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.
Grapefruit Rose Mimosa cocktail recipe.
Grapefruit Rose Mimosa cocktail recipe.
This refreshing grapefruit mimosa makes the perfect holiday brunch beverage.
1 Place the grapefruit juice, Lillet Rosé, lime juice and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice.
2 Shake until muddled and nicely chilled and then strain into two coupes.
3 Top with the champagne and fresh mint leaves if desired.
Tip: *You can also freeze the grapefruit juice in an ice cube tray so that it slowly melts and keeps your drink extra chilled.
Makes: 2 servings.
Give your space a budget-friendly update for fall.
Give your space a budget-friendly update for fall.
Give your home an update with these fabulous finds all under $100.
It can be fun to update your home with seasonal accents but it’s not something you want to blow your budget on. If your home is begging for an overhaul this fall, go for it … but do it on a budget! These fab fall finds all clock in under $100 but will give your home just the oomph you’re craving!
This gorgeous glass vessel is not only the perfect home for a bouquet of fresh or faux flowers, but even when not filled with beautiful blooms, it is a stunning decorative item to grace any room in your home with. Featuring a gold-finish metal collar and a striking teal colour, this piece will look great in your home this fall. Short Metal Collar Vase, Teal, Indigo, $35.
Surround yourself with the gentle, calming glow of candlelight this fall season. This beautiful candle is made from soy wax and will give you 60 hours of burn time. Featuring marine notes, as well as notes of stone fruit, rose and moss, it will also fill your home with a delightful and inviting fragrance. Candlefish Ceramic Candles, Anthropologie, $28.
It’s time to change up the art on your walls! Inject some new colours and at the same time, give your home a whole new look by swapping out existing art with new pieces that will make your walls feel fresh and revived! This beautiful piece is alive and vibrant with colour and will make you happy each time you pass it. Dream Peachy, Minted, starting at $21.
Throw blankets come in all shapes, sizes, colours and, yes, price points! We love the look and soft feel of this plush fleece throw but we are also digging the price point, too! Updating your home for the season doesn’t have to cost a fortune and this cozy throw will not only look good on display but will keep you warm on those long, cold fall nights. Textured Fleece Throw Blanket, Wayfair, $55.99.
When it’s dark and chilly outdoors, head to the sanctuary in your bedroom where thoughts of spring reign supreme! This printed duvet cover and sham set features a gorgeous meadowlark print on 100% organic cotton percale. Colourful and cheerful, this is a quick and easy way to update your bedroom. Meadowlark Print Organic Duvet Cover & Sham, Pottery Barn, $23 - $95.
Instantly turn your home into a gallery! These 3D faceted mirrors are stunning sculptural pieces that will add a healthy dose of modernism to your home. The unique trio of mirrors will catch and reflect light in interesting ways in your home and will certainly be a conversation starter when friends come to visit. 3D Faceted Mirrors, West Elm, $79.
Wood and tile floors can get cold underfoot during fall and winter so warm things up with a cozy area rug. This pretty rug features a fall-inspired motif and colour palette and is easy to add to any room in your home – and subtract when you no longer need the warmth underfoot. The perfect seasonal decorating accent! Anni Floral Round Printed Rug, Urban Outfitters, $79.
Curtains not only provide a perfect finishing touch to any room but they can also add some extra insulation to keep the cold air from drafty windows at bay. These 100% cotton curtain panels are yarn dyed and have an elegant drape you’re sure to love and we love this soft shade of grey, a pleasing neutral that will easily suit many different styles of rooms. Wallace Grey Curtains, Crate & Barrel, $79.95 - $99.95.
We look to a Toronto abode for eight Swedish seasonal decor ideas worth stealing.
Come winter, the coziness and understated beauty that define Scandinavian design are all the more welcome – and this Toronto abode lets it be known. Read on for eight Swedish decor ideas worth stealing this season.
1 Get adventive: Forgo the chocolate Advent calendar this year in favour of a fabulous DIY creation. Count down the days until Christmas with 24 mini paper gift bags. Embellish each with natural finds like twigs and sprigs of greenery before securing them onto a fabric-covered corkboard.
2 Embrace nature: Bring the serenity of Scandi style into your home by drawing inspiration from the wintry outdoors. Here, a fresh evergreen wreath and garland, bird ornaments and a stack of logs subtly spruce up the fireplace wall.
3 Style strategically: Nordic design is all about capturing the magic of minimalism – even at Christmas. Scope out simple yet striking seasonal adornments like the ornate paper snowflakes festooning this banister, which nod to the holidays but are still in keeping with the entryway’s calming neutral palette.
4 Pare back parcels: Let’s face it: Wrapping holiday presents in layers of red and green is a tad overdone. Go against the grain this year and opt for soft-hued paper, such as this white ribbed style. Then adorn your gifts with burlap ribbon and sleek DIY gift tags.
5 Add whimsy: While there’s nothing wrong with decking out your home in an array of colourful baubles, the Swedes favour subtler star-shaped decorations. Think of the bunting seen here as an alternative to string lights that’s quieter but still offers the same dreamy quality.
6 Create seasonal swag: Make your living space sparkle and shine by fashioning your own festive garland. Cut holiday shapes out of shimmery paper or wallpaper swatches and stitch them together delicately with white thread.
7 Welcome neutrals: How do you take a muted space from sterile to sophisticated? Home in on the details. Elements like mismatched chairs and a non-operational fireplace filled with logs lend enough interest to this bright dining room so that, come December, a few festive accents feel like plenty.
8 Layer textures: When temperatures dip into the negative double-digits, we crave all types of comfort. Emulate the Swedish way of combatting the cold with heaps of texture, whether through small details (stylish place settings and votive candle holders wrapped in yarn) or larger additions (a faux sheepskin throw).