Bedspreads ruled in my childhood years.

I was never actually allowed to use them of course. Bedspread edicts in my home included “don’t sit on the bed” and “turn your bed down neatly” and the most frequent “make your bed.”

But every few years my mom would allow me to pick a new bedspread, usually some ruffled affair with seams that guided you on the bed-making process so that you never had one side longer than the other.

Today bedspreads, like house coats and phone books, are extinct. Home decor stores stock comforters, duvet covers and matelesse coverlets. But bedspreads are rarely seen. Why? Perhaps for the very reason that the bedspread rules were so irritating to me as a child.  Namely, what is the purpose of a bed covering if you are never allowed to touch it? And even if you could touch it, most spreads were scratchy, ruffled and decidedly uncomfortable.

Consumers, fed on a huge dose of advertising and social media images that portray the bed as part family lounging station and part hedonistic retreat, want comfort and a luxurious tactile experience in bedding.

Bedspreads are extinct in part because consumers demand Netflix-binge-in- bed all day comfort.

What are the primary coverlets that have replaced the bedspread? And which will work best for your life? We explain all.


A comforter is a giant puffy topper for your bed. Some comforters are decorative while others are basic white and need a duvet. Cremieux Cotton Denim Comforter, $119 to $179 at Dillard’s.

Puffy and cloud like, a comforter is a hybrid between a blanket and a sleeping bag. Filled with down, fiber fill or a mixture, a comforter is puffy, warm and versatile.  (The downside to a comforter is the bulk that keeps you warm is also hard to stuff in a washing machine.)

While some comforters are plain white or cream, others are patterned. If you opt for a plain comforter, you’ll need to invest in our next bedspread replacement, the duvet.

A duvet is a giant cloth envelope that you slide your comforter into. Why a duvet (unless your planning on mailing it with a giant stamp)? Down comforters are usually sold in solid white. Not only is is boring design wise, a feather filled comforter is difficult to wash. A duvet allows you to update your decor easily and serves a protection for the comforter.

The downside to a duvet? The comforter often shifts inside the duvet and will  have to be repositioned so that you don’t end up with a bed that looks like someone is hiding a body in the lumpy duvet.

A duvet is a sort of coverlet for your comforter. They add style and provide protection to your bedding. Southern Living Heirloom Linen Duvet, $199.99 to $229.99 at Dillard’s.

The closest cousin to a bedspread, a coverlet is basically a medium weight blanket that is large enough to cover the top and sides (to about mid mattress) of the bed.

The word matelasse means padded in French and a matelasse coverlet is usually a medium weight coverlet with decorative quilting. Southern Living Matelasse Euro Sham, $39.99 at Dillard’s.

A coverlet is a great option in the summer, when a comforter is too heavy. It is also a design favorite for creating a layered looking bed, using the coverlet on the top of the bed with a comforter folded at the end of the bed.

One of the most popular styles of coverlet is called matelasse. Originally from France (the word matelasse means padded) the coverlet is a thick blanket made of wool, silk or cotton with a raised quilted pattern.

Many coverlets and matelasse are machine washable and fairly inexpensive making them great options for easy bedding that is easy to maintain.