I am a fan of Caitlin Wilson, a West Coast interior designer, textile artist, and fellow blogger. Caitlin has a design shop in San Francisco, and her design aesthetic has been molded with extensive international travel and living abroad in London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. No wonder I love her and the international influences on her textile patterns!
I recall fondly a week-long trip to Hong Kong focused on textiles (silks! brocades!) and a terrific trip to London a few summers back where we enjoyed seeing the traditional architecture and the modern influences as well. Here is a photo of the Thames and Parliament taken from our “go-round” on the London Eye that shows the mixture of the traditional and the modern.
But on with this week’s post. Many of my clients ask me for help with pillow size and placement on a sectional sofa, which is indeed tricky. Especially that central zone which lots of time needs to have the most comfortable pillows for TV watching and lounging (by people of all ages). Caitlin Wilson gives some terrific advice for styling a sectional in two distinct ways in one of her blog posts: “Design 101: Lesson 3 - Sectional Styling”
I’ll focus on the style that I prefer here. It’s one I implemented recently with a client who requested a “summer refresh” on her sectional. As you can see from the diagram below, Caitlin recommends a large sectional be grounded on both ends with large 24” square pillows. Then, three 20” pillows, and a rectangular one to make things interesting and to perhaps showcase a terrific fabric.
For my client’s sectional, I fashioned the 20” geometric pillows out of the gorgeous embroidered fabric showcased on the relaxed roman shades on my site’s homepage. Looks totally different, doesn’t it, when pieced like that? And so Celtic-inspired. For the three 24” pillows, I made a banding from a small braid on top of a cream colored linen and then used that as an inset band. I felt that plain 24” solid pillows would look just too ho-hum against the chenille sofa, and an inset banding would give just the needed interest without stealing the show from the geometric pillows or the embroidered vine rectangular pillow.
So, who says pillows are not important in decorating?!!! Pick up any magazine and you’ll probably notice the pillows first. While you might actually finalize their details toward the end of the decorating timeline, it is essential to have a gameplan on fabrics, colors, and designs for pillows from the start.
Are you perhaps thinking that after the whole room is done (draperies, rug, seating, color), you’ll somehow come up with the perfect pillows at HomeGoods? Now that bit of snark might be a bit unfair, as I have seen lots of terrific pillows at HomeGoods, and some can form the inspiration of a scheme for a room, but I advise you to appreciate the impact of pillows up front in your redesign plans. After all, your guests and family will be sitting right next to the pillows, and quality craftsmanship with appropriate fabrics makes a big difference. With today’s sofas and sectionals done primarily in solid fabrics, pillows are essential to bringing color, pattern, and some life to all that sofa fabric. Bottom line, pillows do count! It’s also a nice idea to have a summer set of pillows and a winter set of pillows. For a modest price, sprucing up your pillows can have a large impact on your décor.
I must go now, as I have pillows to design and fabricate today for a client who has an L-shaped banquette (which I upholstered in a tufted design in a gray Sunbrella) along with new chairs (which I just reupholstered in a small chevron pattern). She needs some new pillows in kid-friendly fabrics to round out the seating area, and I’m up for a pillow challenge on this rainy summer day. Are you a pillow-lover too? If so, then I’m in good company!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.