The Little Known Truth About Throw Pillows

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

And Why I’m Proud To Be Called A Pillow Fluffer!

When I was in design school back in the late 80’s, I would quip smugly that interior design is so much more than just figuring out the throw pillows.

Years later, I realized that I was wrong.

Throw pillows are everything.

Well, almost everything.

Don’t believe me? Check out the following rooms and put your finger over the pillows and imagine that same room without them.

Pound-ridge-lr-coffee-table

Above and below by me.

Laurel Bern Interiors Portfolio - throw pillows on a Lee Sofa

 

Veneto_Pillows_Ashley_Whitaker_House_Beautiful_September_2012

Ashley Whittaker via House Beautiful

collins-interiors-pretty-living-room-with-lovely-throw-pillows

Cynthia Collins

A room without beautiful throw pillows would be like Jennifer Aniston jumping out of the shower without blow drying her lovely hair and then showing up on Oscar night in her Versace with massive amounts of frizz. Oh, the tongues would be wagging about that one!

I mean, the pillows are front and center. Put a cheap (but still nice) fabric on the sofa. No one will notice because you spent your wad on the exquisite fabric on the pillows! That is what they and you will notice most.

 

In fact, if you muck up your pillows, you can destroy your room in one fell swoop of goose down.

 

It is very easy to screw up your throw pillows. I see it all the time. Flat, shapeless, limp, lumpy and sad.

We shall have none of that.

What I didn’t realize back in 1988 is that decorative throw pillows are actually quite complex creatures.

 

Here’s the skinny on what to do and look out for.

 

Inserts

 

Unless you’re highly allergic, all throw pillows should be filled with a nice fluffy mixture of down and feathers. Please. The optimal IMO is 50/50 down but 30/70 is fine and even a good quality 10/90 is preferable to some crappy foam insert.

However… for the highly allergic (and I say highly because there are the down/feathers, the down-proof case and then the outer cover between the victim and his allergen), there is something else. It’s usually called a down alternative.

United Pillow actually makes a nice one.

But, please don’t get your real down and feather pillow inserts from United Pillow.

 

That is, unless you like the smell of dead duck. Not joking. It’s a rather foul (haha) odor. I spoke to them about it and they weren’t very helpful. Oh well.

I’ve been getting my down and feather inserts from Cuddle Down. They sell retail and to the trade. The inserts are wonderful! Their standard 90/10 is actually quite nice but their 50/50 is like floating on a cloud.  The latter is a custom order. If anyone knows of any other great sources for down and feather pillow inserts, please let us know.

I can spot a polyester insert in about .0001 seconds. That’s how much they stand out. There is almost nothing that will cheapen your room more quickly. Yes, the down and feather inserts are more money but I think that is an expenditure that is worth every dollar.

 

You want your pillow filling to be nice and full.

 

In fact, better too full than too skimpy. If you are doing say a 20″x20″ throw pillow and your insert is also 20×20, it will be too small. The only exception might be a particularly dense insert, but they usually aren’t dense enough.

 

Here’s the rule:

 

If your pillow is 18″ or larger, then the insert should be two inches larger on each side or 20 x 20.

If it’s a lumbar pillow and one side is smaller or a square with sides less than 18″, the increase is only one inch.

So, if your finished size is 14 x 24 then the insert should be 15 x 26.

I have even gotten a 24×24 insert into a 20″ pillow. Absolutely fine. So better too big than too small. Too small and your pillows will look they had their stomach stapled and lost 100 lbs. No flabby pillows please.

How large should the throw pillows be?

 

Well, it depends on the size of the furniture.

But dinky pillows are not rich.

For most sofas if doing four pillows, I do two @20″ and two @22.”

OH! and BTW, very important. If you don’t already know this, pillows should be measured UNFILLED– from seam to seam (or welt to welt if there’s welting). I got into trouble recently, because one of my vendors measures their pillows filled which is not an industry standard. First of all, it’s impossible to get an accurate and consistent measurement when they are filled.

 

If you order throw pillows from a furniture manufacturer, do not assume that they know the proper way to fill a pillow.

 

Story time.

 

Last year I ordered a whole mess of pillows from CR Laine and furniture too for a wonderful client. Usually, I have the pillows custom-made, but not always. This time, we were using mostly their fabrics and trim, so it made sense to do their pillows.

