Bed is the ultimate sanctuary for LIZ JONES, whose favourite hobby is swooning over silk pillowcases and luxury linens
- Columnist Liz Jones says she has a bedspread wish list on the John Lewis website
- She recommends brands like The White Company, Cologne & Cotton and Ikea
- Liz says linen sheets don’t need ironing and are cool in summer, warm in winter
- READ MORE: Liz Jones’s Diary: In which an admirer angles for a visit
I have a wish list on the John Lewis website. I visit it often. Two square pillows. Two square pillow protectors. The Ultimate Collection 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton bedlinen for that ‘hotel look at home’: a grand total of £600.
A king-size Vispring bed, £4,429: it’s like sleeping on a cloud, apparently. I’ve just added a mattress topper. Then I think, hmm, a lot of ironing, plus my dogs sleep on my bed, currently sheathed in White Company linen, so I moon over my wish list at Piglet in Bed.
One hundred per cent linen (see main picture), made from stonewashed French flax, in muted colours – raspberry, forest, oatmeal – for a more relaxed feel, as linen doesn’t need ironing. It’s cool in summer, warm in winter. From about £300 for a bundle but will last a lifetime.
Next I head over to Cologne & Cotton and select a candy-stripe set in sunny yellow. Two silk pillowcases, made from Mulberry silk in 22 momme (600 thread count), keep skin and hair smooth, at only £50 each. Cheaper than RéVive unguents, surely. And what’s this? A super-king pillow! I need two of those! Why have I never owned a super-king pillow? How have I even managed to sleep?
One hundred per cent linen (pictured), made from stonewashed French flax, in muted colours – raspberry, forest, oatmeal – for a more relaxed feel, as linen doesn’t need ironing. It’s cool in summer, warm in winter. From about £300 for a bundle but will last a lifetime
The bed has become a temple to the sort of crazy shopping once reserved only for our bodies, living rooms, kitchens and tables. There are thousands of bedscaping-obsessed posts on Instagram: I follow @michelle_baskinteriors for tips on how to make a bed: you have to karate chop the top of each pillow (mantra: never too many) for that all-important five-star dent. The ultimate must-have these days is no longer a larder: it’s a top-drawer linen closet.
I spent my childhood in a narrow single bed with its solitary pillow as flat as a pancake, nondescript poly sheets, a cream blanket with blue edging that was felty and scratchy, and an orange candlewick bedspread that had gone bald, offering no warmth at all.
There was no bedside table, no lamp: to achieve darkness having tried and failed to read a book (it was too cold to have a hand outside the covers for long), I had to get up to switch off the overhead light, then feel my way back to my bed, as narrow and unwelcoming as a coffin, banging my shins along the way.
I shared a bedroom with two sisters, and as soon as the light went out, I would be gripped by terror. ‘What can I think about?’ I would ask the eldest one. ‘Um, ponies?’ I couldn’t wait till morning, when my mum would heave into view like Mrs Overall with a mug of instant coffee and switch on a two-bar electric fire, an act performed in great secrecy from ‘Daddy’, who worried about bills.
My mum had eight beds (I am one of seven) to change every Monday: she would wash the bottom sheet and transfer the top sheet to the bottom. She had a tub and a mangle and come Monday night she would resemble someone who had been lost at sea. For her, our beds were tyrants.
Today? I love my bed. I love it so much, I can’t stand it whenever a man comes to stay, as he always rumples it, clamping the duvet between his thighs as he is ‘too hot’. He never appreciates the Himalayan range of cushions that must be removed before entering.
He rolls his eyes at the Melin Tregwynt Welsh blanket, its label giving the names of every person who made it, which covers the foot of the bed in winter, to be replaced in summer by a cotton lace quilt, handmade by my great aunt Nel at the end of the First World War.
The lace once covered my parents’ bed, which reminds me that beds can become horrors: my mum was confined to a hospital cot for a decade. That was no longer a bed: it was a prison.
I have a glorious bedhead which has moved with me from house to house, custom made by Bill Amberg at great expense. It still bears the wounds inflicted on it by Squeaky, my long-dead cat, who liked to use it as a scratching post before burrowing under the duvet. It’s tragic, now my cats have all died, not to creep upstairs to be greeted by softly breathing humps.
Men never know how to make a bed properly. I always do it in the manner of the housekeepers at Claridge’s: the Oxford pillow openings must meet at the centre. I learnt to make hospital corners from my sisters, who grew up to become nurses. My bed fetish is almost as bad as that of the Duchess of Windsor, who was disposed to take an afternoon nap, after which her maids removed the linen to press it.
I wish I’d had a cosy, safe haven as a child. A lamp. Warmth. I wouldn’t have felt so scared all the time. These days, I can’t wait to go to bed: it’s my raft in turbulent seas. I watch films, read books in bed with an intimacy you just don’t get in a sitting room. No one can hurt me here.
I know Gracie my elderly collie dog feels the same. I hoist her rump onto her pillow, lined as it is these days with nappies, scented with lavender Deep Sleep pillow spray, and as she circles to make a nest, finally settling down in a comma, she groans with pleasure at the snuggliness of it all. Sweet dreams, my darling. Sleep tight.
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