Bedding

A buyer’s guide to breathable linen sheets that will last the distance

An expert shares their secrets.

It’s almost impossible to flick through the pages of an interior design magazine and not spot at least one perfectly made bed featuring the casual crumple of linen sheets. Pip Vassett, former stylist and founder of In Bed isn’t surprised that linen has been embraced in all types of Australian homes, ranging from modern Hamptons houses to chic inner-city apartments. “It’s a gorgeous, natural and sustainable fibre,” she says, adding, “It takes on colour really beautifully and looks best when it’s a bit messy, what’s not to love?”

Linen bedding may be easy on the eyes, but how does it feel to sleep in? If you’re used to sleeping on cotton, which feels smooth and crisp to the touch, you may initially find linen ever so slightly rough in comparison. But one of linen’s best qualities is that it becomes softer and softer with each wash. 

Here we break down the ins and outs of linen bed sheets, sharing tips on how to spot good quality fabric, how linen compares to cotton, why linen is so much more expensive than cotton, how long you can expect your linen sheets to last as well as the colourways that are currently trending. 

2024’s TOP [PRODUCT]

  1. Carlotta + Gee linen fitted sheet in pinot, $155, The Iconic (here’s why)
  2. Pure linen white sheet set, $459, Linen House (here’s why)
  3. Eve linen sheet set in eucalypt, $400, Sheet Society (here’s why)

Bedroom in a Parisian inspired apartment
(Credit: Photography: Sue Stubbs | Styling: Jessica Bellef) (Credit: Photography: Sue Stubbs | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

The Best linen sheets to buy in Australia

01

Carlotta + Gee linen fitted sheet in pinot

From $155, The Iconic

Best for: The colour of the season

The ‘unexpected red’ trend is booming right now. What better way to indulge in the trend by vamping up your bedding? Carlotta + Gee’s ‘pinot’ colourway is warm, stonewashed for extra softness and made from 100% European flax. The brand’s fitted sheets are extra deep to ensure they fit snugly over all mattresses and toppers. A matching flat sheet is also available. 

Colours: Available in 26 colours including yellow stripes, marine blue, white, natural stripes and more.

Key features:

  • Deep red colourway
  • Extra deep fitted sheet perfect for all mattress types
  • Made from 100% European flax

02

Pure linen white sheet set

From $459.99, Linen House

Best for: Crisp white sheets

Let’s face it, linen bed sheets are an investment. But they last the distance, so it’s important to invest in a colour you’ll never get tired of. White not only looks classic, but is the perfect foundation upon which to build a linen collection. If you get sick of it, you can always pair it with a colourful top sheet or pillowcases down the line. Linen House is a trusted bedding brand and the Nimes collection has thousands of admirers. Among the many 5-star reviews, one happy customer says “I love walking into the bedroom and admiring my bed now. The set I received are luxurious and the quality is second to none.” 

Colours: Available in white, natural, clay, moss, magnet, navy, rosette and sky.

Key features:

  • All-inclusive white linen sheet set with pillowcases
  • Super soft linen that gets softer with each wash
  • From trusted linen brand

03

Eve linen sheet set in eucalypt

From $160, Sheet Society

Best for: Crisp white sheets

The colour green is so versatile and soothing it’s basically a neutral. Sheet Society’s luxurious linen sheets in the shade eucalypt are super soft and the fitted sheet features a thick, fitted sheet and a top sheet with a double layer top edge for that always ‘perfectly made’ look. These sheets are made from 100% French flax linen and are Oeko-Tex certified, which means you can peacefully knowing no harsh chemicals or dyes were used during the manufacturing process. 

Colours: Available in 25 colours including white, oatmeal, butter, camel, polly, navy and dove grey. 

Key features:

  • Deep green colour inspired by the Australian landscape
  • Oeko-Tex certified
  • Double layer top edge on flat sheet

04

French flax linen sheet set in marine blue stripe

From $266.25 (usually $355), I Love Linen

Best for: Beachy stripes

Coastal homes and linen in a crisp blue stripe are a match made in heaven. I Love Linen’s ‘deliciously soft’ linen bedding is made from 100% French flax and is shipped to you in recycled packaging. The sheets bear all the hallmarks of quality bedding, with the flat sheet featuring a generous hemstitch border. I Love Linen also promise that their sheets will not pill – which, if you’re a stickler for soft, smooth sheets, you’ll know is super important. 

Colours: Available in beige gingham, blush, charcoal gingham, clay, blush gingham and creme.

Key features:

  • Super smooth linen sheets that will not pill
  • Blue stripe perfect for coastal-style homes
  • Fitted sheet features high quality elastic

05

Le Linen sheet set in natural

From $310, Koala

Best for: A warm neutral colour scheme

Did you know that Koala, along with creating comfortable and affordable mattresses, also have their own linen range? Constructed from flax grown in Normandy France, they’re luxuriously soft and come in three shades: natural, sunset sky and bush scrub. Koala also happens to be B-Corp certified.

Colours: Available in natural, sunset sky and bush scrub.

Key features:

  • B-corp certified company
  • Available in 3 neutral colours
  • Made from flax grown in Normandy, France

06

Linen sheet set with pillowcases in smoke grey

From $280, Cultiver

Best for: Pure luxury

You know Cultiver sheets are good quality because they’re thick (165gsm) and super soft, yet entirely breathable. Smoke grey is an understated shade that can bring subtle contrast to an all-white room. Pair it a couple of crisp white Euros and a blue linen throw and you’ve got a complete bedding set that will never date.