The size that came with the sofa was 18″. This is what an 18″ pillow looks like.

 

living room bronxville New York

They weren’t made for these chairs. I’ve had these pillows for 20 years and still love them! They are a little small, but acceptable, I think. I would’ve done a 20″ pillow if I had made the pillows for these chairs.

Therefore, I did a custom order and did two pillows at 20″ and two at 22″. You can see that in the images above of my living room and my client’s living room with the yellow sofa. Lumbar pillows are usually about 14″ x 22″ or so. The one in my living room is a non-custom pillow from Bliss Studio.

This client received her CR Laine furniture and was happy. But after weeks, the pillows were bugging her and they were bugging me too a little, quite frankly. I measured them. And they were from 2″ to as much as 4″ larger than specified!

Here they are.

throw-pillows-too-large

Beautiful but mostly a little too big. It’s primarily the black pillows and the ones in the window seat were the really huge ones. The floral pillow is fine.

I called my rep who said that they measure the pillow when it is filled.

What?

How do they know how big to cut it then? That makes no sense because the fill size could be lots of different things depending on how full it is. I’m not trying to be a miss-know-it-all, but in my 24 year working history have never heard of such a thing. We did take care of it and the pillows are perfect now!

For chairs, you will need to measure the inside but it gets a bit tricky because the pillow “shrinks” after it’s filled. I find if the interior is let’s say 20″ wide, I would not go wider than 22″ if a lumbar pillow or 20″ for a square pillow.

Sadly, we can no longer stand behind CR Laine. You can find out why here.

 

My favorite brand for upholstered sofas, chair and ottomans is now Lee Industries.

In fact, for motion furniture, such as recliners, Lee has an amazing collection.

 

 

What else do you need to be concerned about with your throw pillows.

 

 

Make sure they put in zippers. Don’t assume they will, because as soon as you do that, your pillows will come without them. Of course, you’ll want to be able to remove the pillow cover for cleaning purposes.

  • Pillow corners. I like mine pretty sharp. I am not fond of pleated corners. Sharp corners = upscale, expensive. Pleated corners, no.

 

 

The best places to get cool designer throw pillows

 

Well, it used to be that the only way was to have them made. But that was then and now, you can get amazing pillows in zillions of places.

One place to get pillows with expensive designer fabric for not-a-lot-of-$ is Etsy.

 

But here’s what you need to know about Etsy pillows.

 

  • Although it looks like only one person is making them, they are made by many vendors, but there’s an “Etsy style”
  • There’s usually no welting. I actually like this and sometimes do specify pillows without welting as it gives them a little more modern look. But if you like welting, you’ll need to find out if they’ll do that.
  • The expensive fabric is usually only on one side and on the back is something plain and far less expensive. However, they will do the expensive fabric on both sides, but of course the pillow will cost more.
  • The pattern may or may not be centered on the pillow. You’ll need to specify if it’s important to you and/or if it’s a pattern that would look bizarre with an off-center pattern.
  • Is there a particular part of the pattern you’d like to see or not see? Again, you’ll need to expect an upcharge for that.
  • The pillows might not match each other if ordering in pairs. In some situations, I actually prefer that because there’s a huge repeat and/or I won’t get to see parts of the pattern I’d like to see. Sometimes I’ll have them put one part on one side and the other part on the back.
  • The pillows do not come with inserts.

 

Who knew that ordering throw pillows could be so complex?

I didn’t until I started working in the business and that is when I found out the truth.

 

And finally some great sources for throw pillows.

 

Most of these are in Laurel’s Rolodex, but there are dozens more in the rolodex not listed here. The few sources listed* that aren’t yet in the rolodex are going in the next update coming out on November 2nd. Everyone who has purchased the rolodex will be getting a free update!

 

sources-for-throw-pillows

Just a teensy sampling above with sources like Quadrille, F. Schumacher, Scalamandre, etc. Please pin to pinterest if you like!

 

Etsy (lots and lots of great places, but these are three that I particularly like)

Pop O Color on Etsy

Lynn Chalk* (also fabulous window treatments!)

