Pillow Talk

Happy New Year!  Sitting around the dinner table last night, the conversation turned to what the new year means to each of us. For some, it’s just another day. For me, I have an inherent desire to refresh and renew. This translates into 1) taking down holiday decorations, 2) new paint for one of the bedrooms and 3) swapping out pillows. 

I was in a store the other day and a fellow shopper turned to me, holding out two burgundy pillows.  She asked “Which one do you like better? It’s for my living room.”  I told her I preferred the one with more texture, then gave my usual advice (I get asked these questions a lot).  “Get both and decide when you’re at home – the lighting will be much different there and you’ll get to see the pillow with your other furnishings.” She thanked me, took my advice, and left me there in the pillow aisle as I contemplated my next blog entry.

As I stood in the midst of velour, velvet, chiffon flowers, striped upholstery and embroidered cotton, I realized how daunting it can be to simply choose a couple of pillows for a sofa. First off, they can be expensive.  And the two accent pillows they throw in with the couch are usually too small and not very comfortable.  And how many do you need? 

1) My favorite place to shop for pillows is at one of the discount retail stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Ross.  At full price, a good quality pillow runs between $50-100. At one of the discount stores, you can find the same pillow for $20-40.

2) For most sofas, five pillows is the magic number. For loveseats, it’s three. Pillows on chairs are optional.

3) The size of pillow should complement the size of furniture. If you have a petite, tailored, mid-century modern sofa with pole legs, stay away from gigantic fluffy marshmallow pillows and choose something tailored instead. If you have a gigantic sectional with mushy seating, dive right in and surround yourself with big fluffy pillows.  The safest bet? Go with standard sized pillows: 18×18.

4) Every home magazine suggests swapping out pillows for the seasons.  While I’m a big proponent of changing a look with new pillows, not all of us have room to store 15 fluff balls all year long (4 seasons, 5 pillows each season… that’s 5 on the couch and 15 in a closet – sheesh!).  If you’re in the same boat, consider purchasing five 18×18 pillow inserts, then invest in much-easier-to-store pillow covers to change the look. Nope, HomeGoods, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls don’t sell just the pillow covers, but you can look for standard sizes with covers that can be removed, then donate the unused pillow inserts.

5) How to combine? Assuming your couch is a solid, neutral color (tan, beige, cream, brown or black), you can go to town with combining pillows to suit your personality and taste.  Choose two pillows with complementary patterns and colors, then choose another three for their color and texture. 

I’ve put together four seasons’ worth of pillows below.  If you want these exact same looks, click on the picture to go directly to Project Decor, where you can purchase the slipcovers for your very own. Or use these photos as a guide and create your own combinations. Happy New Year!


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