An inviting bedding set may not only induce sweet dreams as you tuck yourself in after a long day: it could also provide a much-needed splash of colour, riot of print or array of sensual textures to an otherwise nondescript bedroom.
A new duvet cover or bedspread requires far less of the commitment required when painting the walls or purchasing furniture - we like to think of it as like buying a scarf to brighten up your day, rather than investing in a whole new wardrobe.
So, how to choose the right duvet cover to create the perfect sanctuary? Firstly, there's the question of style: would you like a set that's feminine and floral, bright and striped, or geometric? Are you a follower of fashion brave enough to deck your bed in Ultra Violet? Or are you simply after a soothing neutral or pastel colour scheme?
Then, of course, there's the material itself. Cotton is a popular choice, and 100 cotton is the most breathable and 'strokable' in texture. The thread count is used to judge the quality, and measures threads per square inch. Meanwhile, cotton "fibre" refers to the cotton used, and is an indicator of quality. The longer the cotton fibre, the better. Egyptian cotton is the most highly regarded.
Next, there's the weave to consider: percale is a plain, tight weave used for durable bedding. Sateen cotton cloth (a cotton fabric woven like satin with a glossy surface) has a softer and silkier feel but can be less durable. Chambray uses two colours, while jacquard looms can produce complex woven patterns.
Plant-derived, breathable cotton is the most common material used for bedding, but there are lots of alternatives, without recourse to the synthetic materials that will see you wake up in a sweat (not conducive to a restorative sleep). For example, linen is woven from flax, and is thicker than cotton, yet known for coolness and freshness in hot weather. It is said that of all textile fibres, linen is the most ecologically sound. Both are vegan.
If you're feeling really decadent, you might opt for silk, which is naturally hypoallergenic and is currently seeing a resurgence in popularity. It lends an indulgent, boudoir-like feeling to a bedroom, and silk pillowcases are recommended for helping to smooth the skin and hair. To try out entry-level silk bedding, you could start with a silk pillowcase (we like the John Lewis silk standard pillowcase, £40).
True satin is a type of silk weave which creates a glossy finish - if you're looking for silk, make sure you don't buy a cotton sateen or an imitation artificial satin weave by mistake, instead of a satin formed from silk.
It's worth deciding whether or not you prefer flat sheets or deep fitted sheets, too. While flat sheets are easier to iron and fold, fitted sheets will wrap snugly around your mattress. And if you have a divan (a platform bed base), you'll also need a pleated valance sheet to cover it up.
If you have a preference for either Oxford pillowcases or housewife-style pillowcases, be sure to check the matching pillowcases in a bedlinen set suit your taste - and finally, double-check the sizing is right for your mattress and bed frame before you buy.
Here's our pick of the best duvet covers and bedding sets for a good night's sleep in a beautiful setting.
1. The White Company "Savoy" bed linen collection
We love the clean lines of the bestselling Savoy collection at The White Company. With 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton percale bed linen, it has a soft feel and drapes beautifully, giving your bedroom the luxurious, calming feel of a smart hotel. Made in Italy, it has button fastening and is finished with a trim of densely stitched cord; opt for silver or navy. There's also the option of deep fitted sheets for an elegant, seamless look without scrunching.
If you have ever taken the Tube in London, you’ve probably seen an advert for Eve Sleep, with their distinctive yellow and white designs. But it seems their bed linen sets are just as eye-catching as their adverts, with their relaxed two-tone designs in teal/aqua and blush/berry our personal favourites. Not only does the bedding look good, but it's made from 100% linen. This material is anti-allergenic, so ideal for those with sensitive skin, and can help regulate your body temperature. The linen has also been stonewashed, making it feel softer to the touch.
3. Yves Delorme "Miami" duvet cover
As one of the more expensive duvet covers, this one has a lot to prove - but we believe it passes with flying colours. The rich colours of the bedding itself seem even more impressive due to the cotton sateen material, which gives the duvet a glossier finish and a silkier feel. While cotton sateen cloth is usually not as durable as other finishes, the Miami Duvet Cover has a 300 thread count, which indicates a premium standard of quality. It is only available in King and Super King sizes.
DUSK do luxurious, inviting bedding essentials, but for less. Their signature white Mayfair set delivers, with a crisp-yet-velvety feel, courtesy of a sumptuous 400-thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sateen. With a simple piped cord trim at the hems, it's available in Single, Double, King Size or Super King. Choose hues of grey, dark grey, black, navy and pink as an alternative to white; whatever your preference, expect a restful night's sleep. Pair with matching Mayfair Oxford pillow cases to complete the look.
