Pillows Perk up a Space

I love the changing of the seasons. One of my favorite rituals as the cold months fold into warm, and back again, is to switch out the accent pillows on my sofa, chairs and bedding. In a few weeks, I will unzip my heavy weight plaids and replace them with light florals and stripes. And just like that, my living spaces will feel brand new for spring.

This spring, you can give your sofa, chairs and bed a quick pick me up simply by tossing in some new pillows. Pulling together an assortment of pillows that is arresting, but not overwhelming, is lots of fun. And, it’s easy when you follow the mix-it-up strategy we’ve adopted at Nell Hill’s. Here, Kristen, one of our designers at Nell Hill’s, shares our secrets:


Mix Pillow Sizes

Back in the day, we tossed matching square pillows in each corner of our sofa, or lined up the same pillows at the head of our bed and called it good.  Not anymore! Life is too short to not experiment with an assortment of beautiful pillows, Kristen says. Start by pulling together a variety of pillow shapes and sizes to add to the visual interest of your furnishings.

At Nell Hill’s, we weave together different pillows sizes when we design groupings on upholstered furniture and beds. We love them all, from neck rolls to bolsters. But our four gold-standard sized pillows find their way into most of our designs: 21” x 21” squares, 24” x 24” squares, 14” x 22” rectangles and 16 ”x 30” rectangles. The photo above shows a triad of pillows, our two squares and the larger rectangle, perfect for each corner of a sofa.

Design Tip: No matter what size pillows you pick, insist on using great pillow fills. I am not exaggerating when I say that it makes all the difference in how your pillows look, feel and last. At Nell Hill’s, all our pillows have inserts that are a blend of duck and goose feathers. We have experimented with different fills through the years, and I love this blend because the inserts make the pillows firm and dense enough to stay plump, yet soft and inviting. Once the fill is in the pillow form, we karate chop the top of the pillow to give them an inviting shape.


Mix Colors

Kristen says, “People ask us all the time what the rules are for mixing colors in pillows. Happily we tell them, ‘There are no rules! Do what looks good to you!’” All of us have a different CQ – Color Quotient, which can change room to room, season to season. For example, in my bedroom, I like soft, neutral pillows all year round. In my living room, I opt for richer colors that sport a bit more pattern, like plaids. Determine your own CQ, then follow your inner compass.

Any color you love is in right now. Blues and greens are still a favorite for many, and people are mixing together all different shades of these two nature-inspired classics. In this pillow arrangement at Nell Hill’s, we drew our inspiration from this polka dot trim from designer Kate Spade. We ran the tape on each side of our preppy kelly green pillow. The smaller square pillow behind it is a contemporary floral that swirls in the green, plus a garden of other wonderful tones. These high-color-saturation florals are showing strong right now. The large square pillow in a black and white trellis pattern quiets things down a bit, anchoring the collection.


Mix Patterns

Like color, everyone is different when it comes to the kinds of patterns they love, from stripes so muted they present as a solid to high-octane florals. Pillows give you an opportunity to experiment with new looks. “Do not be afraid to try new things, because if you don’t like it, you can just zip off the case and try something else,” Kristen says.

At Nell Hill’s, we call this process Pattern Play. We experiment with different patterns, in different colors, and different styles, until we come up with a winning combo. In the photo above, we took three similar square pillows and gave each one a different personality. The updated chevron stripe, the leopard print (called Catitude!) and the stylized floral are unlikely bed fellows, but they look amazing together.

If you have a traditional home, like I do, and want to give it some new energy, consider adding pillows in remade timeless patterns. Check out the photo above: houndstooth check, an age-old beauty, gets a makeover with an oversized pattern and fresh color. It’s New Traditional, Kristen says:  brighter, happier, more fun. Another of our new fabric crushes? Traditional floral patterns done in bright and bold colors.


Mix Trims

The secret to a custom look in pillows is to use a unique trim. We don’t ever self-cord our pillows because we don’t want them to look like they just rolled off the assembly line. Instead, we like to give each pillow we make its own personality.

The Trim Bar at Nell Hill’s is fully stocked, with tapes that range from traditional Greek keys to kitschy pompoms. We are carrying new styles by designer Kate Spade, shown on the rectangle pillow it the photo above, and some whimsical tapes, like my favorite, that say, “Don’t be like the rest of them, darling.”

There are so many ways you can finish a pillow with a tape: Run the tape across the top and one side, on the top and bottom, or boxed in on all four sides. Similarly, when finishing the edges of a pillow, you can do a straight cord, like we have done in the photo above. Or you can do a flat flange with mitered or pleated corners, a knife pleat, a ruffle, or a fringe, like pompoms.

No matter what your bliss, create pillows that bring your vision for your room to life. If you need creative inspiration, come to Nell Hill’s. We have room after room of decorator fabrics in all colors, patterns and prices, plus our amazing Trim Bar. We also do a wide range of monograms. Come see us, and let’s have fun!


Next Week … Spring is just around the corner. I’ll have ideas for adding a touch of spring to every room of your home.