Pillows Pillows Pillows!
Ok, I admit it. I have a pet peeve about pillows. As I scroll through images on Pinterest or Instagram or some furniture store displays, I come across sofas and beds with real pillow issues! Too big, too many, weird proportions… Most often, inspiration photos are really lovely to look at, but in reality are just not practical for everyday use!
I did some serious browsing on Pinterest and found some great photos that are examples of what to do and what to avoid when accessorizing with pillows. Let’s get started!
Take this one for example….
In my opinion, there are just too many cushions on this couch. It may look nice for the photograph but the reality of the space is that if you want to sit down you will likely be putting cushions on the floor. And certainly, if more than one person sits on the sofa, cushions will end up on the floor.
On the upside, this photo does a great job of showing that different scales of pattern and colour can work together as well as different sizes of pillows. The colours are all fairly mid tone colours (not too bright, not too pale) and have lots of white which helps connect the fabrics. If one of the pillows had a cream accent instead, it would feel a bit off. The white backgrounds and geometric patterns are threads that unify this pillow collection.
I like to see two large cushions (one 22”x22” and one 20”x 20”) plus one lumbar cushion (i.e. 12”x 20” or 14”x 20”- 22”) when working with a regular sized sofa. The larger the sofa or sectional the more cushions it can handle. The opposite is true for a smaller sofa- the smaller the sofa the fewer cushions it can comfortably accommodate.
This image has the same issue-too many cushions to make sense. This one does also have a good sense of pattern and colour but just has too much of a good thing.
More of the same issue-too many cushions for everyday, but colour and pattern are at play well here.
There are also many images and illustrations that give you a formulaic approach to cushions. I tend to like things a little less calculated– afterall we live in homes, not hotels! This approach to arranging cushions is a common one…
Here is another one that feels formulaic:
It just looks a little too contrived to me. I would rather see a more relaxed and personal approach to cushions.
What about this?
This one feels far more natural and personal to me. I love that the designer here did not put cushions all the way across the window seat. She gives them breathing space and arranges them a-symmetrically–it just makes it way more interesting. She also did not stuff the sofa with too many pillows. I think this is a good example of pillows done well.
Here’s another image of cushions done well:
What I like about this is, first of all, the jewel tones and sumptuous fabric. It looks like this fabric is likely velvet and it really adds to the sumptuous feel of the jewel tones. Because the back of the sofa is low, the designer has kept the cushions low as well. By the way, what I also like about this image is the very traditional wall treatment combined with the contemporary furniture and art and then the more traditional cushion fabric. But I digress…back to the cushions!
I think this is a good example of a display sofa. This image is an advertisement for a sectional. I would probably add a couple of cushions here. On a sofa/sectional so large it is a good opportunity to try some other fabrics and really make it unique. Secondly, I would make at least two of the cushions larger. These ones look like they are about 18” x 18” which is the standard size cushions that come with ready made sofas. By adding larger (22” x 22”) cushions here, it would add quite a bit and make it feel more individual.
Let’s move on to bedrooms!
My preference is for fewer, larger cushions on the bed. So many beds in store displays, magazines, and on Pinterest or Instagram have a LOT of cushions on the bed. What does a person DO with all those pillows when they want to crawl into bed? Likely they get thrown from the bed and strewn on the floor (at least in my house that is what would happen!) Although this bed looks nice, in my house this just would not be practical.
This one has eight (8!) decorative cushions…
Here is one I like. Just two large cushions. I think this works well on a double or queen bed. Two 20” x 20” on a double bed and two 22” x 22” on a queen bed and two 24” x 24” on a king bed OR a king bed could handle three 22” x 22” or three 24” x 24” cushions.
I do like this one below –two large cushions and one lumbar. Simple, easy and yet still looks great.
Here is another example of easy elegance…
And another nice combo without being fussy:
That is probably enough on sizes and numbers of cushions but I will say one other thing. IF you can find feather cushion inserts, use them. They are so soft and add another layer of detail that can really add to a space. The standard cushion is polyfil and it stands very erect without the soft lusciousness of feather. Polyfil also flattens over time and generally wears out faster than feather. In my experience, you will never be disappointed if you use feather.
That about sums up this post for today. I know each designer and each person may have a different perspective. I just urge you to be curious when you are perusing Pinterest. How does this image translate into real life? Does this work for you? By asking yourself these questions it will help you to see beyond the pretty picture and notice how a person may live in the space.