Colours: Available in 13 colours including white, slate, bluestone, forest and sage.

Key features:

  • 165gsm sheet set
  • High quality stitching
  • Subtle grey linen colour

07

100% French flax linen bedding set in cacao

From $224 (usually $320), Bed Threads

Best for: A soul-warming seasonal update

Want to give your bedroom a warm and cosy makeover in time for winter? Opt for one of the most popular colours of the moment – chocolate brown. Bed Threads’ linen is temperature regulating, strong and durable and gets softer with each wash. Using the Build Your Own Bundle feature, you can even mix and match your bedding to create an eclectic or tonal look. 

Colours: Available in 23 colours including white, oatmeal, oatmeal and white stripe, olive stripe, rosewater, limoncello and paprika.

Key features:

  • Buy a matching set or Build Your Own Bundle to mix and match separates
  • Made from French flax
  • Naturally temperature regulating

08

100% linen sheet set in lake

From $$302.25 (usually $465), InBed

Best for: Soothing blue

Add personality and colour to your bedroom with a hit of blue with In Bed’s linen sheet set in lake made from 100 per cent certified European Flax. The set includes a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and two pillowcases.

Colours: Available in 10 colours including white, dove grey, stone, grey and white stripe and pinstripe navy.

Key features:

  • Soothing blue hue
  • Made from 100% certified European flax
  • Female-founded Australian business

Is linen better to sleep on than cotton?

Linen and cotton are both natural fibres that have excellent temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking properties. According to the Sleep Foundation, linen’s loose weave makes it more breathable than cotton, which is excellent if you’re a hot sleeper. Linen also tends to be a heavier fabric than cotton, which can give a bed a luxurious, snuggly feeling. 

“The texture and hand feel, how well it takes on colour and how relaxed and effortless it makes a room look,” are all features that made Pip fall in love with linen. “Because of its open weave, it’s also super breathable to sleep under, which I love.”

Is linen the best material for bed sheets?

But when it comes to the cotton vs linen debate, there really is no right or wrong. “It really comes down to personal preference. I still love to sleep under crisp cotton sheets from time to time. I don’t think you need to choose one or another.” 

Cotton may be more affordable upfront, but good quality linen can last a very long time – saving you money in the long run. The fact that linen also has a lighter environmental footprint (requiring less water and less time to grow) is an added bonus!

Coastal style bedroom with linen bedding
This coastal bedroom is dressed with linen from Bed Threads and Pillowtalk. (Credit: Photography: Kylie Jackes) (Credit: Photography: Kylie Jackes)

How long do linen sheets last?

If you wash and handle linen correctly, it should be able to hold up to rigorous daily demands. Some linen has been known to last decades! In saying that, linen fibres have very little stretch, which can lead to rips after prolonged use. “Items that come under the most amount of friction and contact with the skin (think fitted sheets and pillowcases) are the ones that will need replacing first,” says Pip. “If you are finding your linen is wearing within two years, I’d get in touch with the brand you purchased from and ask for a replacement!”

What is the highest quality linen?

“Despite what some people may tell you, linen bedding shouldn’t shed or lint,” says Pip. “If it does, it’s likely been softened too much or the fibres are weak. It should feel soft, but still sturdy. It should also feel a little weighty and not too thin.” She recommends opting for linen that is at least 170 GSM in weight.

Looks aside, the best linen will also be traceable, says Pip.“The best thing you can do to ensure you are buying a really good, high quality linen is to find a reliable source – look for certifications,” she says, adding, “If budget allows, buy from an ethical, sustainable supplier.”

Linen Certifications to look for

  • Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) – An internationally recognised certification that ensures fabrics are made from organic fibres and that strict social and environmental criteria are adhered throughout the entire supply chain.
  • 100% European Flax – A guarantee that the linen is sourced from Western Europe and is grown sustainably and responsibly. The linen is traced throughout the entire production journey.
  • Oeko-Tex – Fabrics must be free from a list of at least 350 toxic chemicals. Oeko-Tex certified fabrics can also be traced using a unique product ID.
  • B-Corporation – Given to for-profit companies that meet rigorous social and environmental standards, demonstrating their commitment to using business as a force for good.

Trending bedding colours

Classic shades such as white, grey and stripes always sell well, says Pip. “We have seen a really big uptake in blues lately,” she says. “I think people are starting to play around a bit more with their interiors and are enjoying adding colour and joy after playing things safe for a very long time!”

Bedroom at The Pause in Gerringong
(Credit: The Palm Co.)

What to do if your linen sheets rip

If it has been less than two years since you purchased the sheets, contact the retailer and send along photos of the damaged sheet to see if they will offer a replacement. In Bed, for example, guarantee their sheets for two years. 

The next step is to deal with the destroyed sheet. Some ways to repurpose the sheet include: 

  • Cutting it up and turning it into table napkins, pillowcases or even curtains (sewing knowledge required)
  • Cutting it up and turning it into cleaning rags
  • Using the sheet for pet bedding or as a drop sheet for painting and renovating

Damaged sheets can also be recycled. Sheridan Australia have a textiles recycling program and they accept any brand of bedding. Old bedding is broken down to create recycled yarn that is then turned into new products.

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