What to consider when choosing bed & bath items
For your home, dorm, or as a housewarming gift, bed and bath items make a space welcoming, beautiful, and functional. There's a wide array of choices in everything from basic bedding and decorative bedding to bath towels and bath furniture. Whether you need some new items for your home or you're giving a bed-and-bath gift to someone else, this guide can help you choose the right things.
- Bed sheets: The best tip for buying bed sheets: know the size of your bed. Bed sizes vary slightly, and some mattresses are deeper than others. You'll also need to consider the material you want. Cotton percale sheets are cool and crisp, microfiber sheets are cozy and durable, and jersey knit sheets are soft and stretchy. Don't fuss over thread count; just aim for thread counts of over 200 or 300 and you'll be more than comfortable.
- Bed pillows: The right bed pillow can give you a great night's sleep. Rather than the filling, it's the firmness that counts. A pillow needs to keep your neck and spine aligned. Down pillows and down alternatives are the fluffiest. Memory foam pillows are denser, thicker, and firmer, and synthetic fills come in all degrees of firmness. A good rule of thumb to follow is that side sleepers need thicker pillows, stomach sleepers need thinner pillows, and back sleepers need something in between.
- Mattress toppers, pads, and protectors: Your mattress is a significant investment that deserves protection. Pads and toppers come in varying thicknesses. Look for a topper with elastic edging to keep it on the mattress securely. Consider a machine-washable electric heated mattress pad for cooler months.
- Pillow protectors: Protect your pillows from dander, dust mites, and dirt with a cover. Pillow protectors are made of tightly woven fabric to keep out allergens like dust mites and bed bugs. Waterproof options, mostly made of vinyl, safeguard your pillow from sweat, liquids, and other spills. Keep in mind that these may be a little warmer to sleep on. Both fabric and vinyl pillow covers are easy to clean.
- Bed skirts: If you have a traditional box spring and want to store items under your bed, hide it all with a bed skirt. Even if you don't have storage under your bed, the addition of a pleated bed skirt can give the bed a finished look.
- Bedding sets: Sets or bed-in-a-bag sets are ideal gifts for college-bound kids because all they have to do is unpack the set and make the bed, and they're done decorating. Bed-in-a-bag sets are lightweight with synthetic fill. Sets can include fitted and flat sheets, pillow cases, sham covers, and a comforter. These aren't just convenient for dorms, though; you can use one on your bed, on your child's bed, or in your guest bedroom.
- Duvet covers: A duvet cover is like a big pillowcase for your comforter or duvet. It lets you rejuvenate your bedroom at a minimal cost. In addition, duvet covers are easy to clean; just pop them in the washer. Look for a cover with ties or tabs to hold your comforter in place.
- Towels: Towels are bathroom essentials, but they also make great gifts for yourself, for hosts, and for dorm dwellers. You can never have enough. Premium Pima or Egyptian cotton towels are soft and absorbent, but cotton/rayon blends are durable and wallet-friendly. When buying towels, choose patterned, light colored towels for anyone using acne medicine that may leave bleach stains. Keep your towels soft and fluffy by using as little detergent as possible to prevent soap buildup.
- Shower curtains: The shower curtain is the focal point of your bathroom because of its large size. You'll find virtually every color, pattern, or design you could ever imagine. First, choose a weighted, mold-resistant vinyl curtain liner that protects your outer curtain from moisture. If you're choosing a vinyl curtain, you can skip that step. Then, choose your fabric curtain. Place it on one set of rings on one rod, or use a double shower rod to separate the liner and the curtain from one another.
- Bath mats and rugs: Choose either all-cotton or synthetic bath mats to keep your feet dry and warm. All-cotton bath rugs don't have backings, so they're easy to wash. However, they can be more likely to slide on the floor, especially if it's tile. If you prefer a nonskid bath rug or mat, look for a thicker backing that can withstand multiple washings over the long term. Washable nonskid memory foam mats are soft and absorbent.
- Accessories: Sets, dispensers, toothbrush holders, and wastebaskets give a bath its finish and personality. Accessories also make ideal hostess and housewarming gifts. Even if you're unsure about decorating choices, elegant bamboo, bright chrome, or glass sets always look great.
- Furniture: There are plenty of nooks and crannies even in the smallest of baths. Slim and tall cabinets, shelving over the toilet, or medicine cabinets declutter bathrooms of any size. Consider a cabinet makeover paint kit especially designed to use on wood, laminate, or metal bathroom cabinets. This helps you change the color and overall finish of your cabinets.
- Hooks, rods, and hardware: Match materials when choosing hooks, rods, and bath hardware. For shower rods, newer double curtain rods and curved curtain rods make showering hassle-free. Curved shower rods give you more space in the stall so you're not touching the curtain while showering. Double curved shower curtains do the extra job of keeping the liner and curtain separated for better air circulation.