Monday, January 30, 2006

Quality material, careful work produce linens that last for years

Question: What should consumers look for in linens?

Answer: It depends on what your priorities are. If you want new and different all the time and you're likely to switch out your bedspread or your sheets once a year, then you might not care that much about quality. If you like things that are classic and timeless -- and will last for years to come -- then you should look for the little details of quality construction.
If you look at a well-made quilt or sheet or even a pillow, you can see the little tiny tucks, the quality of the embroidery, the fine stitching that makes a big difference over time.

When you look at antique quilts, you'll see these details. They're the reason that the quilts are still around today. If you seek out quilts made today with that same attention to detail, then you're investing in something that you can hand down to your children.

There's now this big trend toward producing linens that have an upscale appearance but aren't upscale in terms of construction. You can tell the difference between a well-constructed sheet and pillow just by looking at the lace and embroidery, looking at the tucks and the stitching. Better pillows should be filled, at least partly, with feather or down, not just foam. You can wash a high-quality sheet over and over again and you'll still be using it in 35 years. Most sheets made today won't last nearly as long.

Click Here for the Full Article

Friday, January 27, 2006

Luxury Linens for the Masses

By: Kelli B. Grant

More and more consumers are saying "yes," as luxury bedding becomes a staple rather than a splurge in many households.

Over the past five years, consumers' obsession with bedding has shown no bounds. After taking a roll in high-end sheets (usually at hotels), they've decided this is something they need in their everyday lives, says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, which researches luxury consumer marketing.

Manufacturers have stepped up to the plate, offering high quality bedding at lower prices, says Dana Poor, a home-trend forecaster for Cotton Incorporated, a trade group. Martha Stewart started the trend with her bedding collection at Kmart, offering several price points with different thread counts. Suddenly, even the cost-conscious started to wonder if it was worth it to pay a little more for a slice of the good life.

Today, high-end bedding is the second-most commonly purchased luxury item, preceded only by electronics, according to Unity Marketing's 2005 Luxury Consumption Index. According to the firm, the average consumer spent a whopping $3,000 on luxury bedding during 2005. Of those consumers, 65% bought sheet and pillow sets, 40% bought comforters, bedspreads and throws, and 30% bought pillows and pillow accents.

Between the Sheets

If you're looking for truly luxurious sheets, expect to spend at least $500. Sheet sets from Frette, an Italian company that caters to aristocrats, luxury hotels and even the Vatican (it's rumored that they make the Pope's robes) regularly go for more than $1,000. And Poor warns that many of your local department store's heavily advertised specials say 1,000-thread-count sheets for $40 won't qualify as luxury. "There's no way anyone can produce a product for that cost that is quality," she says.

So how does one find sheets fit enough for society's most refined tastes? Here's what to look for:

Thread count
This popular buzzword is a measure of how many threads (horizontal and vertical) are in one square inch of the fabric. According to a 2005 survey by Cotton Incorporated, 34% of consumers cited thread count as the most important element influencing the sheets they bought.

Experts disagree on the lowest number acceptable as luxury, but generally the limit is 300. Thread count is "an ever-moving target," says Marcia Weiss, a visiting assistant professor at Philadelphia University's School of Engineering and Textiles, who notes that companies continue to debut higher counts. Nevertheless, the higher the thread count, the better the sheet.

But don't make this the sole factor you look for, says Poor. "Thread count is not necessarily a depiction of the quality of that product," she says. Even 1,000-thread-count sheets won't help if the quality of the fibers is inferior. Cramming in too many threads to boost thread count is a common trick, as is using bulky double-ply threads instead of single ply. The result: sheets that are lumpy, bumpy and rough. And clearly there's nothing luxurious about that.

Look for sheets that are 100% cotton, linen or silk. Polyester blends are not considered luxury, nor is flannel or jersey bedding. The best materials are Egyptian, Pima or Supima cotton, says Weiss. They're known to have long, fine fibers, which result in a softer, more luxurious feel.

You can also go the extra mile and check the staple or length of the fibers. This affects how strong and smooth the finished sheet will be. Check the package description for "long staple" or "extra long staple."

Fiber Spinning technique
Fibers may be combed or carded into thread, though combed is preferred, says Weiss. This information is often included on the package.

