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Sleep Tight: Building Your Bedding Basics from the Sheets Up

Sleep Tight: Building Your Bedding Basics from the Sheets Up

When it comes to decorating your bedroom, finding a style for your bed sets the stage. Choosing the bedding you love is not only fun, but it’s also helpful in tying the rest of the decor in your bedroom together. It’s easy to relax when your bedding is comfortable and inviting, helping you cozy up after a long day to get a better night’s sleep. Additionally, because the bed is usually the focal point of this room, finding your ideal bedding brings all other design elements together. From sheets and comforters to mattress toppers and accent pillows, this bedding guide will help you determine how to choose bedding for your room and sleeping habits.

Bedding Sizes

Before heading out to select a new bedding collection, take note of your bed’s dimensions. Take a moment to pull out a tape measure and ensure you have the correct size – this makes it easier to find bedding that fits properly.

Mattress Sizes:

      Twin: 39" x 74"

      Twin XL: 39" x 80"

      Full: 54" x 74"

      Queen – 60" x 80"

      King: 76" x 80"

      California King: 72" x 84"

Mattress thickness can also vary by several inches. Standard mattresses measure between 7" and 14" high, while deep mattresses measure about 15"; extra-deep mattresses measure between 16" and 22". Measure the thickness level of your mattress so you can match it to the proper sheet depth.

Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers add extra comfort to any mattress. Feather toppers are soft yet firm and provide extra support. Quilted toppers made of cotton or polyester offer less support but protect the mattress and are easy to clean. Memory foam toppers evenly distribute body weight over the mattress to help protect your joints, conforming to the contours of your body for personalized support.

Keep in mind that mattress toppers can add several inches to the depth of a mattress, so consider purchasing deep or extra-deep pockets to accommodate the height change. Some mattress pads and toppers offer protection from allergens too, as these light covers enclose your mattress to prevent dust mites. While feather toppers may not be best for some people with allergies, polyester and cotton are effective in reducing allergens.


You will most likely start your bedding with a standard sheet set featuring a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and one or more pillowcases. A fitted sheet has elastic around each corner to secure it to the mattress, while flat sheets are straight with no elastic all the way around. Flat sheets rest between you and your comforter to help keep the comforter clean.  When people talk about sheets, one of the first things they wonder about is the thread count. What is thread count? It refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric – a 300-thread-count sheet has 300 individual threads running horizontally and vertically in that square inch. Look for a thread count of 200 or above to enjoy enhanced softness and durability.


Higher thread counts are associated with higher quality sheets, but this is not the only factor to consider when you’re making a selection. Fabric is another important thing to think about because each has its own textures and characteristics. Many people prefer Egyptian cotton because it’s so soft and supple. Pima cotton grown in America is also smooth and durable. However, other sheets are just as comfortable, depending on your particular preferences.

Keep the season in mind when choosing a fabric too. Cotton and linen sheets are breathable and can help keep you cool in the summer, while flannel sheets are soft and warm to keep you cozy on chilly winter nights. You may also want to opt for organic cotton bed linens. Organic cotton is not exposed to toxic pesticides and other chemical residues during the growing and harvesting processes, meaning that you won’t breathe in any substances all night long or have them against your skin when you choose certified-organic bedding. The manufacturing process is eco-friendly, giving you peace of mind as you drift off to sleep.

Fabric weave refers to the pattern that the threads of the sheets are woven in. Plain weave is the most common, offering durability with its crisp, smooth surface. Twill is similar but is thicker and offers higher durability due to its more elaborate weave pattern. It also resists wrinkles more effectively. Satin weave has a smooth and luxurious feel. As you’re shopping for sheets, you’ll find several different types to choose from.

Comforters and Bedspreads

Your bedspread is a versatile piece, serving both functional and decorative purposes. Comforters are thick and warm because they’re typically filled with polyester batting, down or other filling materials. They come in varying thicknesses to accommodate your comfort level or to go along with the season’s temperatures. Quilts have two woven cloth sides with a layer of batting in the middle, and they’re normally lighter and flatter than comforters.

Duvets inserts are similar to comforters in that they’re thick and warm. They differ in that they don’t have decorative designs or colors. Instead, a duvet insert slides inside a duvet cover, which either zips or buttons closed. Duvet covers are easy to switch out whenever you want to change the look of your room. Additionally, they protect your duvet insert from stains and are easier to wash than a bulky comforter.

