Cush factor

On the list of life's simple pleasures, a good night's sleep should be right at the top.

A relaxing place to land after a long day, a well-appointed bedroom should be cool in summer and warm in winter. Just as the leaves turn color and evening breezes shift from warm to frigid, it's time to plan for a comfortable retreat over the long, harsh winter.

When it comes to the business of comfort, bed-and-breakfast operators and innkeepers probably know more about the topic than most.

TouVelle House Bed & Breakfast host Tim Balfour and Vikki Maddock at nearby Bybee's Historic Inn offer some advice for providing family members — or guests — with comfortable bedding this season.

First and foremost, Balfour says, a good foundation is key.

Quilted or foam pads offer "feather-bed" comfort and protect mattresses at the same time, he says.

"We top the mattresses with a feather bed, which makes them very comfortable, and we also use highly padded mattress covers," Balfour says.

"It gives them a kind of feather-bed cush factor. They look like pillow beds. They're just very puffy without anything even on them. You add bedding and a down comforter, and our guests have said they look like a cloud they can't wait to fall into."

For sheets, Balfour says TouVelle House opts for quality sheets that serve both warm and cool seasons.

"We don't do a lot of changes for the winter season. We use a relatively high thread count of Egyptian cotton, and we triple-sheet our beds. We used to do flannel, but these cotton sheets have a softness and silkiness to them.

"In the summer, they're nice because they help you keep cooler, and in winter they actually keep you warmer. We've done away with comforter covers and bedspreads. It's cleaner, and it's also very comfortable and soft."

To triple-sheet, Balfour says, put a fitted sheet and flat sheet on the bed, cover with a comforter, than another sheet.

Finding quality Egyptian cotton, 500-thread count or higher, is more crucial than brand names.

For blankets or comforters, Maddock says, Bybee's likes Dralon blankets (made by ADFA Blanket Co.).

"Dralon blankets aren't heavy, but they're very warm and a nice weight," Maddock says. "They're great with a fluffy comforter on top."

When it comes to blankets, some of the newer brand favorites for winter offer the feel of fleece.

Jennifer Streit, owner of the Prize Fancy Goods & Fine Furnishings shop in Ashland, suggests a cotton-rayon blend David Fussenegger blanket.

"They're very high-quality but also washable, and they come in beautiful colors," Streit says.

For a more traditional look, hand-blocked quilts by John Robshaw are a big draw for customers.

"They add warmth and color for winter, and you can put them on the bed or even at the end of the bed as a throw," she adds.

To make the mood of the room match the season, Balfour says color changes are a good idea. When winter comes, darker colors tend to warm up a chilly space, he says. Quilts can add a vintage look while warm, rich colors create a relaxing, inviting atmosphere.

For good measure, extra blankets are always a plus, even on a reading chair. Comfortable and washable are key characteristics.

"With blankets and sheets, it's always nice to line-dry whenever possible," Maddock says. "It makes everything very comfortable and fresh-smelling, so you'll want to just fall into the covers."

For added niceties, consider Egyptian cotton robes and oversized bath "blankets." And fragrance, if done right, is a great addition. Use candles or oils in winter-appropriate smells but avoid overbearing floral scents.

"Fragrance is something people really pay attention to," Balfour says. "We don't use them in guest rooms, but private homes would probably be more ideal. And when we burn candles, we use something that goes with the time of year.

"Moving into fall, we go for MacIntosh apple scent or any fall or winter favorites like harvest smells or evergreen. It's just a nice touch that makes a room more inviting and comfortable."

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