Decorative Pillows

Sally Painter
Decorative Pillows

If your room needs a lift, experiment with decorative pillows for an immediate splash of color and pattern. Almost any room can benefit from new pillows - living rooms, bedrooms, breakfast nooks, dens, and home theaters - just to name a few.

Decorating with Pillows

Think of decorative pillows as your personal style wrapped up in a petite but potent package. For those with color phobias, pillows are a great way to dip into the brave world of color. If you're fond of a bold hue like red or yellow, start with a few vibrant throw pillows on a sofa or chair. The same principle applies to daring patterns like hounds tooth, tartan plaid, or animal prints.

Some designer pillows:

  • Horchow: Exquisite designer selection of decorative pillows in a variety of fabrics, including leather. Price range $60 to $425.
  • Country Curtains: Pillows with whimsical and colorful designs in price ranges $29.50 to $59.50.
  • Grandinroad: Hand-hooked front designs with velvet backs and embroidered and applique pillows at reasonable prices starting at $39.00.

Pillow Layering

Many designers recommend buying large furniture pieces like sofas and loveseats in neutral tones and small scale patterns. With the major furnishings in place, decorative pillows can be layered to add color, pattern, or play up a theme. This makes the room's design more versatile since the pillows can be swiftly changed or updated at any time.

Pillow layering can also be a fun design element for a bed, where you can use varying sizes and styles of pillows, especially the popular bolster pillow.

  • Formal pillow layering: Use even numbers. Select two main colors and designs. Pillows should be same size.
  • Informal pillow layering: Use odd numbers. Mix textures, designs and colors. Can use same size pillows or mix sizes.
  • Color play: Select bold pattern for main pillows. Choose two colors from pattern for solid color accent pillows.

Reversible Designs

A sensible tip for decorative pillows is to buy reversible designs. Plenty of retail home décor stores offer pillows that have one fabric on the front and a different fabric on the back. Often times the fabric combination is a print mixed with a coordinating solid or stripe. This reversibility allows you to have two looks for the price of one - display a botanical pattern one day and a solid color the next day.

Different Types of Closures

You have several options for the way your pillows are constructed. This includes the closure. The following types of closures can be formal or informal depending on the type of fabric, texture, patterns and color.

  • Envelope or Overlap: Shams have envelope closures as can other pillow forms. The back opening where the pillow is inserted is tucked between two overlapping pieces of fabric.
  • Zippers: Zippers are easy to use and often ideal for decorative pillows that require frequent cleaning.
  • Buttons: Buttons can be both functional and decorative and they make outstanding pillow closures.
  • No Closure: This pillow construction is sewn closed. It's easier to make, but is more difficult to clean the fabric.

Creative Embellishments

Decorative pillows are the perfect opportunity to use luxurious fabric and trim to dress up less expensive sofas, chairs, and bedding. The average 14-inch square pillow requires only about one-half yard of fabric.

If you've had your eye on a gorgeous embroidered silk fabric that is $85 per yard, then consider making a couple pillows out of just one yard. Be sure to make the pillow covers removable for easier cleaning with the addition of a hidden zipper.

Whether you buy decorative pillows at a retail store or have them custom-made, embellished pillows can be used in both formal and informal décors. There are many embellishment options to consider:

turkish pillows
  • Beaded trim
  • Braided rope trim
  • Brush fringe
  • Bullion fringe
  • Buttons
  • Cording or welt
  • Eyelash fringe
  • Feather trim
  • Leather fringe
  • Pillow forms (feathers, poly, or foam)
  • Ruffles or flange
  • Tassels

Types of Pillow Construction

The most popular types of pillow construction include:

  • Knife-edge: This most common pillow construction secures the front and back pillow panels together with one main seam. This creates a pillow with a thicker center than the edges and corners.
  • Box edge: This pillow can be either a rectangular or square block shape although round and triangular variations are also popular. The edges are uniformly as thick as the middle.
  • Bolster: Also called neck rolls, these cylinder-shaped pillows are constructed out of tubes of fabric connected with circles of fabric on each end. The end seams are often welted.
  • Flange: A piece of extended fabric is carried beyond the actual pillow size to frame the pillow either in a straight, scalloped or ruffle finished. This is a popular sham finish.

Inexpensive Decorative Pillows

You don't have to spend a fortune to create a designer look with pillows. Seek out discount stores and steep markdowns for some true treasures. There are several stores that feature inexpensive decorative and designer pillows:

  • World Market: Inexpensive pillows starting at $9.99 are available in both indoor and outdoor styles. Many hand-painted and embroidered designs sell for between $17.99 and $29.99.
  • Light in the Box: These pillows range from whimsical to formal with an average price range between $6.99 and $15.99.
  • Pier 1: You can find a wide selection of pillows that start around $17.99, with an average range of around $20.

Floor Pillows

The next time you think of added seating space, opt for some decorative floor pillows. These pillows will add a cozy element to your room's décor and provide you a cheap way to change the ambiance of your room. The use of colors and textures can transform a formal décor into a casual and fun room.

Floor pillows are great to use when you need additional seating in a family room or den. Use them for sitting around a television to watch a movie or play a video game.

decorative floor pillows
  • Sizes and shapes: A wide range of sizes and shapes add dramatic flair.
  • Fabrics: Select fabrics that withstand spills and take harsher treatment than throw pillows on your sofa.
  • Foam: Choose high-density foam for better support and comfort. Dense foam retains its shape.

Some great floor pillow finds:

  • Ottoman floor pillow: World Market offers ottoman pillows as well as round and square styles in a large selection of fabric choices, either with or without a welt trim.
  • Round: Berkshire Blanket has a large selection of round pouf styles for ultimate comfort.
  • Oversized: My Pillow Place sells overstuffed and ultra large pillows in solid colors.
  • Square: Room and Board offers 24" square button style pillows that are 9" thick and available in several fabric choices.
  • Pillow sacks: Pillow Sack Chairs are available in various shapes and sizes and offered in solid colors with a few colorful designs. High-end "quick memory" foam returns to original shape.
  • Large variety: Wayfair offers some of the largest selections of all sizes, styles and fabrics.

Tips for Using Pillows as Design Elements

Pillows can transform any room by adding texture and color. Pillows can carry an accent color deeper into your room design or introduce a new splash of color to a décor. You can change out pillows for holiday seasons and add to a festive celebration. There are enough pillow sizes and shapes to fit all of your design needs.

Decorative Pillows