Building the perfect bed- Part Two: Decorative Bedding

Now that you know what you need to build the basics of a dreamy place to lay your head, its time for the fun part -- decorative bedding!

Sheeting:

While the Ritz-Carlton recommends (and sells) the Frette hotel line in their hotel, your own home offers a much broader canvas for expression.  My advice is to start with 100% cotton sheeting with a thread count of 250 or higher.  There are sheets available in thread counts as high as 1000, but it's been my experience that once you get over 400 thread count, you're talking about a cotton sateen, and I'm a percale girl myself.  My very favorite sheets are either from the Sferra Celeste Collection,  (406 thread count sheeting with beautiful hemstitching) or Wamsutta Scallop  sheeting, a well-priced classic percale that stands the test of time -- some of my favorite sheets are the appliquéd Wamsutta sheets my mom received as a wedding gift over 50 years ago!  If patterned sheets strike your fancy, classic French companies like Porthault and Yves Delorme offer a variety of prints including florals, geometrics and more.

If sateen is more your style, look for sheets described as "cotton sateen", usually with a thread count of 500+.  Italian brands Sferra, Frette and Anichini make beautiful sateen sheets with damask patterns woven into the cotton.

Blankets:

Every bed can be improved with the addition of blankets -- they add weight, texture and softness to any style of decor.  I recommend using blankets of natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen and cashmere.  Not only will these materials feel better, but with proper care and storage they will also last longer.  My favorite source for blankets is Brahms-Mount, where you will find a variety of styles and price points loomed right here in the United States.

Coverlets, Quilts and Matelasse:

Addison + Grace monogram and bedding by Leontine Linens

Addison + Grace monogram and bedding by Leontine Linens

Coverlets can be both a part of your exterior bedding, or the outer layer with which you finish the bed.  Here in the deep south, sometimes a coverlet is all one can bear in the summertime.  In other climates a coverlet might be layered underneath a duvet or quilt.  If you're planning on your coverlet being the outer layer of your bed, using a thicker piece will make bed making easier, as it can help disguise the lumps and bumps that come with layers of luxury.  If you're going for the lightest bedding possible, Matouk offers beautiful coverlets in plisse and pique that can be appliquéd with a monogram or design in virtually every color of the rainbow.  If completely personalized one-of-a-kind items are on your radar, Jane Scott Hodges and Leontine Linens can create almost anything you can dream up.

Millefiori quilts by Yves Dleorme

Millefiori quilts by Yves Dleorme

Quilts are one of my favorite categories of linens.  I love the French tradition of piling quilts on top of quilts, and using them as table coverings and even upholstery.  Quilts also do not need ironing, and if they are made well can be tossed in the washing machine and be back on the bed with little fuss after a spill -- which also make them ideal for children's rooms.

Matelasse  is French for “quilted” or “cushioned,” and in usage with fabric, refers to quilted textiles. It is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched Marseilles type quilts made in France. A traditional matelasse lends an elegant gravitas as the fishing touch on a neutral bed.  You can find a great selection of matelasse coverlets through Peacock Alley.

Matelasse coverlets by Peacock Alley

Matelasse coverlets by Peacock Alley

Duvets:

I have a love/hate relationship with duvets.  I'm never satisfied with the way my finished bed looks without one, but the constant fluffing, poufing and general wrestling that goes on when dealing with a massive body of goosedown is a daily battle.  Because I do love duvets, I've come up with a few tips on "maintaining" your bed with one.

- Buy your duvet one size up from the size duvet cover you are using.  Oftentimes duvet covers are cut to accommodate the largest possible duvet, and it's been my experience that a king size duvet in a queen size duvet cover is just about perfect.

- If your duvet cover does not come with buttons or "stays" in the corner to help your duvet stay in place, have a tailor add them.  Its an inexpensive way to guarantee you don't spend ten minutes every morning standing on top of your bed shaking your bedding trying to get the duvet out of the center and into the full body of the cover.

- Use an inexpensive cotton protector on your duvet at all times underneath the actual decorative duvet cover.  It will prevent down leakage and also give an extra layer that you can launder without actually washing the duvet itself.  If you google "pillow protectors" you should be able to find several options.

- If you love the look but not the actual duvet, take it off your bed at night and fold it over a chair.  This is my favorite tip.

That said, duvet covers are plentiful and available in any style you can imagine.  You can match them to your sheeting, to your coverlet, to your curtains, or go rogue and have one made from antique or decorative fabric.

Extreme duvet action by Anichini

Extreme duvet action by Anichini

Pillows:

Truly, pillows are probably worth an entire blog post on their own, so I'll just summarize and say that pillows can add a lot to both the look and function of your bed.  I recommend using pillowcases for your sleeping pillows, and using decorative shams for European pillows, bolsters and other decorative pieces.  If you're going to put your face on a pillow, you want it to be a soft fabric that can be removed and washed easily, hence the recommendation for sheeting fabric on sleeping pillows.  Otherwise, the sky is really the limit so far as design and construction of your other pieces.  Here is a quick list of the more common pillows you'll find on a functional bed.

