A Cozy Bed For Cold And Hot Sleepers—We Review Boll & Branch
My husband Aaron and I are not what you might call fully compatible sleepers. Just about every element of a sleep profile shows us on opposite ends of the spectrum: from quantity of pillows to weight of blankets, from number of hours needed per night to body temperature, we are proof that opposites attract. So our bed is a bit of a disaster. We sleep in what I call Bedding Bonanza, which is a huge pile of mismatched blankets, quilts, and pillows, all covered with a top blanket to protect everything from our cat’s litter paws and our dog’s, well, just our dog. It’s not much to look at, but it’s functional, and we have been making this work for nearly ten years.
But it lightly bums me out that our bed, which is the first thing you see at the second floor landing, is a bit of an eyesore. So I absolutely leapt at the chance to build a beautiful, cohesive bed that could, if not completely solve all of our sleep differences, at least accommodate both of our sleep temperatures.
“Boll & Branch is the first 100% organic Fair Trade certified bedding company ever.”
Boll & Branch has been on my radar for years with their reputation for 100% organic cotton– in fact, the brand is the first 100% organic Fair Trade certified bedding company ever. Founders Missy and Scott Tannen so deeply believed in their goal to raise the standards of conventional textile industry practices that they self-funded their venture when they founded the brand in 2014. Starting with directly sourcing the highest quality raw materials they could find, they established an end-to-end system that guaranteed not only the best materials but also that only ethically treated adults were making their products. All of the products made by Boll & Branch are also completely nontoxic, which has become increasingly important to us since having our daughter a few years ago.
So here’s how we built the coziest bed of our dreams—one that fits both a hot sleeper and a cold sleeper—with Boll & Branch. TL;DR: Layering up is key, but the quality of the fabrics is even more important. Here’s what we found to streamline our bedding into a gorgeous, cozy island that is very hard to leave in the mornings.
Signature Hemmed Sheet Set | $229+
Full disclosure: I wanted the percale sheets. As a cocooner who also likes to wear a full set of jammies in bed, I get extremely annoyed if I can’t toss and turn without getting twisted and tangled up in the sheets. For this reason, I am drawn to fabrics that are smooth and a little structured, nixing jersey or flannel-like materials that will turn my cute little cocoon into an annoying spider’s web.
Percale, described as a “crisp button down shirt” appeals to me not only for the texture but also because it stays cool to the touch, which is great for the three nights a year that my hot potato spouse actually sleeps under the covers. But it came down to the colors, and in the end, we decided to try the Signature Sheets.
I was pleased to find that they are pretty crisp themselves! Described on the website as “buttery and soft,” I’d worried I’d be ending up with a fancy t-shirt material, but they are cool and just a touch satin-y without being silky (which is a hard pass from me). We chose “mineral,” which is pretty truly represented on the site as a kind of deep slate gray, meaning I would call them “blue” the way that some animal coats are described as “blue” (as in, you know, not blue at all, but like a deep cool gray). Most important to me, is that they allow me to roll around under the covers without getting tangled up, and they never get too hot.
When I pulled on the fitted sheet, I was a little worried at first that it was too big– we have a bed frame that precludes the use of a box spring, and I was concerned about extra fabric bunching up. But the generously sized pocket easily settled into place. I wouldn’t call it like, hospital-corners-taut, but it’s comfy without being loose or looking sloppy and hasn’t bothered me at all.
Down Alternative Duvet Insert | $349+
After one haunting summer in Texas when I made the fatal error of bringing a down pillow to camp where it molded in the hill country humidity, I don’t do down* anymore. We went for the down alternative, which is made with PrimaLoft® Luxury Down Alternative®, which the site describes as a premium, hypoallergenic fiber meant to mimic the texture and weight of down. Wrapped in a soft 100% organic cotton shell and stuffed on with a “unique bafflebox construction that keeps the fill perfectly in place to maintain fluff and shape over time,” the insert feels substantially constructed and well-made. I was surprised when Aaron suggested we go with the midweight, assuming he’d want the lightest option, but then he reminded me how he likes to keep the heat down in the winter during the nights.
“It is pillowy and luxurious, and I feel exactly like I’m sinking into an impossibly dreamy hotel bed every night.”
It is pillowy and luxurious, and I feel exactly like I’m sinking into an impossibly dreamy hotel bed every night. It definitely gets warm enough that, during our seasonal transition here in Virginia, I’ve kicked it off some nights. But I think that during the winter it’s going to be absolutely perfect, and may even kick up my nightly sleep hours into a more normal (even the recommended!) average.
*Important to note that Boll & Branch’s down is triple-washed, cruelty-free, and certified with an International Down Standard from the IDFL, for those of you not traumatized by moldy pillows from your youth.
