvet cover is a crisp, white 205 thread count classic in a dobby weave, and the company recently added the Puderviva line of 100 percent linen bedding at a seriously competitive price point.
THE LINE ON LINEN
At the high end, interior design junkies love the fabulous colors, styles, and quality of Society Limonta (the popular Italian bedding brand just opened a boutique in Soho, their first in NYC) and Matteo. New to the linen party but becoming go-to sources, “High Street” brands like CB2, Crate and Barrel, and Restoration Hardware now offer linen sheets and duvet sets that have been getting rave reviews. Another designer/insider favorite is Rough Linen.
Also gaining popularity are a collection of homespun startup shops offering the colors and styles previously found only in high-end brands, for far fewer dollars. Look to sources like Magic Linen and Linen Texture (with a big Etsy presence). Another affordable option is Ikea’s Puderviva linen range.
- The best mattresses you can buy online in 2020
- 13 simple ways to green your apartment
- How to keep cool without an air conditioner and cut your electricity bill