• Bed Sheets and Bedding

    You spend roughly a third of your day in bed, so you want the sheets to be comfortable. If they look nice as well, that's great and may be very important to you. But this is one area where you don't want to sacrifice comfort for style. So you should start by narrowing down what you're looking for in terms of feel, as determined by material, weave, and quality. Then you can start looking for sheets that meet those standards and also have a color or design that will go with your tastes.

    Material

    For bed sheets, cotton is king. And with good reason. Cotton sheets provide a natural, breathable fabric that feels great. Some sheets come in a cotton/polyester blend with polyester making up to 50% of the sheet's material. These sheets have the advantage of being more durable, so you won't have to replace them as often. But for many people, the feel isn't nearly as nice. And on a hot summer night they won't breathe as well and you may end up with perspiration-dampened bed clothes. For extra luxury, Egyptian cotton can provide a softer feel.

    Threadcount

    The thread count tells you the number of threads woven into one square inch of the sheet. A higher thread count is better for a couple of reasons. First, it generally means the sheet is more durable. It won't become threadbare after several washings. Second, it means that the sheet is likely to feel softer and smoother to the touch. Lower thread count sheets-between 140 and 180-are called muslin. Everything above is called percale. You want your sheets to have at least a 200 thread count, or with cotton/polyester at least a 220. Higher thread counts will feel even more luxurious and have been coming down in price. Older recommendations would have called 300 or 400 thread count sheets "luxury" items. It's now possible to get even an 800 thread count sheet set for under $100.

    Weave

    The weave of the sheet can also contribute to its feel. The standard weaves are percale, sateen, oxford, muslin, and flannel. Percale is the standard feel for a cotton bed sheet and combines softness and smoothness with just a bit of texture. Sateen sheets generally go for the very smooth feel. Oxford sheets are made with the same weave as other oxford cloth. This can give the sheet a slightly rougher feel (in a pleasant way), and they'll be a little heavier as well. This may be nice for those nights when it gets so hot that a sheet is the only cover you use. Flannel sheets are design to trap and retain your body heat. They feel nice, soft, fuzzy, and warm and are ideal for cold winter nights. Unless it's cold all year round, though, you won't want the flannel sheets to be your only set. Muslin sheets have the lower thread count as mentioned. They'll feel rougher, but they do breathe nicely and may be right for you.

    Color and Pattern

    Regardless of what you choose, you'll be able to find plenty of sheets in a color or pattern that you like. Consider how to bring out the colors of the walls or the curtains or a painting that will hang in the room.

    Quantity

    It's good to have two sets of sheets so that you can have one in the wash without the deadline of getting that set back on the bed by nightfall. If you want to choose a cold weather sheet (such as flannel) and a warm weather sheet (such as percale), you may want to have two sets of each kind.