The Secret History of Home Goods: 10 Curious Things About Duvets

The room had been the warmest in the flat, and there had been covers for the duvet in stylish maroon and chocolate colours; his cleaning lady had hated changing them, struggling to match corners with corners and complaining that the zip-openings had been too small.”
– excerpt from the novel Seven for a Secret by Judy Astley

Sir Terence had to overcome a long-held skepticism about duvets by the English. In many countries, it is customary to air out a duvet by hanging it out the window, either on a daily basis or when changing the sheets. It had been called a Puffin Downlet, an exotic piece of bed-furnishing at a time when no-one knew how to pronounce ‘duvet’, or had yet decreed that the term ‘continental quilt’ was destined to become obsolete. If you’re using a duvet and a top sheet – you’re doing it “wrong”. ‘Duvet’ comes from the French word for ‘down’. – source

4. It’s just my duvet. In their book The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe, authors Richard Mullen and James Munson described the attitude of 19th century British travelers upon encountering duvets in European hotels:

Then there was the detested duvet, known as ‘feather mattresses’, ‘fedder deckers’ or ‘that stuffed, pillow-like thing which is to do duty for blanket and coverlet’. Can you sit up?”

Caller: “Oh, yes, hold on a minute. Her parents explained why the name was perfect for her: “she’s our comforter”. If you and your bedmate like different temperatures at night, you can even buy duvet inserts with different weights on each side. In Australia duvets are commonly called “doonas.” (And, yes, Aussies take “doona days”.)

7. They may have originated in China, but became popular in Germany and Scandinavia in the 1700s. You know the basics: a duvet is a fabric sack typically filled with down or feathers, often encased in a removable cover, but if you’re the inquisitive type, these ten tidbits may intrigue you:

1. The only function of beds was to accommodate sleepers in inhospitably chilly rooms, so Heather knew instinctively that only the dangerously louche and decadent made their beds into such tempting nests as Iain had. 3. 8. You can buy a duvet for your dog. This was an era when people used their wedding present bedlinen till it wore out, and replaced it with pastel sheets only if they were really artistic and daringly experimental with colour co-ordination. 2. “In his Chelsea flat, she recalled vividly, he’d had the first duvet she’d ever seen. I was not sure whether it was meant for us to lie on it, or it on us.’ Duvets were widely denounced as ‘those stuffy, fluffy, soft slippery coverings which always fall off a German bed when an Englishman tries to sleep in it’. The duvet’s popularity took off beyond Europe in the 1970s after Sir Terence Conran began selling them at the Habitat shop in London. The mystery caller rang 999 and whispered as she told the operator: “I can’t see anything, I think I’ve been kidnapped. When I was growing up our family used blankets and quilts on our beds in the winter so when I was introduced to the concept of a duvet in my twenties it seemed so civilized (and, fancy). When the Hills, father and son, arrived in France, they found ‘a large down mattress, or bag filled with down. She mentioned, but did not embellish upon, this odd anecdote from her stay:

Taiwan’s food was exquisite but on one occasion I was startled when live prawns started to leap out of a boiling pot and fly across the table. The TLC show Say Yes to the Dress once featured a bride named Duvae. 9. Wait, I’m trapped.”

Operator: “Are you ok?

Updated: 09.11.2014 — 01:56