Bedding can be a striking design element in a beautiful room.

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While bedding is a necessity (duh!), it can also be considered an accessory. Stylish sheets, quality comforters, and colorful spreads can be affordable and readily available if you know what you're looking for. So let's start with a few basics.

All cotton items are becoming quite popular, and for good reasons. Cotton has a wonderful soft feel and it accepts and retains color well. It's warm in winter, cool in summer, and it launders and lasts beautifully. Egyptian cotton has a longer fiber and can be spun into fine, soft, lustrous fabric. Next is Pima cotton, then American Upland, each with shorter fibers resulting in coarser fabrics.

Blends of cotton and polyester offer wash-and-wear convenience, but they don't "breathe" or absorb moisture as well as all cotton sheets. Cotton/poly blends outsell other fabrics because they wrinkle less and are least expensive.

Linen, spun and woven from flax, is most expensive initially, but linen sheets grow softer with use and can last many years.

Thread count also determines how comfortable a sheet will be, with higher thread counts being softer, but more expensive. For instance, a 200 count sheet has a total of 200 horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of fabric. Nice and soft and not too costly. A 400 count sheet is definite luxury, while a percale at 180 is about as low a thread count as you'll want to go. Back in the long ago ages of my childhood, I remember muslin sheets at 120 count. Amazing we lived through it, isn't it? You can also find sheets with a 750-1000 count, if you can afford them. I'm saving up, maybe as a birthday treat for myself.

I mentioned percale, which is a particular type of weave/finish. It has a traditional "basketweave" look, and a crisper feel. Sateen finishes have more vertical threads (warp threads) on the top surface of the fabric, and this gives a silky look and feel.

What does all this mean to you? Just that there are lots of choices with different characteristics, so get the most comfortable bedding you can afford. The fun part comes in choosing the colors and designs.



Along that line, here are a few thoughts. If you are decorating a room for a child with definite ideas about the theme - a particular cartoon character, let's say - you could use sheets and toss pillows with that character's design, but choose a bedspread and curtains that co-ordinate without having a definite theme. That way, if and when a new cartoon character becomes the must-have look, it's just a matter of switching sheets and pillows.

Also, get an extra flat sheet or three, if you possibly can. Sheets are wonderful expanses of fabric that you can put to all sorts of uses. Slide a curtain rod through the large hem of the sheet, and it makes a good no-sew curtain. If you can manage a straight seam, you can cut the sheets into pillow-size squares, sew up three sides, stuff with pillow stuffing, sew up the fourth side, and you have matching toss pillows. You can cover a lamp shade, make a dresser scarf, or drape a piece of the fabric over a curtain rod for a quick valance. I knew someone who liked to rescue heavily used dolls. She would clean them up and make them clothes from matching sheets, and then she displayed them on shelves, all in new outfits made from matching sheets.

New bed linen plus a coordinating paint job is probably one of the least expensive ways to decorate a bedroom, so take your time and find just the right bedding. There are many places to look for good bedding - both on-line and off. The issue is not where to find just the right pattern or color, but how to choose from the abundance of options.

Looking for just the right comforter can be confusing, so here's some information that might help.

And here's a great site where you're bound to find something interesting:
1st home decor - Home decorating, designs and remodeling tips - Get home decorating ideas, and design tips for your next house remodeling project.

Shopping is not for sissies!