Spark Modern

Williams Sonoma Home

Serena and Lily

Janet Kain Home*

Eastern Accents

Lacefield

Layla Grace

Artemisia*

Bliss Home and Design (Bliss Studio for some of the line to the trade)

Shop Candelabra

My Two Designers*

John Robshaw

Caitlin Wilson

One Kings Lane

 

One last tip. If you are looking for something on Etsy but don’t know where to find it. let’s say you see a designer fabric like a Quadrille fabric for example. Go to your google search box and put in the name of the fabric and pillow and Etsy too, if you like. Hit images. They’ll all pop up. :]

 

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

  • Susan - March 15, 2017 - 5:06 PM

    Hi! I’m so glad I happened upon your site here! I am in the process of redoing an outdoor screened in porch and was hoping for ideas for throw pillows (without resorting to stiff looking sunbrella fabrics). I don’t think I can use any down there because of mildew or dampness creating a possible odor. The floor is an extension of the brick patio and is not heated. Do you have any tips specific to that sort of situation? I found a great new indoor/outdoor fabric for the cushions. The porch adjoins the patio and a pool and accommodates wet kids, dogs, etc. It is like a wonderful outdoor living/dining room for our family and friends for 5-6 months a year..
    Many thanks,
    SusanReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 15, 2017 - 5:45 PM

      Hi Susan,

      There are lots of sources for outdoor pillows that look great like Pottery Barn, Ballard Design, etc. Perhaps try doing a google search. The new outdoor fabrics have come a very long way and are not nearly as stiff as the older generation. In fact, some are quite high-end and they even make velvets in outdoor fabrics.ReplyCancel

  • Jane Kilpatrick Schott - November 29, 2016 - 12:36 AM

    I also sell one of a kind pillows as I have always been a textile whore. I had to do something with all my textiles and trims that I have collected over the past 40 years and with my little shop on ETSY and eBay, I can find good homes for them.

    I always use zippers and recommend down inserts going by the 2″ larger rule of thumb. I keep my buyers aware of what makes a pillow good looking and what will give them a lifetime of enjoyment. (Twice a year put the inserts into the dryer with a tennis ball and a fabric sheet…they will live forever.)

    I love Fortuny, historical textiles, To the Trade discontinued fabrics, French metallic trims, antique fabrics and anything that winks at me. Along with my imagination, this keeps my pillows exciting for buyers.

    This was a fantastic post on a topic that I love and you were right about everything. This was so informative about a subject most people don’t think about. It’s all about pillows.

    Thank you.

    Jane Schott
    Empress of The Eye CollectionReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 29, 2016 - 11:40 AM

      Hi Jane,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! I checked out your pillows. Gorgeous!!!ReplyCancel

  • Christina - October 8, 2016 - 8:53 PM

    Hi Laurel
    I really like reading your blog, it’s fun and easy to follow. And even if it appears that I always disagree with you, it isn’t so. I guess it is only when I do that I write a comment, lol.

    It isn’t even as if I disagree with you in this case, it is more a question of end-user-comfort. When you jazz up a sofa or chair with cushions/pillows, where does your best friend who is visiting for coffee and chat actually put her bottom? Does she try to fit in between the pillows or throw them all on the floor or ? I have seen sofas (some years ago, they don’t seem to be so fashionable now, PTL*) that had what was somewhat tautologically called ‘pillow back’ in which the sofa had no padded back, just gazillions of pillows all piled on.

    I do like to use cushions on sofas and chairs. Like you, I find they add a certain je ne sais quoi to the room. A room without cushions is like soup without salt, imho. But sometimes the room can be oversalted I think.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 8, 2016 - 11:22 PM

      Hi Christina,

      Yes, it’s possible to overdo a good thing. BTW, I think that there are a few Christinas who comment and there are no photos usually for me to be able to see which one it is. ReplyCancel

      • Christina F - October 9, 2016 - 9:52 PM

        I am the Australian one, who doesn’t particularly care for the style of William McClure. The idea of using my good books as coasters fills me with a strange feeling of protectiveness, lol. Anyway, from now on I will sign with Christina F and hope there aren’t more of them.ReplyCancel

