How To Dress The Bed: John Robshaw v. Barbara Barry

With his riot of global-inspired patterns, John Robshaw is the king of undone bohemian bedding. And with her pristine line of luxe neutral elements for the bed, Barbara Barry is the queen of refined elegance. So who better to weigh in on the seemingly straightforward, though incredibly multifaceted discussion of how to properly dress the bed than these two talents? We invited the pair to go head-to-head on the most pressing of bedding issues, and shopped for the best quilts, linens, sheets and more (see our slideshow below) based on their expert insights.


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A duvet is more of a formal setup on the bed, more adult. Mothers buy duvets for their daughters. Quilts and blankets feel more hippy, more messy, more random, more thrown together. And I like the chaos of that. Duvet all the way! I prefer a duvet because it is 100% natural. And because you can order it just the way you want it--light and fluffy, but still warm. A really fine duvet is the ultimate possession.
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For me, the perfect number of pillows on a bed is six or seven. You might have to move them over, but then again, it's like companionship! I start small in the front and work backwards, with a variety of sizes. I like to do it differently with different patterns. If the bed ensemble is all white, then I generally stack them. But if the Euro sham is a different pattern, then I like to see it at the back, and so I'll stand them up and put two layers of queen pillows in front of them. I use neckrolls too, which I tuck in the middle between the two Euros.
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We use really nice Egyptian cotton for our sheets that's woven in India that's 300-threadcount percale, because the higher threadcounts--the 600, the 800--can be dense, and don't breathe so well. My preference is in the 400-range on percale because I like a crisp sheet that stays cool. Above that it doesn't really matter to me.
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I didn't used-to understand bedskirts, I thought it was a "country inn" sort of thing, but I get them now: I think they tailor the bed. I would keep it basic, and if you have this big quilt or duvet flowing over the bed, then it's a nice backdrop. I am for bedskirts, unless you have a finished leg that you want to show. As a furniture designer I design beds that are up on wooden feet so that there is airflow under the bed and a more clean and contemporary look.
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Bolsters are underrated--they're comfortable and great for reading. It's more of a Persian vibe: you can use them like you would a floor cushion--throw it on the ground, or lean it up against the wall. The layering piece--which goes on top of the flat sheet, or even the fitted sheet, and underneath the duvet. The layering piece can add color to the bed without it having to be in the sheeting. It can be silky and sexy like our Glamour Quilt, or more homespun and cotton like our Dream Silk Coverlet.
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