By: Kelly Lee-Creel
Family rooms are one of the most seen and frequently visited spaces in our homes, so it should come as no surprise when we crave a bit of a change. The good news is that swapping out a few colorful throw pillows can give your family room a whole new lease on life.
But before you head to the store and come home with a car full of pillows, it helps to have a plan. Here are a few questions to ask yourself first:
What should the pillow be made of?
Pillows can be made up of down, polyester, bamboo or even foam. While down is considered the most luxurious, it is also the most expensive. Down-filled pillows should be soft to the touch and do a good job of filling out the pillow’s shape.
When you’re at the store, however, give the pillow a squeeze. Did it bounce back easily? Were there any scratchy feathers that poked through the fabric? Do the corners of the pillow seem to sag? It’s important to shop in person — you can’t feel the softness, texture and durability through your computer screen.
If you are looking for something hypoallergenic or budget-friendly, there are high-quality polyester and bamboo inserts that can mimic the look of down. Foam is another lower cost option, but be warned: Foam may contain chemicals and lose its shape over time.
What’s the deal with removable covers?
Lots of big-box and discount stores sell one-piece throw pillows, meaning the cover cannot be removed and laundered separately. If your pillows only get light use or if you know you are likely to change up your decorating scheme within the next year, these can be a great value.
For pillows in it for the long haul, a removable cover can be a great option. If you are selecting your own fabrics and planning to sew or commission custom pillows, then go the extra mile and add an envelope back or invisible zipper closure.
What kind of room tone are you going for?
While there are no wrong or right ways to style your couch, there are a few tried-and-true formulas that can be a great starting point.
When adding pillows, your ultimate goal should be to create visual balance. So if you have a dark solid-colored pillow on one end of the couch, you will need something with the same visual weight on the other side as well. A bold horizontal stripe or intense print may require two pillows on the opposite end to counteract it. Above all, though, let your personality shine through.
Where do I start?
First, do not be afraid to purchase extra pillows, take them home and style them, and return the ones that did not work. The pros do this all the time. (Be sure to check the store’s return policy first, though!)
How many accent colors should I use?
For a basic formula, select two colors that will contrast with your sofa and work with your overall color scheme. If you still feel like you are missing something, then choose a third color that is more subtle — perhaps a neutral or a metallic.
With these tips, you’ll be able to change the way the room looks without having to splurge on a floor-to-ceiling makeover. Don’t be afraid of expressing your personality with the pillows — you may get more reactions from a bold patterned pillow than you would if you had painted the entire room!
Kelly is a fabric and craft designer in Seattle and the founder of Ever Kelly, a popular craft blog where she posts projects and tutorials for a vibrant community of online crafters and parents. Her line of fabrics and patterns from Andover Fabrics hit store shelves in 2012.