Linen Airy Stripe Duvet Set | $399+
I have been dreaming of a blue and white striped duvet for years, so this was an easy choice. Not only had we both gravitated toward linen immediately, but we really like a printed duvet, as it helps to cover all manner of paw print sins.
The Boll & Branch linen is made from 100% Belgian flax. They use no harmful pesticides, GMOs, or toxins like formaldehyde in any of their production, so from seed to weave, you’re getting the cleanest possible fabric for you and for the planet. They also use a four-step washing process that includes a pumice stonewash cycle and GOTS-approved softeners that naturally draws out the highest level of softness from the flax (and it’s supposed to only get softer with every wash!). We imagine we’ll use the linen cover without the insert in the summer. I love this kind of texture, not quite scratchy but very natural and pleasant to touch.
A very important note about stuffing the insert into the duvet cover: A generously long hidden zipper enclosure combined with corner ties inside the cover and loops on the insert made this an absolute cinch. I easily beat my past PR for stuffing a Target duvet cover of 45 minutes by… 44 minutes.
Waffle Bed Blanket | $219+
This bed blanket is the unexpected star of the show. When I read about it on the site, I was expecting something a bit thick, maybe even sturdy. I figured it would be a layer I could add when I felt too cold, but might even be a bit much for Aaron. But it’s actually fairly airy– the weave is light, a bit stretchy (without being elastic or cheap-feeling), and it’s very quickly turned into Aaron’s preferred sleep blanket.
Since our bed’s Boll & Branch glow up, I sleep most nights under the sheets and the duvet, and Aaron sleeps on top of the duvet with the waffle blanket. But since we were first testing the bedding out during the late-summer turn into early fall, we had a few nights where we optimistically slept with the windows open, ultimately making the room quite warm. On those nights, I found myself joining him on top of the duvet with only the waffle blanket for comfort, and it was glorious. The duvet turned into the perfect pillow top surface, and the blanket kept me covered without making me hot, not even with my space heater husband’s body boiling away beside me.
One way Aaron and I are sleep-compatible is that neither of us is a nighttime cuddler– I need to wiggle and move, and he snores. Because of this, we often find ourselves facing away from each other in the night, a move that can make the quilt or blankets we’ve used in the past tent up over our sides, inviting a draft into the space between that often wakes one of us up. The waffle blanket doesn’t do this, but rather elegantly drapes between our bodies, which we’ve both noticed and appreciated. That might be a niche concern, but for the weirdo couple out there who gets what I’m saying: 10/10, no notes.* Would buy again.
*Okay, okay I have one note: the color on the site looks like a light blue, and it is called “sky.” The blanket we received is decidedly gray– a beautiful, sophisticated, pale dove gray, but absolutely gray. “Sky,” in my opinion, is a bit misleading here, unless you immediately think of one that is overcast, foggy, and possibly threatening rain.
All in all, we are loving our new bedding. We’ve washed everything twice so far– once upon arrival, and then after a few days just to see how it would do– and it seems like the promise of exponential softness is not a joke. We are looking forward to many more nights with our dream bed!
- Boll & Branch is a nontoxic bedding company that’s been doing things differently since day one: With a commitment to organic cotton, Fair Trade practices, and absolutely no harmful chemicals in any step of their production.
- With such high quality fabrics, everything we tried was breathable and cozy. The material seems to soften without signs of wear with each wash.
- We tried the Signature Hemmed Sheet Set which came with two pillowcases, a fitted sheet, and a top sheet. They are smooth, a mix between crisply structured and almost satin. They stay cool all night and are generously sized.
- The Linen Airy Stripe Duvet Set is 100% Belgian flax and breathable, with a light texture. It is brilliantly constructed with a wide hidden zipper pocket and inner corner ties that made taking the duvet insert in and out a breeze.
- The midweight Down Alternative Duvet Insert is a fluffy, warm topper made from a 100% organic cotton shell and stuffed with a hypoallergenic fill that keeps its shape thanks to a unique inner bafflebox construction.
- The Waffle Bed Blanket is made from 100% organic cotton and the absolute perfect layer. Beautifully made with an airy weave and an elegant drape, this blanket will work perfectly under a duvet for extra insulation or on top for naps or hot sleepers.
- Look for customer images to compare colors– don’t trust the names! All the colors seem to veer on the white, beige, or gray side of the spectrum, so if you’re into beautiful neutrals, you won’t be disappointed.
Stephanie H. Fallon is a writer originally from Houston, Texas. She has an MFA from the Jackson Center of Creative Writing at Hollins University. She lives with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she writes about motherhood, artmaking, and work culture. You can find her on Instagram or learn more on her website.