Guide to bed and bath accessories and decor
One great way to freshen up your home is to update your bedroom and bathroom. It can take as little as a new comforter or blanket to brighten up your sanctuary. Make it more comfortable with new pillows and throws. Or, change out your worn bath towels for a set made with premium materials so your home looks and feels more like a spa. Use these ideas to choose the best bed and bath item for your needs.
- Sheets: Cotton is cool, soft and breathes easily, which is an ideal sheet for sensitive skin. Consider microfiber sheets, which are less breathable but pill less than other types of sheets. For top-quality cotton sheets, buy cotton with extra-long fibers (or long-staple fibers) such as Egyptian, Pima and Supima. Stay between 200- to 800-thread count for nicely finished, comfortable sheets. A 200-count combed cotton set of sheets still has finishing processes with high standards.
- Pillows: If you can fold your pillow in half and it stays that way, opt for a new one. Down pillows are the fluffiest, but a down/feather combination or down alternative can be just as heavenly. Memory foam pillows are typically thicker and firmer, which is a good option for side sleepers.
- Comforters and duvets: Comforters filled with down or down alternative are warmer, and polyester-filled are more lightweight. A duvet (or even a comforter) slides right into a duvet cover, which is like a fabric envelope. The beauty of a duvet cover is that it's easy to wash while it protects your duvet or comforter inside.
- Blankets: Buying a blanket depends on what degree of warmth, weight and texture you want on your body. Thick wool and cotton fleece are warmest and heaviest. But you can also choose lighter-weight summer blankets made of breathable, moisture-wicking materials like linen and bamboo.
- Bed-in-a-bag sets: Ideal for dorm rooms, first apartments, guest rooms or a teen-room redo, a coordinated bed-in-a-bag set takes the guesswork out of matching colors and patterns on comforters, pillowcases and other bedding.
- Mattress pads and protectors: Pads and protectors go over the mattress topper to hold it in place and act as a barrier for dust mites and body fluids. A pad generally covers only the top of the mattress. A protector is waterproof and fits your mattress like a fitted sheet that covers the sides.
- Mattress toppers: Toppers are more for comfort than protection. A topper adds an optional extra luxurious layer of softness, cushioning and support for your body. Toppers can be made of latex (firm), memory foam (warm), polyester (soft) or feathers/fibers, also called featherbeds.
- Pillow protectors: A washable pillow protector keeps your pillow clean, dry, and bug- and dust-mite free. Cooling pillow covers keep you feeling crisp and refreshed by dispersing body heat while protecting your pillow.
- Cotton: Premium Egyptian or Pima cotton towels are super absorbent, soft and less prone to pilling.
- Rayon: Towels with rayon in them may absorb more water than cotton towels.
- Cotton/poly: These highly durable towels may be less absorbent than all-cotton towels.
- Sets: A basic rule of thumb is to have three sets of towels for each person living in your household. The logic is that one set is in use, one is in the linen closet and one is in the laundry.
Bath mats and rugs
- Memory foam: Soft and durable, memory foam bath rugs absorb water like any other type of material. Hang it up to dry if it's wet. It's lightweight enough to hang over the shower rod.
- Nylon: When washing a nylon bath mat or rug with rubber backing, use a cold wash setting and tumble dry on the lowest setting to keep the backing in good shape.
- Shower mats: If your shower or tub floor is slippery, add a shower mat with grip so it won't slip out of place when wet. Consider a mat with holes so water doesn't gather at your ankles.
- Materials: Fabric curtains are washable, and non-fabric designs need spot cleaning. Look for hookless curtains that are like grommet-style drapery.
- Liners: Fabric curtains require vinyl or non-toxic PVC liners on the shower-facing side to keep water inside the stall, but vinyl curtains don't need liners unless you prefer a double layer to keep water inside the shower.
- Rods: Curved shower rods keep the shower curtain from touching your skin while showering. A double- curved curtain rod keeps the curtain and liner in place, giving you plenty of room in the shower.
- Hooks: Rust-resistant stainless steel shower curtain hooks with balls help them slide smoothly on a rod. A standard shower curtain is typically 72 inches long, and you'll install the rod 75 to 77 inches from the floor. With the right hooks, your shower curtain won't touch the floor.
- Soap dishes and dispensers: Keep your bar soap from slipping and sliding all over the sink or floor by placing it in a bath dish. Make sure there's room for a standing soap dish that won't topple over and break. Soap and matching lotion dispensers bring an elegant touch to your bathroom.
- Toothbrush holders: Toothbrush holders do more than just add a touch of whimsy or color. They allow you to store your brushes in the open so they can air dry thoroughly. Make sure you have a holder that separates toothbrushes so the heads don't touch.
- Shower caddies: Shower caddies have multiple tiers and shelves to organize and hold your shampoos, razors and soaps. Some slip over the shower head, and others sit in a corner. Stainless steel, chrome and plastic caddies need regular cleanings to eliminate soap scum buildup and rust.