European Style Comforters
Comforters, doonas, duvets and eiderdowns
The definition of a comforter varies depending on the country. In the US and Britain a comforter is generally a bed topper like our Australian doonas or continental quilts– a type of bedding made of two lengths of fabric or covering sewn together and filled with insulative materials for warmth, traditionally down or feathers, wool or cotton batting, silk, or polyester and other down alternative fibres. These type of comforters require an outer decorative cover that can be removed for laundering.
In Europe and Australia we associate comforters with the more traditional eiderdowns...confused yet? An eiderdown is all of the above -eg. filled with insulative fibres however the outer layer is generally quilted and decorative and can’t be removed like a doona cover. Eiderdowns (named after the eider down fill traditionally used) are thick and puffy with quilting that is both decorative and functional as the stitching keeps the fill in place and evenly distributed. Traditionally, in Europe they were filled with lots of feather ( plus a small percentage down) and were covered in a quilted satin or floral chintz.
Comforters are similar in size to a doona/duvet and are designed to drape over the bed without reaching the floor. The size will vary however generally comforters are rectangular in shape to accommodate different mattress widths. Wiidth is important than length when selecting a comforter as you’ll need to compare it with your mattress width - to check how much it will drape either side of the bed. If the fabric is plain it will not be an issue however if it’s a directional pattern then it cant be turned ( most comforters a rectangular ) For a generous look and feel it’s best to have at least a 20cm drop either side of the mattress. Comforters can range in size from 210- 260cm in width and at least 200 - 220cm in length
Comforters and fabrics
In Australia our comforters are more in line with the European style decorative eiderdown.They can be filled with microfibre or a down/feather mix and are used for additional warmth and style. Today comforters have moved on from satin and floral chintz to an array of fabrics including cotton, linen and luxe velvets in patterns or plains.
Cotton floral comforters have a romantic charm and are suited to interior decorator styles such as Grand Millenial or Empire Revival, commonly referred to as granny chic. Think English stately homes or country cottages. Loose relaxed styling with cushions in plains or coordinated florals will create an inviting space with a vintage feel.
Luxurious velvet comforters will add a luminous quality to a bedroom space as they are reflective and ever changing with the fluctuations of light. If you’re a luxe lover then soft textural fabric comforters are the perfect addition. There are many different types of velvet and it’s very budget dependent - silk velvet for pure opulence or cotton velvet for a similar look without the price tag. Maison by Linensmith, our range of European style comforters are a luminous pure silk velvet and lined with natural linen.
Comforters are sold as an individual, one off product while others may include matching pillow shams to complete the look.
Styling with European comforters
If you love a layered look and a bed that’s cosy and inviting you’ll love European style comforters - they have a cocoon quality that makes them so very enticing.
There are no hard and fast rules for styling with a European style comforter- it’s all a matter of personal taste. Layering and styling your bedding is also very seasonal dependent.
In the warmer months natural lightweight fibres are best. Start with your favourite sheets (pure Egyptian cotton percale is best for wicking away moisture) then consider a light cotton waffle weave blanket tucked in or relaxed depending on your preference. Finally fold your comforter over in half or thirds for more height and lay over the top of the bed either at the foot or at the sheet return near pillows. The extra volume of the comforter will add interest, depth and will break up the expanse of the bed body.
Cooler months is when the comforter really comes to life, earning it’s space on the bed. Winter is all about cosy layers so consider starting with a quality flannelette sheet- the Portuguese are famous for their brushed cotton (flannelette) and investing in quality means they will last- the old rule about “buy cheap buy twice” is very apt due to the long hours we spend in bed. Next layer with a cosy woollen blanket either traditionally tucked in or loose. Finally top with your comforter laying it out across the bed and turned back near the pillows to reveal the textures of the sheets and blankets and also the reverse of the comforter with your favourite sheets (pure Egyptian cotton percale is best for wicking away moisture) then consider a light cotton waffle weave blanket tucked in or relaxed depending on your preference. Finally fold your comforter over in half or thirds for more height and lay over the top of the bed either at the foot or at the sheet return near pillows. The extra volume of the comforter will add interest and depth and will break up the expanse of the bed body.