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!


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.


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


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


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 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!