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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Death Of The Duvet

I am officially over the duvet cover as a desirable solution for bed dressing. At least at the A&A house.

I recommended a near identical one to this for a client. It looked this good
when we first put it on. After it's first washing...a wrinkled mess. It needed
about an hours worth of ironing!

Duvets originated in rural Europe, which is why they were stuffed with feathers. They were initially conceived for warmth and comfort over straw beds and in modern times to simplify the bed making process by having one cover. Leave it to Americans to screw it up. We took something so simple and just kept adding to it by over accessorizing it with sheets, blankets and mountains of pillows. All in the name of a pretty bed. The irony? Often it doesn't look that good. Ever notice how duvets never fit the covers quite right? They shift inside their cover leaving empty pockets in the corners, misaligned button flaps and an uneven lumpy-bumpy surface. Thankfully, there is the coverlet! I have a white one on our bed and it the simplest and easiest way to cover and make the bed I think. Sometimes it just looks plain and doesn't feel cozy enough.

This whole bedroom is so attractive. And even for a professional photo,
 it is impossible to get the duvet to fill the corners of the cover and look
 at the wrinkles across the side. I could live with this, but keep in
 mind the facts above....when everyday use sets in.

I have been on the hunt for a new solution in the A&A master bedroom. I love our bed. It looks like an enormous wing back chair. Again, it's nearly 6 years old and I had no idea then that wing beds and chairs would become so trendy. For years we had a beautiful mahogany 4 poster bed. It was the first piece of furniture we purchased when we got married and it's now in storage. I still love that too, but changed it out for two simple reasons: We wanted something lower to the floor and a soft back to read in bed. 

A simple white coverlet. Can't go wrong with this option. As far as decorative
 pillows, I think this is fine, but  personally I often prefer less. At least there is a
bench to put them every night....once the books are moved!
 Currently, there is a duvet inside a pretty slate/taupe scrolling patterned cover folded in thirds at the end of the bed. It's been like that for 2 years. Often it's only purpose is to be a foot warmer. We never pull it up. Why? Mostly because at night, it feels too cumbersome. And, when I have pulled it up all the way, it just doesn't look neat...something is always out of whack! Sheets and a white coverlet are all we really need most of the time. A very thin comforter between two flats sheets would have a similar result. On the hottest summer nights the duvet gets kicked onto to the bench at the end of the bed. And, you know what else might need to die with it? The Euro pillows. They are almost always on the bench. Which is gorgeous tufted leather...only I don't get to see that much because the pillows are always there. I had euros with the four poster bed because the wood back was so uncomfortable when you wanted to read. I kept them when the new bed came since the headboard is so tall. Visually they take up space, and look fine, but they are totally unnecessary. I am actually considering 2 king pillows on our queen bed as an alternative.

This is not my bedroom, but the colors and bedding have a similar feel.

I've never had tons of decorative pillows on the bed. I never understood the point to over dress the bed. Afterall, I do not entertain in my bedroom. Well there was just that one time. As I've said before, I'm practical. Do I want my bed to look nice? You bet. The bed is the focal point of every bedroom. I just happen to think beds that are simply dressed are more attractive and allow you to appreciate the other elements in the room such as the windows and maybe a fireplace.

This is a very pretty room, but too much of everything for my taste.

Similar colors as above with pared down bedding...ahhh.
 So I am focusing on finding beautiful well made blankets for comfort, warmth and yes...decoration. Oh, and something that won't cost a fortune. I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, tell me do you use a duvet inside a cover, comforter, quilt, coverlet and does anyone use a bedspread anymore?

Images courtesy of House Beautiful, Elle Decor. Garnett Hill

Have a great weekend, and sleep well!


  1. Rebecca, I just keep mine folded at the end of the bed, too. I have a matelasse coverlet to cover the bed. You are right the cover never fits right. Especially the Pottery Barn ones. I don't know why they don't make them a little smaller. I have my dry cleaned. No way I'm ironing one of those.

  2. We have a comforter on our bed right now that has seen better days, and I'd planned to get the Lands' End matelasse cover to match the dust ruffle and after about 20 years they discontinued it. The beds for the girls who don't live here anymore have coverlets and the boys' beds have those Nautica patch madras quilts that are very light, so in the winter I just put a plain down comforter underneath the coverlet for warmth. I always planned to make duvet covers for the girls' room but have never been able to find a fabric to go with their dust ruffles and draperies....I found a fabulous roll of fabric about 10 years ago, but a companion fabric remains elusive.

  3. I sleep with a plain (uncovered) duvet and dress the bed with boutis for company.

    The trick is to use two duvets to fill a cover, which then renders the whole thing too hot to sleep under.

