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Interior designer Jacquelyn Clark's condo
A tight budget doesn’t stop this young designer from creating a personality-filled pad.
A builder-boring condo, tight budget and super-busy lifestyle might mean a very dull living space for a lot of people. But not for Jacquelyn Clark, the Lark & Linen blogger and former Style Me Pretty editor who recently launched her own interior design business. With a keen eye for decorating and a talent for transforming bland into beautiful, Jacquelyn turned the 700-square-foot rental condo she shares with boyfriend Justin Gagne in Toronto’s Distillery District into a chic home full of personality.
Interior designer and blogger Jacquelyn Clark in her chic Toronto condo.
The scene-stealer in the living area is the vintage cart-turned-coffee-table picked up for a song. “We found it tucked in the back of a vintage shop, unfinished and missing a few boards,” says Jacquelyn. Boyfriend Justin Gagne completely refinished it.
An arrangement of artwork and Jacquelyn’s own travel photographs makes up the gallery wall in the dining area. Eames-style chairs pull up to a simple, inexpensive dining table, which sits below a sleek modern pendant light.
Painting the bump-out wall with wide horizontal stripes is a budget-friendly way to differentiate the office nook from the rest of the living area. Jacquelyn left the feet of the desk unpainted for a stylish dipped look.
Simple and stylish decor accessories help decorate Jacquelyn's office desk.
Like the rest of the condo, the bedroom is a smart mix of save and splurge items. An embroidered coverlet Jacquelyn picked up in India, for example, shares space with toss cushions by Brooklyn-based textile designer Rebecca Atwood.
The white IKEA nightstand in the bedroom was customized with a new brass knob. Jacquelyn created the artwork above the bed with her own travel photos, which she altered in Photoshop and then had printed.
In the bedroom, Jacquelyn's jewellery is displayed in a inexpensive and stylish way.
1 Flynn table lamp, Serena & Lily, $295 US. 2 KO Sticks foldable star sculptures, Design Within Reach, from $40 US each. 3 Brushstroke 2 toss cushion, Rebecca Atwood, $139 US. 4 in Black with beech legs, Structube, $69. 5 Jute Chenille Herring bone rug, West Elm, from $64
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.
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