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.
Welcome fall chalkboard wall decor, Pier 1 Imports.
Take a look at these 10 festive decorations to get your family, guests and home ready for Thanksgiving.
Each year, Thanksgiving kicks off the ever-busy fall and winter entertaining season and if you love making seasonal changes to your decor, it’s the perfect time to switch out your spring and summer items in favour of everything autumn.
We’ve rounded up 10 simple but pretty ways to dress up your home for Thanksgiving, many sharing messages of gratitude and all adding that feeling of fall.
Hung in the hallway, the kitchen or in the front foyer of your home, this burlap Thanksgiving banner shares the sentiments of the season and reminds all who visit your home to bring an attitude of gratitude with them. Thanksgiving sentiment banner, Pottery Barn, $39.50.
Add a touch of fall to your front door. This oak leaf wreath may be faux but its crisp golden leaves echo the changing colours all around this season and makes a cheerful welcome for guests all autumn long. Oak leaf artificial wreath, Crate & Barrel, $49.95.
Dress up your mantel with this simple handmade Thanksgiving banner. Or, use this as the inspiration for a fun holiday craft with the kids. With cardstock, twine, paint and some imagination, children can create their own messages of thanks. Give thanks banner, A Banner Affair on Etsy, $24.
Scattered across the mantel or coffee table, these faux oak and maple leaves will add a fall feeling to your home. Dusted with a dash of sparkle, they’re perfect for elevating an ordinary day to a special day. Glittered autumn leaf scatters, World Market, $9.98.
Add clusters of these paper decorations around your home, especially above your Thanksgiving table for a perfectly festive look. Available in a perfect autumn palette of gold, wine and pumpkin colours, they come with a white string attached for easy hanging. Fall fluffy fecorations, Party City, $8.99.
Swap out a piece of artwork that you have up all year long for something with a seasonal message. This rustic chalkboard wall hanging is perfect for welcoming guests into your home in a foyer or entryway. Welcome fall chalkboard wall decor, Pier 1 Imports, $59.95.
Decorating your home for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean pasting paper turkey cutouts everywhere. These block candles in an autumn hue are a subtle nod to the season. Plus, their fragrant orange, cinnamon and clove scent are a delight to the senses. Nykar scented block candles, Ikea, $6.99 for a set of 3.
Add a happy hue to your kitchen with seasonal dishtowels. This cotton towel is part of a collection in fall-inspired colours that are designed to celebrate the harvest season. Acorn jacquard kitchen towel, Sur La Table, $8.
If you’ve left things until the last minute, you still have time to add a few Thanksgiving-inspired touches to your home. The Copper Anchor on Etsy offers beautiful printables like this one that can be instantly downloaded and printed at home. There is Always Something to Be Thankful For wall art, The Copper Anchor on Etsy, $6.80.
Combine your decorating efforts with a bit of DIY for some fun for the whole family. Pick up mini pumpkins at the grocery store and check out these great ideas for decorating pumpkins that you can place around the house. DIY pumpkin decorations.
A modern dining room punctuated with shades of green. Image by: Michel Dube
Enliven your living space with this vibrant and refreshing green shade.
Welcoming cheerful hues into your home is one of the best ways to fend off the winter blues – and Pantone's colour institute agrees. The company recently named "Greenery" its official colour of 2017. The vibrant and uplifting shade signifies rejuvenation and the importance of connecting with nature, especially as we welcome a new year.
Here, we've rounded up 12 products inspired by the shade that will give your home new life.
Granada Juice glasses in Green, Anthropologie, $40 US per set of 4.
Master dining chair in Green, Structube, $99.
Cotton patterned rug in Green, H&M Home, $35.
Cotton velvet Cirrus sofa in Grass Green, Article, $1,099.
KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer in Green Apple, Canadian Tire, $600.
Stoneware Century vase, CB2, $60.
Falling Leaves print, 18” x 24”, Minted, $86 US.
Le Creuset stoneware pitcher in Palm, Hudson’s Bay, $100.
Draget shelf unit in Green, IKEA, $40.
Linden toss cushion in Leaf Green with feather-down insert, Crate and Barrel, $42.
Kate Spade New York porcelain Greenwich Grove teapot in Green, Indigo, $150.
Thimblepress Pattern Pieces coasters in Green, BRIKA, $20 per set of 4.
Take a tour of this gorgeous family cottage on Lake Simcoe.
