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Duvet or Quilt?

In our home, it's all about the layers!

As much as I LOVE quilts and have tried to use them as the main cover on our bed, I have always longed for something just a little bit lighter in weight.

Styling your bed with both a duvet and quilt.  Bed with yellow duvet and an improv quilt at foot of bed with dog lying on bed.

I had always loved the luxurious duvets that we found on our visits to Europe and the UK. You can't beat the simplicity of duvet bedding; a fitted bottom sheet topped by a duvet with a cotton cover. That's it! 

We downsized our bed size when we arrived in the UK, going from a US king to a UK king—which has the same dimensions as a US queen (confusing, I know). We had sold the bulk of our furniture before our move as we knew we would likely have different requirements given UK home sizes—on average UK homes are 730 sq ft vs 2,400 sq ft in the US.

Yellow duvet on a king size bed with multi color quilt folded at foot of bed

Staying in several Airbnb's and guest houses in our first few months here, I had the chance to experience several different duvets and learn more about them before needing to buy one. The UK unit of measure for duvets is a Tog, which measures the insulation properties and runs from 3.0 to 16.5 in 1.5 increments. Typically, classified by season:

  • Summer—3-7.5 Togs
  • Spring/Fall—7.5 to 10.5 Togs
  • Winter—10.5+ Togs

You can see there is some overlap in Togs for the different seasons. The duvets can be obtained with various fillings, including wool, down and microfiber. We purchased a 10.5 Tog microfiber duvet for our bed, but I will likely go lighter with our guest room as we anticipate more guests during summer than winter.

The real fun comes with the covers—essentially an envelope with an opening on the bottom seam where you insert the duvet. The opening can have snaps, buttons, or a zipper. The cover comes off when you change your bed linens, and that's where the decorating possibilities are endless. From luxurious solid white covers found in the finest hotels to bright and fun prints, duvet covers are available at nearly all prices points. Many come with different patterns on each side, further increasing your style options. Most covers are 100% cotton, and in the European tradition, you don't use a top sheet. So your savings on sheet sets can go towards having multiple duvet covers waiting in your linen closet for wash day.

Oh ... and more options to showcase quilts!

Bed in mirror closet doors

And had I mentioned how easy it is to make the bed in the morning? Shake the duvet, and the bed is made! With no top sheets or blankets to tuck in, it only takes 15 seconds to make the bed.

I love the added style of a throw quilt at the foot of the bed, it enhances the overall look and serves a function. I tend to get too warm under the covers, while my husband finds the temperature just perfect. So I use the throw quilt as my upper body cover through many months of the year. Beauty AND function!

Dog on bed with yellow duvet and multi color quilt

Oh, and the cute dog in the pictures? That's Finnegan, and the bed is the only piece of furniture that he's allowed on. For the first 3 months we were in our new home, we had a mattress, but not a bed frame (Covid lockdown, Brexit, even a Suez Canal blockage were all our enemies in getting furniture delivered in the spring of 2021). So keeping him, then a puppy, off the mattress on the floor, one that he was convinced was placed there just for him, was nearly impossible. The fact that we eventually raised it 18" when the bed frame arrived was irrelevant to him and, while he sleeps in a crate downstairs at night, during the day, he often lays claim to our bed < sigh >.

The yellow and gray quilt featured at the bottom of the bed in these images is an improv version of the Brushstrokes quilt pattern. This is a FREE pattern offered when registering for the Shinersview newsletter. 


  • Thanks Barb! They are available at most linen stores here. The gold/white one came from But The White Company to Marks & Spencers to IKEA carry a variety of different options at different price points. In the US, I would try Crate and Barrel, The Company Store, IKEA, West Elm, etc. I really think they are starting to be more prevalent in the US as well.

  • Hi Lisa, great blog. I am so happy that you are established in the UK and that Finnigan is settling in well too!
    Where do you get your duvet covers from? I really love the yellow/gold one. I’m always on the lookout for covers.

    Barb Boud

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