What Is a Coverlet?

coverlet in bed

Cathie Hong

When it comes to bedding, there tends to be confusion about some of the layering pieces—from quilts and comforters to coverlets and duvets, each serves its own purpose and has a different look.

A neatly made bed that's layered with soft, cozy textures has the power to transform not just your bedroom, but the quality of your sleep. So, what's the difference between all these different types of bedding? Today, we're going to focus on a coverlet and what it is, how to style it on your bed, and what its distinguishing features are. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is a Coverlet?

A coverlet is a lightweight blanket that's used for added warmth and an extra decorative touch, either placed at the foot of the bed or layered between the sheets and the comforter. It's available in various materials, thickness levels, and designs but is more of an optional addition to your bed than say, a comforter or a duvet.

Besides its practical function as an additional blanket to keep you warm, a coverlet is also a great way to add a pop of color and pattern to your bed, as it's often the final finishing touch on top of the bedspread.

How to Use and Style a Coverlet

When it comes to using and styling a coverlet on your bed, there are several options. It comes in various sizes and the first option is to purchase one that is the same size as your bed—for example, a queen-size coverlet for a queen-size bed.

In this case, style it by layering it over your top sheet and tucking it in neatly. In the warm summer months, you can leave out the heavier comforter or duvet and just use the coverlet to stay cool and comfortable.

Another styling option is to use the coverlet as a more decorative bedding component and place it at the foot of the bed. You can use one that's smaller than your bed sheets in this case, as it'll serve more as a blanket. Fold it into thirds and lay it across the end of the bed on top of your quilt, heavier comforter, or duvet. This is a great way to add color, pattern, or textural contrast that'll make your bedding look fuller, more luxurious, and put-together.

For a third styling option, fold the coverlet in half lengthwise and place it across the center of the bed so that the foot of the bed reveals the layer under it—whether that's a comforter or a quilt—the top of the bed is styled with sleeper and throw pillows, and the coverlet covers the central portion of the bed.

What Is the Difference Between a Coverlet and Other Bedding?

The piece of bedding that a coverlet gets most confused for is a quilt. So, what is the difference between the two? A quilt is a traditional bedding staple that is a lightweight alternative to a comforter or a heavy duvet in the summertime and an excellent additional layer of warmth during the colder months.

While they can sometimes be used interchangeably, mainly in the warmer seasons, the main difference between a coverlet and a quilt is in its size and material. The size of a quilt always corresponds to the size of the bed and it is typically layered over the top of a top sheet. It is also heavier, thicker, and therefore warmer than a coverlet. It's not just a blanket-like single layer of fabric but often has a layer of batting sewn into the middle for added warmth.

You can, of course, use both a coverlet and a quilt on the same bed for an extra cozy and beautifully layered look. Place the quilt over the top sheet, folding the top portion of the sheet over it tightly and neatly, and tucking the sheet and quilt under the mattress for a clean finish.

Use a comforter or a duvet on top of the quilt, letting it hang off the foot of the bed, and folding enough of the top portion of it over to reveal the sheet and quilt layers. Finally, place your folded coverlet at the foot of the bed as the finishing touch.

  • What is the purpose of a coverlet?

    A coverlet serves a practical and decorative purpose. It can be used to add an extra layer of warmth during the colder months or in place of a heavier quilt or comforter in the summer months. Aesthetically, it's a great way to add a pop of color or pattern to your bed, especially when folded and placed at the foot of the bed.

  • Can you wash a coverlet?

    Check the specific care directions on your coverlet to be sure, but generally, you can wash a coverlet in your washer using mild detergent, on a gentle cycle with cold water. However, if your coverlet specifies a dry-clean-only method, be sure to follow the directions and have it professionally cleaned to avoid any damage.

  • When just using a coverlet, should you tuck it in or allow for an overhang?

    This depends on the look you're going for and the style of your bedroom. Tuck the coverlet in with your sheets for a crisp, clean, hotel-style finish, or leave it untucked for a more relaxed, undone, and cozy feel.