Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Image: Michael Nangreaves / Production: Christine Hanlon
Can you tell the difference between the high end and low budget Scandi-inspired dining room?
This eclectic Scandi-inspired dining room was crafted on budgets befitting a snug cabin and a luxe chalet. Can you tell the difference?
1 Mirror, Elte, $995; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $126 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $150; 4 Pendant light, Universal Lamp, $585; 5 Dining table, Mobilia, $999; 6 Dining chairs, Art Shoppe, $499 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $1,195; 8 Rug, Wayfair.ca, $1,682; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $1,100; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $45 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $1,795; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $830.
1 Mirror, Elte, $525; 2 Wallpaper, Thibaut at Kravet Canada, $97 per single roll; 3 Pendant light, Canadian Tire, $70; 4 Pendant light, Union Lighting and Furnishings, $450; 5 Dining table, EQ3, $599; 6 Dining chairs, IKEA, $99 each; 7 Ottoman, Elte, $775; 8 Rug, IKEA, $299; 9 Dining chair, Casalife, $484; 10 Tablecloth fabric, Designer Fabrics, $9 per yard; 11 Box, Elte, $825; 12 Table lamp, Universal Lamp, $315.
No matter your budget, there are a few design tips that will help you create an on-trend room like either of these.
Master the art of mixing: When modernism meets minimalism, a chic Scandi look is born. But don’t be fooled – this design aesthetic is far from predictable. Take cues from the sought-after style, as we have in our High and Low rooms, by mixing and matching furnishings, pairing sculptural black chairs with a sleek wooden one of similar build and then tossing in an über-plush ottoman for an unexpected touch of texture. Staggering light fixtures that vary in hue and scale strikes the ultimate stylish cord.
Pick accents that never go out of style: Glam brass accents will never fall out of fashion. It’s a notion contributing design editor Christine Hanlon stands behind: “I’ve purchased beautiful vintage brass pieces over the years, and I always have them on hand to add warmth and character to a display,” she says. She suggests scouring flea markets for hidden gems that do double duty, such as her footed bowl that also serves as a planter.
Try a DIY napkin project: Give a soft, organic feel to a modern tablescape with DIY frayed napkins. Cut your preferred size from a piece of linen and run the fabric through the washer to naturally fray the edges. Once it’s dry, pull at the ends with your fingers to emphasize the worn appearance. Juxtapose the look with sleek, bold flatware.
Dare to go wild with wallpaper: With a pared-back, monochromatic design as our starting point, adding a hit of flavour in the form of this chinoiserie wallpaper came easy. Though the two styles don’t typically go hand in hand, the room’s clean-lined aesthetic lets us get away with it.
Not sure where to start? Go with the most important piece in the room, the dining table. Streamlined and slender, these Scandinavian-influenced dining tables are striking in their simplicity. Any one will bring raw and rustic appeal to your dining room, whatever your budget. Check out our six top picks in the slideshow below.
Walnut-veneered MDF Thao with rubberwood legs, Structube, $249.
Lisabo in Ash Veneer, IKEA, $259.
Lena Mid-Century dining table - large, West Elm, $499.
Stained acacia Kacia, EQ3, $599.
Walnut-veneered MDF Sareen with beech legs and antique brass caps, Mobilia, $999.
Sealed walnut Catalina, Casalife, $4,143.
Designers and decorators share they favourite kitchen trends for 2017.
For many of us, the kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s where the family convenes every night for dinner. It’s where homework is done and family meetings are had. And it’s where guests gather even though the dining room table is set and a fire is roaring in the living room. There’s something about the kitchen that makes it far more than merely a utilitarian space. If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen this year, check out these hot trends, as identified by designers.
Photography: Michael Nangreaves
1 "Mixing metals is my favourite kitchen design trend for 2017. I think it reflects a more individual, less formal approach to design that is popular with millennials and non-millennials alike. While it takes a bit of an expert eye, it is totally appropriate to mix metal finishes in your faucet, cabinet pulls, chair legs and pendants!" - Designer, Lisa Canning.
Credit: Stacey Cohen
3 "One top kitchen design trend I love is to have sections of the upper cabinet extended onto the counter. Let's face it, we all love our small appliances (i.e. toaster oven, espresso machine) but we may not want them on display all the time. A multi-purpose kitchen island has been the go-to solution to disguise the microwave and dishwasher, but unless the island is 10 feet long, it is challenging and perhaps impractical for the island to house the small appliances we use daily off the counter. By having the upper cabinets extended to the counter and small appliances sitting behind doors, you can achieve a sleek design statement without sacrificing your morning coffee!" - Blogger and Decorator, Tim Lam.
: Donna Griffith
4 "In 2017, we will continue to see cabinetry painted white and various shades of grey. I think that we will also see cabinetry painted warmer tones such as greige (grey & beige), taupe and mushroom. Islands in a different colour or stain than the perimeter cabinetry will continue to be prevalent. In addition, handcrafted islands that look like furniture with legs will be popular for that unfitted kitchen look. It also adds personality and charm and the kitchen then looks like it has evolved over time. Quartz as a counter will continue to be popular as consumers become aware of its benefits." - Interior Designer, Vanessa Francis.
Photography: Monic Richard
5 "After years of white on white kitchens, our clients are asking for something different again. While you might not want to paint an entire kitchen in one colour to stand out from the crowd, the tendency in 2017 will be to mix natural wood, paint and metals in the kitchen. Try framing the range hood and the island in chrome to add sparkle to the space. Add texture to your cabinetry with a mix of light wood veneered lowers and white lacquered uppers." - Interior Designer, Tara Fingold.
Photography: Donna Griffith
6 "Say hello to dark metals in the kitchen. Polished chrome and nickel accents are giving way to black faucets, burnished steel pendants and matte black cabinetry handles. The dark finishes can work in sleek modern kitchens or the most cottagey of cooking spaces. With white kitchens continuing to dominate, a dash of black can provide high contrast and instantly update tired cabinetry." - Blogger and Designer, Jennifer Flores.
7 "Terra Cotta is back! But it's not the tangy orange clay you're used to. In 2017, Reclaimed Rose Terra Cotta will be hitting it big. Following the trend of reclaimed wood, the rich creams and pale pinks of this antique terra cotta tile will be the next phase in the modern farmhouse kitchen. Look for hexagon or herringbone for a modern take on this old classic. Pairing over-sized pendants and industrial decor with reclaimed terra cotta will help keep the space current." - Designer, Andrea Haraldsen.
La-Z-Boy Kennedy Sofa
Add a breezy, beach house vibe to your home with these stylish pieces.
Lend your living room a fresh seaside-inspired look with help from La-Z-Boy. Beautiful furnishings in crisp whites and warm woods paired with serene beachy shades amount to a relaxed setting where the living is easy. Here, we round up 8 products from the brand to help you bring this classic coastal style home.
La-Z-Boy Phoebe Chair
La-Z-Boy Nolita Slipper Chair
La-Z-Boy Kennedy Sofa
La-Z-Boy U-Turn Ottoman
La-Z-Boy Stiletto Chair
La-Z-Boy Thorne Chair
La-Z-Boy Talbot Sofa
La-Z-Boy Soho Cocktail Table