Bedding options are booming.

The image is alluringly seductive: an enormous bed carefully turned down, covered in the whitest of white sheets as smooth as untouched snow. Yards of luxury, the sheets are edged with tiny piping and plumped somehow to suggest extreme softness. The message has a spin: enticing, seductive, enthralling, luxurious, and most of all soft: beds today are wrapped in some of the most wonderful sheets imaginable.

With specialty stores that offer wondrous products, it seems the space in which you sleep has truly arrived. But sift through the many options, and you’ll discover some dreams can be pricey while requiring almost a nightmarish degree of knowledge. There are counts of threads that range from just over 100 per inch to over 1,000. What does height mean? Can varying costs be justified? And just who counts those threads anyway?

Relax. It’s fine. The booming bedding options are meant to soothe your tired body and soul. Thread counts are simple to understand. The higher the count, the softer the fabric, and the lower the count, the stronger the fabric. Sheet facts are as pure and simple as cotton. Which, by the way, is today’s material of choice. Cotton breathes and its comfort cannot be matched, for wash after wash, its softness increases.

With cotton, terms like percale and sateen are adjectives used to highlight special features such as the tightness of the fabric’s weave and finishing techniques used on the threads that give suppleness or sheen. Percale indicates more than 180 threads per inch. Sateen is slightly glossy, and the process may be used for trims or to form patterns in a tone on tone process that results in stripes or jacquard design. Jersey, flannelette and cotton/polyester blends are readily available alternatives to cotton.

Currently, white is the preferred shade in bedding. Its crispness and freshness is undeniably pure. Close in popularity are soft pastels, taupe, beige, pale grey, green and apricot. Strong colours are waiting for their comeback, but for now expect to see only hints of colour, ones that will not yellow or discolour over time. And there are organic options in bedding as well, in instances where bleach or harsh substances are not used, the hue is a comforting oatmeal.

Use duvet covers, bedskirts, decorative pillows and other touches to add a striking splash of personal colour. Red and gold for a fiery personality, deep mahogany brown and forest green for an earthier feel, or brocaded gilt-tinged patterns that evoke wealth and history.

All-cotton bedding is popular; however, it does wrinkle. And what does wrinkling suggest? Ironing. The smooth effect requires ironing that interestingly enough kills bacteria.

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