  • nancy - October 2, 2016 - 11:15 AM

    I have a euro pillow of fake “down” and made that cover 2 inches smaller, according to the rule. I ended up with this giant hard knot of a pillow that I can’t stand and didn’t know why.
    My husband and I just bought a RV and it seems I have come across my adult dollhouse. I bought 8 feather down inserts because only the best for The Dollhouse. They are so soft and now I understand why the covers should be smaller. It seems the size of the cover depends on the firmness of the insert.
    Thank you for this post, it couldn’t have come at a better time.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 2, 2016 - 1:21 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      They need to be bigger because of course, there’s air in the insert and when the pillow gets mushed down, the air goes and then the pillow cover becomes too big. Having a larger insert makes the need to fluff less frequent and a lot easier.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - September 30, 2016 - 2:43 PM

    For Laurel and readers. Since Laurel links to Caitlin Wilson above, I’ll add that I am very pleased with the pillow covers I ordered from CW last year. The zippers are a bright brass. Construction great. Love the fabrics: 3 beautiful prints and solids with Greek Key trim. I ordered fabric, too, and customer service was great. I had a question before I ordered and I received a personal (from a real person) and timely response.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 30, 2016 - 11:13 PM

      Hi Libby,

      Thanks for sharing the endorsement about Caitlin Wilson. I’ve spoken to them too and agree! ReplyCancel

  • Libby - September 27, 2016 - 11:25 PM

    Thanks for the sources and outlining even more pillow pitfalls I was not aware of. The CR Laine story is very good to know. You’re looking out for us!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 27, 2016 - 11:50 PM

      Hi Libby,

      As I always say… Mistakes are an inevitable part of this business. I just try not to make the same ones twice!ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - September 27, 2016 - 8:52 PM

    Another one of those why-didn’t-somebody-tell-us-this posts, Laurel! I have sewn sofa and chair pillows all my life from good fabrics, but I’ve had to figure it out as I went, reasoning from garment sewing rules. I’ve never seen this subject addressed so completely. Nor had I really understood how much difference pillows could make. Looking at your “with” and “without” pillows photos, I went straight into my living room and realized that with wise choices, I can get by without upholstering my sofa simply by changing out pillows. That would make it possible for me to have the love seat, which really needs it, upholstered. Oh glory! One question: I usually line pillows with a tight-weave cotton. What about that?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 27, 2016 - 11:22 PM

      Hi Gaye,

      If you’re using a high-quality insert with down-proof fabric, it shouldn’t be necessary to line. It doesn’t hurt though either, I suppose. Some delicate and/or looser weave fabrics, however, I’ve sent out to get knit backing. ReplyCancel

  • Emma - September 26, 2016 - 3:29 PM

    In response to your request for other good sources of down pillow inserts might I recommend Ronco Industries in California. They have a wide selection and are happy to accommodate custom requests. I have ordered down and down alternative pillows from them as well as down seat cushion inserts for reupholstered projects. They are quick and very friendly. The prices are very reasonable as well. To the trade only. Love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 26, 2016 - 5:05 PM

      Hi Emma,

      Thank you so much for that. I will add that to Laurel’s Rolodex for the next update coming out in about 5 weeks.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Winter - September 25, 2016 - 5:10 PM

    Laurel, my male German Shepherd has an affinity for expensive down pillows. I looked out my window on 2 occasions to find Christmas in July all over my back yard. I could salvage one, but not the other. I need to restuff it but I am hesitant to use down. The pillows were equestrian themed from Two’s Company. Any suggestions besides the obvious regarding the dog… Apparently, down pillows make great tug of war toys…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 25, 2016 - 5:27 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      Well, is he going for the down or the pillow itself? And is there something about that particular feather/down pillow that he’s attracted to?

      But if it’s the down/feather pillow then perhaps a down alternative product. There’s a link in the post for that.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - September 24, 2016 - 4:21 PM

    Laurel! I love all your posts – they’re informative, educational and because of your sense of humor, memorable. However, I consider this one to be a public service – in all my years of reading numerous interior design blogs I HAVE NEVER SEEN PILLOW INSERTS ADDRESSED. Tons of discussions about throw pillows, yes, but not the importance of the inserts – and then you told us how to measure and size for them!! Your comment about, “I can spot a polyester insert in .0001 seconds” made me sit straight up in bed, then run downstairs to check my pillows! About half came with down inserts – to which I was completely ignorant – and I too now recognize the polyfill inserts! Orders have been placed for all those and that shall be promptly rectified. THANK YOU, LAUREL!ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - September 24, 2016 - 10:22 AM

