Accoutrement: Sweet Dreams...


Ahhh... the bedroom. The ultimate retreat. For all the plush upholstery in my house, the best seat in the house is always my bed. Especially with little ones in the house, this room becomes HQ for everything. It is our place of choice for movie watching, book reading, long talks and - of course - all important sleeping.

Over the years my bedding preferences have evolved. I've finally whittled it down to a soft science of sorts. Knowing I'm a tactile person, I surround myself with things that are pleasing to the touch. Understanding my taste, I search to find the very best versions of the items I desire. This doesn't always mean the most expensive version. It does mean I research some topics and products until I am certain I've sought out the ones that will satisfy my needs. 

When it comes to mattresses, I adhere to the invest in the very best you can afford philosophy. Don't let the price tag intimidate you. When it you find "the one" you whip out the Amex and schedule delivery without hesitation. To protect your investment, be sure trap that baby up in a high quality mattress pad. This minimizez the nuisances of modern life (dust mites, allergens and the like) and is the only decent civilized thing to do. You're an adult, it's time to take care of the things you own. The surface you sleep upon is so incredibly important, so don't shortchange yourself in this arena.

The underpinning ready, we are now on to the sizzle: the bedding! I'm a sheet snob and a down duvet comforter aficionado. I've studied all categories of bedding ad nauseum and can counsel anyone on the merits of 400 vs 800 fill (I prefer the loft of the latter), why duck feather does not equal down (completely different) and whether Batiste cotton really makes a difference or not (it does).

Sheet type? I stand on both sides of the hotly debated of sateen versus percale debate. We rock sateen during the cooler months of the year in Texas and love our luxurious percale during summer. Why percale? It breathes and lends itself to a cooler night of sleep. Sateen is delicious when it's cool, as the smooth surface is incredible to touch and it tends to hold in body heat better than its crisp counterpart percale. Thread count is an entirely different subject, the long held belief that high count equals high quality has been debunked. Yet there is no question that long staple Egyptian cotton is the way to go regardless of the finish you prefer.

Color? You know me better than that by now. It's no surprise that my bed is a mountain of white on cream on ivory tones. White sheets are such a clean, elegant foundation for a dreamy night of sleep. I sidestepped the hotel embroidered trend in lieu of solid white high quality sheets. Simple elegance.

The subject no one wants to openly tackle is how to maintain this utopian bedroom existence. Down creates dust and dust creates myriad problems for unassuming inhabitants (that would be you). Mattresses must be aired, sheets must be delicately handled and vacuuming must occur with great regularity to ensure blissful nights of sound sleep.

I suggest the following routine for keeping your bedroom truly fresh and clean:

Take it outside
Literally. Once every month or so you'll need to take your mattress, down bedding and pillows outside for a day in the sunshine. Yes, this is a lot of work... but it is essential. The sun's incredibly strong UV rays act as a natural sanitizer. Your precious bedding left out in the sun from mid-morning until late afternoon will do the trick. Allergens are no match for our solar system's bright shining star. I love to flip my pillows and rearrange things as the day progresses. By day's end you are ready to bring it all inside. Viola! 

Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuum. 
Did you know that ALL of your upholstery is meant to be vacuumed and brushed? Most people unwittingly purchase sofas, chairs and other pieces with no foundational knowledge of how to care for them. Pile fabrics need to be brushed with an upholstery brush regularly. All fabrics benefit from vacuuming with a hand-held attachment. It removes dust and helps you maintain the look of such pieces. I'm presently obsessed with this one which I use for EVERYTHING.

That mattress? Dust has been settling on it since the day it was made. While dear Sol in the sky may have obliterated those dust mites, you'll still want to make vacuuming that pillowtop a habit. I love a good handheld vacuum with good suction. It makes it easy for me to access those small nooks & crannies where dust and debris love to settle. 

Be Cool
Lower temps at night not only encourage better sleep, they also stave off excess heat in the bed. I prefer a chilly 66 degrees at night, but you should find a temperature that works for you and your partner. We compromise by giving Mr. Venti extra blankets so I can enjoy my Arctic Chill :)

Go All Natural
Essential oils are about to become your new BFF. Cinnamon oil, tea tree oil and dozens of others can be misted on your mattress and pillows to aid in the antibacterial process. I love to spritz these on while by mattress and other bedding pieces are outside sunning for the day. A light mist all over each piece acts as both sanitizer and scent refresher.

Tea tree oil has quite a strong scent, but is one of the most effective dust mite eliminator on the planet. Other oils can be intoxicatingly pleasant, and can be use in tandem with it. Combined they will combat stale odors and effectively eliminate any allergens lurking in your boudoir. worry not, any strong aroma will dissipate long before you rest your head on your pillow that same night. I like to mist the bed almost weekly with a very light (but allover) mist. 

Love Me Gently.
Ahhh, bedding. Why invest in the best if you intend to carelessly handle it in the laundry? I set my machine on hand wash every single time I clean my sheets. For drying, many prefer to dry them outside, but I find that wildly impractical. I tumble dry on a low heat setting and remove them as soon as they are dry. Fold. Put away. Enjoy the fruits of your labor the next time you make the bed.  

The same is not true for that mattress pad. My washer comes with a sanitize setting and I freely use it on the mattress pad. This is one item that needs thorough cleansing. It is also wise to rotate pads, as the laundering process can be quite tedious if you don't have an extra in your linen closet. 

Rotate. Refresh. Repeat. 
There's a reason we own more than one pair of shoes. Using the items repeatedly again will cause them to wear out prematurely. The same is true of sheets. I like to keep three full sets in rotation. One on the bed, one ready for use and one in the laundry. As a matter of personal preference, I change all of our bedding a few times a week. At least twice each seven days, but often more. It just feels right to freshen the bedding as often as possible. 

Breathe Easy
My last suggestion is only that... a suggestion. Sleeping with a scented candle on the nightstand gives me great pleasure. The occasional waft of the fragrance (even while unlit) is enough to instantly alter my mood. And of course, lighting it daily freshen the air and lends a special mood to any space. My new brand du jour is Aquiesse. These smell incredible especially this one!

Those are my tips for sleeping well. Again, the key is to refresh as often as possible. The bedroom should be a sanctuary of bliss, so keeping it free of clutter is key. I love mine beautifully styled but largely free from excess decor.