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Make Your Bed

What's your thread count? A celebrity linen consultant (no kidding) seeks out backroom sources for super-luxe bedding. But at these prices, you won't lose any sleep.

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"You're spending eight hours a day in this bed -- a third of your life!" pleads Robert Verdi, bed-maker to the stars. Metro Guide's style host is at ABC Carpet & Home, insisting I banish the no-iron percales I've slept on since college. And he's not used to skimping -- his clients include Sandra Bernhard, Courtney Love, and chef Bobby Flay. As for my budget, he sees the truth in a second: I blow my credit on shoes. But Verdi promises real finds, and we set off in search of Egyptian cotton.

First, we discuss bed taste. ("Sandra's is sexy, feminine, Moroccan-love-den-feeling. Bobby's is neutral, masculine -- fresh for the beach. Courtney? She likes the most luxurious, shiny fabrics . . ."). Minimalists don't need bedskirts or decorative pillows. If, like me, you want a whole parade of "girly" (read: ornate and pricey) stuff, start small: "Beds are aspirational," Verdi muses. "Like cars and apartments -- you spend what you can now, and eventually, you trade up."

During sales, ABC (where Verdi's also a consultant) has deals on great down. Pick up pillows, a mid-weight duvet, and a light summer one -- "for dead of winter, you can put two in a cover," he says. Right now, you'll also find half-price Frette sheet sets (from $450 for queen-size) and Anichini tapestry pillows at 30 percent off (from $45). But for up to 90 percent off, Verdi hits ABC's Warehouse Outlet. Top picks: crocheted spreads, skirts, and shams ($7-$10), and Italian cotton sheets, shams, and duvets ($40-$60). You won't find a matched bed set here, but, Verdi gripes, "Don't you hate that?"

For sheets, Verdi loves Harris Levy. The shop brought Pratesi to New York in the fifties and continues to import small brands (which sell for a lot less). Verdi likes a Pratesi-looking embroidered Italian sheet set ($500 for queen-size) and a similar Portuguese one ($254 for queen-size). "There are only a few mills in Europe, so the fabrics are the same," he confides. The shop also takes 15 to 50 percent off Palais Royal, Peacock Alley, Laura Ashley, and Wamsutta.

"If you can't afford great furniture, don't have a beautiful bed frame or a $5,000 armoire, play up the bed with pattern and color," Verdi says. Catalogs from Garnet Hill and The Company Store sell inexpensive pillows, patchwork quilts (from about $130), and shadow-striped sheets (from $19 at the Company Store; from $60 at Garnet Hill). Starters for us, these are Verdi's extras. "At some point, you say, 'Oh, we need a great second or third set.' This is it."

ABC Carpet & Home, 888 Broadway, at 19th St. (473-3000), Warehouse Outlet, 1055 Bronx River Ave. (718-842-8772); Harris Levy, 278 Grand St. (226-3102); Garnet Hill (800-622-6216); The Company Store (800-285-3696).

Picks of the Week

Kalinka's bright, printed summer frocks, cozy knits, embroidered peasant tops, A-line skirts, and sexy lace eveningwear have been seen on the likes of Laura Dern and Michelle Pfeiffer. At the sample sale, they're half off: Skirts are $65-$120; dresses are $90-$350; tops are $40-$80. Sizes 4-10. 333 W. 39th St., fifteenth floor (564-7112); cash only; Mon.-Sat. 9-8; 7/19-7/24.

Potted Gardens, the downtown garden shop, is clearing tons of antique-y furniture and accessories (pictured, below) at up to 90 percent off. You'll find country tins and boxes ($1-$10); stone planters ($45-$125); and vintage counters, cupboards, and iron garden furniture $50-$900). 27 Bedford St. (255-4797); A.E., M.C., V.; Tue.-Sun. noon-7; 7/20-8/1.

Riflessi's huge sale offers half off men's businesswear from Giorgio Armani, Cerruti 1881, Ermenegildo Zegna, and others: Suits and sport jackets from $395, dress shirts from $49, ties from $33. Free alterations. Sizes 36S to 60XL. 260 Madison Ave., near 38th St. (679-4875); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 9:30-7:30, Sat. 10-7, Sun. 11-6; 7/19-8/8.


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