    Very informative post Laurel but do hope you don’t mind me adding two more tips. 1) Re sizing; remember some trims will add visual dimension to a finished product. i.e: Bullion, brushed, tassel, beaded as well as certain types of cording. 2) For a Down or Feathered casing/insert ensure that your fabric is tightly woven with at least a 200 to 230 thread count and is considered feathered-proof. i.e.: Because a fabric is described as ‘ticking’ does not necessarily mean it is suitable for such. Also; as I have always made my own toss cushions I find a combination of both Down and Feathers works best with their ratio depending upon their size, style and use. (The same rule applies to wraps.)
    -Brenda-ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie - September 23, 2016 - 7:48 PM

    Thank you for this subject! Throw pillows are something I just can`t seem to get right. I have leather living room furniture as leather seems to fare better than fabric in our warmer, humid Florida weather. I do not care for leather pillows as I do like a softer look and feel but when I use fabric pillows, something seems to clash. I don`t know if it is the mixture of textures or maybe it`s just me. Do you have any suggestions for leather furniture and throw pillows? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Catherine - September 24, 2016 - 3:37 AM

      Hey, just a thought but maybe try a rougher fabric… on the theory that it will clash less with leather (think saddle + saddle blanket)?

      Maybe oriental rug pillows (like this: http://www.findingsilverpennies.com/2015/02/oriental-rug-pillows.html), or kilim pillows (https://www.pinterest.com/explore/kilim-pillows/)?

      But as Laurel says, hard to know if this is at all the kind of look that would work for your space without a designer seeing it.ReplyCancel

      • Jeannine - September 25, 2016 - 10:39 AM

        Thank you for your suggestions Catherine! I will take a look! I like the idea of adding more visual texture or even heavy velvets as throw pillows on leather tend to slip and slide around a bit. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 23, 2016 - 11:22 PM

      Hi Jeannie,

      I here your struggle, but since I’m not there to see what’s going on, it would be very difficult to give you any advice. I recommend that you hire a designer. Or you could look on pinterest for ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - September 22, 2016 - 9:36 PM

    Hi Laurel, I’m a big proponent of down alternatives now that I’m aware of how, in most cases, ducks and geese are abused to get that comfy down. I’m sure some may not be bothered by this process. But, it may be helpful to get educated about the process commonly used and make a conscious decision to continue to use down or not.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 9:55 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      I’m all for learning new things.

      http://responsibledown.org/

      ReplyCancel

      • Michelle - September 23, 2016 - 12:22 AM

        Oh Laurel, that is a fantastic website! Thanks for sharing the link. It’s so good to know there are sources that treat the animals respectfully.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 23, 2016 - 12:05 PM

          Hi Michelle,

          I agree and admit it’s not something I had thought about. I guess it’s assumed that animals would be treated humanely, but I imagine that’s just my naivete at work.

          Some people will do anything to make a buck. ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - September 22, 2016 - 7:29 PM

    This is a really helpful and informative post. Thanks so much, Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Carol - September 22, 2016 - 1:27 PM

    Hi Laurel great post and I have a question. My daughter gave me her Bernhardt sofa several years ago and I’am keeping it until I die. It has 4-24″ square loose pillows for the back and 2 seats cushions. The back pillows and cushions are down filled and probably some feathers but I don’t know the ratio. The back pillows are getting a bit flat and wondering what would you suggest refreshing them. Could I use regular down pillows inserts like from Cuddle Down or similar or do I need a reupholster to make new pillows. Several years I had Calico Corners make new loose back pillows and cushions for 2 chairs, that were down/feather filled, and they never fit right like the original cushions. Since the sofa back pillow aren’t a typical throw pillow and I want to add throw pillows what do you think? ThanksReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 3:01 PM

      Hi Carol,

      If the cushions are just down and feathers, they will need frequent fluffing in order to not look flat. Other than that, if there’s an upholsterer in your area that knows what he’s doing, he could fix them.

