What Exactly is a Coverlet? And How is it Different from Other Bedding?

published Feb 5, 2018
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(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

When it comes time to choose bedding for your home, you’ll find plenty of options. From solids to prints, synthetics to natural materials, designer brands to bed-in-a-bag sets — but before you make any of those decisions, you must first figure out which type of bedding you want. And this is where we delve into one of life’s little mysteries: the difference between coverlets and other kinds of bedding.

What are the main types of bedding?

When you’re strolling the bedding aisle at Target or your other favorite home goods store you may feel inundated by the selection of comforters, quilts, duvets and duvet covers, throw blankets, and coverlets.

What is a coverlet used for?

Well, technically, a coverlet is a bedspread in the sense that “bedspread” is an, ahem, blanket term for covers used to top a bed. In fact, coverlet quite literally means bed cover — it is derived from the Old French word covrir, meaning “to cover,” and lit, meaning “bed.”

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

What are some characteristics of coverlets?

Since coverlets are inherently lightweight, they are often used as a decorative layer to accompany other bedding or replace thicker bedding like comforters during warm weather months. They are typically non-reversible, and they only extend to the top of your bedskirt.

When is a coverlet an ideal choice?

“A coverlet only goes to the top of your bed skirt,” designer Annie Selke told Elle. “It’s a better choice for a modern space. And while a more traditional bedroom might have a dust ruffle to match, in a modern bedroom with a coverlet, you might find a flat tailored bedskirt that doesn’t draw the eye.”

Why do coverlets have such enduring appeal?

In addition to all of the aforementioned virtues, coverlets suit a wide variety of needs. Emphasizes designer Caitlin Murray, “A coverlet is something you can use in a lot of different ways as an extension to your bed.” This includes as a stand-alone bed cover, a throw blanket, a decorative end-of-bed accent, and more.