Selecting a bed can be complicated.
Which mattress? Box spring? Headboard? Frame?
Comforter? Bedcover? Coverlet?
There are seemingly endless possibilities when considering how to cover one’s bed. As seen in this image of my bed in Brooklyn Heights, I prefer a simple bed cover (or comforter) with an antique textile folded at the end of the bed for interest and decoration, and a couple of decorative pillows. As the season’s change; or when the mood strikes me; or when a new antique textile enters my home I like to switch things up…
However, when it comes to sheets for my bed I am pretty basic – I like WHITE.
When I started looking for a weekend house one of the things on my ‘wish-list’ was enough room to host friends and family.
The still-pretty-new-very-old-house I found in Connecticut has a bunch of bedrooms, more than I really ‘needed’; I have quite a few beds and needed sheets – a lot of sheets. To keep it simple, I wanted all of the sheets to be the same – and I didn’t want to buy a lot of the ‘wrong’ sheets!
I was looking for good quality, good value and well, simple luxury like a finely tailored, well proportioned 100% cotton white dress shirt.
Finding great basic white bed linens should be a snap right?
I don’t think so!
Like so many things today – there are seemingly endless options.
A few months ago I read an informative article on dress shirts: The “No-Iron” and “Easy-Iron” Dress Shirt Problem written by the sartorialist and blogger George Hahn. In his article I saw that some of the very same issues with finding a great cost effective white dress shirt apply to purchasing bed sheets. Hahn researched the issue and writes about how manufacturers have made changes to basic cotton – to suit what they think the ‘market’ wants with unfortunate results;
“After a little research, I learned that “no-iron” and “easy-iron” cotton is treated with a formaldehyde resin, which permanently alters the cotton fabric, putting bonds in the material where they don’t exist on natural cotton fiber. This extra bonding yields a fabric that is, yes, technically cotton, but a super-strength Frankenstein cotton that doesn’t breathe, doesn’t bend or doesn’t wrinkle like natural cotton should. Another unfortunate effect of the “easy iron” cotton is the poly-blend look of it before ironing. The collar is permanently stiff and there is no option of wearing the shirt in a relaxed, un-ironed mode.”
Here are some important considerations for bed linens (and dress shirts):
AVOID BLENDS! Read polyester or other miracle threads – while they may make care a ‘breeze’ – sleeping in them is no joy for me.
AVOID WRINKLE-RESISTANT! Trust me, I don’t really like wrinkled sheets, and if I had my way, my bed sheets would be ironed; but do not be led astray by the fantasy that you can have lovely cotton sheets without wrinkles without significant sacrifice. The chemicals that used to treat the cotton alter the finish enough to almost put them in the category of BLENDS!
5,000 THREAD COUNT ?! The higher the thread count the better, right? Wrong – all fabrics are NOT created equal. Apparently ‘thread count’ per se is really a marketing myth. Certainly any cotton fabric is finely woven, but there are so many factors that affect the users’ experience.
AVOID NOVELTY – What might be ‘fun’ today can rapidly turn into ‘unfortunate’ in a heartbeat. I find solid tones, and even small scale decorative details are fine, or even simple stripes (for the right place I love ticking stripes). But in general – I will take my bed sheets white, thank you.
I looked for a fine hand and simple refined detailing. I found exactly what I wanted in Macy’s Hotel Collection 525 Thread Count 100% Egyptian Cotton. I started with one set that I tried out myself before pulling the trigger on a small mountain of linens to stock my house.
“You’re Buying Your Sheets Wrong. We’re Here To Help.” , a recent article in the Huffington Post, helps to demystify some of the terms used to describe bedding today. The article came out months after I had already done my own research, and purchased my bed linens, but I was happy and reassured to hear that I had come to similar conclusions, making choices I feel good about.
Beds are one of our most important environments; we spend more time than anywhere else in our lives so do yourself a favor – get some nice sheets, nice pillows and pillows, curl up and get into a dream state – in simple luxury!