      Or call Bernhardt and see what they suggest.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Neylan - September 22, 2016 - 1:03 PM

    Terrific post Laurel – and the tip to search by fabric. Just did it. Thank you, Thank you. Love your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Chris - September 22, 2016 - 12:50 PM

    Oh Laurel,this is such an important post!
    Not having throw pillows is like putting on your full-face make-up, only to forget your mascara! Mascara is a small item, but it alone makes the whole thing work by adding expression to the eyes.
    By having the incorrect pillows, it’s like using the wrong fake lashes and just looking silly.
    My Bavarian grandmother in Munich, born in 1909 and who passed in 2001 (and btw was the most fantastic person I have ever met), was a down-comforter/pillow seamstress her whole life.
    She made the most incredible luxurious down comforters.
    I still have 2 that she made in 1955, that are so fantastic, light and fluffy to this very day, over 60 years later. Try that with fiberfill!
    The more down percent in the mix, the lighter and fluffier the pillow or comforter will be.
    She always said that down-feathers need air and some sunlight to remain healthy. This is why in old Europe, every morning one used to see all bedroom windows opened wide, and down comforters and pillows fluffed up and resting on the window sills to air out, before the bed was made.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:57 PM

      Hi Chris,

      What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. Thank you for sharing that!

      And yes, the sun is a natural sanitizer/cleaner. Not for stains, but just general funkiness.

      And a little is good for us too! I found out about 13 months that I was very low in vitamin D, so now, I try to get about an hour’s worth every week while the sun is above 40 degrees for part of the day. Below 40 degrees is not as beneficial.ReplyCancel

  • Suzi - September 22, 2016 - 11:47 AM

    I always make my own pillows and I will try putting a bigger pillow form on the inside. I love Cuddledown and have ordered their forms. Here is another reason to order from them – I had made new pillows and thought that I would try to “buy local” and went to an upscale home decor fabric store that I knew had down inserts for sale. I bought them, inserted them into my newly made pillows, put them on the couches and when I sat on the couch I started to get poked by the feather tips – ouch!! The fabric that Cuddledown uses must have a higher thread count, because their tips do not poke through.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:53 PM

      Hi Suzi,

      And, the “upscale” store is also using crap feathers and a very low percentage of down, it sounds like. (eyes rolling) Sometimes it’s as low as 5%.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy DeBord - September 22, 2016 - 11:07 AM

    Thank-you for this incredible list of resources. I’ve been trying to find quality designs and haven’t found any quite this exciting.

    Would you please write an article on how to choose the right color, pattern and style pillows, please? I have a very neutral palate in my home (which is very small)of grey, black, white and woods like cherry and light birch and I really don’t know how to choose the right pillows for accent.

    Because my home is small and very open from room to room; part of me wants a little splash of color (but I don’t know how choose something that is fun but not too distracting). The other part of me thinks I need to stay with my color palate and just add layers of texture, so the rooms all work together in harmony.

    HELP!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:51 PM

      Hi Wendy,

      It ain’t easy is it? First of all, I can’t say from here because there are so many factors such as what style is the furniture, what’s on the floor? Wall color? Art? Location of the home. And the list goes on.

      But… Greens would look smashing with a largely black and white palette.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy Robertson - September 22, 2016 - 9:52 AM

    Fabulous post, Laurel. I’ve always admired the way you style sofas with just the right combination of throw pillows. My all time favorite is the living room sofa you did for the house in Pelham, NY (11/19/15 post), the one with the Le Lac and zebra/tiger print — wow! It has served as inspiration to me in my own living room sofa pillow redo.

    Sewing is my hobby and I’ve made dozens of throw pillows for my house over the past decade and have learned many workroom tricks. Like you, I prefer squared corners, welting, centered designs, richly full down/feather fills, and zipper closures. Also, because I don’t like rabbit ears, I taper the edges, so each corner forms a 90 degree angle.

    Pillows are relatively easy to sew, and I can make them using designer fabrics for a fraction of the retail price. For example, I can buy Lacefield fabric on ebay for under $20 per yard and sew a pair of 20″ pillows with plain backs. The same pair of pillows cost $300+ on the Lacefield webite. This means I can keep experimenting until I get exactly the look I want.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:47 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing all of that.ReplyCancel

  • Lauen - September 22, 2016 - 9:46 AM

    Hi Laurel! Love your blog. I’m wondering what you think is the best way to clean throw pillow covers. Can any neighborhood dry cleaner do the job? I’m terrified to throw them in the wash.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:42 PM

      Hi is it Lauen or Lauren?