The two most popular weaves, or finishes, are sateen and percale. Sateens are woven so that more of the thread is exposed on the surface-face of the cloth, which gives it a softer feel. The soft drape hugs your skin. Percale, on the other hand, is a close weave that tends to be crisper and less apt to drape. (For a more detailed explanation of these terms, click here.)

Luxury bedding includes attention to details, says Weiss. This may include added touches like pleats or embroidery. "Check for loose threads and things not well-constructed," she advises. "You need to be the detective."

Your Own Luxury Linens
Look at labels all you want. Ultimately, what set you buy (and thus, how much you spend) will depend on these two personal preferences:

The term "hand" pretty much combines all of the attributes above. It indicates texture, fineness and durability, as well as how the sheet will drape. In short, it's a term for the feel of the sheet, and is the best indicator for how happy you'll be with this bedding wrapped around you, says Poor.

To get the best sense of hand, take the sheets out of the package while you're in the store. (Ignore angry looks from the sales clerks.) "You need to feel sheets before you buy them," says Poor. If you're doing your shopping online, try to find bedding you like in stores first, she recommends. Then bargain shop.

Sad but true: You can tell a high-quality sheet by its wrinkles the higher the thread count, the more it wrinkles, says Poor. Bedding with high thread counts can also be more difficult to care for there are often special washing instructions to keep the thin threads from breaking. So if you don't have time to iron your sheets (or someone to iron them for you), factor that into the bedding you select. In other words, if you're happy with the feel of 600-thread-count sheets, maybe you don't need to spend the extra money for the 800s.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Spacify Introduces Contemporary Bedroom Design Ideas and Designer Bathroom Furniture

Spacify, Inc. (, a leading provider of designer contemporary furniture on-line, announced today that it is launching a new line of designer bedroom and bathroom furniture that is in-stock, and can be shipped with short lead times. Along with the modern platform beds and bedroom suites, Spacify is also offering luxury bedding to complement the bedroom offerings.

There is also a brand new collection of designer bathroom cabinets, bathroom faucets and bathroom accessories that are in-stock, and ready to ship. These collections have been put together to provide the bedroom design ideas for designer bathrooms with an integrated look that complement each other nicely. Ample storage is provided in these bedroom suites and bathroom cabinets to provide clean, and elegant design.

"The consumer is very selective about the most private rooms of their home," commented Amita Sharma, founder and CEO of Spacify. "Customers prefer bedroom design ideas that blend the modern design of the bedroom suites, modern bedding, and bathroom cabinets for their taste," she added.

The Crono bedroom suite comes with elegant and simple lines, with maximum modularity of the components, mostly upholstered in leather & supported by stainless steel feet.

Click Here for More Information

Monday, January 23, 2006

Highlights from the Atlanta International Area Rug market:

Milliken made its largest ever debut of new product -- totaling more than 2,200 SKUs. At the forefront is the company's new Milliken Design Center of coordinating broadloom and area rugs, which come in eight sizes -- four rectangles, one round and three runners. Among the patterns are traditional looks, sport themes and animal skin patterns. All of these products are made of 100% nylon.

-- Veratex, barely two years into the rug business, introduced its first company-made line, comprising only product the company designed and developed in-house. There are about 60 new rugs, including 10 Soumaks, 10 wool-and-viscose blends, four tufted cottons, six printed acrylics, six tufted acrylics and eight indoor-outdoor, among several others. The company also showed 12 scatter collections in various constructions, including cotton chenilles and basic cotton. In April, Veratex will expand its scatter offerings.

Click Here for Full Article

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rest easy with high-quality sheets and quilts

Lynne Taylor

Position: Designer, Taylor Linens, Temecula, Calif.

Resume: Taylor began designing quilts 20 years ago. She later worked as a marketing representative for home furnishings manufacturers before opening Taylor Linens in 1998.

Quote: "When shopping for a quilt, pay attention to the small details that will tell you how it was made."

Q: What should consumers look for in linens?

A: It depends on what your priorities are. If you want new and different all the time and you're likely to switch out your bedspread or your sheets once a year, then you might not care that much about quality. If you like things that are classic and timeless -- and that will last for years to come -- then you should look for the little details of quality construction.

