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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Traditional style home is given an industrial vibe a la Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton flips this Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles house into an industrial-style home and it's on the market.
Something's gotta give and it's this Pacific Palisades home, which was just flipped by Diane Keaton, Oscar-winning actress and interior design lover.
The property sits at just over 10,000 sq. ft. with the home itself at 7,800 sq. ft.
With an edgy and industrial vibe, this traditional style home has 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a gorgeous pool and a home theatre. And it can all be yours for $6,995,000!
If you can't wait to move in, check out the details and listing here:
The simple exterior of this home is no match for what's inside.
Large block numbers identify the house, even from the road, and also divide the greenery and brick to create a welcoming entrance to the house.
Because of ample natural lighting the foyer has a calm, relaxing vibe.
The dining room features large, industrial-style chandeliers.
The black and white palette seems to be a predominant theme in this home - and we're not complaining!
The furniture throughout the house has a rustic, lived-in feel while dark wooden floors are featured in every room.
With a large kitchen island and lots of counter space, hosting and cooking in this kitchen would be a dream.
Paired with white walls the dark hardwood floors definitely stand out in this home.
The modern fireplace in this master suite fades into the background while still creating a cozy feeling in this space.
Jars and baskets help keep your bathroom organized and counters clutter-free.
Another pop of bold lettering stands out in this bright and airy guest room. The space is one of the few rooms featuring lighter floors.
The vanity in this bathroom has built for storage and the details make it a fun bathroom for children and teens.
Large typography prints are found all over this home, even in the large wine cellar.
Red furniture and dim walls replicate the perfect home theatre. Add some throw pillows and a bag of popcorn and you won't even realize you're still at home.
Throughout the house bold numbers, letters and typography are featured. This has created a constant industrial vibe to most rooms. Keep one bold colour, a fun pattern or special message carried through each room for optimal flow.
This office space is great if you're looking for inspiration. The metallic accents in the room make the space edgy and will have you itching to get in there and work on your projects.
The backyard is green, gorgeous and features a large pool. More lettering adds a hotel-feel to the yard, making this the perfect hosting spot during summer months.
Rustic-meets-refined condo design
Blogger and decorator Tim Lam adds his signature style to this 800-square-foot condo in Waterloo, Ont.
“Never underestimate the power of paint and fabric,” says decorator Tim Lam of the caned barrel-back chairs he upgraded from garage sale finds to favourite pieces in the living room. On the flip side, the sophisticated sofa is a Sarah Richardson original found on Kijiji that needed only a quick cleaning.
Where Chris is a little bit country, Tim is all city. “Chris likes rustic simplicity, and I gravitate to more polished and refined spaces,” says Tim. And who better to steer you in the right decorative direction than the one you love?
Tim insisted that the kitchen’s brown cabinetry, brown granite countertop and blue glass backsplash, which homeowner Chris Gabriel inherited with the condo, had to go. Though upgrading the countertop, replacing the marble backsplash, updating the faucet to a showpiece and adding the slide-in range was a bit of a splurge, the couple cut costs by simply repainting the existing cabinetry and applying a DIY barnboard treatment to the peninsula’s base.
Though country charm isn’t exactly in Tim’s wheelhouse, he wanted to indulge Chris’s style throughout the space – and that’s especially visible in the dining room, which doubles as an office. “That door is hands-down my favourite piece in the room,” says Tim, who found it at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for around $100. “And I got it just like that – I didn’t have to refinish it or anything.” He did, however, tape Alanna Cavanagh’s silk-screened artwork in the window to hide the stuff inside (which includes pantry and office staples).
The sideboard in the living room offers a nod to one of Chris’s desired elements: natural wood. Above it, the gallery wall displays artwork and travel mementoes the couple has amassed over time, including a quirky cuckoo clock that references the couple’s shared affinity for birds.
The bedroom’s soothing grey, yellow and white palette allowed Tim to play with pattern, from diamonds to stripes to polka dots. Asian-inspired elements like the faux bamboo nightstands and pagoda-shaped table lamps add elegance to the geometric look.