      It depends on the fabric, but for most fabrics unless it’s an outdoor fabric, I would have them dry cleaned. If it’s 100% polyester, you can throw them in the wash and dry on fluff or air dry.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy D Molstad - September 22, 2016 - 8:00 AM

    Thank you for dispensing some (but not all ;)) of your real-world nitty-gritty knowledge! THAT’S the stuff I need to know!

    I recently bought a sofa and loveseat with attached-back pillows. Now it seems that I must use throw pillows that are smaller than the attached ones and fewer pillows as well. Am I right?

    Thank you, Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:39 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      It depends on how deep the seat is and if it’s more of a lounging sofa or conversing sofa.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany R. - September 22, 2016 - 6:09 AM

    I’ve had luck at buying down pillows from TJMaxx-more in my price range, but I’ve since stopped buying down-filled products when I learned about how the down is obtained. Some is taken from ducks and geese after they’ve been killed for food purposes but others are live plucked 😔 It had actually never crossed my mind to think where this stuff came from. I’ve looked into alternative inserts and products but haven’t tried any yet. I wonder if any of your readers have?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 2:38 PM

      Hi Brittany,

      Oh that’s awful if that’s true about getting down and feathers in that manner.

      I’ve used the down alternative and it’s actually quite nice. I would possibly get the insert even larger just because I don’t think the pillow is quite full enough. There’s a link in the post to United Pillow where I got mine. I got them for a client once. And I have a pillow because several years ago, I did a little show and had some pillows made and didn’t want to spend a lot of money for the inserts.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Porkovich - September 22, 2016 - 5:04 AM

    Thanks for the great post!

    I agree with you about the feather/down fill for the pillows. I’m in the “highly allergic category but still prefer to use them over synthetic–I just avoid face-in-the-pillow when I’m on the lounge and too much fluffing between cover cleaning.ReplyCancel

  • Joyce - September 22, 2016 - 1:39 AM

    Laurel, how do you feel about Company C for pillows? I ordered one of their velvet pillows once and it was absolutely gorgeous, but I had to return it because it was way bigger than what I needed. (I guessed on the size and guessed wrong.)ReplyCancel

  • Christine V - September 22, 2016 - 12:52 AM

    and OMG Best of luck to you in your quest for the perfect Rolodex update minion, err I mean assistant!! Looking forward to the update :]ReplyCancel

  • Christine V - September 22, 2016 - 12:50 AM

    Laurel,

    There are times that I feel you may be stalking me! Were you the woman with the cart who almost ran me down earlier today when I was looking for the perfect oatmeal pillow to go with my pumpkin pillow? Mm…and maybe three other “seasonal” pillows I picked up. Say it isn’t so! Actually, I’m sure it wasn’t you shopping at home goods! Ha! But the timing really was crazy

    Great post. I wondered why I felt less than thrilled with some of my 20″ pillows and I thought it was their skinny look, and now I know!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 11:46 AM

      Hi Christine,

      No, it wasn’t me. I was glued to my computer all day! lol

      I actually went to HG for the first time a year ago and loved it!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - September 22, 2016 - 12:18 AM

    Hooray! So I did the right thing ordering the Cuddledown pillows!! Even though they’re not throw pillows, they’re the ones to use in bed.
    And yep..I’m one of these highly allergic people.

    Judging by the amount of throw pillows in my home though-I’m not that allergic to throw pillows. I’m pretty nuts about throw pillows. (And throws too). Not too healthy for home economics..but very beneficial to mental health.

    I prefer mine being either linen or velvet, although I have some great cotton ones too. I like embroidery and patterns and colors and texture. I have suzani, otomi, ikat, flowers, dots, a pillow with the cutest print on it (from Ferm Living. I suspect it’s from their kids collection)), a woolen pillow in shape of an apple (that was also probably made with toddlers in mind), and several others. I even have a butterfly shaped pillow-great for the corner of the sectional.And for me, since I usually occupy the corner.
    And I used to have a very strange but super comfy round pillow, a crewelwork in dark pink tones..but had to style the tiny apartment for my Mother-in-law. I needed a pink element..:)
    Strangely, all my mish mash works, because of (mostly)shared colors and shades.

