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What Is a Coverlet? (Coverlets vs. Quilts)

Coverlets, bedspreads, duvets, quilts, blankets, throw blankets, comforters – the list of bedding terms goes on, and it can all get really confusing, especially since these are all terms that most people don’t use on a daily basis. Here at Living Spaces, though, we’re not most people; we do talk about (and read about, and write about) bedding on a daily basis – for no other reason than that we love it! So, if you’re not exactly sure just what to call that thing you place on top of your bed, keep reading, because we do (and we’re laying it all out in the open right here).

What Is a Coverlet?

A coverlet is a catch-all term for a mid-size blanket. By mid-size, we mean large enough to cover an entire bed, but small enough that it doesn’t reach the floor. Coverlets are often used in more casual bedroom settings, whereas bedspreads (longer blankets – more on them in a second) are the preferred choice for more traditional spaces. With a coverlet spread on top of a bed, the bed’s feet or legs will still show; for this reason, many people choose to pair a coverlet with a bed skirt or dust ruffle, if the bed frame is a basic metal frame (and not designed to be shown).

Coverlets are great for layering, since they’re of versatile size. Try layering one over a traditional bedspread (as you would a throw blanket) – and on top of the coverlet, layer a throw blanket.

The more layers you have on a made bed, the more options you have for displaying different pops of colors and textures to create a cozy feel. Of course, you don’t have to layer at all, and a coverlet on its own, even without a bed skirt, makes for a simple bed aesthetic (and one that’s a whole lot more easy to make in the mornings).

Coverlets vs. Quilts

The difference between a coverlet and a quilt is that quilts can come in larger sizes, grazing the floor when spread evenly over a bed, while coverlets fall around where the bed frame begins. Quilts, though, can also come in smaller sizes and even hang at the same length or shorter than coverlets (which is part of the reason why the vocabulary around bedding is so confusing)!

What Is a Bedspread?

Like coverlet, bedspread is a loose term that can mean a few different types of blankets. Generally, bedspread is regarded as any blanket used as the top and largest layer over a mattress. While comforters have more insulation (they’re puffier and bigger), bedspreads resemble thinner, denser bedding.

How to Layer a Bed with a Coverlet

  • Never dress a “naked”’ mattress. The mattress should be fitted with a mattress protector, fitted sheet and top sheet before you begin layering the bedding.
  • Over the top bed sheet, smooth a coverlet. Position it evenly so that all sides hang at the same length around the bed.
  • For a tailored look, fold the top sheet partly over the coverlet at the head of the bed. You can make this line of sheet as thick or as thin as you’d like.
  • If you prefer a higher bedding look, you can add another layer between the coverlet and top sheet; try an old comforter or large blanket to act as a buffer. Since it won’t show (the coverlet will cover it), look and style doesn’t matter.
  • Match your pillow shams to your coverlets. Since most coverlets come with matching pillow shams anyway, this will be the easiest step – all you’ll have to do is throw on the pillows and call it a made bed!

Coverlets vs. Duvets

In comparison to coverlets, duvets are much thicker pieces of bedding. Many people choose to use duvets in the colder seasons and coverlets in the warmer seasons. Still others choose not to sleep under their bedding at all, preferring pieces like coverlets and duvets to be used for daytime style only (and taking them off the bed altogether at night). Use a coverlet or duvet only for the daytime to keep it lasting longer – you won’t have to worry about washing it regularly and wearing it out.

While we mentioned that coverlets are for thinner bedding and comforters and duvets are for thicker, remember that you can mix and layer. Try a coverlet over a comforter or duvet for an extra layer of coziness.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.