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.
Simple, contrasting styles live this apartment.
A once-blah apartment gets a beauty-inspired makeover that leaves its resident sitting pretty.
India, pictured here in her living room, is set to open her cosmetics shop, India Rose Cosmeticary, this spring.
“The dining room in particular was inspired by Parisian interiors,” says homeowner India Daykin. “I love combining old pieces like the vintage settee, pendant light and dresser with the modern table and artwork.” The honey hues of the original white oak floors are a warm counterpoint to the pale blue walls.
India exercised her design rules in the living room. “I used contrasting styles to make the space lively,” she says. “I also didn’t overdo it with the furnishings – when in doubt, keep it simple.” The apartment building where India lives is named Queen Elizabeth, and the artwork, which once belonged to India’s mom, is a play on that.
Though the living room’s fireplace isn’t functional, it beckons, thanks to India’s artful styling. “I wanted this to be an interesting focal point,” she says. “I staggered items at different heights and added some pops of gold, which I love.”
“It’s a feminine palette, but I was conscious of not making everything too girly – though I’m grateful my mom reminded me to have fun with it, because it might be the last space I live in that is truly my own,” says India.
Pink accents, from the pouffe and drapes to the toss cushions and throw, create a feminine feel in the bedroom. “My childhood bed was updated with tufted upholstery, and I chose a dresser for my nightstand since it offers more storage,” says India.
The dressing room contains transformative elements – faux-silk drapery, a vintage crystal chandelier and framed prints – that India can easily take with her when she moves.
The glamorous mirrored vanity is a favourite. “I love sitting here to do my makeup, while my friends hang out on the pouffe or in the armchair,” she says.
“My apartment has become a meeting place for all my friends,” says India. “I think my neighbours have met them more than they’ve met me! Plain and simple, this is a place where people want to be.”
Winona Cream Puff, a British blue short hair cat enjoys the space just as much as India.
10 birthday gift ideas
A classic journal can be a go-to gift for any occasion but especially for a birthday. Whether it’s for a co-worker, a niece, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a place to jot down ideas, dreams and aspirations is always welcome. Mon Carnet Journal, Anthropologie, $14.
Margaritas on a patio in the summer sounds like the perfect way to celebrate one’s birthday, and any party friend will love a festive cocktail. Margarita Gift Set, Williams-Sonoma, $79.95.
For any woman in your life looking to pretty up her living or workspace, a Garance Dore print brings whimsy and style all at once. "In the Water" Art Print by Garance Doré – 8” x 10”, Indigo, $25.
Think your dad, father-in-law, cubicle mate or friend: A personalized monogrammed beer stein is at the top of the list for the guy’s guy on your list. Pub Beer Mug, Pottery Barn, $9.
Keep the green thumbs of your friends and family soft and hydrated with a pretty gift set of lotions, creams and butters, perfect for the avid gardener. Olive Premium Gift Selection, The Body Shop, $45.
Once you switch to these reusable water bottles, you’ll never go back. They keep contents hot or cold for hours, making it ideal for the environment-loving, uber-busy birthday boy or girl. S’well Teakwood Water Bottle – 17 oz., Indigo, $39.50.
Two things that will never go out of style: Weekend getaways and weekend bags. And for the jetsetter on your list, a sturdy weekend holdall will get loads of use (And this colour combo can work for a guy or girl). Jack + Mulligan Weekender, West Elm, $299.
The Brooklyn Bridge? The Eiffel Tower? A black and white print of their favourite city will surely be appreciated for the city-hopping person in your group. The New York Times Archive - Brooklyn Bridge – 1914, Pottery Barn. $199-$399.
Sometimes work colleagues can be tricky to buy for, but a simple, elegant vase will never go out of style or be out of place in just about any decor, so it’s a sure-fire win. And they come in a variety of price points to suit your budget. Aegean Clear Glass Vases, Pottery Barn, $19.50-$99.
A true food lover will appreciate anything for their kitchen, especially a rustic raw wood cutting board that will help them whip up their next great culinary creation. You can even personalize them for an extra personal touch. Raw Wood Boards, West Elm, $39-$89.
A crisp and calm all-white bedroom is a dream in itself
These stylish master suites will have you inspired to redecorate your own space.
With a textured blush pink wall and storage ottoman this dreamy suite is anything but dull. The elegance continues through glass bedside tables and beautiful bedding, making anyone sleeping here feel calm and relaxed. See other white interiors here.
Give your bedroom a rustic feel with stylish wooden accessories. The wooden bench and wall art add texture to this space, keeping it warm and inviting. Get the look here.
A dreamy all-white room is guaranteed to look calm and crisp especially with light-grey accents, like throw pillows. We love the way the natural light in this room helps transform it into a bright, peaceful sanctuary. See the rest of the house here.
Offsetting patterns can take a while to perfect, but this bright, colourful room makes it look simple. Matching a patterned quilt on the bed with a printed navy rug pulls all the colours of the room together to create a natural palette that will leave you with sweet dreams. See the rest of the house here.
Textured walls are the key to this earth-toned room. Create your own spa-like master suite by mixing calming neutrals, like bedding and accessories. See the rest of the house here.
With such a lush view it's only natural that this bedroom be decorated with simple and chic accessories. This helps keep your eyes focused on the beautiful scenery without busy distractions. See the rest of the house here.
Decorating a large master suite doesn't need to feel intimidating. Pick a few key pieces to focus on and this will instantly become an effortless task. A large area rug easily breaks up the space while chandeliers keep the otherwise low-key room bright and inviting. See the rest of the house here.
Patterned throw pillows (which also accent the bed skirt) are the perfect way to brighten up a grey room. Light accents in this room keep the bed as the main focal point. See the rest of the house here.
Adding colour to a master suite doesn't have to be a daunting task. Hang a bold piece of artwork or above the bed, not only will it act as the perfect faux headboard, it can be replaced each time you want to add a new hue to your space. Get the look here.
An all-white bedroom can look clean and fresh but adding accents of grey or black will add some instant sophistication. In this room, the dark curtains, sofa and deep throw pillows are what truly creates a sleek look. See the rest of the house here.
Hints of colour are a great addition to any room, but this dreamy suite takes colour to the next level. Dark blue engulfs the room, creating the feeling of a royal suite. This room might have you considering what colour to try in your master bedroom. See the rest of the house here.
It's the perfect combination of a neutral palette and creative decor accessories that make this loft's master suit so dreamy. See the rest of the house here.
If there are large windows in your master suite, why not incorporate them into your decor. This bedroom's arched windows, delicately framed by neutral drapes, act as pieces of wall art. See the rest of the house here.
Draw attention to a glamorous bed with a dark wall colour that doubles as a large faux headboard. See the rest of the house here.
There is nothing dark and gloomy about this room. Instead, it has a polished and chic elegance that will leave you quickly craving a darker space of your own. See other dark bedrooms here.