Just looking at bedding options can seem overwhelming. There are so many different things to choose, from the type of sheets, and whether or not to use a dust ruffle, to different types of pillows and whether to use a blanket, quilt, spread, duvet, or… the list seems endless. Understanding the basic terms is the first step to sorting it all out and getting down to what’s really important, a well-made bed!
Linens—originally, this referred to the fact that most bedding was made from linen. Today, it could refer to sheets, or to any fabric that goes on your bed.
Sheets—the standard is a fitted bottom sheet (with elastic to hold it in place), and a flat top sheet, though many are opting to use a flat sheet on the bottom as well. It’s possible to do away with the top sheet if your duvet cover is smooth and washable.
Coverlet—generally a decorative fabric or blanket. These don’t usually touch the floor and may cover anywhere from just a small section of the bed to everything but the pillows. Newer trends like bed scarves, throws and decorative strips of fabric are used in the same way.
Bedspread—usually thin, these decorative covers are meant to cover the bed and sleeping pillows and usually touch the floor. They’re often removed before sleep.
Blanket—a warm layer that can be made into the bed, or left folded at the foot for extra warmth, or as an added decorative touch.
Comforter—a warm bedcover filled with fibers, down or feathers. They can be decorative or plain, and designed for anything from summer use to super cold winter nights.
Duvet—basically a plain comforter designed to be used with a duvet cover.
Duvet Cover—these have an opening for your duvet that is often closed with buttons or ties. The duvet cover is decorative and often washable.
Pillowcase—a simple sleeve of sheet fabric to cover and protect sleeping pillows. Usually rectangular with an opening in one end.
Pillow Sham—similar to a pillowcase, but with decorative elements like heavier fabric, embroidery, trimmed edges, etc.
Bed Skirt—a decorative bit of fabric placed under the mattress and extending to the floor. They will cover the box and any bed framing as well.
Sleeping Pillows—standard rectangular pillows, filled with fiber, feathers, or down. Usually available in three sizes, standard, queen and king. Buy the right firmness to suit your sleep habits.
Decorative Pillows—also called accent, or throw pillows, these can be anything from a sleeping pillow in a decorative sham to fancifully-shaped accent pieces.
Bolster Pillow—often round or triangular, these pillows create lumbar support for propping in bed. But they’re also a common decorative accent. They can vary from small, single-person size to wide enough to span the width of the bed.
Euro Pillow—a large square pillow that usually serves as a decorative element to lean against the headboard behind the rectangular pillows.