Throw pillows offer a softer touch

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Everyone has throw pillows -- on the sofa, beds, in a chair. Throw pillows can effectively support a design scheme but more important, a decorative pillow should provide comfort as well as style.

Two things determine the quality of a decorative pillow, the filling and the fabric.

Ideally, the stuffing should be down, feathers or a combination of both. This means your soft pillow will conform to the body. A foam-filled pillow will be unyielding, but you won’t have to plump it up every so often. Down and feather-stuffed pillows usually cost more but they look and perform better.

The fabric is a matter of taste and budget, but the best pillow cover has a zipper so that you can launder or dry clean it. Decide if you want the fabric to pull colors from something else in the room -- drapes, area carpet or the upholstery on a favorite club chair. Maybe you want a solid color or a mix of solid color pillows and pattern ones.

Do you want the back and the front of the pillow to be the same? Some homeowners pick a very expensive fabric, say silk velvet, and use it on just one side. The other side will be cotton or linen. It’s a way to save money and change the look of depending upon which side of the pillow is facing out. How about trim? Fringe, cording, braid, beads or nothing at all? Decide before you buy.

The most common size throw pillow is an 18x18-inch square. If you’re shopping for ready-made pillows, you will find the most variety in that size. Other sizes and shapes will be round, lumbar ( narrow rectangles that fit the small of your back), oversized, bolsters and small squares. Round pillows are not fashionable at the moment. A pillow called “European” is just an oversized square.

It’s difficult to do because there are so many desirable pillows out there, but resist over-pillowing. If you arrange many decorative pillows of various sizes and shapes on a big bed to make it beautiful and inviting, make sure you include a bench at the foot of the bed or a roomy chair that can hold all the pillows when you want to get rid of them at bedtime. Avoid peril. You do not want to get up in the middle of the night and have to negotiate land mines of pretty pillows all over the floor.

Now, let me hear from you. What’s your opinion about throw pillows? Do you have photos to share?


* Reliable sources for well priced off-the-shelf decorative throw pillows include Sarasota Collection Home Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond,Pier One Imports, Macy’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls.

* If you want custom pillows, meaning you choose a fabric, size and stuffing and have the pillows made to your personal specifications, see Jonathan Slentz at Jonathan The Interiors at 7350 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 378-9487.

* Buy throw pillows in pairs. Every time I’ve bought just one, I’ve been sorry.

Marsha Fottler regularly contributes to local, regional and national publications with articles on residential, commercial and restaurant design as well as food.