Getting Social with Your Decorating: Pinterest, Houzz, and Polyvore

The Internet is an exciting place these days for decorators.  Here are three of our favorite ways to help you find products, organize them, and get inspired. is like a virtual bulletin board; we use it often for decorating or party planning. You can pin photos from almost any website, comment on them, and share them with friends. You can also allow others to join in, so you can help your sister design her wedding reception even if you live across the country.
Read more

Expert Tip: How to Decorate Using Mirrors as Windows

We love this expert tip from interior designer Susan Ferrier of McAlpine, Booth, & Ferrier via House Beautiful:

“Mirrors are one of my favorite objects for giving a room character.  A large-scale mirror creates a generous window.  Don’t be afraid to stretch the idea of it.  Lean it against the wall.  Distress and age the glass to create a textured atmosphere.  Have the audacity to cover some of the mirror with a suspended piece of art or an architectural fragment: it will compel you to stop and take notice.”

Read more

Everyone’s Using Polyvore to Create Inspiration Boards!

We love creating inspiration boards in the office, so we’ve signed up for a free account at Polyvore and we are completely hooked! Polyvore allows you to create sets using a virtual styling tool and any images you’d like to use.  You can use it to plan out rooms, put together outfits, and even test out party-planning ideas.  How cool is that?
Read more

Five Easy Steps for Outdoor Entertaining with Gracious Style

It’s the perfect time of year for outdoor dining and entertaining.  Here are five tips for making the most of your outdoor living spaces. Read more

How to Select the Perfect Down Comforter

Ever wonder why a down blanket or comforter is so warm and comfy on a cold winter night?  It’s because they’re made from one of nature’s best insulating materials.  Tucked safely under the long feathers of ducks and geese, down is actually many soft, fluffy plumules which connect with each other through thousands of strands of fiber.  As these plumules connect with each other, they create little pockets of warm air which provide an incredible amount of insulation without a lot of weight.  That’s why down blankets and comforters are so warm, light, and comfortable — perfect for curling up on a long winter night.

If you’re thinking about a down comforter this winter, here are some tips on how to choose the right one.

Weight and Fill Power

First, check the weight and fill power.  You’ll see a lot of products advertised with so many ounces of down, but fill power is just as important.  Fill power is the number of cubic inches that an ounce of down takes up.  The more space the down clusters fill, the higher the fill power, and hence less material (and weight) required to provide the same warmth.  For example, a duvet cover with 30 oz of down at a fill power of 700 has the same amount of warmth as another one with 50 oz of down but a fill power of just 575, but the first duvet cover will feel lighter.

Our Himalaya Siberian Down 800 Fill Power Duvet Cover has between 27 oz (twin) and 43 oz (oversized king) of 800 fill power Siberian goose down, giving it the maximum amount of insulating warmth:

Himalaya Siberian Down 800 Fill Power Duvet Cover

Himalaya Siberian Down 800 Fill Power Duvet Cover

Slightly lower in fill power, but still very warm, is the Bernina 650 Fill Power Hungarian Goose Down Duvet Cover:

A good year-round choice with 600 fill power white goose down is the Cascada Summit 600 Fill Power White Goose Down Duvet Cover:

Fabric Shell Material and Thread Count

The next thing to check is the material and thread count of the fabric shell of the duvet cover, pillow, or bedding.  Like any bedding item, both thread count and material are important, because they determine how the item feels against you.  (Since we spend–or should spend–a third of our lives sleeping, why not get the best possible?)

For down items, though, the fabric shell has another importance: this is what keeps the down inside and potential allergens, dust, and bacteria out.  A higher thread count fabric shell will protect your down better and keep it cleaner.  Therefore, we’d recommend a 300 thread count, pure 100% cotton fabric shell for your down duvet covers and bedding.

Construction of the Duvet Cover

Have you ever noticed how some duvet covers, like the ones above, have boxes or baffles?  Here’s a close up of the Sferra Cardigan Down Duvets to show you what I mean:

Sferra Cardigan Down Duvet

Sferra Cardigan Down Duvet

These baffle boxes actually have an important job: In addition to giving the duvet a puffy checkered quilting, they help keep the down remain evenly distributed throughout the duvet cover.  Otherwise, the down feathers may fall to the bottom or sides of the duvet, leaving the center cold and empty.

A Great Down Alternative

If you’re allergic to down, here’s a great alternative that’s a great value as well.  Made from DuPont Comforel, a synthetic material designed to imitate the clusters of natural down, and a 280 thread 100% cotton shell with baffle boxes, the Sierra Down Alternative Duvet Cover has many of the great features of our down duvet covers.  It’s hypo-allergenic, and the price, starting at $140 for a twin duvet cover, makes it a great value as well:

We hope you keep warm this holiday season!

Gracious Style is an online retailer of sophisticated, high-quality products for every room in the house.  We love helping others create warm and welcoming rooms for themselves.  To read more, visit our blog.