Bolster pillow:

Bolster pillows are designed to bolster something -- maybe another pillow, but oftentimes you as you read a book or catch up on Netflix.  They tend to be either cylindircal or long and rectangular.

Bolster pillow from Citizenry

Bolster pillow from Citizenry

European square:

European square pillows are large square pillows, traditionally 26 inches square but I've seen them advertised as such up to 30 inches square.  They look great as the first layer of pillows against the headboard.  I like to use three on a king side bed, two on a full or queen, and one on a twin.  They are a GREAT dorm bed accessory, especially if you monogram them.

Boudoir:

Boudoir pillows from D. Porthault

Boudoir pillows from D. Porthault

Boudoir pillows are not only made for the boudoir.  They are 12" x 16" and I love to use them as baby gifts.  When I'm not using them as baby gifts, I pile them on the bed so that I can mix different patterns.  Most linen companies offer this size as a standard option when purchasing sheeting.  I especially like the ones from Porthault and Sferra.

 

Standard sleeping pillows:

Most people use either standard, queen or king size pillows as their sleeping pillows.  As discussed in the previous blog, the most important thing about these pillows is that they be comfortable for sleeping.  After that, I would suggest ordering an extra set of pillow cases with for each pair of sleeping pillows, as you will need to launder them often.  Iron them (the cases) -- it makes a difference!

So, this is where our primer on decorative bedding ends.  Stay tuned for our next blog, which will be about all of the ways you can use Amanda Talley Textiles in your dream bed!

 

Building the perfect bed- Part One: Components

Although I am not an expert on many things, I consider myself expert at building a comfortable bed.  In addition to managing my mother's fine linen store for years, I am by nature a Princess and the Pea.  From childhood I've enjoyed stacking up blankets and sheets and folding them in a way that pleases me.  I'm lucky enough to have a stash of beautiful bed linens passed along to me from my mother's trousseau, as well as things I've bought over the years myself.

Back in the late 1990's when the internet wasn't available through a smartphone I spent a lot of time helping all sorts of people come up with what "the perfect bed" was.  Obviously, individual tastes and preferences vary, but a friend who worked for the Ritz-Carlton gave me the short list of what the hotelier uses in their guest suites to create the perfect night's sleep.

Guest suite at the Ritz-Carlton

Guest suite at the Ritz-Carlton

This is what I learned:

Frette Hotel bed sheets and linens -- two flat sheets, two european square shams, two queen shams, two queen cases and duvet cover

Featherbed + featherbed cover

Four goose down queen pillows; two soft and two firm + pillow covers

Two goose feather european square pillows + pillow covers

Here's why:

- Sheets stay cooler when two flat sheets are used; this is why many European brands do not even make fitted sheets.

- A feather bed provides an additional layer of softness and luxury to any bed.  Always use a featherbed cover, as it is time consuming to wash a feather bed -- for obvious reasons.

- European square pillows stuffed with feathers are perfect for reading in bed -- the feathers provide good support without being immobile like poly or other man-made fillers

- Queen pillows are slightly larger than standard pillows, and a mix of firm and soft ensure you can dial your own formula in when it comes to sleeping pillows.  A goose down pillow has fewer allergens and scents than a feather-down mix and can be molded into shape by the sleeper.

The Ritz-Carlton also keeps room temperature cooler than usual, which is optimum for sleep.  All that delicious goose down will keep you cozy without getting sweaty.

Unsurprisingly, the formula has not changed.  What has changed, though, is your ability to order literally the entire bed with one click 

Once you've perfected your bed's skeleton, it's time for the fun part: decorative bedding!  There are as many different styles of decorative bedding as their are styles of clothing.  It's on you to decide what you're trying to convey when you dress your bed.  Some people like piles of blankets, others finish the bed with the thinnest of coverlets.  Pinterest is great for bedding inspiration, as is any shelter magazine you can get your hands on -- stay tuned for styling information and advice for a bedroom that will make you swoon!

YOU'RE MY FAVORITE... nighttime edition

Here's the second half of our local favorites:

FRENCH QUARTER EVENING:

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone

Restaurant R'Evolution

Restaurant R'Evolution

The exterior of fan favorite Pat O'Brien's

The exterior of fan favorite Pat O'Brien's

UPTOWN EVENING:

the historic Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue

the historic Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue

The traditional menu at Clancy's uptown

The traditional menu at Clancy's uptown

Dressy Dinner:

Nightlife + Music:

The Maple Leaf Bar

The Maple Leaf Bar

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

YOU'RE MY FAVORITE... daytime edition

During what turned out to be a month-long hiatus from journaling, Spring sprung, flowers bloomed, it's 10,000 degrees in the shade and Jazzfest time is here in New Orleans.  Thousands of tourists and visitors flock to New Orleans for the Jazz Festival each year, and we get a lot of requests for restaurant referrals and suggestions for shopping.  This year we were already in the process of compiling a list of our favorites when Jazzfest hit.  Here is the first half of our list :

START YOUR DAY:

Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter

Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter

The Parkway Bakery near City Park

The Parkway Bakery near City Park

Commander's Palace in the Garden District

Commander's Palace in the Garden District

SHOPPING

ANTIQUES + INTERIORS

Julie Neill's beautiful shop on Magazine Street 

Julie Neill's beautiful shop on Magazine Street 

Weinstein's

Weinstein's

Pied Nu, located uptown near Audubon Park and Zoo

Pied Nu, located uptown near Audubon Park and Zoo

Do you Athleisure?

What are you wearing right now?  

If you're an American woman between the ages of 25-50, there is a good chance it's something that falls into the newest fashion category: athleisure.  Whether it's a pair of technical yoga leggings from cult brand Lululemon or a styled nylon jacket from APC + Outdoor Voices, wearing clothing that references outdoor adventures has become an everyday option for anyone who's work doesn't demand strict professional attire or a uniform.  In fact, it has been argued that yoga pants are the uniform of the millennial.

Wikipedia defines athleisure as a trend in fashion in which clothing designed for workouts and other athletic activities is worn in other settings, such as during work, trips to school, or other casual or social occasions. Athleisure outfits "look like athletic wear" and are characterized as "fashionable, dressed up sweats and exercise clothing" The idea is that gym clothes are supposedly making their way out of the gym and becoming a larger part of people's everyday wardrobes.

Much of the trend has been attributed to culture's growing interest in health and well-being.  According to an article published by Morgan Stanley, sports participation is growing among high school age athletes, and an overall interest in "athletic lifestyles" amongst all ages is a huge draw for sportswear that can "go both ways."

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Lululemon's signature look, featuring a $58.00 wrap scarf, $98 yoga pants, with coordinating  bag and shirt.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Cara Delivigne modeling Chanel's luxe take on the athleisure trend -- I found no pricing information, so you'll have to use your imagination.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A set from Stella McCartney's popular Adidas collaboration.  Technical skirt and top, approximately $70 apiece.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

A simple look form Target, available both in-store and online for less than $100, total.

Part of the appeal of this apparel trend is that it is accessible at a variety of prices, ranging from the reasonable pieces you'll find at places like Target, Old Navy,  and H & M to indulgently upscale designs from historic fashion houses like Chanel.  Additionally, if you are in need of athleisure that can pass the boardroom test...well, we've got that, too.

A personal favorite of mine is Kit and Ace, a concept store born from the industry giant Lululemon's success.  They specialize in "technical cashmere" pieces that can be thrown in the washing machine for easy care, but have high-style silhouettes that can work in a professional environment.  Here is a link to a great piece on the brand by the New Yorker .

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Kit and Ace's technical cashmere pieces combine fashion and comfort in a wearable way.

Other brands that fall into the more-formal-than-yoga-pants-but-oh-so-comfortable category include Anne Fontaine , Carbon 38 , and Lisa Marie Fernandez .  Read more about how to integrate performance technology into your 9 - 5 in articles from The Fashion Law and Vogue .

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

Ann Fontaine's immaculate white separates are amazing with leggings or a tailored skirt.

For local readers here in New Orleans, check out the new TASC location on Magazine Street --not coincidentally located in the spot formerly occupied by Kit and Ace.  My personal favorite for impulsive purchases is Azby's , owned by Kerry Bruno, who is my hero as a business woman + mother + athlete, and has a great eye for current trends and classic staples.  Every year I treat myself to one Azby's total impulse purchase.  Last year's was made literally on the way to Jazzfest, and was a fun Rebecca Taylor top that I have worn with equal success at the fairgrounds and also at a very fancy baby shower -- granted, I changed bottoms.  (I don't think any trend will ever meld Jazzfest shorts and luncheon-appropriate skirts.)  

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

Tunic styling by TASC Performance -- simple and chic and LOCAL

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

My versatile Rebecca Taylor top from Azby's -- a chameleon that goes casual or semi-dressy with a quick change of pants.

Our personal tie in here at Studio Amanda Talley is our burgeoning collection of tennis and golf-wear.  Our tailors have diligently been deconstructing our own favorite pieces and rebuilding them to our fabric specifications.  Although we can't provide you with a work-appropriate lycra blazer (yet), we do have some cute options to sport after a match. (Pardon my iPhone photography.  Professional images coming soon! -- in the meantime you can read up on Azby's, TASC, AND Studio Amanda Talley and enjoy professional shots at The Scout Guide New Orleans blog!)

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Little Lucy skirt, $165

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Game, Set, Match dress, $185

Emily skirt, $165

Emily skirt, $165

If you're still not onboard, check out these articles from Forbes and  Business Insider -- both provide an in-depth look at the movement and why it's here to stay.  

Still skeptical?  Visit your local Lululemon, plunk down your Am/Ex and try it out on your next casual Friday.  If the experience of having your entire body snugly held in place by incredibly soft and durable synthetics whilst looking au courant doesn't sway you, nothing will.