I love a beautifully made bed. I also love unmaking it and curling up for eight hours under a cloud of goose down and crisp white bed linen. And the crisp linen part of that is crucial. Don’t talk to me about ‘easy-care’. My bed linen doesn’t have to be easy; but it does have to be Egyptian cotton, a high-ish thread count, and, ideally, a cool and airy Percale (more on this later).
Where did I develop my bed linen high standards? I used to have a job where I travelled a lot and was lucky enough to stay in some pretty snazzy hotels. I slept in real linen, cotton Sateen, high thread count Percale, and, once, a silk mix (great for the skin and hair, I hear). I got to understand the difference between good linen and not-so-good linen. I became an expert on pillow fillings and duvet types (it’s Hungarian Goose Down all the way for me).
I learned that, where bed linen is concerned, you usually get what you pay for. And, like buying good shoes or handbags, when you spend a little more, you will have something that makes you happier and, importantly, last longer. Decades in the case of very good linen. I got clever about where I bought my linen from. I looked for brands that made their linen in Europe (where there is a tradition of great linen making) and used ultra-thin, long yarns (this is far more important than thread counts for softness and quality). I bought in the sales when I couldn’t afford full price.
I know the brands I love (Frette and The White Company’s Savoy and Linen ranges) and I pretty much stick with them. But I’m open to change, which might be why, when my very stylish friend, Charlotte, sent me a box full of beautifully wrapped Draper London linen last week, I was very excited. I hadn’t heard of Draper London, which launched last year, but I had heard of its big sister, Josephine Home (who provide seriously upscale bed linen for the Mandarin Oriental and Soho House hotels). The brilliant idea behind Draper, is to create superior bed linen with all their luxury know-how about yarns, thread counts and European craftsmanship, but sell it at entry level prices. Pretty genius, I’d say.
We’ve been road-testing our sheets for a week and, so far, they’ve proved a winner with me….the girls…and, of course, the cats.
So that you can up your bed linen game, too, I’ve arranged a 20% discount off the Draper London Collection. Simply type in ELFCAT when you checkout at www.draperlondon.com to access the discount until 15 April 2018. Terms and Conditions apply (see their website).
The cats have very refined taste in linen. When I put on good bed linen, like the Draper London Hero Set, here, they like to ‘help’. This means hiding under the sheets (to check the weight….)
….and kneading the duvet covers with their outsize paws to check the softness.
Draper London is a light and airy Percale in 300 thread count Egyptian cotton which they think is a ‘perfect all-rounder’. Poff, agrees…..
I love a well-made bed, but I don’t have hours to spend fluffing and tweaking in the morning. My best bed-making routine: put a quilt or coverlet over the duvet (folding a good foot or so of duvet over the pillow end of the quilt). The quilt covers any wrinkly bed linen and everything looks neater instantly. I then put square ‘continental’ pillows up against our sleeping pillows – again hiding any creased pillowcases. They are outsize and plump, so look particularly inviting. Confession: I carry my own pillow with me when I travel (I hear that the Queen Mother did the same). It’s a way of ensuring that, wherever I’m staying, I’ll have a pillow with the plumpness I need to sleep properly.
We are big sleepers in this house. I have a teen who will sleep 12+ hours if I let her. And three cats who are probably asleep 23 out of every 24 hours. I am in awe of the cats’ sleeping regime. Think about the all cell repair and mental sorting that they get done. No wonder they are always so beautiful and chilled.
Good linen will age beautifully and keep getting better with time. But spending a little time on their care will help. Following Draper London’s advice, I wash mine at 60 degrees and always leave a bit of space in the drum so that the water can circulate properly through the fabric.
Great sheets are greater when they’re crisply ironed. Ideally, iron them while they are still very slightly damp and store them in a linen cupboard, airing cupboard or drawer. Here is my linen cupboard (one of my favourite pieces of furniture in the house). I push lavender bags in between my sheets to make them smell even fresher.
Let’s talk about thread count. Actually, let’s not, because it seems it’s all a big marketing ploy to make us think that thread count equals quality. What you need to look for when you shop for sheets is the quality of the fibre (look for ultra-fine and long) and where it’s made (ideally Europe, where they’ve been weaving high quality fabric for centuries).
What’s the difference between cotton Percale and cotton Sateen? Percale, my favourite, is crisp, matte and cool like a good man’s shirt. Sateen is sensuous and super-soft.
I’m a big believer that good bed linen promotes good sleep. But, if that’s not enough – often the case with my youngest daugher, Bo – we try mindfulness apps. And Epsom Salts baths laced with a couple of drops of Lavender essential oil.
A bit of pre-bed quiet time with Poff helps, too.
Remember to type in ELFCAT when you checkout at www.draperlondon.com to access the 20% discount until 15 April 2018. Terms and Conditions apply (see their website).