Friday, November 06, 2009

Duvet or Not Duvet?

My favorite bedroom from Ideal Home magazine

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately contemplating bedding.

No, I'm not contemplating the usual dilemma of how many pillows.  Nor am I thinking about how to make it look nice.  I am thinking instead about making my bed FEEL insanely good.  I want it to be almost impossible to get out of in the morning!  Considering I am not a morning person, this could be a dangerous proposition.

We need a few new things in this department.  But I am torn between buying a new duvet and duvet cover, or getting us a good woolen blanket or two.

David prefers heavy blankets and layers.  So oftentimes in winter, I make up the bed with a couple of blankets (I have a good cotton one and some inexpensive fleecy ones), a quilt or two, and maybe even our little mini-duvet topper on top!  It is very cosy, but I move around a lot in bed (I have a bad back) and cannot stand heavy layers.  

I am a duvet girl.  The fluffier and loftier the better.  I like a duvet with a flat sheet under it so you don't have to wash the cover all the time.  And duvet covers are much faster to make up for busy working girls!

For winter, we currently use a king-sized duvet (turned sideways) on our queen-sized bed.  I bought it because I couldn't stand how queen duvets seemed to barely reach over the edge (12-14", although Pottery Barn's and some others have a 16" drop) and my flat sheets were always showing underneath (I don’t like having to tuck them in!).  

The king duvet seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I think a king-sized duvet is a little unwieldy on a queen bed.  For one, it hangs down too far at the foot of the bed when we turn it 90°.  When we turn it the correct way, it hangs down too far on the sides and seems to drag heavily off the sides of the bed and not puff up properly and conform to your body.  

So now I am contemplating a queen-sized duvet again.  My last one is a feathery mess and it's time for a new one.

But I also like quilts.  I bought a wonderful silk quilt in Paris (a European size 100”x100”, meaning it overhangs the side of my bed by 20”, which is a little too far, but it just looks more like a bedspread/coverlet).  I would like to use this all year round, but it’s thin, so I really should invest in a new blanket or two.  I thought  a good wool or alpaca blanket might be a nice investment.  A baby Alpaca and merino wool blend blanket goes for about $200 here, minimum.

 So now I’m conflicted.  Easy duvet or heavy blankets and quilts?

I really hate all those layers but Canadian winters are cold and we keep it slightly cool at night, around 62F (17C) and sometimes have the window open for a nice chilly draft!

I am not the kind of person who wants 10 sets of bedding.  I already feel like I have too many odds and ends and it drives me crazy.  I would rather just have one good duvet and cover and a couple of good blankets and a quilt or two.  Not all these mismathced things.  But that is life, I suppose.  It is the nature of humans to gather more and more stuff.

In the meantime, I was curious to know what your preferred bedding is.  

Do you prefer duvets or stacks of blankets?  Do you use appropriate sizes for your bed or go oversized?  Do you use a featherbed (I want one!)?  What kind of blankets do you like (cotton, fleece, wool, synthetic)?   Where do you buy your bedding?

And last but not least, what are your bedding true loves and pet peeves?


Perhaps we can discuss pillows in a future post!  I know that is always a hot subject.

Photos: 1,2,9:  Ideal Home

Photo 3: Pappas Miron

Photo 4: Art & Decoration

Photo 5:  David Oliver

Photo 6: Windsor Smith

Photo 7: OKA Design

Photo 8: Shoot Factory


  1. ***** Enjoyed reading your thoughts & THOUGHT PROCESSES so much, as I too have strong feelings about it all (AND a bad back to boot!)...!

    ***** For years now I've just "HAD" to have the thickest-but-most-lightweight comforter to be found... Fresh, CRISP & very COOL to the touch WHITE BED LINENS are also a must... A talllllll, super thick bed (altho no four-posters for us!) makes getting into bed "MAGICAL" and leads me to believe I will sleep soundly (and we usually do... husband, dawg AND yours truly!)...

    Am just finishing redoing it all right now (an accident put alot of it "on hold" for several weeks, & am FINALLY starting to recover & get to "the fun stuff"... a few well-chosen accessories/accents!)... I can't help but take ANY opporunity to just "walk by" & admire it... what a joy! And my husband reeeeeally likes the soft greys & beiges (it all overlooks the desert, pool & city lights) & I soooo feared he WOULDN'T!!! Now THIS is F*U*N***

    Love, Linda in AZ *

  2. Hi Terri, I think it's always difficult to get your bedding 'right' when you're sleeping with a partner as usually you both have very different preferences. I haven't been able to solve this dilemma yet - we have a thick duvet for winter and a lightweight one for summer. I reckon the Swedish are on to something with there queen sized beds but separate duvets. Very practical, but probably not very romantic?!? Lee :)

  3. Absolutely, I cast my vote for the lofty duvet! I cannot bear heavy blankets--maybe it has something to do with my midlife female status. lol
    The most comfortable bed I ever slept on was at the Rusty Parrot Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I felt like I was floating in a soft cloud. It was dreamy!!! V.

