How to Create the Perfect Bed

In this hideous gray rainy February weather, the only thing I want to do is stay in bed.

On days I don’t have appointments, I can do that. I can set up my laptop on a pillow to hold it up, and with some black coffee and a phone charger I am good to go. So, as I sit, propped up on half a dozen pillows, I want to write about a subject near to my heart: Bed.

If you’re designing a bedroom for a photo shoot, you just need a nice headboard and a fancy bedspread and some accent pillows. If you’re designing a bed to live in, there’s a lot more to it. You’ve got to get the right setup, from the best mattress, to nice sheets, to a down comforter, to good lighting, to comfy sleepwear.  

 

Starting with the foundation, a good mattress is essential. A decade is about all you can expect from a mattress and we were due for a new one. On a recent stay at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago we slept on the most amazing mattress, so I tracked it down and placed an order. It’s a hotel-quality construction by Sealy that’s now available to the public through their Bed of Your Dreams program. (What a great name!) Mattresses are a very personal buy, because everyone’s likes are different when it comes to firmness. A luxury hotel is a great place to try one out because you get a trial night instead of just bouncing around on one in a furniture store. (Also, there are nice restaurants in luxury hotels, which also helps sleep.)

 

Next, you need to consider the sheets.

Sheets are another love affair I have, and I am always looking for the perfect set. I like both percale sheets and sateen sheets for different reasons. Percale sheets are known for their signature tight weave, matte finish, and crisp hand. They are more breathable which makes them great in the summer. Sateen sheets have a lustrous sheen and a silky-smooth finish. They are typically heavier in weight and less breathable, but the finish is beautiful. Again, it’s about personal preference. I also prefer a little detail in sheeting instead of just plain white; a little color in a line of embroidery or inset piece of contrasting fabric on the pillowcase can add so much.

My go-to brand for a great sheet in every price range is Sferra. They have been around for years and it is hard to go wrong with products in their line. My splurge for a really great set of sheets is an (Italian) company called Bagni Volpi Noemi. They do the most beautiful embroidery you have ever seen, and I am very lucky to own a set.

I also happened upon a great little linen store in New York called Casa del Bianco on Lexington Avenue. They are Italian-made (you know me), and I had a set custom made for my guest bedroom. There’s a great screen (for sale here) hanging over the guest bed right now, and I matched the embroidery and inset fabric to the colors in it. They are sateen sheets and are very elegant, and I’ve put them in the guestroom where my friends say they like them a lot. I hope they are telling the truth, because those sheets are a bear to iron.

But enough about sheets. As you can tell, I can go on and on about them. On top of the sheets, I love blankets by Brahms Mount. They are wonderfully woven in premium cotton, linen, and wool in Maine. (Imagine, me liking something Made in the USA!) My favorite is the Madison Cotton Blanket in a timeless herringbone. A good washable blanket is essential for me, because I do sleep with dogs.

The finishing touches are the feathery ones, of course. All of my pillows and comforters are by Downright, which is another great name and another great company. They’ve got everything from down and down alternative basics, to Icelandic eiderdown in silk Jacquard that’s almost too pretty to put a case on. I always make sure to have a duvet cover that matches my beautiful sheets, and I’ve been careful to order extra pillowcases whenever I order a new set.

 

As you can tell, I really get into the whole bed thing. I once had this great book on English bedroom design, and how it’s common for the English to spend a lot of time in bed, often with their dogs. So, it’s an established tradition, and I don’t feel bad about it all.

Bottom line, your bed is important. You spend one-third of your life there, at the very least. Even if you don’t hang out in your bed like I do, it still needs to be thought out. Winter time — when we have such a natural desire to get cozy — is a good time to get it right.

It’s also a good time to find some nice pajamas. I’ve found a few that I love enough to wear to dinner, but more on that in a future post.

 

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