Designer Jessica Waks gives this family's second cottage its own unique flair, creating a spot to accommodate not only guests but also generations to come.
Nudged awake by the sweet smell of fresh cinnamon buns wafting from the kitchen, sleepy family members lumber downstairs, along the way catching sweeping views of serene Lake Simcoe – calm and quiet before the afternoon action takes hold. It’s a common Sunday scene at this Innisfil, Ont., cottage, which is peaceful in the morning until everyone gets up and silence gives way to animated chit-chat and laughter. Often, it’s not just the occupants of this abode in attendance, but the next-door neighbours as well – after all, they’re family, too. The homeowners, a Toronto couple with four adult daughters and two toddler grandchildren, weren’t planning on purchasing a new place – they bought a cottage only five years ago (featured in Style at Home’s July 2013 issue) – but when this 7,000-square-foot three-storey structure directly next door to the first became available, the owners decided to take advantage of the unique opportunity to keep their rapidly expanding family together on these adjacent vacation properties. To make the cottages look cohesive, they rehired designer Jessica Waks – Style at Home’s former design editor – of Jessica Claire Interiors, who had perfectly appointed their first place. “The homeowners wanted the spaces to have their own identities but to also look unified,” says Jessica, discussing how she took the nautical tone of the first property and layered a more country feel into the second. “I used a refined rustic aesthetic to temper its grand architecture, which boasts a spacious foyer and formal principal rooms,” she says.
Jessica was thinking Nantucket rather than classic Canadiana (“it’s more in keeping with the beach locale,” she says) when she rescued the dark and dated interior from its 1980s time warp. The most notable offences? Upholstered doors, inexplicable wall cut outs, tacky floral wallpaper (even on the ceiling in some rooms), mismatched flooring (including fruit-patterned tiles and pink-stained oak), heavily swathed valances, forest green toilets and sinks and a bizarre balcony that jutted into the living room from the second floor. In other words, the cottage called for a complete overhaul. So Jessica started fresh in almost every room, smoothing out the architectural oddities and replacing the flooring with dark-stained oak hardwood, which contrasts the newly white walls throughout – a timeless and cohesive envelope for the elegant nautical look.
Creating a furniture plan for the grand living room was tricky because it has so many points of entry,” says designer Jessica Waks. “Not only did it need to seat a lot of people, but it also had to look good from all angles.” Jessica cleverly selected items like the blue swivel armchairs that can face the central sitting area, the fireplace or the view (win-win-win)!
To make a statement in the foyer, Jessica set visually interesting pieces like the vintage spool-legged console with a curvy linen-upholstered settee against a simple, traditional pedestal table. The jug of maple branches is a nod to the cottage’s sylvan surroundings.
Above the console in the great room, the designer framed and hung a simple grid of antique Simcoe county maps. Believe it or not, the stunning console was a Craigs List purchase. “I love find ing preloved pieces online, at markets and at consignment stores – there are such gems to uncover,” says Jessica, who skilfully pairs these secondhand scores with new custom items.
Meals are often served alfresco with stunning views of Lake Simcoe on the side. To visually connect the two properties, Jessica chose the same outdoor dining furniture for this space as she did for the other cottage next door. “I love how the teak’s grey stain and toss cushions match the stone work and siding of the home’s exterior,” she says.
“The windows in the dining room look out to the front and side of the property,” says Jessica, “so to make up for the lack of lake views and to add visual interest, I chose a charming paisley wallpaper.” The blue-grey tone of the print perfectly matches the original slate fireplace surround.
In the kitchen, the white beadboard cabinetry offers a light and airy country look that’s grounded by darker elements, such as the leathered black granite perimeter countertops and slate-look floor tiles. The wide butcher block-topped island provides ample space for the homeowners, who are avid cooks, to prep meals for their large family.
A pretty patterned wallpaper distracts from this powder room’s awkward angles. Using the space’s drawbacks to her advantage, Jessica leaned a vintage wooden ladder against the wall to hang towels for guests.
The third-floor “bunkie” boasts the most coveted sleeping area in the house: the queen bed in the window niche overlooking the lake. “You can see the sunrise from this spot,” says Jessica. Nautical buffalo-check drapery offers sleepers privacy from the rest of the room.
“As a decorator, I love the strong sense of symmetry that comes from a set of twin beds,” says Jessica, who had these hard-to-find spindle-framed beds for one of the rooms shipped from the US. “I like how they stand out against the wallpaper,” she says. “You can really appreciate the spool detail.”