  4. Have you checked out the down blankets, so thin and light, but warm. And I do wash mine in the machine. I like using them with other covers for that extra warmth

  5. I adore feather duvets - fabulous for snuggling under!

    I am not a big on blankets :-)


  6. In cooler weather, I prefer to sleep under something weighty like a couple of quilts. My husband does not. So he'll flip and flop his way out from under them, they get pushed over toward me, and drag me off the side of the bed with them. Grrr. Last year, I took to laying my plushy warm robe on my side like an extra blanket that covered only me. That worked out very well. what I reeeaaallly need to help me sleep better is a new mattress. (I should put that on my Christmas list!)
    Good luck with your quest to find the pefect bedding for you!

  7. I agree that it is hard to decide lol...We have a duvet right now but I've been wondering if I should get a quilt instead. Sher loves all things fluffy and cotton so that's what we have. I do love the ease of making the bed up..but the duvet moving in the duvet cover drives me a little nuts sometimes. It doesn't get too cold here either so my opinion might not be the best! :0) I hope you find what your looking for!

  8. I too enjoyed your thought process. Blogging is a wonderful thing - I'll bet David would not listen to you debate the pros and cons of duvets, but we (your readers) are hanging on every single word!

    When I lived in Connecticut (age 11-18), our home was a large contemporary masterpiece that had huge windows, and was very expensive to heat in the winter. So, the thermostat was always set very low. We had huge fluffy 'eiderdowns' as my mother used to call them, big goosedown comforters that kept us warm.

    Now, in Atlanta, it does get cold at night but nothing like Connecticut. Typically the coldest nights are in the 30s, although we do have cold snaps where it dips into the 20s and occasionally into the teens. We keep the thermostat at 70 as we have 3 children who kick the covers off every night.

    I found the most wonderful thing - a Lands End down blanket. It is fairly thin - but very warm - so I have sheets, a blanket (cotton in the summer, a wool in the winter), and then my down blanket. On top of this is a quilted blanket cover. For years we had a thick goosedown comforter, but it was too unwieldy - king size, it was huge - and when I put it under the blanket cover, it made the bed look like a melting marshmellow.

  9. oh my goodness!! great post...

    We have a duvet for when we're feeling really busy (or tired or lazy!) and we use it for the winter because it's got a down comforter inside. In the warmer months I stick to a light quilt and when it gets really cold & I use the duvet & the quilt.

    But I MUST say, I'm driven INSANE by the fact that comforters never seem to fit correctly in duvet covers. Ours have always been so maddening (but not terrible enough to make me not want them ;)

    I got these little duvet clips that are great & keep the corners in place... we lost them in the move so it's time to go get some more! But my queen comforter never seems to be large enough for any of my queen duvet covers so now I'm considering shoving a kind in there & having it be extra full.. what do you think??

    cousin L

  10. Hi Teri,

    I agree that getting your bedding just right is so important. There is no place in the world that is better than one's own bed. Slipping into the covers at night has got to be one of my greatest joys in life! So the right bedding is crucial to me.

    I only have one set of white sheets. They are 400 thread count and I buy them at Macys when they go on sale. I hang them to dry on a clothesline and let the mattress breathe for a day. Next I add a thin sweater knit blanket by Liz Claiborne that I got at Marshalls for 20 bucks. That combination works for the spring and summer in so. california. In the fall and winter I add a pimaloft comforter and when it gets really cold I add a RL plaid blanket. This works most nights but if it gets colder, well then we have to snuggle!


  11. Wow. What a great post followed by interesting comments. We all have different needs and preferences, don't we! I have been tempted to buy the Land's End down blanket and appreciate the endorsement by Things That Inspire. It just seems a happy medium between a big, heavy duvet and layers of blankets. Good luck on your quest for the perfect solution - will you post on what you decide?

  12. there are so many options and more than most people realise, I discovered this when doing accessories and bedding for wealthy clients. I agree blankets are nice, but good ones are very spenny. A duvet with cover is quick and easy, but doesn't always look so tailored. I am contemplating duvet, for ease, with thin quilted bed cover over the top that sits 30cm from the floor so the valance can be seen.

    Good luck :)

  13. The winters here in Tasmania are really cold and we have on our bed an electric dual controlled blanket (Mic likes to be hot and me, just toasty!), a wonderful pure wool underlay (which is super snuggly and traps heat in winter and keeps you cool in summer) then a fitted sheet, flat sheet, thin cellular blanket and finally our down duvet and white duvet cover...and everthing is 100% cotton. I am not into heavy blankets and this keeps us so warm and comfortable.
    Good luck on your mission Terri.
    Ness xx

  14. I LOVE the beautiful bedroom in the second photo! I just have a duvet with a cover and put a heavy throw blanket on top if Im not warm enough... but this pic makes me rethink and want to redo my bed!!!!

