Monday, February 2, 2009

Best Beds (with Houseguest Blogger My Mom)

In the midst of an action-packed weekend that included my sister-in-law's baby shower, reupholstering an ottoman, rehab-ing a wood table, and having friends over to watch the Superbowl last night (more on all those topics later this week), I managed to convince my mom that for the privilege of sleeping on my Murphy bed, she was obligated to contribute to the blog (in addition to all of the aforementioned projects I conned her into). Among her many talents, the woman is famous for making a seriously comfortable and luxurious bed, and she's helped me turn my own into a downy dreamy cloud, so I asked her to share some tips with us.

Me: Starting from the bottom, what are the layers that go into a really comfy bed?
Mom: You can make a pretty comfortable and beautiful bed, even if all you've got is your old mattress from college. I recommend getting a 2" memory foam mattress pad (you don't need to buy the fancy brands- you can get one pretty cheap from, and covering that with a featherbed mattress pad (or you can use an old comforter, if you have an extra).

Cover all of that with an old fitted sheet (just make sure the pocket is deep enough to accommodate the extra padding underneath). That sheet will hold everything together, will keep your mattress pads and mattress clean, and is a snap to throw in the wash when needed, unlike a mattress pad which is too bulky to go in most washing machines.

Then, over that put another nice fitted sheet (the one you're actually gonna sleep on)- having all that stuff underneath will stretch the fitted sheet nice and tight creating a comfy smooth bottom layer. And when you wash and change your sheets, you can just pull this one off, and the one underneath will hold the rest of your bedding together.

Then lay the flat sheet on top of that one "face down". In the winter, I'd cover that with a nice wool blanket and a blanket cover or bedspread (again, so the easy-to-wash bedspread or cover will keep the hard-to-wash blanket clean). Fold about 6-8" of the top sheet over, covering the top edge of the blanket, for a pulled-together look.

Tuck in all the layers with "hospital corners" at the foot of the bed (click here for an illustration), to keep everything firmly in place.

I also always put a nice feather comforter in a duvet cover folded at the foot of the bed, or you can pull it up and use it instead of a bedspread. In an apartment, I would opt for the less-expensive summer weight comforters, since you can use it all year with the addition of another blanket for especially cold nights. Also, if you share your bed with someone, it's not a bad idea to go one size up for top sheets, blankets and comforters- you'll avoid fights over stolen covers.

For pillows, everyone has their own personal favorites, but whatever they are, cover them with removable pillow protectors to make them last longer and stay cleaner. A couple of shams, or nice big Euro shams propped up against the headboard or wall will make your bed look like it's right out of a fancy hotel.

Me: How do you choose the best sheets?
When it comes to buying sheets, my rule is that you can't go wrong with pure white cotton (or even linen). White always looks crisp, is so much easier to maintain, won't fade, and you can always use a little bleach on it if you fall asleep with a ballpoint pen in your hand. In the end they will last you so much longer than colors, which always get wrecked (this is my rule about bath towels, too).

I only use natural fabrics- I don't ever put synthetics on a bed because they just don't let your body "breathe" right. Cotton, linen, down and wool are my favorite bedding materials, but there are good bamboo options now, too.

I think that thread-count thing is a real rip-off. The best way to find nice soft sheets is to go to the store and feel them for yourself. I think the Company Store, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Garnet Hall all have nice affordable bedding, but I say go to an outlet store first and get a bargain, if you've got one near you. For fancy things, I love Schweitzer Linens, or I find fabulous old embroidered and monogrammed linen sheets on Ebay for something truly special. They feel great, aren't at all difficult to care for, and those old things are so beautiful and so well-made that they last forever.

Me: How do you care for your bedding?
Using removable covers that you can throw in the wash goes a long way. When you wash your sheets every week or so, spot treat them before you wash them in nice hot water (to kill dust mites and really get out any soiling). Then, take them out of the dryer while they are still a little damp (or hang them out to dry if you can) and fold them neatly to prevent them from getting wrinkly. Stack them with bars of nice-smelling soaps or sachets.
When you put the sheets on the bed, use a spray mister (I like the industrial spray bottles) to spritz the top sheet with a light misting of water. Then run your hand over the sheet, gently smoothing out the wrinkles. After about 5 minutes the sheet will have dried completely crisp and flat and it will look like you were ironing all afternoon. You can do the same thing to your duvet cover and pillowcases (and even a men's dress shirt, in a pinch).

Also, not to be too much of a mom here, but making your bed every day will keep your bed feeling fresh, clean and pulled-together longer. It's a simple pleasure getting into a made bed each night.

Me: Any tips for taking care of house guests?
Mom: On a guest bed, try to have at least one soft and one firm pillow. And I like to put out a few things by the bed to help guests sleep: Hearos ear plugs, an eyemask, some water, and a bottle of Schiff Knock-Out vitamins.

Me: ...And don't make them write your blog for you.
Mom: Right.


Gecko said...

Ahh, the secrets are out on the bed layering - except that meditation mangle Mom has hidden in her secret getaway.

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