Buying guide: The truth about thread count
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.
What is thread count, really?
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.
What to look for when buying sheets
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!
What to avoid when buying sheets
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.
What do you prefer?
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.
The beautiful Casino de Monte-Carlo
Find out how Monte Carlo offers lavish design inspiration.
Not just a playground for the rich and famous, Monte Carlo, Monaco, offers lavish design inspiration and luxurious restaurants that are worth the splurge for a special occasion.
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo
The expansive marble lobby of the famed Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo greets guests with a grand sense of arrival. The spacious sunny rooms are a delightful combination of charming and contemporary. Place du Casino, hoteldeparismontecarlo.com.
WHERE TO STAY: Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort
This relaxed, family-friendly resort is packed with recreational amenities, such as a spa, two pools and four restaurants. The rooms are modern yet cozy, with contemporary oak furniture and sandstone floors. 40 Ave. Princesse Grace, montecarlobay.com.
WHERE TO EAT: Le Vistamar
This Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, located in the Hôtel Hermitage, flaunts effortlessly elegant decor achieved by the much-lauded French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. With tables overlooking the harbour, dinner here is worth every euro. Square Beaumarchais, hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com.
WHAT TO DO: Casino de Monte-Carlo
This beautiful belle epoque-style building is the place to visit, whether you’re a gambler or not. The interior is utterly sumptuous, with soaring ceilings, lavish chandeliers and onyx columns. Place du Casino, casinomontecarlo.com.
WHERE TO SHOP: La Boutique du Rocher
Opened by Princess Grace in 1966, the shop offers a delightful selection of handcrafted Monegasque and Provençal items, such as ceramics and mirrors. All proceeds go to local charities. 1 Ave. de la Madone, 377-93-30-91-17.
Colour confidential: Decorating with paint
In partnership with Style at Home, BEHR® asked some of Canada's biggest influencers for their best advice on how to make a stylish statement with a fresh coat of paint. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, BEHR's most advanced paint yet, MARQUEE® Interior (available exclusively at The Home Depot), makes a makeover even easier with its One Coat Guarantee. Click on each image below to check out all three design styles and get inspired to pick up a paintbrush and start your next project!
12 stylish masculine-inspired spaces
Whether you're outfitting a man den for Father's Day or decking out your prized bachelor pad, these masculine-inspired spaces are daring in design and robust in style.
Man caves and bachelor pads don't need to suffer from a plague of sports paraphernalia and worn out leather furnishings. Masculine-inspired design has the beauty of pushing boundaries, whether being bold with colour or daring with decor accessories; and with nothing too dainty, these handsome homes are robust in style while staying comfortable and inviting.
As sharp as a three-piece suit (one that’s been paired with really cool sneakers), the three-storey open-concept house features loungy furnishings, offbeat art, unique lighting options and snappy rugs give the place laid-back charm. The architectural details, meanwhile, are all business. The main floor is bookended by ceiling-height windows at the front and back, while the hardwood floors are done in smoked oak, bringing warmth to stark white walls. Tour this home here.
Designer Ramsin Khachi created a new spiral staircase with a more gradual descent, placing it in the middle of the living space (rather than close to the wall) to delineate the dining area and add drama. Stamped-metal dining chairs and a glass barn-style pendant light amplify the industrial vibe of this open-concept loft. Tour this home here.
This dream bathroom was designed with a tailored, masculine chic persona, including a Burberry-inspired floor from 18-inch-square Calacatta marble tiles, and a few Art Deco-inspired nods to the 1912 home’s character. Tour this home here.
The rich black walls offer a moody, masculine look and also camouflage the dark cabinetry. While the moulding gives the office added character, intriguing elements like the vintage Karl Springer-like waterfall desk and the geometric pendant light create a dramatic setting. Tour this home here.
A far cry from the non-descript builder-white box it once was, the apartment has a laid-back, masculine style - or, as Andrew describes it, "a New York loft vibe." Enveloped in a deep colour combo of jewel-toned blue, grey and brown with sultry siren red as an electrifying accent, the small abode is immediately inviting. Tour this home here.
Displaying his hat collection on this rustic exposed beam near the entry happened organically for Pierre. “There already was a hook on it when I moved in, and I just put my hat there one day,” he says. “I thought it looked cool, so I hung my second and third and so on.” Tour this home here.
Feature walls of back-painted glass reflect light and give the rooms architectural distinction, which was lacking. To keep the look consistent, there's one in each space - office, bedroom and living room - and they're all treated with the same deep grey colour. Tour this home here.
While all-white decor makes some people want to splash the walls with colour, others find it calming. Masculine Mid-Century Modern furnishings, including Wassily armchairs and a Barcelona lounger, look classically elegant in the sunken living room on the lowest level. Tour this home here.
Given this homeowner's love of loud modern art and avant-garde accessories, he was surprised to discover that he also had a penchant for antique shopping when he embarked on renovating and designing his dream home more than four years ago. “I made up mood boards and my style became abundantly clear: a mix of modern, Victorian and Baroque,” he says. Tour this home here.
Every visual moment counts in designer Jamie Alexander’s diminutive 600-square-foot loft, where big pieces, bold prints and anything-but-basic colour mingle to chic and spacious (feeling) results. Tour this home here.
Rich dark hues accented with touches of brass are married throughout this renovated Edwardian-style home, bringing together vintage European pieces with a variety of textures to create an undeniably sophisticated look. Tour this home here.
The top of the bookshelf now pays tribute to the homeowner’s husband, displaying choice prized pieces, such as his literary favourites, a vintage camera and a Darth Vader mask. Tour this home here.