I find that shopping for bedding is as daunting as shopping for a bathing suit or a great pair of jeans. It’s the most personal space in your house, so you want your bedding to really reflect who you are, right? Well, the retail bedding industry doesn’t treat you like that. It gives you pre-packaged sets, tightly folded and wrapped in plastic, that you can’t touch until you get home. God forbid you want to mix a solid-color fitted sheet with a patterned flat sheet on top, unless you want to buy two full sets of sheets!
And Lord help you if you have any questions. You think the clerks at Macy’s or Bed Bath & Beyond know percale from sateen? Please.
Now that I’m on a role, here’s another beef: you know how designers can go into a fabric showroom and choose custom fabrics for a client’s sofa or drapery? Where are the custom choices for sheets? Huh?
I can tell you. They are at Valerianne, the bedding and bath boutique in Vienna, where proprietress Aimee Wedlake Lange and Trish Murphy know their way around a bed (so to speak), and can help designers (and the rest of us) craft an ensemble that no one else will have.
As you can see here, nothing is wrapped in plastic. You can pick up the sheets, feel them, hold one color up against another pattern—whatever you like.
Here are some sample books of “quiltinos”—coverlets that aren’t quite as thick as quilts, and you can order them in different colors of sheeting, and even choose the color of the thread that defines the patterns!
I’m not usually given to the excessive use of the exclamation point, but perhaps it’s because I feel like such a stooge when it comes to shopping for sheets in the retail envinronment—it’s like, “you can choose from our five matchy sets, or go home.”
So, most of us go home. “A lot of times the bed doesn’t get finished; the whole room is finished, but not the bed,” Aimee says. Now, finally, there’s a way to come up with a look that is custom as your wallpaper and window treatments.
Aimee and Trish order from many different companies, and can then coordinate different products into custom combinations, such as these:
One of my favorite lines there is the John Robshaw collection, which (of course) they’ve mixed in with other textures and brands:
Unlike the other stores, Aimee says, “nothing is too matchy” — they make sure of that, which is probably why they are serving a steadily growing clientele of designers who are shopping for unique bedding for their clients. And while you’re there, you can also get gorgeous throws:
Here’s a detail of the throw on the left, with the contours knitted into this amazingly soft alpaca:
You can also get the most beautiful bath products—the kinds you almost don’t want to use, they are so pretty:
One of their suppliers collects the scraps from the weaving process to make these fun dryer balls — you toss them in the dryer, and they become a chemical-free fabric softener, and they are also said to reduce drying times.
I hope anyone who’s frustrated with the whole sheet-and-comforter buying process will make the trip to Vienna’s charming downtown and visit Trish and Aimee. It’s such a great escape from those mall shelves stocked with the plastic packages.