5. MADE "Prism" print bed set in mustard and grey
A yellow duvet cover is a must-have for brightening up your bedroom - and there's no sign of this colour disappearing from the high street any time soon. The Prism bed set is cool and contemporary, with luxuriously soft 180-thread-count premium Portuguese cotton. It's also reversible, with a paler print on the reverse if you fancy a change. It certainly cuts the mustard for us.
6. Casper "The Casper Sheets" duvet cover
Casper duvet covers are made from 100% Pima cotto, a type of cotton sourced from a farm in California. It is one of the longest cotton fibres in the world, so is apparently 45% stronger than regular cottons, meaning it should definitely withstand years of weekly washes. The cotton is stitched using a percale weave, a tight weave that should ensure its durability. There are only two colours to choose from but the slightly futuristic-looking white/slate design is simple and efficient, which sums the set up.
A 400 thread count luxury duvet cover, sheet and pillowcases will instantly uplift and upgrade your bedroom. Tielle Love Luxury is the go-to for high-end customers and five-star hotels alike, and the 400-thread-count option is the choice of The Dorchester and Le Manior aux Quat’Saisons.
8. Seymour’s Home "Gingerlily Mulberry Silk" duvet cover
Gingerlily is a brand renowned as a leading specialist in silk bed linen as well as nightwear, duvets, eye masks and cushions. Their duvet covers are sold-out or low in stock in most retailers, but interiors specialist Seymour’s Home still has a healthy supply. The Gingerlily Plain Nude Mulberry Silk Duvet Cover is made from 19 momme Mulberry silk, which means it is fairly lightweight (albeit not very durable). Silk has a soothing and cooling texture that can regulate your body temperature at night. It is naturally hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin. But, most importantly, it looks luxurious.
9. M&S "Non-Iron Luxury Egyptian Cotton" bed linen collection
Who said the most premium brand of cotton had to be the most expensive? This duvet cover from M&S is made from 100% Egyptian cotton and has an impressive 230 thread count, but is more affordable than most of its market competitors. What’s more, the durable material apparently has a non-iron finish - which could mean the end of rotating double-sized sheets around your ironing board. The duvet cover comes in 23 different colours - from sugar plum to light terracotta - and there are matching fitted/flat sheets and Oxford pillows available.
On top of having a retro pattern (which is signature Orla Kiely), this duvet is durable and made from 100% cotton percale. It is also of high quality, given its 200 thread count. But the main attraction is, of course, the pattern – something bright and daring that only the brave will display in their bedroom.
11. John Lewis "Soft & Silky Egyptian Cotton" bed linen
With a thread count of 400, this Egyptian cotton duvet cover is durable and of a high quality – which you can tell from just looking at it. It has been crafted with a satin weave, which gives the material a smoother finish. A variety of colours are available, so this opulent bedding should suit any bedroom. Matching standard or Oxford pillowcases are also available.
12. Kelly Hoppen "Harmony" white with grey bedlinen set
Interior designer Kelly Hoppen is renowned for her impeccable taste - and her take on bedlinen is no exception. "Bedrooms should be inviting, comforting and calming," she says. This cotton-percale grey duvet cover has a 250 thread count and a hemstitch pattern that runs vertically up the duvet cover and pillowcase in elegant lines, adding just a subtle contrast. As well as the grey, we like the softness of the taupe, stone-coloured version.
This intricately woven 210-thread-count duvet cover pairs a classic herringbone jacquard weave pattern with a modern navy palette. The bed linen is available in navy grey or light grey and these unisex colours make it ideal for any bedroom.
14. Iris Spotted Dobby Bedding Set
Yet again, M&S have delivered with a good quality bedding set that has value for money. Prices start at a very reasonable £59 for a single duvet cover with matching pillowcase. This bedding set is both stylish (we particularly appreciate the understated glamour of the Chambray colour) and comfortable - as it is woven from soft cotton percale with a 200 thread count.
15. Linenbundle "Luxury All-In Bedding Bundle" set
It’s the bedding set that has it all - a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, a duvet cover and four pillowcases - but without the hefty price tag. That’s not all that sets Linenbundle’s bed linen apart from the competition, though - the ordering process is like a pick’n’mix, where you can choose different colours for your sheets, duvet cover and pillowcases. The set is made to last, since it is made from 100% cotton and has a top-notch 500 thread count, so you should get your money’s worth.
This chic bed linen could have come straight from a Park Avenue apartment - or more specifically, a bachelor pad. The stylish navy and white design is made from 100% cotton, giving it a smooth and soft finish without saying too much. With a 240 thread count, this material is of high quality - but the star attraction, of course, is the sleek design.
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