Thursday, October 25, 2007

Decorative Bed Pillows

A few months ago, Domino had a big survey asking some of the top decorators what they thought about certain decorating topics. One that surprised and dismayed me was the subject of decorative pillows on the bed. It seems that the majority of designers in the survey vehemently oppose decorative pillows on the bed.

I must admit, I have too many decorative pillows on my bed. Not including the pillows that are used to sleep on, I have nine decorative pillows on the bed, in all shapes and sizes. It takes me way too much time to take them all off at the end of the day, and making the bed has become a bit of a chore. However, once the bed is freshly made, I love how they look, all arranged just so. I think I needed this fleet of pillows because I have never had a headboard; I have never really found one that I like. So, the pillows take the place of the headboard.

Now that I am about to order the fabric for my new upholstered headboard, and do a mini-redesign of the bed, my husband has voiced a strong opinion about getting rid of all the pillows. You see, he is the one who makes the bed most of the time (aren't I lucky?), and he is tired of dealing with 'the clutter'.

This would be my husband's nightmare. Way too many pillows for him! I count 12, and this is only a partial view of the bed! Via Cote de Texas (on her tacky trend post).

So, I decided to look at my picture file for bed pillow inspiration. I also went through old posts from two of my favorite blogs, Cote de Texas and Style Court. I found a lot of great ideas! Southern Accents online also has a feature on headboards, and some great tips on pillows.

This is a bedroom designed by Barry Dixon, featured on the Southern Accents website. The room is small, but the client wanted a king size bed. He wanted the bed to feel like a sofa in a room that did not have the space for a sofa. Dixon says that he always uses bolster pillows on beds bigger than twin size, because they allow the decorative pillows in front to sit forward. This creates more depth, and allows a better view of the headboard. He likes to do the bolster pillow in the same fabric as the headboard. What size do you think these pillows are? Perhaps 24"?

Lee Kleinhelter's bed, via Cottage Living Magazine and Style Court blog. Queen size with a few shams, a few decorative pillows. The headboard really shines through because the pillows are not competing with it, and they are not too tall.

This is a beautiful room, and one of my favorite bed pictures. It is from the Century Furniture 'New Traditional' catalog. The bed is king size, and the headboard is quite high, which allows for large scale pillows. I love the coordination of the shams and the pillows leaning on them...a great balance of white and green. The Greek-key inspired design on the pillows is striking. I also love the green stripe on the bedspread.

This is from Jeffers Design Group. Two king sized pillows upholstered in Designer's Guild fabric, and one large decorative pillow. I love design on the decorative pillow.

A Jan Showers designed bedroom, in Western Interiors magazine (via Katie-Did). No small accent pillows here; she used three large European shams with two large square pillows.

This is another Jan Showers designed room, and a king size bed. Showers seems to favor using large European shams on bed, two or three based on the size of the bed.

Lee Kleinhelter's guest room, via Cottage Living Magazine and Style Court's blog. Simple white shams and two rectangular decorative pillows.

Domino magazine, via Style Court. The headboard here is quite low, or maybe the European are very high; the shams virtually cover the headboard. A long bolster pillow is in front of the shams, and a few small decorative pillows.

Carla Lane design, via Style Court. She has three shams leaning against the back of the headboard, with three 20 inch pillows for decoration and color.

Carla Lane again, via Style Court. One long bolster pillow resting against three white pillows.

Jackie Lanham design, Southern Accents Magazine. This bed has the old fashioned type of blanket cover that I like...the sleeping pillows are covered, and the decorative pillows rest against them. I can barely see the headboard because of the large pillows.

Ellie Cullman design. I love the look, but this would qualify as too many pillows to my husband.

Bedroom of Alexa Hampton, via Peak of Chic. Three European shams across the front, then two small accent pillows. The only problem is that the pillows obscure the lovely headboard. This looks like a king size bed to me.

Here is a bedroom by Barrie Benson. Two European shams and a roll pillow on the bed. The pillows seem to be the focus, not the headboard.

Krista Wooten, design assistant to Ruthie Sommers. I think the proportion of these pillows looks great on a Queen size bed.

I can't tell the size of the bed, or how many pillows are on it. I suspect it is a king size bed with three square pullows, and a rectangular bolster pillow in front. I like how you can still see the beautiful headboard (which is Lewis Mittman) even though there are pillows on the bed.

A lovely room designed by Joni of Cote de Texas. Three European shams across the back, and two pillows across the front. I can't tell if this is a king or a queen size bed.

Another lovely bedroom designed by Joni. In this one, there are two shams across the back, two pillows with fabric that matches the headboard, and a long bolster pillow across the front. I like the look of the long rectangular pillow across the front of the bed.

This is Joni's bed from Cote de Texas. She seams to favor the long bolster pillow across the bed, in a fabric that matches the headboard. Three European shams across the back.

This is by Suzanne Rheinstein. A king size bed, with three pillows across the front. The pillows match the linens.
Amelia Handegan, a Charleston designer, has a simple approach to pillows on this four poster bed. The Indian sari at the foot of the bed is the focus, not the pillows.

This picture is from an Atlanta real estate listing. The bed is defined by two large silk pillows.

