- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Buying bedsheets used to be simple, and the selections few. Now bedding offers higher thread counts, more design options with pillows and headboards, and enough brand selections to make crawling into bed a luxury. What better time than spring for an altogether new look in the bedroom?

A different color theme or pattern on the bed can help usher in the new season, says Leigh Oshirak, spokeswoman at Pottery Barn brands, a chain with several stores in the region.

“It’s completely a design choice, but it’s nice as the seasons change to freshen things in a way that’s achievable,” Ms. Oshirak says. “If you’ve already invested in a good sheet set, all you’re really doing seasonally is freshening the top of the bed.”

Pillows, sheets and comforters can be just as important to the overall presentation of a room as the furniture. Not to mention, a comfortable bed provides a good night’s sleep.

“The holidays can be very heavy with velvet and richer textiles,” Ms. Oshirak says. “You use a lot of quilting. We often have a lot of faux fur. When it’s spring, we try to lighten things up with a light and refreshing color palette.”

Cotton sheets with a 400-thread count or above are probably the most versatile, she says. The more the sheets are washed, the softer they should become.

“Some people find silk sheets can be a little slippery,” Ms. Oshirak says. “Silky smooth sheets might be cotton with 600-thread count. Cotton at a high level can have the feeling of silk.”

For spring, natural shades, pale blues and light greens are popular, Ms. Oshirak says. Each year, the company introduces new floral patterns. One of this year’s patterns, the Marie Floral, comes as a duvet cover and sham. Golds, yellows, blues and greens are featured in the design. The pattern also comes on pillow covers and drapes.

Dramatic bold stripes are popular, Ms. Oshirak says. The Awning Stripe comes in red and blue on duvet covers, shams and cotton floor mats. The Courtney Stripe, a thinner stripe, comes in red and blue on items such as duvet covers and shams, bed skirts, daybed skirts, pillow covers, daybed covers and drapes. The stripes mix well with patterns and solids.

While a duvet cover is used on the top of the bed, layering sheets provides depth and breaks up the color. A down or down-alternative feather bed can add comfort. A silk quilt or dramatic throw at the foot of the bed is a nice touch, especially because two people don’t always like the same temperature, she says.

“There are different camps,” Ms. Oshirak says. “A lot of people like a big cozy bed. Other people like it more minimalist. That’s why it’s good to have something at the foot of the bed.”

Thankfully, a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to be expensive, Ms. Oshirak says. The PB Classic Sheet Set is $129 to $179. It comes in white, butter, ivory, leaf green and porcelain blue.

“What’s nicer than when you have a great night’s sleep at a hotel?” Ms. Oshirak says. “It’s because of the quality of the linens and the comfort of the bed.”

In addition to comfortable linens, headboards can add to the statement of a bed, says Meredith Mazur, spokeswoman for Williams-Sonoma Home in San Francisco.

In the past, headboards tended to be just a basic piece of furniture that blended into the background, she says. The company offers upholstered headboards, which can be custom designed with 90 different fabrics.

“We have seen a re-emergence in the fashion of headboards that includes using all different colors, shapes and textures,” Mrs. Mazur says. “We really think the bed frame and headboard are all part of the look of the overall bed.”

For the spring, Williams-Sonoma Home is featuring a blue and white color scheme with orange as an accent color, she says. The company offers various percale sheets. Silk and cotton solid sheeting is the company’s most luxurious sheeting, with 990-thread-count blend of silk and cotton.

“If you go to the linen factories in Italy, they won’t even respond to a question about thread counts,” Mrs. Mazur said. “It’s all about how they wrap the thread, the length of the thread and the quality of the thread that is used. People get wrapped up in the number of the thread count. What’s important is how it feels against your skin. What feels right to me, doesn’t necessarily feel right to you.”

For those people who change the linens on the bed with every season, duvet covers might be the best option, she says.

“That way you are able to switch out your overall look and feel seasonally, instead of replacing a quilt every season,” Mrs. Mazur said. “You can have a duvet cover that is light, white linen that exudes summer. Then maybe you can have a thicker fabric and darker color for the winter months.”

While most cotton sheets are suitable for all seasons, flannel is also a good year-round sheet, says Susan Tosches, senior buyer at the Company Store in Weehawken, N.J.

“It’s napped, so it gives you a very comfortable sheet,” Ms. Tosches says. “After it’s woven, the yarns are slightly combed to raise the soft fiber. That’s what gives you the cozy feel. Many people use it in the winter. Others will use it even with air conditioning.”

Down comforters also can be used in various seasons, depending on the different levels of fill, she says. Further, down or hypoallergenic pillows of all shapes and sizes can accessorize the bed. For example, neck rolls, bolster pillows, round pillows, small square pillows, large square pillows, reading wedges and maternity pillows are popular.

“I think people decide what to put on the bed by what makes them comfortable and how they want their bedroom to look,” Ms. Tosches says. “It’s a combination of how they like to decorate and what products they want to use when they sleep.”

Most importantly, bedding should be a reflection of the person’s style, says Catherine Gentile, spokeswoman for Bed, Bath and Beyond, headquartered in Union, N.J. The company aims to offer something for people of all different tastes, whether classic or modern.

“You want to make it peaceful,” Ms. Gentile says. “You want to make it a little bit of you. At the end of the a hard day, you’re happy to be in your bedroom. Bedding is a key element of the decor in any bedroom.”

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