  4. Ahhhh Yes, the demise of the duvet, now it begins!!! I actually have a duvet cover for the winter and for the summer I have a summer weight tufted down blanket,very light weight. I have an overly stuffed duvet folded at the foot that is placed on a bench with the shams at bedtime. In my guest room, always have had a coverlet,I use matelasse in a pretty damask pattern. I purchased the small diamond coverlet in white for my son for a gift and I highly reccomend that one, It washes up beautifully and is really well made. In fact I would duplicate that in my room I love it so well. It is reasonably priced for what you get,check it out, you might like that one. Have fun dressing your bed in it's new clothes, Happy weekend,KS

  5. Forgot to mention the diamond coverlet is from William Sonoma Home. Sorry!!

  6. I hear all of your completely valid points and agree for the most part. Duvets with ribbons or details always look wrinkled, that is why I never went for the hotel look because of that. They wrinkle around the ribbon and that is impossible to get out without hours of ironing. But if you buy a plain duvet with a pattern or not and get it out of the dryer really quick, then you won't have that problem as much. Personally I prefer the duvet because it is so easy to clean and I like the simplicity on my bed. I just have my pillows and duvet, no decorative pillows at all..they just take up much needed space. Although for a photo shoot it's okay, but for real living, it's not for me at all. Lastly, you have to make sure your duvet is in the correct alignment for your cover so you don't have pockets of emptiness. Great post!

  7. Hi Rebecca,
    I hear what you are saying! I keep mine folded at the end of the bed. I just love the feel of a down comforter over me when I sleep. It feels so soft and heavenly! It's hard to find the perfect cover for it that fits perfectly though.
    I usually have too much room in my duvet cover which drives me crazy! Great post! ~Delores

  8. In Germany, each morning, haus fraus across the country will throw open the casement windows(no screens) and "air" the feather beds, as these duvets are referred to.
    I have never used them. My favorite coverlet is Garnet Hill's Orleans quilt as it is very substantial and comes in many colors, my favorite being ivory. I have them on nearly all of my beds.

  9. I love love love my duvet and will never give it up. Your points are all valid and I get the whole wrinkle thing. For years I had a white one from Ralph Laureen from their Sateen collection. I like a pattern in the duvets but not where you can see it from afar. The pattern helps disguise the wrinkles. I tried an all white one and you could see the difference. I also love linen ones but to find quality linen ones are hard. Coverlets are great solutions and look pretty if you don't get cold. For me when I'm staying at someones house and there is a coverlet and/or a hotel - I'm always looking around for more blankets. I love the coziness of a duvet. But I do agree with the shifting and the never fit right.

  10. Rebecca - I think this is the first time you and I have parted ways, although not completely. I have a matelasse that I adore (Suzi from Traditions - can go in washing machine) and then fold the duvet as you do in thirds at end of bed. It serves as foot warmer but I do occasionally pull it up as I am always colder than husband. As for pillows - Euros are necessity in our house for reading in bed which is a nightly activity - my husband is addicted to them. And on another note - we just had gas installed in our bedroom fireplace - so excited to have the ambiance at the click of a switch!!

  11. I am now in my late 50's. I've had a duvet with cover since the day I was born (my mother is German). I have never had a problem with the corners, as all my duvets have corner places so that I can tie the ties from the duvet covers to the duvet. I only use 100% cotton covers so yes wrinkling can be a problem. but if you take them out of the dryer and either line dry them or take them out damp and lay the covers on the bed and hand iron them (sweep your hand over the covers) they dry perfectly "ironed"... the problem with the purchased duvets that are made of cotton and have trims on them is that the trims have not been preshrunk so that they shrink more than the cotton that the duvet cover is made from. That is not the cover's fault but the manufacuturer's. I'm not giving mine up any time soon! In the summer time, we simply put the down comforter away and use the duvet covers as a bedcover..

  12. I've been through
    the same rigamorole
    as you have these
    past 24 {!} years.
    I have now settled
    on a coverlet with
    a duvet folded at
    the bottom. I do
    have Euro pillows,
    as we have an iron
    bed and we need that
    extra padding for
    reading in bed. I
    do have too many
    pillows and this post
    has me considering
    a pare down. I have
    a quilted box spring
    cover but no dust ruffle
    at the moment. Kind
    of liking that spare
    look....but can't store
    anything under the bed!
    Happy Weekend, R!
    xx Suzanne

