Your essential guide to buying bed linen

Discover what to look for in your next bed linen purchase

Thinking of updating your bedroom? One of the simplest and most affordable ways to give your sleeping space a fresh look is with a new set of bed linen. But with stacks to choose from, we're spoilt for choice. We've made it a little easier to choose with practical tips when buying and looking for a style to suit you.

Bed linen buying tips

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1. Check the thread count

Unmade untidy bed in white a grey linen

(Image credit: TBC)

The thread count is the number of strands woven into one square inch of fabric and a higher generally means a softer product. Thread counts range from 180 through to 1000, but softness is largely dependent on the quality of the fibre so make sure you keep an eye on that too - Egyptian cotton is considered to be the finest quality.

2. Choose the right weave

Room with black wall, with beige headboard and white and grey linen and a side table

(Image credit: TBC)

Percale has been through a process that combs out the shorter, rougher fibres to make a fine-quality cotton. It has at least 180 threads per square inch and is smooth, crisp and cool to the touch.

Sateen is a little more glamorous, as it is woven from finer threads and has a higher thread count
(typically 300+). There's a smooth lustre to the finished fabric and, although slightly less hard wearing, it looks great in colour.

Jaquard has a soft feel like sateen rather than the crisper feel of percale. A special loom is used to create a matt/sateen self-pattern in the fabric. This can be a stripe, floral or a check.

Oxford Weave is made from yarns that have been doubled and woven into a particular pattern, a bit like basket weave. This thicker type of weave is often used for making high-quality men's shirts.

Flannel is brushed after weaving to give a soft, fluffy surface texture. This makes it lightweight but warm and ideal for winter use.

3. Layer up

Bright room with lamp over unmade bed

(Image credit: TBC)

Layering is an easy way to liven up your bed with different tones and textures so don't be afraid to add multiple throws in different textures. Cushions are also a great addition and allow you to play with colour, always with the option to change them depending on your mood!

Which style suits you?


Bright room with yellow, black and white bed and round bookshelf

(Image credit: TBC)

Think clashing patterns and bold colour amidst a simple bedroom scheme. Your bed is all about bringing personality and vibrance to a room, while knowing that you can calm it all down with simpler linen if needed.

Cool & calm

Bedroom with white and grey linen on bed and side table with a lamp

(Image credit: TBC)

Your bedroom is your sanctuary so you like it to be cool & calm but with shades that keep it cosy at nighttime. Use different shades from the same colour palette to add dept.


Colourful bedroom with black and white feature wall, yellow and red bed linen and side table

(Image credit: TBC)

You're a bold adventurer and you like your bedroom to show it. Your bed linen is the finishing flourish to a fearless scheme. Aim to keep the duvet cover pattern free so that patterned pillows stand out and it doesn't overwhelm overall.


Bedroom with black feature wall and white bed linen with side table and lamp

(Image credit: TBC)

You like to keep things simple and smart so that your bedroom oozes sophistication. Adding a faux fur throw is a great way to ensure it keeps a relaxed, informal vibe - you need to be able to wind down after all.


Bright purple bedroom with palm tree wallpaper, purple and white linen and gold bed frame

(Image credit: TBC)

The ultimate glamour puss - you're a fan of beautiful, luxurious textures. Metallic furniture or accessories are also high on your agenda and are a fast track to creating a show stopping boudoir.

Pure & simple

White bedroom, with white headboard, linen, side table and laptop on bed with scooter next to bed

(Image credit: TBC)

A huge fan of pure whites, you love things feeling light and fresh. Using a light grey or neutral toned throw adds an element of thought and sophistication to the scheme without imposing.


Floral linen with vintage headboard and wood side table

(Image credit: TBC)

Girly through and through, you like florals and you're not afraid to use them. A throw with an oversized floral print is a great way to bring modern femininity to a scheme and contrasts well with rough surfaces like an exposed brick wall.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.