    One of the pillows is from Anthropologie, the rest-mostly from OneKingsLane. I have one from Etsy too.

    It sounds awful amount of pillows, but in reality it is not. Probably because I’m not a fan of pairs..I like asymmetry. So three throw pillows for sofas, one for an armchair, three for a queen bed, one for a twin. And couple that I’m rotating as the mood strikes.

    I heard about the trick of putting the smaller cover on the bigger insert. Great idea. Mine do seem skimpy sometimes..i need to fluff them and all.I should take your advice and run with it. I just don’t know when I’ll get to it..

    I’d really want to have a pillow cover made in William Morris fabric. I saw recently one with a hare..while I was dreaming it was already sold. And a pillow by Judy Ross would be great too. It’s never ending..

    So many new resources in your post, that I didn’t hear about yet.I have a feeling that I’ll need all my willpower.But I’ll find it within myself..I hope:)

    Wow, I get really talkative when the subject is pillows. Maybe my older brother hit me on the head with a throw pillow when I was little?

    If you do a post about throws?..Will I be able to shut up sooner?

    As always, thank you for the great post, Laurel! It’s so cool to learn from you.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis - September 21, 2016 - 11:04 PM

    I had to chuckle about your comment above:”When I was in design school back in the late 80’s, I would quip smugly that interior design is so much more than just figuring out the throw pillows..” because when I was in architecture school, we used to make fun of the interior design students for thinking throw pillows were so important! Now, decades later (I am about your age), I finally understand WHY throw pillows are so important and I love them! I also have learned so much about interior design that I never realized before from some of the many wonderful, educational online blogs, like yours. I’ve learned that great interior design takes more than just “talent” and money- (though that helps tremendously, I’m sure), I can see now that there are real technical as well as design principles involved. BTW, architects’ favorite interior paint colors always seem to be white because they never learned anything about selecting colors in architecture school!
    I got out of the profession myself when I finally became a stay at home mom. To tell the truth, I was tired of designing things like roof flashing details—I wish I had gone into interior design–I would much rather be designing, or looking for, the perfect throw pillow! Ha, ha!
    I’m more in the “Home Goods clearance sale” throw pillow price range myself, but find it fascinating to learn what high-end designers do and what they look for, etc!
    Thanks for an interesting and educational post! I love your writing style, humor and style!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2016 - 11:44 AM

      Hi Phyllis,

      Thanks so much for your darling note! I think it’s commonly thought that what we do isn’t that difficult or require training and so forth. The reality is, while it may look effortless, it’s a business fraught with more pitfalls, than craters on the moon!ReplyCancel

  • Kathi - September 21, 2016 - 10:59 PM

    What a fantastic post- I think I have a pillow fetish-haha-I ordered my new Ikat pillows on Etsy and the pattern was totally off kilter and she replaced them all right away with the pattern perfect-I am a big Etsy fan-thanx for all that you do,Laure!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 11:44 PM

      Hi Kathi,

      I can think of worse things to have a fetish about. lol Great, she remade the pillows for you!ReplyCancel

  • Teri - September 21, 2016 - 10:49 PM

    Whenever I see a cute pillow on Etsy, I am afraid to order it because I have no idea whether or not it will fall apart. It helps to have a recommendation. Thanks.

    I hate a cheap looking pillow.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 10:57 PM

      Hi Teri,

      Well, they have reviews and you can see how many orders they’ve created.

      For instance. For Pop O’ Color

      Boston, Massachusetts
      20779 Sales On Etsy since 2011
      5 out of 5 stars
      (2898)

      She must be doing something right to have all of those orders and positive reviews. I’ve found the vendors on Etsy to all be super-nice.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Bates - September 21, 2016 - 8:38 PM

    Great post, Laurel! I am actually in the process of opening a shop on my website, where I’ll be selling custom pillows im designing with the down inserts, and hopefully working a deal with a very special lady you might also know, who resides in Louisiana, to sell a few of hers as well. Very excited about this!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 8:42 PM

      Oh, that’s fabulous Heather. I can’t wait to see it! All the best with that venture.ReplyCancel