Fave 5: Pillow Talk

While I'm a fan of keeping furniture and walls somewhat neutral, I love to add pops of color from fun throw pillows and vivid wall art.  My latest mission is to find pillows for our den and living room that can complement two watercolor prints that I recently found on Minted.  

I was so happy to find art that reminds me of my west coast roots.  The artist, Jennifer Daily, is based in Alameda, California just 5 minutes from where my dad lives.  I chose two abstract landscape expressions.  The first is above the fireplace in the den and it evokes the terrain around Palm Desert.  I love the fluidity of the beautifully muted colors.

Palm Desert from the Terrain Series by Jennifer Daily/Minted

The second is hung over the sofa in the living room and it portrays Marin and it's gorgeous green hills just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco.  

Marin from the Terrain Series by Jennifer Daily/Minted

At first, I couldn't decide which print to place in which room.  I then realized that the south-facing windows in the living room bring in warmer natural light that would enhance and complement the cool colors of the "Marin" print.  The cooler natural light from the north-facing den windows pairs well with the warmer tones of the "Palm Desert" print.  Using colors in this way is a good rule of thumb for decorating in general.  The same principle can be applied to fabrics, paints, rugs and furniture.

All of the options below are from SparkModern, a fab little Etsy shop that specializes in creating custom pillows from designer fabrics.  At most other locations and especially at a brick and mortar shop, a custom pillow crafted from a brand name textile would run $250+ not to mention the fact that a minimum amount of yardage would have to be purchased and ordered separately, often through vendors that sell only to-the-trade.  These beauties are much more reasonably priced and available in a gorgeous array of colors, textures, and patterns.  The mother-daughter team at Spark even runs another Etsy shop, OrangeOliveStudio, where they sell discontinued print pillows.  Not only are these options discounted, they are ready to ship.

The Manuel Canovas pillow in the center is probably my favorite right now for the living room since it would pair nicely with the greens and teals of the "Marin" print.  It could get a little busy with that detailed pattern but the jewel tones are so pretty and I love that it would add a classic touch.  To coordinate with "Palm Desert" in the den, the Peter Dunham Ikat option is the front runner right now and I would love to pair it with the two Kelly Wearstler options at the right, Channels and Bengal Bazaar.

Left to right (all pillows by SparkModern):

Kelly Wearstler Edo Linen in Opal

Peter Dunham Textiles Ikat in Pasha

Manuel Canovas Parfum d'Ete in Bleu Canard

Kelly Wearstler Channels in Plum Oatmeal

Kelly Wearstler Bengal Bazaar in Magenta

Here are a few tips for choosing throw pillows:

1.  Size matters.  For standard size sofas, 18" square pillows work well scale-wise.  For a low-back midcentury sofa or chair, smaller 16" square pillows or oblong lumbar pillows would be best.  Larger pillows that are 20-24 inches square can be used as well if you are looking for a more casual feel in a family or media room.  Just remember that pillows should be comfortable while providing enough room to sit.  If they take up too much of the seating area and need to be moved constantly, they just become a pain.

2.  Many pillows like the ones above are sold as the cover only with a discreet zip closure.  The insert is typically sold separately.  Look for inserts that are two inches wider in each dimension than the pillow to give it that full, cushy look.  For example, if you are buying a 20"x20" pillow cover, opt for a 22"x22" insert.

3.  While pillow inserts filled with 50% down and 50% feathers are plush, lightweight and luxurious, they often look crumpled and require a lot of fluffing.  The best option is to go for an insert that is 90% feathers and 10% down.  If you like to karate chop your pillows for that magazine spread look, this is the way to go since the pillow will hold its shape well.  For a more economical option, foam and synthetic fill inserts are available.  They have less of that lush squish but they hold their shape very well.

4.  A nice way to add variation to your room is through the use of texture.  For a velvet or mohair covered side chair, a smooth silk pillow would add nice textural contrast.  A leather sofa could use the soft warmth of woven wool pillows.

5.  Mix it up.  By using a mix of different patterns, textures, and sizes, you can create real visual interest around the room.  Bring them all together as a composition with a common thread throughout by using the same color palette or style for all pillows.