How to spring-clean your bed into a lavish retreat

The master bedroom is my favorite room in the chome.

Many days, the best moment is the one I slip into bed next to my sweetheart.

I’m in bed at least eight hours a night, so I’ve invested in a good experience: the perfect mattress, luxury sheets and pillows designed for my sleeping style (side and back). When I finally crawl into bed, I relish in the comfort.

If you’re spring cleaning, sprucing up your bed should be on your to-do list. Begin by stripping the bed and washing every last linen: mattress pad, sheets, pillowcases, blankets and throws. If you have the sort of mattress that should be flipped and turned, do it now.

If you’re a Southerner, you might iron those sheets before returning them to use. A couple of years ago as I was flipping through an issue of Southern Living, I ran across tips for making the perfect bed and one of them was “Iron the sheets. Whether you send them out to be pressed or do it yourself with plenty of starch, ironed sheets add a polished touch.”

Send them out to be pressed?! When did Southerners start living on another planet? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Southerners for knowing how to make fried chicken and a mean barbecue, but this is where we practical Midwesterners draw line between us and those slow-talking Southerners with the impeccable hospitality. I might be exaggerating, but Minnesotans don’t write letters to lifestyle magazines asking how to fold fitted sheets. We wad them up and stuff them in the linen closet and call it good. (Phoebe Howard, the southern etiquette master answering the magazine’s plaintive letters at the time, added that she likes Washed Cotton Linen Water. What?! Tide. Tide is good. What is linen water?)

For me, the “polished touch” on the bed is clean sheets, not ironed ones. But you do you. If ironing is your jam, have at it.

Fitted sheet on the bottom, two sheets on top.

When you’re ready to reassemble your nest, one of my secrets for transforming a bed into a sanctuary is two top sheets. This adds a lot more value than a good ironing, in my opinion. A second top sheet is a cheap and easy way to improve your sleeping environment.

A representative for Westin Hotels & Resorts suggested this fix in an issue of O Magazine that I read seven years ago, and at first, I was skeptical. But I swear by it now. Lo and behold, a second sheet adds a bit of luxury, a little comforting weight and greater temperature control (which is paramount if you’re menopausal).

Small things matter as evidenced by daily flossing and freshly ground pepper, also both worth the trouble.

I share one warning, however: take care when climbing into bed, or you might find yourself between top sheets. If your sleeping partner is lying between the correct layers, you won’t get the benefit of skin-to-skin contact (but your partner might get a giggle at your expense).

Earlier this week on laundry day, I drafted my father into helping make my bed, and he said he liked the idea enough to try two top sheets, too (see, you can teach an old dog new tricks). Try it. You might like it, too.

Peace begins with a smile

Chatting with a friend the other day about 2020, she said, “It was a complete waste for me. I accomplished nothing.”

I pressed her on this pessimism, and she managed to find a few flecks of gold in the mining pan, but for many of us, 2020 was an outlier, and we’re all glad it’s in the rearview mirror. As an introvert who already worked at home and didn’t get sick, I found the year of the corona virus to be simply weird, not terrible. But I personally know two people who died of COVID-19, and I’m just as tired as anyone of wearing a mask and socially distancing. Goodbye, 2020, you won’t be missed.

I updated my beautiful church sign when the ground was still green, not white, but who couldn’t use flowers in the wintertime, right? And the message applies to a new year. If we’re still lamenting the awfulness of 2020, maybe the arbitrary turn of the calendar page might help put it behind us. And if we’re worrying about what 2021 might bringpolitical chaos, vaccine delays, inconveniences, sickness, deathwell, that’s wasted time already.

Better to live each day as it comes. Did you enjoy sleeping in, tucked in warm pillows and blankets? Is the sun shining? Do you have the extra time to remove the seeds from a fresh and juicy pomegranate? Can you appreciate the function of your legs, however fat and hairy they may be? (“I cried because I had no shoes,” said Helen Keller, “until I met the man who had no feet.”) If all the restaurants are closed, make a pot of soup. If you can’t have a party, write a letter. If you can’t go on vacation, read a book. Fill your lungs with crisp fresh air. Home is a sanctuary; savor it.

Living mindfully in the present. These are the acts that give me peace. And that’s what I’m wishing for you, too, in the new year.

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The quote that forms today’s headline is attributed to Mother Teresa, a nun and missionary who devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor.