It’s easy to live with a bare-bones bedset: mattress, duvet, maybe some incense and a Hendrix poster, and that’s that.
That is, until you have a guest, or a new girlfriend, or, like, acute sciatica. It’s not just aesthetics — better bedding really does make for better sleep.
Poor sleep is the desk-sitting of 2016: too much of it’ll kill you. Seriously — doctors say a lack of adequate zzzs can trim just as many years off your life as bad habits that are way, way more fun. But bed-buying is a nightmare. Too many options, too much jargon. Down? Fill? Synthetic? Goose? Hungarian goose? Synthetic Hungarian goose down alternative fill? It’s nonsense.
Here, your highly edited shopping list.
If you’ve been getting by with a standard box spring + mattress + frame, it’s time to invest in a proper bed. Design Within Reach stocks some of the best. Like Italian designer Luciano Bertoncini’s Min bed. Sleek yet pleasantly organic, this is the frame IKEA’s ubiquitous Malm hopes to be when it grows up. You can also bump up the luxe factor with the Case Study Alpine bed or save some cash with this streamlined version of the Min, a queen without a headboard that checks in under $1,000.
Other reliable vendors: Room & Board (we like the Grove), Muji (think IKEA with a better style-to-dollar ratio) and 1stdibs, your source if you’re in a Gatsby kind of mood. Or you could always DIY it.
If your bed doesn’t demand a specific mattress (perhaps a certain height, to preserve its lines), you’ll have your choice. If you’re sleeping solo most nights, get a queen. You can either do a deep dive into the world of memory foam and pocketed coils, or just take our advice and go with a Hästens BJX.
An industry based on confusing its consumers is also ripe for disruption. Enter Casper, the Warby Parker of mattresses (and its coterie of imitators), with pleasantly few options and a price of $850 for a queen.
The Mattress Cover (aka “Pad”)
You need one. You don’t want to have to clean your mattress. This one’s fine.
These make your mattress cushier. A matter of preference. We like a feather bed, as we find the sensation of being smothered by thousands of duck feathers restful. You will prefer a foam topper if you have an aversion to (or allergies involving) birds or bird parts.
A bottom sheet and a comforter will hunt, though some prefer a bottom sheet, top sheet and quilt. In either case, get a set that feels nice out of the package but also, crucially, wears well. (It’s this second part that often trips up discount options — what feels nice in the store might not after a half-dozen spin cycles.)
Italian Pratesi sheets are a favorite of interior designers (the embroidered Three Lines is a good choice). The top domestic option: Matouk, founded in 1929 by a Syrian immigrant who moved his production facilities to the U.S. during World War II — everything is now made in Fall River, Massachusetts. For natural linens, try made-in-Marin Rough Linen, which not just feels but looks better with age.
If you live a place where it snows, do not skimp on the comforter. Cheap ones trap heat and will make you sweat. Outside of the mattress, the comforter is where you must spend at the top of your budget. This one — built on aforementioned Hungarian goose down — is hard to beat. Remember to buy oversize if you have an extra-tall mattress. Those with allergies will want a down alternative.
You will sleep with this every night, so spend with that in mind. Check Sferra first.
If you’ve been sleeping on IKEA fiber-filled pillows, real ones will change your life. How you sleep can determine the best pillow choice — here’s a guide. Great choices at either end of the spectrum: a firm, down fill or a soft, synthetic one.
All images via Matouk