Well, this post has been very therapeutic for me! I realize that the size of the bed is fundamental in determining the number and size of the decorative pillows. I have a king size bed, so I will need two very large or three large pillows to get the look I want. I like Barry Dixon's idea of putting two bolster pillows behind the decorative pillow, because I want the headboard to be a focal point. So, I am leaning towards a 60" high headboard (I have a vaulted ceiling in my bedroom) in solid blue, two king size shams in white (tailored and zippered so they are solid and not droopy), a long round bolster pillow that is close to the width of the bed, and three 20" (or maybe a little bigger) pillows in some fabric...maybe the blue of the headboard, with the cool Greek key inspired design that is on the Century bed.

If you have any thoughts and ideas on pillows, feel free to comment! I always enjoy others perspectives and ideas.

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  1. I saw that pillow declaration on Domino and I was curious too as most women have a ton, much to the husband's dismay.

    My personal opinion is that if you have an upholstered headboard you can make the pillows fewer and simpler. Hard headboards I think just need more pillows to make it feel inviting.

    I try to balance the number and size of pillows relative to the type of headboard, size of the bed and size and style of the room. It all makes a difference in what looks right.

    I think, while I don't follow trends too much, the whole pillow thing did get out of a hand. When you have to step over your six foot high and wide pillow pile on the floor to crawl into bed at night there are just too many!

    You've got some nice bed inspiration here! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  2. Thank you, Melissa! Yes, my pillow situation is out of control, but I think the upholstered headboard will solve the problem. I am going for a very light and airy feel to the room, so less is definitely more.

  3. glad you enjoyed the Barry Dixon piece on SA.com ... his new showhouse on the homepage now.

    and BTW, the two images of the rooms in Lee's house are from Cottage Living

    I love an upholstered headboard as well, but I'm too in love with my antique four-poster to make a change quite yet!

  4. there are so many great pillows on the market that are handmade i wish I could make room and time for them on my bed.

  5. These are all great pics!!! I esp love the pillows featured in Domino. Great post, I'm going to save a few of these images for inspiration :)


  6. Hi Jennifer-

    Thanks for the info! I have seen so many great images from Cottage Living, I need to check out the real magazine itself. I updated the post to reflect that the images are from Cottage Living.


  7. On my bed we each have a European and a standard size pillow to match the linen, which is plenty enough for us at the moment, but I would like one decorative pillow to add some more interest, but more than that would be too much I think. What is it with men and pillows, do they not like to be comfortable?

  8. What a terrific post. I'm going to save some of the photos to give me ideas when I'm creating livable bed top designs. I'm not a fan of too many pillows, but you definitely need them in a structured way to give the bed some "oompf"!

  9. My mother has so many pillows on her bed but she would just not have it any other way. She is so immaculate, though, that I think she truly derives pleasure in arranging them each morning.

  10. This is a FABULOUS post! Thanks for putting so much work into this issue!

    I have three decorative pillows on my bed, mainly b/c they tie in my accent colors. I agree that it is MUCH simpler to go without (no more tripping over your pillow pile!), but sometimes you need them.

    My rule of thumb? If you have a bedskirt, you need the pillows to offset the silhouette. If you don't, stick with the basics.

  11. I find this subject the most complicated in interior design (other than window covering options, which are mind-numbing). I have no clue what the rules are, but I like the "less is more" look. On my queen-sized Mission bed frame, I use 2 Euro shams at the back, but they do cover much of the frame, which does show over the top. In front of the Euro's, I have a long rectangular pillow (about 3ft wide) and a smaller rectangular pillow. It doesn't seem too much to me. But then I need to hide our 4 regular sleeping pillows in the closet, which seems so silly. This pillow exchange every night seems just so ludicrous sometimes!

    On our spare queen bed, I do the simple way and hide two sleeping pillows under the quilt and then have a long bolster on the bed. Simple too, and efficient.

    I love these fancy beds, but I just can't take myself seriously enough to have one of them. Go simple and you will be happier!

    In the future, I would avoid the Euro pillows as they take up too much space, for me, on a Queen bed. They just dominate. But I do love all my shams so I can't get rid of the pillows!


  12. I love hearing about how everyone approaches their decorative pillow design in their own bedroom!

    Thanks for the comments!

  13. Very interesting topic! Going to take a new look at my bed! I gave up on scatters a while go, but think I might just have a few again!

  14. Great post! I too am struggling with this issue; thanks for all of the fab examples.

  15. You have such a wonderful blog. I am putting you on Laissezfaire's Blog Watch this week! =)

  16. great post!!!!! thanks for the shout outs - I love it :)

    the pillows on the Dixon bed are standard euros 26 x 26.

    I love this post!

    Congrats for Laizzefaire too!

    What I am doing these days: I hide the regular pillows behind shams - two kings, two euros sometimes, but I only use 1 decor pillow nowadays - a large one, 2/3 the width of the bed, either with antique fabric or fabric that is special, delicate, or embellished.

  17. Sarah, I really appreciate the mention! You assembled so many great options.

  18. Oh also personally I prefer to have only 4-5 pillows on a bed (6 tops) and I think they should all be big and plump enough to actually function -- for kids to lounge on or for adults to prop-up against etc :)

    (Congrats on your listing too!)

  19. Great post! I love pillows and have so many that I love - not just on my bed but throughout my house - I have to rotate them! I love your blog - its very lovely.


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