Really, Though, What Is a Coverlet? Hint: It's Not a Bedspread

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White versus brown eggs. BB cream versus foundation. Bourbon versus whiskey. We’re never too proud to ask for clarification when we need it. Thus, when it recently came to our attention that coverlets, quilts and bedspreads are not, in fact, the same thing (who knew?), we set out to clear things up tout suite. Here, find everything you need to know about what makes a coverlet different, how to style one and of course, our favorite selections to shop now.

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What Is A Coverlet?

Smaller than a bedspread but larger than a standard blanket, a coverlet is a thin blanket that grazes the space where your mattress meets your bed frame. When tucked in with the rest of your bedding, it lends a tailored, modern vibe, and “their size makes it easier to pull them off, switch them out and store,” according to Marie Flanigan, interior designer and master of the artfully made bed. Since its small-footprint styling is versatile, it can also be left untucked for a slightly more relaxed look or even folded at the foot of the bed as you would a light blanket.

Coverlet Vs Bedspread: What's The Difference?

Although both options are lightweight bed toppers, bedspreads are large enough to cover every inch of space from your headboard down to the floor, and they usually nod to traditional style. Because bedspreads usually have grand dimensions and excess material, styling options are pretty limited—they look best (and make the most sense) when laid flat as a statement-making top layer. These guys are your best bet if you’re on the hunt for both maximum coverage and a more formal look.

On the other hand, coverlets are smaller in size and tend to lean more modern since they’re meant to be more of a decorative element. “Living up to its namesake, a coverlet’s main purpose is to be used as a cover,” explains Corey Majeau, a researcher and product tester at The Sleep Judge. “It goes over the bed, can be found in different specific sizes, and has the decorative quality many other beddings varieties lack.”

Pro tip: Even with a floor-grazing bedspread, invest in a bed skirt or dust ruffle to finish the look and avoid exposing the frame when bedding shifts as you sleep.

Coverlet Vs Quilt: What's The Difference?

The main difference between the two is that a quilt can be used as a year-round bedding option because it’s designed with multiple layers of fabric that vary in density. While a standard quilt is usually constructed with two layers of stitched fabric separated by a batting layer (i.e., cotton, wool or down filling), a coverlet comprises just one lightweight layer.

In terms of aesthetics, a coverlet tends to be modern with clean lines and solid edges, while a quilt is usually constructed of multiple fabrics that are sewn together for a more nostalgic, shabby-chic feel (we’re looking at you, cottagecore enthusiasts). Our main takeaway? Both are considered lightweight options, but a quilt is meant to be used as a stand-alone bedding, where a coverlet is not.


“Stick with a coverlet if you live in a warmer climate or are prone to changing things up on the regular,” Flanigan suggests. While coverlets are a sweaty sleeper’s best friend, we’d say they’re mainly intended to be used as a summer blanket or for layering as a decorative bedding accent (because we’re not looking to freeze to death this winter).

When it comes to styling, there are tons of colors, patterns and textures to choose from, and as Flanigan mentioned above, it looks best when tucked in with the rest of your bedding or folded at the foot of the bed. “It’s important to create visual interest by mixing in layers of texture through the use of throws, coverlets, and duvets. We suggest layering with the seasons, using a coverlet in the summer and switching it out for a duvet come winter for added warmth,” Flanigan says. Below, find five of our favorite coverlets to add to cart ASAP.

Hearth & Hand Textured Fringe Coverlet

2. Parachute Vintage Linen Bed Cover

3. Opalhouse Alligator Chenille Fringe Coverlet Saffron

4. Crate & Barrel Organic Cotton White Coverlet

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From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.