I am the first to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for those squares, rectangles and even circles of seemingly random pieces of fabric bound together and placed gently on my bed, my sofa and the chair in the living room. I indulge in my pillow compulsion with abandon; making my world a softer, cozier, more colorful space. To me, they are not just pillows, but small bits of bright (and useful) artwork, adding texture, pattern and fun to all the rooms in my home.
NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY FACE, IT'S WHAT'S ON THE INSIDE THAT MATTERS
Aside from the fabric that covers these fluffy little wonders that change the look of a space with a toss and some fringe, it is what’s inside that really matters.
Take a look at the pillows on your sofa. Are they flat, or lumpy? Do they seem lifeless and look uncomfortable? Odds are the inserts are made of polyester, fiberfill or worst case, just plain foam. Nothing cheapens a room more than a flat pillow.
GET DOWN WITH DOWN
A fluffy pillow is a good pillow. The best reason to to buy a down insert is because down is pliable. It will conform to your body and support your back or in my case (she says surrounded by a nest of pillows on the sofa) it supports my arm as an armrest, or a place to balance my IPad while working from the comfort of my couch.
Down pillows will also last longer and be revitalized with a toss and a fluff. Trust me on this one, even though a down insert can be a little more expensive than a poly insert, it’s well worth the cost. (but read on because I have a tip for saving money on down inserts…)
Most sofas can handle about four pillows. A couple of 20” x 20” pillows and a couple 24” x 24”. Layering pillows adds depth. You can also do an asymmetrical arrangement with two pillows on one side and one on the other end. But, that’s not what I’m talking about when I say that size matters. When buying an insert for a pillow cover, go big or go home. Measure the cover from side to side. If you’ve got an 18” square, buy a 20” square insert. Always go a size up with the insert to make sure the pillow cover is filled and isn’t wimpy.
TO WELT OR NOT TO WELT
The cording around the edge of the pillow is called a welt. Welting adds a nice finishing touch to a pillow. A contrast welt (using a different color cording or a coordinating fabric) is a great way to marry colors and fabrics in a decorating scheme. You can also embellish with fringe or get a boho look with tassels or pompons on the corners. A pillow without a welt gives off a clean modern vibe. Personally, I like to mix it up and have some pillows with a welt, some without.
The fabric covering the insert is called ticking. The ticking should be a tightly woven cotton that prevents the feathers from coming through. If you run your hand over the insert you should be able to tell if the feathers are poking out, and if they are it’s probably not high quality ticking.
ZIP IT UP
If you are having pillows custom made, make sure you specify a zipper. Most work rooms make the covers and then have you put in the inserts so of course they will come with a zipper, but just to be on the safe side, ask. And if you are buying pillows off the rack, it is great if they have zippers so you can clean the covers if you need to. There’s another reason to look for zippers when buying ready-made…read on.
GET TO THE PART ABOUT SAVING MONEY
This is a long held secret I’m about to share with you. If you are looking for inexpensive pillow inserts, and who isn’t? Head to the clearance section of your local HomeGoods, TJ’s or even Fred Meyer. Don’t pay attention to what the cover looks like, check and see if it has a zipper then reach your hand in and feel the insert. Is it down? Do the feathers poke out? Is it the right size? I have bought many pillows on clearance and just used the inserts for my custom pillows. Using this method, you will pay less for inserts and have more money for fabulous fabrics to make into pillows.
Use plastic grocery store bags to stuff outdoor pillows. Since these pillows are mostly for looks, they don’t need to have the pliability of down and you shouldn’t use down outside anyway. Moisture is down’s greatest enemy. You will need quite a few grocery bags to stuff a single pillow but who isn’t looking for ways to reuse and recycle?
The pillows on my sofa are my pile of leaves in the fall. I hibernate with three or four of my favorites on my bed during the gray winters of Seattle. In the spring, fresh floral patterns come out just as the flowers sprout in the garden. I have a chaise lounge on my deck piled high with pillows, my feathered nest in the summer. In such a hard edged world, is it really so terrible to surround yourself in sumptuous softness?
Let me help make your world a little softer. Drop me a line.