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!
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Incorporate white into your home with these helpful tips.
See how cool winter whites take centre stage in this Scandinavian chic house year-round.
When surrounded by snow, the cool winter whites that take centre stage in this eclectic Scandinavian chic house year-round could look downright frigid but instead seem warm and inviting. Here are ten reasons why they work and how they can inspire you to decorate with white in your home.
1 Elevate your entrance with evergreens
Your home may be surrounded by nature, but don’t overlook fresh greenery in your exterior decor. Evergreen wreaths and potted fir trees are a welcoming display on this porch.
2 Strike a contrast
Sometimes layers upon layers of white can be so airy they appear to be floating away, so it’s important to anchor your space with a bold accent colour that lets the white shine but doesn’t steal the show. In this interior, black does the trick, grounding the space with a dose of lively patterns, but nothing solid – which would look too heavy, taking away from the weightless whites.
3 Make it personal
Home decor is so much more successful when it’s personal. When you travel, pick up souvenirs that suit your home’s palette but still remind you of that exotic place abroad. For these homeowners, it’s some monogrammed decorative accesories in an artisanal bowl tucked into a curio cabinet.
4 Bring in botanicals
Although white feels super-wintry, your decor doesn’t have to be cold and spare. Above the desk, framed prints of foliage and just-about-to-bloom buds of magnolia remind visitors of spring – Jack Frost hasn’t taken over the whole house!
5 Forage at flea markets
If white is your go-to hue, you probably have a couple of remnant cans of paint kicking around, what with the walls, ceiling, trim and furniture taking on that (non) colour. Let the flea market world be your oyster: Antique wooden pieces can be instantly updated with a coat of paint to suit your space. These dining chairs are the homeowners’ most recent find, and their simple white makeover makes them look as though they are meant for the space.
6 Embrace understated undertones
In the whole spectrum of whites, those classified as “cool” tend to have blue undertones. Here, tinted glass, bluish purple blooms and icy silver decor accessories blend effortlessly and add dimension.
7 Mirror mother nature
Since she gets it right with each and every one of her designs, let Mother Nature dictate some of your home decor. Here, the woods are echoed by the twiggy arms of the chandelier and the branches on the dining table. A striped rug, a lacy tablecloth and a twiggy table arrangement add interest in the absence of colour.
8 Don't let low ceilings get you down
The subtle switch in shades of white from wall to ceiling lets its low stature go largely unnoticed. An organized desk and comfy chair are the perfect pieces to fit underneath the angled ceiling.
9 Go for folk
Folk patterns rarely read as cold or edgy, so they make a fabulous foil to cool whites and add an element of interest in the absence of colour. Try framing some wallpaper or wrapping paper remnants for a cutesy effect.
10 Crave a little country
Soft and romantic, the layered bedding, ruffled bedskirt and pile of throw pillows at the foot of the bed lend a wellloved and lived-in look, cozying up the palette’s potentially clinical feel.
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Credits: Design Within Reach
Designed by mid-century French modernist icon Jacques Adnet, this mininalist mirror is thoughtful in design, beautifully constructed with a hand-stitched full-grain aniline leather strap and outfitted in brass details. Adnet Round Mirror, dwr.com, $1,099 – $1,399.
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