I don’t know whether it’s a sign of my age and the advancing years, but I have developed a real weakness for high quality bed linen. The realisation has crept up on me just what a huge difference it makes. It started when my mother offered to iron my pillowcases to help out when I’d just given birth to my daughter.
At that point we had perfectly good cotton percale from The White Company – fairly low maintenance, but much better after ironing. We also tended to keep pillows a bit too long (duck down), doubling them up and struggling to find the ideal combination. Duvet-wise, ours was a pretty standard synthetic one. Seven years and several hundred pounds later, I have developed a serious habit for high thread count Egyptian cotton and goose down.
Perhaps parenthood (and less ‘me time’) has boosted my appreciation of home comforts – I do truly find my bed more comfortable. It certainly feels more luxurious. There is something so smooth and cool about Egyptian cotton and nothing beats the feeling of a cloudlike duvet gently settling around you as you relax for the night. As for pillows, after trying out several in John Lewis, we opted for goose down and feather (90/10) with a duck feather core – supportive and restful. No more morning neck ache due to unsuitable pillows.
We’ve had our firm orthopaedic bed for a number of years, but it’s been improved by a topper. At first these take some getting used to, making you feel rather like the princess and the pea – it’s like sleeping on top of a duvet – but once adapted to your body, they’re supremely comfortable. Various friends had raved about them, particularly people with back problems. Being rather partial to natural materials, we went for feather and down instead of memory foam. Apparently they can help extend the life of your mattress, so may be worth considering, however, smarter new mattresses have a top layer that performs this role.
If the weather gets too hot for the summer weight duvet, we switch to a sheet and cellular wool blanket, topped with a cotton bedspread. I prefer flat sheets to fitted as they are easier to iron and store, what’s more I do like the crispness and security of a traditionally made bed (hospital corners and all). It takes me right back to staying with my grandmother and feeling really cosseted, although I haven’t yet mastered tucking myself in!
Admittedly, there’s more work involved (ie ironing) as the longer fibres in Egyptian cotton need smoothing out in this way and with higher thread counts, you’re dealing with a thicker, heavier fabric that can give you quite a work out. (I’m sure it helps keep my bingo wings in check.) We’ve invested in a steam generator iron that’s definitely helped speed up things. To be honest, we don’t mind tackling a pile of ironing in front of the telly. We’ve drawn the line at starch, although my husband (shirt ironing expert) tells me he’s had good results and the smell is rather nice. He’s never used it on sheets though.
My daughter’s bed is made up in the same way as ours, but with a microfibre duvet and pillows to avoid any allergy issues. She doesn’t have a topper, just a padded mattress cover, and no garish kids’ bed linen sets for her – plain white Egyptian cotton like mummy and daddy! What’s more, she’s always been a great sleeper.
We all sleep very well – once we’re actually in bed. Our main problem is that we just need to get to bed earlier!
Lucy Bridgers is a freelance writer and editor and has her own blog Wine, Food and Other Pleasures