To keep you comfortable and allergy-free and maintain your preferred sleeping temperature, duvet inserts have different fillings to choose from:

·      Down is made from the light, fluffy, quill-free feather clusters that grow under the larger feathers of ducks and geese. It’s extremely insulating due to the thousands of tiny air pockets within the clusters that give down its high loft.

·      Feathers are similar to down in their insulating abilities, but they have a tendency to pack down. Their loft isn’t as high as down’s, and feather-filled duvets tend to be firmer than down or down-alternative fillings.

·      Down alternative is a synthetic fiber material that’s available in different lofts to help you choose your desired thickness level. Down alternative duvets are designed to minimize the number of allergens present in down inserts, so people who have allergies may prefer them. Although synthetic fills typically aren’t as insulating as down, they’re easier to wash at home.

Coverlets are another type of topper that are lightweight and often used in conjunction with a thicker or warmer bedspread to add color or decoration. They’re light enough that they’re great to use on their own during summer months.


Most pillows are soft and fluffy, but they offer plenty of features that can help you choose the type you love. It’s helpful to select a type of pillow that complements your sleeping habits. Back sleepers feel comfortable with a medium-support pillow that provides cushioning to the upper spine and prevents the head from tilting too far backward. Side sleepers get effective support from a pillow that cradles the head and keeps the neck and spine aligned. Pillows with an insert sewn along the seam add a bit of height to provide that necessary support. Stomach sleepers do well with a soft pillow that has a slim, flat profile to keep their necks tilted at a comfortable angle.

Loft and Fill

Common materials used to fill pillows include synthetic fibers, feathers, down and down-alternatives. Synthetic fibers, like polyester, are widely available. They hold their shape well and provide support for your head and neck, coming in a wide variety of support levels from soft to firm to accommodate varying comfort needs. Feather and down pillows provide highly effective support, cradle your head and retain warmth, but aren’t usually ideal for people with allergies. Down-alternative pillows offer you all the benefits of down pillows with hypoallergenic comfort.


The number of pillows you select for your bed depends on your comfort preferences. One pillow might be all that you need for sleeping; however, additional pillows provide support and comfort to sit up while reading at night with a bedside lamp or watching television. The number you choose also depends on their sizes. Pillows come in standard, queen and king sizes to complement the sizes of different mattresses. Choose the size that corresponds with your bed to create a balanced and comfortable look with fewer pillows. You can always choose a size up if you’re looking for extra comfort, too.

Shams and Cases

Pillowcases and shams both provide an easy way to dress up the various pillows on your bed, but they serve different purposes. Pillowcases are meant to protect the pillows that you sleep on each night. They typically resemble fabric sleeves with one closed end that slide over your personal pillow, and they’re usually made from the same materials as bed sheets. Shams, on the other hand, are primarily decorative and meant to add color and pattern to your bed, depending on the fabric they’re made from. Shams typically open via tuck flaps on the back, and they have decorative flaps – called flanges – or cording around all four edges. They come in a wide range of fabrics that often match duvet covers and comforters, but it’s also easy to find individual decorative shams to create your own unique bedding ensemble.


Now you’ve covered your bedding basics! With these essentials in place, feel free to move on to accessories that add a touch of color, personality and flair to your room. Accent pillows allow you to add a pop of color or an interesting pattern to your bed. If you opt for neutral or plain bedding, it’s easy to change up your style with colorful and fun accent pillows. Opt for pillows that complement the color palette of your room or create some lively contrast. You can use throw blankets in the same manner, and they have the extra benefit of adding warmth in the winter months.

Put the finishing touches on your bed with a bed skirt. This piece of bedding fits over the box spring, covers the bed frame and hides stored items underneath the bed. It also gives your bed and room a clean, streamlined look.

Bedding Sets

Bedding sets make it easier to coordinate with a style you love and incorporate colors and patterns that complement your bedroom. Sheet sets typically include a fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcases. A duvet set includes a duvet cover and matching shams, but some may also include a sheet set to make it simple to change the entire design of your bed.

Beautiful Design and a Better Night’s Sleep

Your bed has a lot of layers, and each plays an important role. Mattress toppers and pillows allow you to maximize your comfort to help you rest better each night. Sheets, comforters, duvets, accent pillows and throws come in a variety of fabrics, colors and styles, letting you tailor the design to match your style. By combining all of the elements in this bedding buying guide, you can transform your bed into the coziest spot in the house.