Bedding for less

By Mir
June 23, 2006

People, you know that I was mostly kidding about the whole flattering me thing, right? Not that I don’t soak up your admiration and all, but it’s starting to get embarrassing. Don’t. Stop. Don’t stop!


Danielle writes:

Who is very pretty, smart and someone who I admire?


Ok my question is…… I am in the market for a whole new bedding set. I have a Cal King, where is the cheapest I can buy it?

I will tell you everything you need to know, Danielle, but first I have to ask if—so long as you seem to love me so much and all—can I come sleep over at your house? Cal King. Nice!

Let’s back up a minute and talk about some general bedding philosophy.

Bigger beds = bigger bedding = more $$$. As much I would love to own a king-sized bed, it will never happen unless I win the lottery or something. I think it’s just too expensive to outfit a bed of that size. So don’t mind me over here, weeping over my little bed….

Right. Anyway. You already have the bed, so now you’re faced with outfitting it, and would probably like me to shut up about how a smaller bed would be easier and cheaper.

The first thing to figure out before buying bedding is what you want. Ha! That sounds silly, I know. I’m not trying to be obtuse, I swear. There are lots of different options you need to consider before you start shopping.

What kind of covering do you want? Do you want a comforter? A bedspread? A duvet? A quilt? Which one of these you prefer will influence how you shop.

Personally, bedspreads confuse me. I think they belong in hotels and retirement homes, and I don’t much understand them. If you like them, great. Good luck with that.

I used to be a die-hard comforter fan. Yay, comforters! Fluffy! Comfy! I’ll just… ummm… wash it when it needs it… oh… it doesn’t quite fit in my washer, hrm…. Yeah. My comforter days are over.

Quilts are nice, I think, but they tend to be pricey unless you have a mother-in-law who quilts. And even then your kids will end up with beautiful flannel quilts to use in the winter but probably your bed will be lacking a quilt and then you’ll end up divorced and quiltless. Errr. Um. Moving on….

Nowadays, I’m a duvet devotee. The covers are easy enough to wash, and I can change the whole look of my bedroom with a new cover, for not very much money. To my mind, this is the most cost-effective option. Think you can’t have a duvet because you’re allergic to down? There are plenty of high-quality synthetics available for feather-challenged. My duvet is poly-fiberfill and is just as light and warm and cozy as its allergy-laden counterparts.

What pieces do you need? Are you looking to buy new everything? Just a new covering? Just new sheets? Do you have the kind of bed that needs a dust ruffle? Do you have a zillion pillows, or will you find pillow shams superfluous? These are all things to consider.

The lure of comforters, a lot of the time, is that you can buy a single bedding set with everything you need. One package holds your comforter, sheet set, dust ruffle, pillow shams, and pajamas. Well, okay, not the pajamas. But pretty much everything else. While the price tends to be better on a set like this, you’re not really saving any money if half the pieces are things you don’t need. Conversely, if the set doesn’t include extra pieces you will need (like if you need extra pillowcases), you have to consider how cheap/easy it will be to get coordinating pieces. (Or, alternately—how much you care about additional pieces matching.)

What sort of fabric do you like? Do you want percale? Flannel? Jersey? You should have some idea of what you prefer before you shop.

For the novice, thread counts on sheet sets can be confusing. Do the numbers matter? Yes… and no. In general, the higher the thread count, the better quality the sheets will be. This isn’t always true, of course. You also want to pay attention to whether the sheets are solid cotton or a cotton blend; that will make a difference in the quality (and maybe you prefer one over the other).

Personally, I won’t buy percale sheets less than 200 threads per square inch. Many inexpensive sheets—children’s character sets come to mind immediately—are only 150 or 180 thread count. I find them scratchy. But I know people who refuse sheets under 300 or 400 threads; it’s a matter of figuring out what you like.

Inexpensive percale sheets are rough, and inexpensive flannels will pill and/or shrink until there’s nothing left. For the frugal bedding hunter, I recommend the jersey (or so-called “t-shirt”) sheets. They tend to be inexpensive and soft. All of our spare sheets are jersey, and the kids actually prefer them to percale.

What about accessories? Are we talking about pillows and blankets, too? There are as many different types of pillows as there are people, so I won’t presume to know what kind of pillow you’d like. All I’ll say is that a bad pillow is going to make your neck unhappy, so if you’re deciding between pretty bedding and upgrading lumpy pillows, consider something slightly less pretty so that you can have pillows that actually support your head. Just sayin’.

As for blankets, after a lifetime of cold-weather living, I have discovered the bed-sized polarfleece blanket. And lo, it is very, very good. And not just because they tend to be very affordable (pssst, use coupon code BKSHIP3 for free shipping through 7/6, there), either. They’re a great option for warmth without bulk, and unlike their wool and acrylic counterparts, they’re very soft.

Alright. Now! Let’s go shopping.

Start with the bedding section at Overstock. They have some great deals, and a pretty wide selection. The exact duvet I own is no longer available there (I got it several years ago), but I believe it was $40 for a queen size. And I probably used a coupon.

Once you have a duvet, you can buy a cover, or a cover set (that comes with matching shams and sometimes a dust ruffle), and sheets. Boom; done. (And those things? Also easy to find at Overstock.)

Another great place to browse is Amazon. Sometimes they have deals, sometimes they don’t; you have to be more careful over there about prices, for sure. But if you go into the category you want and sort by price, sometimes you find something wonderful. Right now they’re running a promotion on Kitchen and Housewares offered directly by Amazon, too—take $25 off your $125+ purchase with code SUNSAVER.