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  16. Hi Terri,
    Yes this is always a problem if you want a duvet and your partner loves to have blankets!
    Well in winter we use a duvet and in summer the blankets! So in this way we both have what we like for a certain time! And it works!
    Terri I so love the pictures you showed here!!!

    And I want to thank you for your sweet comments on my posts!


  17. Love duvets for their washability, espescially since we have the 4 legged kind of footwarmer as a nightly addition to the bedtime ritual! They wash no nicely, when needed!

  18. Hi Terri, We love duvets! We have a Ralph Lauren duvet I got at the Home Goods store. I also use a white duvet cover my Mom gave me years ago. I'll have to look at the Pottery Barn duvets because Mike's biggest complaint is that our duvet is too short - he's six foot four. I use a light quilt on top just to add some texture and a little color and I always use crisp white sheets that have a high thread count. I also prefer sheets with a nice lace detail. My biggest complaint with bedding is finding the right pillow! It seems that they're always too puffy or too flat! xoTrina

  19. I literally just came home from Kohl's with a new duvet cover set after going back and forth and back again over this very issue. I am in So Cal, so its never really cold here, but hubs like to bundle up and I always get hot and kick off the covers. We'd been sleeping lately with an old (ugly!)comforter that was covered with an (equally ugly)Ikea duvet...I kept that (ugly) comforter because, amazingly, it was the perfect weight and size when under a duvet cover! I can't bear to let it go--parts of it are frayed and its a the cheap, satiny fabric (it was clearance on Overtstock)But its perfect with a duvet cover on it! Plus I just pop it in my washer when its time to clean.... Its a King and we have a Queen bed with a pillow top, and I do as you were doing, lay it on its side to make the bed. Then I add a quilt on top of that in winter. Today I came home with a Martex 300ct ivory-on-ivory stripe duvet. I like the cool crsip feeling of 300ct sheets--anymore than that and to me they lose that crisp feeling I like. So hopefully this will work!

  20. Ive sworn off duvet covers after spending far too much time wrestling with them.

    I only do comforters from now on. They need to be replaced more often but I dont care.

  21. Wow those are some beautiful pictures!

    Personally, I am not a fan of duvets. I've found that the blankets always manage to scrunch down and then you have to spend half the morning fishing them out - not fun!

    My husband and I do what you and yours currently do: a King sized comforter turned sideways on a queen-sized bed. What if you got a down alternative comforter? They provide warmth but aren't as heavy as down.

    Good luck with your search! :)

  22. I love a duvet. they are so warm - not a great thing in Houston though.

  23. Someone tell me how I missed your beautiful blog!

    I know all about the perfect duvet search. I received a great comforter set, which i use all winter long. But in the summer I have a beautiful white Italian Metalesse.. I need a new one. my husband likes the layers too - so I just toss him some blankets come summer!

    Beatuiful Gallery you have here !


  24. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! I always wonder what bedding "system" makes people happiest. I know it is all a function of climate and personal preference, but I always wonder if I can make my bedding more efficient. haha.

    I like the idea of those duvet blankets also for spring/fall here! And I also like Trina's idea of a duvet with a pretty thin quilt on top to make it look nice!

    Great comments!!

  25. Terri,
    I make my bed with an quilt over my duvet. It smoothes the bed out and gives it that tailered look.
    For me a bed is a heaven when it has a mattress that is soft yet supportive and the sheets are high quality. The ones with a high thread count that are warm in winter and cool in summer.
    I dress my bed with four pillows, they look great if you use pillow protectors under the slips.
    Recently while staying in a hotel I discovered Vellux blankets. I've fallen in love with them. They feel like velour and are machine washable and never get ball-ey? Yes pillows are hot topic, I'd love to read about it if you decided to post about it.

  26. We have a matelasse coverlet and then we add or take away layers as needed! I bought a big fluffy feathery thing to put in a duvet and OH how I hated it! Too big, too hot, messy...but the coverlet...PERFECTION!

    Hope you are well, Terri!


  27. As a quilter, we always have a quilt on the bed. But for winter we add a duvet. We also have an old hudson bay blanket. I always buy bigger then our double and I am always on the lookout for sales at the bay.

  28. Here is what I do for myself and clients when they choose the duvet. Custom make the cover and make the drop 2-3" longer on either side but put in the correct size duvet. It seems to cover the mattress but not weigh down the ensemble. You can still pin the corners in place if needed.

  29. Ironicly having spent so much time in bed this year I can so relate to your dilemma. Im not a 5 sets woman either. I have my one set, one duvet but now here in Arizona thats to heavy. I miss the cuddling feeling and by the way cool houses are healthier sleeping enviros.
    I went with layers. Its actually easy to adjust & if you go with wonderful layers you may feel a bit better about it.