  13. It's a hard decision for sure. Though it is absolutely not necessary to entertain in the bedroom, there is just something about walking in after a long day to see a well dressed fluffy looking inviting cozy bed. I have had for about 15 years a heavy duty (like 2 matelesses') duvet cover from Mystic Valley Traders with a fat cording (comes out of the dryer usually fine) that sometimes gets'a down comforter, but most times does not when I have another duvet (silk, Restoration Hardware) with down folded at the foot of the bed that get's pulled up every night. Something about the weight and warmth of this while one sleeps is comforting. Though, I am itchin' for a change...I probably would look for something similar that has enough weight to it to be used alone or with a down comforter.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  14. Love this post! We've used a duvet forever and it's never been a problem. Here in Seattle you need one almost year round, even in summer. Right now it's cold so the duvet's topped with a white antique chenille bedspread AND two thin white blankets folded at the foot of the bed, which get changed out according to the weather. When it does get super hot, we just use the chenille and the blankets.
    Sadly, after two cats, a Dachshund, and lots of use, the chenille spread is starting to be very worn. It used to be on a guest bed, safe from harm, but now I fear it's time to find a new one which isn't very easy.
    The duvet and the chenille are always pulled up to the pillows then folded over, blankets are always folded at the foot of the fussy pillows allowed either, just the two each that are used to sleep with. Any duvet mishaps are covered by the chenille.
    Can't wait to see what your new bedding adventure produces!
    xo J~

  15. I am such a visual person it seems necessary to me to have a beautifully made bed. OMG, yes I have everything you've described. Cannot get along without piles of pillows to sleep on & lean back on for reading. Me? Ironing these things is a labor of love...and I do love beautiful linens. I have a thermal fleece blanket between 2 top sheets as a cover on regular nights, but sometimes the comforter is just so plush nothing else will suffice. I loved reading this post, Rebecca. Great job!!

  16. I've actually never used a duvet. Right now I have a white chenille coverlet/bedspread, that is when I actually take the time to make my bed...bad I know! It stays folded up and we use a comforter for warmth in the winter. My son has a comforter on his bed and in the guest room we use two colorful mismatched quilts. My daughter has a duvet, so I'll have to ask her is she hates how it lays and whether or not it looks good most of the time. Great post!

    Kat :)

  17. I like a duvet in the winter, but not used as a bedspread of sorts. If you have the space in the laundry room, I recommend a flat-ironer; it does a quick and wonderful job on tablecloths, sheets, and surely that wrinkled duvet cover.

  18. Hey R~
    I have duvet's on all of my beds and they are indeed a pain to launder and iron. I have a linen one on my bed now and just deal with the wrinkles. I don't care too much for coverlets as they remind me of my grandmothers.
    I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  19. While we’re still quite fond of the duvet (it’s more than just a decorative ploy... it’s so cozy), we do have to agree with you on the idea of simply-decorated beds being more eye-pleasing. A bed swimming in flouncy frills and mountains of pillows just seems off-putting to say the least.

  20. My solution: use the duvet cover as a spread. It's simple and light! Then...put the duvet (I always use a white one) at the end of the bed. That is how my mother and grandmother always did it...and I now I know they were right! I can't stand putting the duvet in the cover, partly because it makes the duvet so heavy!

  21. I don't like duvet covers because they just slide around too much and never look neat , and I'm all about that. I really love a spread of some kind pulled up over the sheets and something at the end of the bed that is easy to manage. totally love a well dressed bed.

  22. i have dealt with the same annoying problems.
    i used to hang it over the banister to try and shake it into the corners.
    it worked but was such a pain.
    i sleep with a matelasse coverlet.
    soooooo much easier.

  23. Hi Rebecca,
    My husband keeps the house at 58F all night and it is COLD in Canada. We love our duvets. I could not live without them and the comfort and warmth is far outweighed by the fact that my bedroom does not look like a magazine! I have a few quilts and coverlets that we use in summer, but I find the layers of blankets and quilts too heavy in winter to achieve warmth. Although some people are using those down blankets. But the point of down is LOFT, so you shouldn't put anything OVER top of a duvet or down blanket.

    I find bed coverings so complicated. I also HATE Euro pillows. I have two sets of Euro shames and NEVER use them. I stack four plain pillows on the bed, like those unstyled English houses in the English mags!

    I don't know what the answer is. I find beds entirely overdone. We each use two pillows on a queen bed, and once I saw the four pillows stacked two by two with two smaller square decorative pillows in front, one in front of each. That hides the sleeping pillows a little. I don't like a lot of stuff on the bed at all.

    As Renee said, in your warmer climate, a nice blanket and coverlet is perfect. I bought a gorgeous coverlet in France last year, slightly longer at the sides so the side of the bed is hidden, more like a bed spread of old.

    xo Terri

  24. I’ve had the same grips about duvet covers as you but thankfully I sew so I was able to fix those problems and achieve a fitted duvet cover. Like you I keep my duvet folded back during the day and pull it up at night. One thing I must have is a perfectly made up bed! Enjoy your weekend Rebecca!

