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.
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).
Gorgeous gift ideas for decor lovers
Find the perfect present for your home decor obsessed friend or family member.
Got a decorista on your Christmas shopping list this year? If you’re shopping for someone who loves all things related to decorating and design, you’ll appreciate this thoughtfully curated list of gift ideas. From beautiful, purely decorative items to gifts that are both pretty and practical, these suggestions are just what you’re looking for!
1 Maze Print Wool Throw: You can just never have too many throws, especially in the dead of winter when everyone in the family is looking for something warm to snuggle up with. Give the gift of warmth this Christmas with this graphic pattern blanket that is handcrafted with 100% all natural wool. Maze Print Wool Throw, Bambeco, $195.
2 Gold and White Decoupage Trays: Looking for a gorgeous gift that looks more expensive than it is? These beautiful decoupage trays can be used to store anything from jewelry to keys and mail, to help keep clutter at bay. And at just $19 each, they’re an economical and easy gift giving idea! Gold and White Decoupage Trays, West Elm, $19.
3 Paxton Ceramic Blue Vase: A truly beautiful vase is one that looks just as good empty and on display as it does filled with a bouquet of fresh blooms. This ceramic vase has a marble effect that makes each piece different, one from the next. The perfect hostess gift to take to your next Christmas party! Paxton Ceramic Blue Vase, Indigo, $29.50.
4 Tosca Tiered Catch-All Dish With Mirror: A vanity mirror is not just a practical gift; this one makes a lovely decorative item for the bathroom countertop, too. Plus, it’s got tiered catch-all dishes to store odds and ends like jewelry and makeup essentials. Tosca Tiered Catch-All Dish With Mirror, Urban Outfitters, $39.
5 Preserved Potted Boxwood Cone Topiary: This potted boxwood topiary will make a gorgeous addition to someone’s Christmas decorating this year. They’ll be thrilled to put it on display year after year and you can rest assured they’ll remember you each time they do. This is a gift that just keeps on giving! Preserved Potted Boxwood Cone Topiary, Pottery Barn, $49.50.
6 Kieran Hanging Brass Frame: These days, everyone’s got a ton of photos but they stay locked in their prisons on smartphones and digital cameras. Give someone gorgeous frames like these brass ones and encourage them to put their beautiful photos on display. Better yet, print out photos and place them in the frames before you gift them. Kieran Hanging Brass Frame, Wayfair, $59.99 for set of 2.
7 Monogrammed Glass Cloche: There are candles and then there are candles. These gorgeous gold candles come complete with a handcrafted glass cloche that has a single initial monogram, perfect for personalizing this gift for someone special. Monogrammed Glass Cloche, Horchow, $45.
8 Tea and Coffee Canisters: Help someone add some style to their kitchen countertop with these modern stoneware coffee and tea canisters. In chic black and white with a neutral wooden lid, they’ll seamlessly blend into any decor and more importantly, will make sure that these two morning essentials are always within easy reach. Tea and Coffee Canisters, Crate and Barrel, $9.95 each.
Stock up on these must-have essentials before wrapping this year's presents.
Half the fun of holiday shopping is getting to wrap pretty presents to place under the tree. Before you start assembling this year's gift wrapping station, make sure to stock up on all the essentials. We've put together our list of must-have products and unique items to help you wrap this year's presents. Check out all 10 items below.
Have trouble deciding on just one wrapping paper style? Well now you don't have to! This double-sided paper means you can wrap multiple presents in two festive patterns from just one roll. Reversible Santa/Red Dots wrapping paper, Hallmark, $4.99 (per roll).
If you love embellishing your holiday gifts but find using glitter too messy, you're going to love these gorgeous glitter tapes. The glitter doesn't flake off, making it a mess-free wrapping essential. Glitter Tape, Seal-It, prices vary.
Add one of these adorable gift tags to this year's presents. They'll look great with all types of wrapping and can even double as an ornament. Snowmen & Reindeer Gift Tags, Indigo, $3.95 (for set of 5).
If you're not one for bold reds and greens, this gorgeous paper with its metallic gold print is perfect for adding that festive touch to your gifts without going over the top. Rifle Paper Co. Queen Ann Roll Wrap, Indigo, $10.95.
A great roll of tape is essential to any gift wrapping station. No matter your wrapping style, Scotch Brand's variety of double sided, gift wrap and Expressions washi tape will help get the job done. Scotch tape, Scotch Brand, prices vary.
Wrap festive treats in these cute printable cups. They're also great for gift cards, chocolates or other small items - the possibilities are endless! Printable treat cups, LittleLuxuriesLoft on Etsy, $6.56.
Put a DIY spin on your wrapping this holiday season with help from Fiskars. With a variety of designs available, this tag maker will help you add a personalized touch to each present. Fiskars Tag Maker, Amazon.ca, prices vary.
You never know when you'll need to wrap that last-minute gift or happen to run out of wrapping paper. Stock up on stylish gift bags and you'll be ready to wrap anything this holiday season. VINTER gift bags, IKEA, $3.99 (2 pack).
There's nothing worse than realizing you're out of holiday cards. Stock up with this festive set, complete with 20 cards and envelopes. Festive Holiday Card Set, Anthropologie, $18.