Pillow Fight: Designers Weigh In on Contentious Accessory
It’s a well-known decorating fact that throw pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to change the look of a room. They can add color, texture, interest or a dash of holiday cheer.
But that doesn’t mean everybody appreciates them.
The internet is full of women (and their interior designers) complaining that husbands don’t understand the decorative aspects of throw pillows. Pillow aversion among men is a real thing, says pillow designer Elaine Smith.
“It’s become a joke, but it’s only a joke because it’s true. They don’t understand why we need to have eight pillows on the bed,” she says.
LOVE ‘EM OR HATE ‘EM
Bill Herren designs pillows as part of his job as creative director for Woodard, an outdoor furniture manufacturer in Coppell, Texas.
“I get such grief from everybody about my throw pillows because I love my throw pillows,” he says. “I know why men hate them: They don’t want to put them back.”
The anti-throw-pillow crowd also might not know what to do with the pillows once they remove them from a piece of furniture, says Herren, who introduces a new pillow shape each year for the company’s collection. His solution: “Just throw them on the floor — especially those made with outdoor fabrics. They’re so easy to clean.”
If you don’t want throw pillows to end up on the floor, provide a “drop space” for them, says Suzanne Lasky, an interior designer and owner of S Interior Design in Scottsdale, Ariz. A bench at the foot of the bed, a basket near the couch or a side chair would all do, she said.
“You need that so you don’t get annoyed that your $100 silk pillow is on the floor,” she says.
And if you’re going to indulge in different looks for summer and winter, or holiday-inspired pillows embellished with reindeer or flags, Lasky suggests investing in space saver bags — storage bags that let you compress items by vacuuming out excess air.
She also recommends that “active households” (those with pets, children or messy husbands) consider using pillows made with durable, outdoor fabrics.
TRYING OUT TRENDS
Smith, who designs luxury outdoor pillows in weatherproof fabrics, estimates that about a third of them end up indoors. For some people, pillows are a way to indulge in trends without really making over a room, she said. She often incorporates the latest colors, fabrics and other inspirations from the fashion runway in her work.
Past collections have included a “gladiator pillow” and a “hula pillow” based on clothing Smith spotted on the catwalk.
Also popular are pillows that say something, says Susan Hardin, owner of The Little Birdie pillow company in Calhoun City, Miss. Building on the popularity of small signs and plaques featuring inspirational sayings, she began adding words to her designs. Pillows emblazoned with the words “Be Still” and “Live Simply” are among her top-selling designs.
Color, shape and size all matter when you’re selecting a throw pillow, but nothing is more important than comfort, said Asad Syrkett, a senior editor at the architectural design website Curbed.com. He regularly leans on his favorite accent pillow and uses it to prop up his laptop.
“You want it to look great and be comfortable,” said Syrkett, who once penned a blog post titled, “Throw Pillows: In Defense of a Divisive Home Accessory.”
ODDS OR EVENS
Syrkett considers himself a throw-pillow minimalist, keeping only one on his couch. But he keeps an open mind: “Do what you want. Don’t overthink it.”
Smith says the size of your couch should be a consideration, but agrees there are no firm rules.
“I like an odd number; some people prefer pairs,” she says.