  30. Duvet ... nice an light to sleep with .... look beautiful mounded at the end of the bed.

  31. I use a king-size duvet (for my king-size bed) from Pacific Coast Feathers with no other blankets - just sheets. I had duvet cover from Pottery Barn but the duvet moved around too much, even with the strings tied to the duvet, so I took it off and now wondering what to do with a bare duvet.

    I love flannel sheets because the bed feels warm & cozy as soon as I get in and there's no need to wait for the bed to warm up. My partner was worried that the bed would be too hot with flannel but he was surprised at how cozy they feel and now he loves them too. I use soft & cool egyptian cotton sheets in the summer. Egyptian cotton with a sateen weave is the softest cotton.

    I use a featherbed, also from Pacific Coast Feathers, and it does help to soften the mattress but my back still aches, I toss and turn all night and I don't get a good sleep. However, after recently staying at The Mirage in Las Vegas, I had the most restful and rejunevating sleep ever - no tossing & turning and no back pain! The secret? Their Sealy Posturepedic mattress (The Serenity Bed). I called Sealy to get the equilvalent model in Canada and I'm going to buy one.

    A warm duvet, cozy flannel sheets & a great mattress...I won't be getting out of bed either.

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  33. So many lovely photos you show us. Our bed room is not lovely, it is a bit dark otherwise we can not sleep through the light summer nights in Sweden.
    But, duvet or not duvet? I say duvet. We always have down duvets, one each or we will fight over it. We have cold winter nights in Sweden too and it is lovely with a down duvet. During the day we have a bedspread and cushions over the bed. And a blanket just so it will look nice.
    I can not stand sleeping with a blanket, it is to heavy. And I can not have a "one-side cover" since I hate when the duvet is tucked under the mattress. I need to feel free. Our duvet cover is double, like a large bag. Not pretty maybe, but comfortable and easy to wash. And I can spin around in my sleep as much as I like! :)

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  35. I like a cold room with lots of covers so I say duvet, but I love all of these beautiful photos. Especially that top pink one, love that headboard.

  36. I like the fluffy, cozy duvet, too. But, we always have a quilt at the end of the bed in the winter to go over the duvet on especially cold nights. I like the heaviness of multiple blankets at first, but like you, it starts to hurt my back/body to have all that weight over me all night. So, my answer is DUVET with a quilt back-up :) Oh, and the sheets and duvet are white in my perfect world.

    ~Jacci in Ohio

  37. I am a duvet fan, as we too keep our house quite cool (-60 degrees) at night here in upstate NY. Ours is a Ralph Lauren king size duvet on a king size bed. I usually rubber band the corners on the inside of the duvet cover to the duvet, by bunching up the corners together and rubber banding them. It looks like a Turkish corner on the outside, if you even notice it. I use the heavy rubber bands that come with brocoli. I've been meaning to sew twill tape ties to the inside corners of the duvet cover and the outside corners of the duvet, which is something you see in Europe. But the truth is the rubber bands work and I haven't gotten around to sewing the ties -which would be easy to do. I don't know why American manufacturers have not figured out that they should do this.

    Yesterday, I was complaining to my husband, who was traveling in Europe, about having to iron the duvet cover. I like it fresh and smooth, but it's a huge monster to iron. Since he travels all over and has seen so much, he suggested we get two separate duvets. I've seen that quite a bit in European hotels. Usually the duvet ends up on his side and I wake up freezing.
    It would also address issues for different degrees of warmth and would be easier to iron two twin covers.

    The most beautiful duvets I have ever seen were in a hotel in Hungary, during the communist years. They were made of a lovely, most likely silk, damask, and were covered with a white cotton cover. This duvet cover had a cirular hole in the middle, through which the duvet was inserted. The duvet cover had embroidery around the opening and there was a monogram on the damask duvet itself, placed to show through the opening of the cover. I wish I had taken pictures.

    The only blankets I like are mohair since they are lightweight and warm - also prohibitively expensive. I don't mind that they are fuzzy. I have a bigger aversion to synthetics and pilling than I do to wool or down.

    When we have lost power I have always been very glad to have a down duvet. It will keep you warm in a 40 degree house. All old people should have one in the colder regions of this country. It could keep them alive.

  38. You are absolutely to have 2-3 usable sets than loads of unwanted sets.I love nice duvets and quilts too.


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  52. Duvet or not duvet? I prefer duvet and love down duvet. I choose down feathers from geese since using this down as a filling, the result is a super light and soft. For me down is a very good moisture regulator. Goose down duvet from using down from geese that are well treated and do not use down from live plucked geese. Hence I have no worry with the quality and love duvet since it washable.
    I admired your writing in this blog. Excellent work.