Park City Home Master Class: Bedtime
If you’ve ever woken up in a five-star hotel thinking about swiping the sheets, Frette may be to blame. The Italian textile firm has been making fine linens for 160 years, outfitting the bedrooms of over 500 royal families, the Orient Express’s dining car, and the altarpiece of St. Peter’s Basilica, not to mention luxury hostelries around the globe. We asked the company’s CEO, Filippo Arnaboldi, to share his tips on making the ultimate bed.
It’s not the thread count
For years, manufacturers have flaunted thread count as an indication of quality — the higher, the better. Arnaboldi says that while thread count tells you how dense a fabric is, what really matters is fiber length.
“Long and extra-long staple cotton fibers are ideal for bed linens because the result is softer, smoother. This is due to their uniformity, resistance to breaking under tension, and ability to be combed during production. So, bedding made from long-staple cotton fibers in a lower thread count will feel smoother than those made with short-staple cotton fibers with a higher thread count.
“The hotel bed linens [you might] ask the concierge about are made from the best raw materials, including long staple cotton fibers, and they feel especially soft against our skin, which is the result of a precise finishing process.”
Unlike thread count, fiber length is a detail that most brands don’t indicate in their product description. So if you’re looking to drop some serious money on bed linens, Arnaboldi says you should probably shop in person. “I’d recommend visiting a retailer specializing in linens who can speak to this and guide you in choosing the best sheets for you based on your preferences for what we call The 3 F’s — fiber, finish, and feel.”
Fabrics and finishes
Arnaboldi says that choosing the bedding most comfortable for sleeping depends on several things. “Climate, of course, but also your surroundings and body heat. Some prefer to feel cozy and enveloped while others prefer crisp, airy linens.” Personal preference will guide you to the right fabric. Frette’s three main players are:
Percale, a crisp, cool cotton created with a close, simple weave of one thread over and one thread under.
Sateen, a soft, lustrous cotton fabric with a loose interlacing weave in a fine, dense thread, creating a silky feel and a higher shine.
Poplin, originally created for the Pope, a light but densely woven cotton with a fine weft and even finer warp. (The warp refers to threads that run the length of the fabric; the weft refers to those that are pulled and inserted perpendicularly to the warp.) Frette’s poplin is woven from an uncommonly fine thread, making it featherlight, smooth and a beautiful balance between percale and sateen.
What goes on top is as much a matter of looks as functionality. While duvets have become the default choice for many people — they’re warm, lightweight, and can transform a bedroom as quickly as you can change the duvet cover — Arnaboldi also likes a tried-and-true quilt. “Duvets are foundational elements used to build a bedding ensemble, but light quilts are exceptionally versatile pieces. They can serve as a decorative touch, complementing a duvet cover when folded at the edge of the bed. Or, light quilts can be used in lieu of a duvet cover as temperatures rise and you prefer something lighter while you sleep.”
You probably have a distinct pillow personality. Some people like to sink into a cloud of feathers, others prefer a cushion that’s pancake-flat. But how to outfit a guestroom with something that’s likely to please most of your visitors? Arnaboldi recommends selecting a medium or firm down pillow for the guest bedrooms. “It will bounce back quickly after each use.”
And then there’s the matter of decorative pillows. Some designers have hard-and-fast rules, starting with a pair of Euro shams, layering on a lineup of sleeping pillows, and finishing with one or two throw pillows in front. But Arnaboldi says it’s all about personal design tastes. “If you’re hoping to achieve a modern and minimal ensemble, consider a set of pillowcases and shams. If your intention is instead to create a more opulent look, you may want to layer in Euro shams as well as decorative and boudoir pillows.”
There are, however, a few rules about the proper making of a bed, and the top sheet is critical. Start by laying it on the bed wrong-side down. “To achieve a crisp, polished look while being confident your bedding won’t come undone, we suggest tucking the top sheet six to eight inches at the foot of the bed only and leaving approximately 12 to 15 inches folded over the duvet cover.”
Then there’s care. “We always recommend clients launder their linens before the first use. Not only will it leave them smelling fresh and clean before making your bed with them for the first time, but it will also ensure any trace of residue or dust is removed.” And how long will those new sheets last? While Arnaboldi says there are several factors at play — if they’ll be washed in a commercial or residential washer, and if they’ll be washed weekly or rotated with other sets — a good set of linens should outlive the mattress itself. “At Frette, we’ve had many clients whose linens have lasted well over a decade.”
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