Other stores I favor for home clearance: Kohls, Target, Domestications, and the aforementioned Brylane Home. With those last three, pay attention. They sell a lot of… ummm… well, lesser-quality stuff. Don’t be sucked in by low prices and discover you’ve bought sheets made of sandpaper. They do have some good deals on okay-quality stuff, but you have to be vigilant.

For shopping for bedding in actual stores, I favor the Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Ross types of places. You never know what you’ll find on clearance. This is probably not the place to buy a fully-coordinated bedding set on a dime, as the cheaper items will be leftovers and you’re not going to be able to find the sheets that go with that duvet cover. But if you’re okay with a bit of mixing and matching, you may score a great deal.

And by the way, mixing and matching doesn’t have to mean a striped comforter and polka-dotted sheets. Although if you want or don’t mind that, by all means go ahead. Seriously, how many people see your sheets? (And of those, how many of them are critiquing your decorating skills?) Buy yourself a nice bed cover that makes you feel happy and pretty, and then buy solid color sheets that will go with the next bed cover that makes you feel happy and pretty, too.

If you fall in love with a particular set that’s out of your price range, or you find some pieces on clearance and can’t find the others, don’t forget to check out eBay. (Standard eBay shopping rules apply: Check the seller’s feedback, make sure the deal isn’t ruined by shipping, etc.)

I hope that helps you in your shopping, Danielle. And if you need someone to come test-drive your new bedding, over there, on your gigantic bed… well, you know where to find me. That’s how dedicated I am to your comfort. No need to thank me.


  1. OMG thank you! I was thinking of doing the whole duvet deal. I had one for my old bed queen sized and loved it. (Which I bought at But I now have a comforter (not much of one left bc the dog pulled all the stuffing out) Yucky. I think I will bite the bullet and do the duvet. With new sheets! I appreciate you answering all my questions. I love your website and check it many times during the day. (While at work, hehehe)

  2. I don’t know if places like Linens ‘n Things or Bed Bath & Beyond stock Cal King, but we’ve bought king sized (and twin) stuff there on clearance–often the colors/styles are being discontined. They’re not the most fabulous linens you could imagine, but you can definitely get 100% cotton and a thread count of over 200. (Half the time the kids wind up in bed with us, so there is breastmilk, etc. all over, so this isn’t the time in our lives for Really Nice stuff anyway.)

  3. oh yeah and btw when we bought our bed my BF’s grandma told us it would be more room for playing. LOL We can have a sleep over next time you are in Idaho we will set something up! 🙂

  4. Y’know, the very most indulgent thing you can do is get TWO duvets for your bed — one for you and one for your partner. He’s a “burrito” and I’m a “flopper who is never quite the right temperature and must therefor either toss blankets or hoard them off and on throughout the night.” We buy our duvet covers in matching sets and forgo top sheets, folding each one in half the long way so that when the bed is made it looks “together” and we can still meet in the middle when necessary (wink, wink). I’ve found decent duvet covers at Ikea for cheap money, although my very favorite ones came from Target. As always, you can cheat a chepaer sheet by fabric-softening the living hell out of it.

  5. If there’s a Tuesday Morning store near you, check if out. We’ve bought many lovely duvet covers and high thread count sheets there for ridiculously low prices. Mixing and matching is required, however.

  6. I agree with Amanda, Ikea has some great looking duvet covers at pretty good prices–$15 for a twin duvet plus sham, $25 or 30 for queen. But i have to say, i was just at Big Lots and they had some great deals, like a full size set of jersey sheets for $10. Almost bought them just because of reading this blog this morning!!! anyways, love this site!

  7. Just wanted to point out, for those of you who live in warmer climes, that the jersey sheets tend to be hot. Not just in my opinion; I’ve heard the same thing from other people as well. Also, I totally second Tuesday Morning. I got a set of very fancy, super-high thread count sheets there once for a song!

  8. I just bought a set of queen size sheets, 300 count, 100% bamboo, for 45 dollars at When I bought mine they did have cal king sets also, and as far as I could tell they were similarly priced. They are out of the bamboo right now, but they do have high count pima cotton, cotton/silk blends etc, some really nice sheets for fairly acceptable prices. (the only comparable set of sheets in a similar price range I could find elsewhere were 60% bamboo/40% cotton, 200 count and 80.00) For those of us in the sultry south, bamboo sheets are awesome, they breathe, they’re cool, comfortable, and get softer with use, just like linen.

  9. Mir, you know WAY too much about bedding in general, and comforters in particular. 😉

  10. hey, great site! thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge =) i have a question though….how do you keep the damn down comforter from sliding around inside the duvet cover?! i’m so tired of straightening it out every morning, noon and night. if i could just have one less thing to do everyday…

  11. Shannon, your question makes me think that either you have an inferior duvet inside that cover, or your duvet is the wrong size. I’ve never had that problem… in fact, my duvet is so fluffy and loathe to move, when I was the cover and put it back on, I literally crawl inside the cover with it to get it down to the far corners. Heh.

  12. This is to answer Shannon’s question. Sew ribbon to the inside corners of your cover and to the corners of your comforter and just tie them together 🙂

  13. thanks, both of you! you’re both right. though it is the right size, hmmm, not so fluffy. but it keeps me oh so toasty i think i’d roast if it was fluffier, so i may try the ribbon trick. thanks!

  14. I sure hope you have an idea. I bought the most beautiful comforter cover but it has a serious problem. It’s constantly sliding off the bed during the night. It’s really annoying to have to get up to retrieve the comforter repeatedly. Do you have a solution? I sincerely hope so!

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