If you look at a well-made quilt or sheet or even a pillow, you can see the little tiny tucks, the quality of the embroidery, the fine stitching that makes a big difference over time.

Click Here for Full Interview

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Linens 'n Things deal gets U.S. antitrust approval

U.S. antitrust authorities said on Tuesday they approved plans by Linens 'n Things Inc. to be taken over by private equity firm Apollo Management L.P. and its affiliates.

Officials have completed their investigation of the $1.3 billion deal without taking action, the Federal Trade Commission said in a notice.

Linens 'n Things faces stiff competition from larger rival Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and discounters such as Target Corp. ), which have expanded home decor offerings.

Under the terms of the Apollo deal, financing is contingent upon Linens 'n Things reporting a fourth-quarter comparable sales decline of no more than 6 percent and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of not less than $140 million.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Get a Comfortable Sleep with Perfect Down Comforter

Choosing a comforter can be a chore.

So many options are out there and most are expensive, even at discount stores. People also use comforters differently. Many buy a purely decorative comforter, using it as a bedspread and layering blankets and sheets underneath. Others buy a down comforter and a duvet cover, so warm that no flat sheet or blanket is required.

A decorative comforter for an adult, usually filled with polyester, starts at more than $150 for a queen. A good-quality down or silk comforter costs at least $300. Plan on spending at least $100 more for a duvet cover.

Decorative comforters are best for kids' rooms, because they can be thrown into the washing machine a few times a month. Although they're less expensive, they wear faster. Their colors fade and they eventually show dirt, because their bulk makes them difficult to launder in the average machine.

But a down or silk comforter, with a duvet cover and proper maintenance, can last more than 20 years. Like quilts, they can become heirlooms. Before shopping, consider these aspects.

Click Here for Full Article

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dormia Mattresses Hires Connie Post Companies To Update Retail Concept

Following an extensive review process, Dormia Mattresses, a leading manufacturer and retailer of premium specialty sleep surfaces, has chosen the Connie Post Companies to recreate its growing, upscale, mall-based retail concept.

Specializing in premium visco-elastic foam and latex mattresses retailing from $1,000 to $7,000, Dormia is the retail arm of Jessup-MD-based manufacturer Classic Sleep Products. Conceived as a web-based business in the early '90s, Dormia's early growth mirrored that of the Internet and eventually led to the launch of dedicated retail stores. The firm currently operates 21 stores in as many states, as well as the District of Columbia, and plans to open nine more stores this year, with a national rollout to come.

The Connie Post Companies is a portfolio of businesses that comprise the leading design and strategic brand development firm in the home furnishings industry.

Click Here For Full Article

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thread Count 350, but Who's Counting?


Although you may have to squint to see the discreet signs, sales abound this month at these polite Old World emporiums, discounts of 25 percent and upward. Yes, expensive: at Porthault the most basic set of bed linen in queen size, a bottom and a top sheet and two shams, begins at around $800. But since statisticians estimate you will spend about 30 percent of your life in bed, why not?

Amortization is the guardian angel of luxury (as well as the first assistant of overspending denial, I suppose). For instance, consider the nice people who save all year so they can go away on those cruise ships with umpteen hundred people. A few thousand dollars later all they have is sunburn and "experience," and how good is this after that demon tailor called memory snips away? Instead, they could have bought soft, delicious bed linen at Porthault, and it would have lasted a lifetime. (Try not to use too much soap when washing.)

Click Here For Full Article

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Anna's Linens withdraws IPO Offering

Rapidly growing specialty retailer Anna's Linens has terminated its common stock offering.

The company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2005, and had planned to hold its initial public offering in the fall. The impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on some of Anna's Gulf Coast stores prompted the retailer to push back the IPO to first quarter 2006.

Linens sales fall, but beat buyout criteria

Linens'n Things Inc. on Friday said fourth-quarter sales fell at stores open at least a year, but the results still met the targets required to complete the $1.3 billion sale of the home decor retailer.

The company, which private equity firm Apollo Management L.P. and its affiliates are buying for $28 per share, said sales fell 2.2 percent at stores open at least a year -- a key retail measure known as same-store sales.

Under the Apollo deal, same-store sales could be down no more than 6 percent. Linens 'n Things also said it expected to far exceed its target of $140 million in full-year adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which was another condition of the sale.

Click Here for Full Article