A tiny cheater ensuite with doors leading to both the living area and the bedroom left little wall space, so Tim had the bedroom door replaced with a wall, which now accommodates artwork and a towel bar. The builder-basic vanity was cleverly customized with a brass-coated toe kick for a floating effect, while the glitzy cream and gold bird wallpaper casts a glamorous glow.
The high-gloss dark grey wall paint in the bedroom acts as a luscious counterpoint to the suble texture of the grasscloth on the feature wall behind the bed. The herringbone throw is a souvenir from Chris’s hometown in Germany.
Chris (left) is from Germany and had planned to return there, but he met and fell in love with Tim and hasn’t looked back since.
Follow these tips for hosting the perfect outdoor party.
Consider this your go-to source for hosting warm-weather soirees with ease and flair.
It’s summer, and you want to be outside, hanging around with friends, eating garden-fresh fare and sipping refreshing drinks. Let our guide be your go-to for hosting warm-weather get-togethers with simplicity and style.
1 Ambient lighting: To keep the party going beyond sunset, simply hang strings of lights along the fence and among tree branches. Make sure to also include lights above your entertaining zones (lounging and eating areas, for example) to create an intimate atmosphere. We recommend café-style string lights with elegant rounded bulbs that give off a warm glow and lend a casual bistro vibe. As for running cords throughout the yard, be strategic: Choose strands that can plug into one another so only one extension cord is needed; don’t run the cord across high-traffic areas (tuck it along the fence line instead); and select a cord that coordinates with your surroundings (white to match your trim, for example).
Task lighting: Illuminate sitting and dining areas with pillar candles set in glass lanterns. In spots where more light is required (such as the drinks station or buffet table), include a grouping of three or more lanterns. Keep mosquitoes at bay by using citronella candles in lounging zones (but never place scented candles on the dinner table). Be sure to light up stairways and footpaths for safe movement throughout the backyard.
GlucksteinHome Edison Bulb string lights, 11', Hudson's Bay, $30.
Metalic Dipped string lights, 9', Pottery Barn, $79 US.
Canvas Montmarte string lights, 34', Canadian Tire, $90.
Clear cafe string lights, 10', The Home Depot, $20.
2 Drinks station: A general rule of thumb when serving drinks: Unless you’re a pro mixologist, keep cocktails simple. Always have chilled beer and wine at the ready and master one or two refreshing mixed bevvies that are easy to put together.
Bar cart must haves:
1 Outdoor-safe glasses: Choose shatterproof ones for barefoot-friendly entertaining
2 Spirits and garden-fresh garnishes: Bring out everything you need to make your signature cocktails.
3 Ice bucket: Keep chilled wine and beer close at hand.
Marilla goblet in Blush, Anthropologie, $6 US.
GlucksteinHome Tritan martini glass, Hudson's Bay, $5.
Stemless wineglass, Crate and Barrel, $6.
Hobnail wineglass, West Elm, $9.
Chenco Edge cocktail glass, Wayfair.ca, $44 per set of 4.
3 Party prep: If it can be done ahead of time, do it. Do you have enough plates and cutlery? Bags of ice? Do you need to dig out a few platters from the backs of your cupboards? Have you calculated how many drinks you’ll need? Here’s some handy party math: assume each guest will have at least one drink per hour (10 guests over two hours equals 20 drinks); there are approximately five glasses of wine per bottle; a 750 ml bottle of liquor contains enough for 24 mixed drinks.
4 Bottle service: Eliminate the flow of guests moving in and out of the house by keeping refreshments near the action. With two sturdy galvanized iron tubs, this stand keeps alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks separate and allows partygoers to help themselves (so the host can sit back and enjoy the festivities). Double beverage tub with stand, Pottery Barn, $159 US.
5 Lawn games: So adult guests can kick back with a mojito, have some distractions for the little ones: plenty of lawn games (and ice pops, of course).
Must-try summer lawn games:
1 Badminton Set, Crate and Barrel, $200.
2 Bocce Set, Lee Valley, $159
3 Wooden 6-player croquet set, Lee Valley, $239.
4 Sterling Games Lawn Bowling Set, Wayfair.ca, $49.
5 Sunnylife Play on Ping Pong Set with portable net in Pineapple, Indigo, $52.
6 Yard dice, Snake Eyes Yard Games, $50 US per set of 6.