Elegant bedding is all about layers, and there are layers of terms to decipher when deciding how to dress your bed. One frequently misunderstood term is coverlet -- in reality a very specific designation for a particular type of bed covering that's part decorative, part practical. Unlike quilts and sometimes bedspreads, coverlets are not reversible -- except when specially woven to be double-sided. They're designed to sit on top of a more substantial bedspread, but never a puffy duvet and feather comforter. Generally lightweight, coverlets might have a sandwiched layer of batting or be crocheted, like an afghan, so they can work as quilts. The smaller size means you would not spread a coverlet across the entire bed, tuck it under the pillows and use it like a full bedspread.

Child's Bedroom in Luxury Home
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A ruffled coverlet is tucked in at the end of a child's bed

Ornamental and Adaptable

Coverlets are versatile in a number of ways. They're small enough to store easily so you can change a collection of coverlets on a whim to switch the decor in your bedroom. A coverlet also works as a throw on the sofa or in a cozy chair during chilly weather -- and will hide the sins of well-worn furniture. Coverlets and coordinating or matching pillow shams set a theme for a bedroom outfitted with a standard plain duvet and sheets. A coverlet might be just the right size to double as a bedspread on a toddler's bed. Because they are light and small, you can toss most coverlets right in the washer or dryer.