Luxurious linens can transform a winter home from cold to cozy. Winter chills fade away in a home adorned with flannel sheets, decadent duvets, feather beds, and snuggly throws. When selecting these goods, quality is of the utmost importance. While white-sale goods may seem attractive because of their price points, seeking out the best-of-the-best in linens pays for itself both in the length of service and the pleasure of use.
If you hesitate to go to bed in winter because of the shock of slipping into cold sheets, invest in a high-quality flannel sheet set. Flannels are made of tightly-woven fabrics, usually cotton or wool, which are carded (combed) to rough up the nap of the fabric, essentially making it a bit fuzzy. This process creates fabric that feels warm when you sleep on it or wear it. Flannel quality is judged on its weight in ounces per square yard, and high-quality flannels should weigh 4-6 ounces per square yard. Keep your eye out for German made flannels, as they are known for their high quality. Flannel fabrics are very strong in comparison to other bedding fabrics and should last close to a lifetime with proper care and storage.
Duvets and Feather Beds
Northern Europeans traditionally favor duvets and feather beds as a means of staying comfortable and warm in the winter. In recent years, duvets (comforters that you cover with protective sheet envelopes) have reached the masses in the U.S. and most everyone is familiar with them. Feather beds remain relatively unknown in the U.S and are made of the same materials as duvets and also kept clean in covers. They sit on top of your mattress and add an extra layer of cushioning.
There are several factors to consider before purchasing quality duvets and feather beds including their thread count, baffle construction, fill power, and loft. Duvets and feather beds are also rated for year-round use, moderate cold, or extreme cold temperatures. For comfort, Texans should choose year-round or moderate-rated selections.
Most duvets are covered in cotton. When purchasing a duvet look for a thread count of at least 300. Thread count, defined as threads per square inch, is important in duvets as a tight weave and strong fabric keep stuffing in its place and protect the expensive insert from sweat, oils, moisture, and dander.
To keep the filling in a duvet or feather bed from bunching up in one corner, quality duvets and feather beds are made with baffle construction. Essentially, they have a sewn grid pattern to keep the filling equally distributed in separate compartments; a side baffle of two inches or more is also desirable to give the duvet or feather bed height.
Duvets and feather beds may be filled with down, feathers, natural, or synthetic fibers; down being the most expensive filling. Feathers are flat, and over time become more and more compacted. Down is a best described as a “puff” of fibers. Down puffs tend to keep their round shape and provide more loft or height, better filling up space in the baffles. Down is rated by fill power; look for 600-800 fill power, this represents the size of the puffs but does not indicate weight or warmth. Many synthetic and natural down alternatives are available if you have allergies or do not use animal products, they are usually machine-washable and require little extra care. Many alternatives are just as warm, or warmer than, the finest down. To date, none of these alternatives compares to the sumptuous cloud-like experience of being surrounded by a down cocoon.
Throws scattered around your living areas are an invitation to settle down and enjoy the moment; sink into a beloved chair in front of the fireplace or admire a starry winter night from a cushioned window-seat. Throws provide two other benefits to your décor: color and texture. Choosing two or three throws in complementary warm shades like ivory, curry, cognac, cocoa, persimmon, or wine instantly transform your home’s palette to a winter vibe. Adding texture to a decorating scheme is a well-kept designer’s secret. Throws of lush cashmere, various knits, faux fur, and faux suede quickly add visual interest to any room.
One cannot say enough about the softness of genuine cashmere. If your home is inhabited by well-mannered adults, consider splurging on this extraordinary fabric when selecting a throw. Cashmere lasts for years if it is hand-washed and stored with cedar in the off-season to deter insect damage. This luxurious choice is not ideal if pets or children are present as it can snag and stain and should not be frequently washed.
Wool or Acrylic Knits?
The most important consideration when choosing between these fabrics is the proximity to open flames. If you plan to sit by the fire, or often use many of decorative candles, you may want to pass on acrylics and other synthetics. Most will melt if they catch on fire and cause very serious burns. Natural fibers breathe and allow moisture to wick away from your body while acrylic fibers trap moisture and may become uncomfortable. However, if you have children or pets, and flammability is not an issue, acrylics are a good choice as they can take a beating, wash beautifully, and are difficult to stain.
Faux Furs and Faux Suede
Faux furs are a cruelty-free way to add a touch of classic glamor to your winter décor. A leopard or ermine print is a fabulous contrast to bright-colored décor while a rich sable faux fur looks lovely with neutrals and leathers. Faux furs are usually fairly rugged though some may require dry cleaning. Faux suede, also known as microfiber, is one of the toughest fabrics for rough use and stain resistance. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and pet owners and parents alike can feel confident that a microfiber throw will go the distance.
Shopping Resources for Luxury Linens:
Lin Marché | 4307 McCullough Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78212 | (210) 826-6771
Casa di Lino | 4026 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas, TX 75219 | (214) 252-0404
Feather Your Nest, Fine Linens & Home Decor | 3500 Jefferson St. Suite 120, Austin, TX 78731 |(512) 206-3555