  25. Loved this post. I am currently making a simple quilt for my bed and plan to put my duvet folded in thirds at the end. (My husband loves the warmth.) I am absolutely over the shifting, wrinkling, empty-spots situation. Glad I'm not the only one. I wash it often and iron it-and then enjoy the ONE day that it looks so nice!

  26. We have a duvet in the country that we keep folded and rolled up in a large wicker late nineteenth century French industrial laundry basket under the bed, and we only bring out the duvet on really cold winter nights. It is not our standard bed covering (which is an inexpensive Indian batik bedspread). Fortunately, we can push the basket under the bed because ours is an early nineteenth century four poster where the mattress sits high enough up above the floor that there is plenty of room underneath it for the basket filled with the duvet. -- Reggie

  27. Simpler is indeed better for a good-looking bed. We did the duvet thing years ago, and gave it up pretty quickly (I, too, remember featherbeds airing out the windows in the morning when we lived in Germany when I was younger. Duvet covers acted like a top sheet.) Now, we have a light-weight, over-sized down comforter from The Company Store that I adore. No worries about someone hogging the covers, because there is more than enough to share. Making the bed in the morning is a cinch ... smooth the covers, stack the pillows (a king and a standard) and that's it! Sometimes there's a coverlet folded at the foot of the bed ... but it's usually for one of the cats to sleep on. :)

  28. Hi,
    I've just wandered over to your blog after seeing you on the sidebar at Aquired Objects and have to say I loved this post and all of your images.
    Such inspiration!
    I'll be following along from now on.
    I'm a duvet girl, have been for over 30 years, and yes I hand iron all my linen and cotton duvet covers but not the plaid Lands End flannel, which I put on during the cold weather!
    We have a lightweight duvet for the summer months.
    As we live in France I do have Euro pillows. I find beautiful pillow cases with tiny mother of pearl buttons and hand made lace at antique fairs and auctions.

  29. I won't go into the state of my bed in the middle of a two stage move but I, too found my duvet to be too hot. I recently ran across a mattelasse bedspread at Marshall's. The print is lovely and its not too warm.

  30. I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I have found that a coverlet pulled up over the whole bed, with a folded duvet at the bottom works for me. If I'm chilly, I can pull it up. And, I find that I like the feeling of heft when I'm sleeping. As for pillows....I like a lot. But, not lots of little ones. Just my sleeping pillows, 2 Euros and a little bit for decoration. It's all about balance.

    xo Elizabeth

  31. You're right! I like simple beds, too. But I like 'em having beautiful duvets -- simple yet elegant. I like the first, second, fourth, fifth one. They seem comfy enough. My husband and I bought a thin duvet when we we spend our honeymoon in Brandon. For our bedroom now, we like our tile flooring to be covered with a carpet, as most of the furniture are fragile.

  32. Just when I was wondering why I was out of love with my duvet and it has yet to be ironed...I love the look of a mattelasse coverlet on top of a lightweight blanket....
    I do love an all white bed with a splash of color...A dear friend with such taste had a velvet scalloped blanket that I coveted!

  33. We have an antique double bed and we have a Queen size duvet...hangs perfectly! We do not heat our bedrooms and in minus 5 degrees a duvet is magic especially when you put a light mohair rug underneath!
    When the balance is wrong I stand on the box at the foot of the bed, grab the bottom corners and shake like mad then let it float down onto the bed, good arm exercise!!!!!
    It was such a relief to get rid of the weight of blankets and comforters when we discovered duvets I would never go back.

  34. We use always use duvets and then the duvet cover as the spread, if you will. Especially in the summer, we have two single duvets in different weights, as the hubbie likes warmth and I get too hot!

    I'm with you on overdressing the bed. A few extra throw pillows in front our regular ones does it for me. Who has the time to "arrange" the bed?

    Great post!

  35. I use a duvet, but it's a linen print ( no surprise Pavilion Stripe to exact) which doesn't wrinkle very much. Heavier fabric - less wrinkles in my experience.

  36. I have a white duvet on my bed at the moment and really like it. I did painstakingly search for an oversized insert so I wouldn't have the corner issue and they tie in. But, I have to get it dry cleaned to look completely put together....ironing a king duvet on a dinky ironing board is a PAIN. As for pillows....we have six sleeping pillows, three Euro shams and a decorative bolster. I love my bed...except when my daughter is playing in the pillows which seems more and more frequent these days :)


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