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How to accessorise with cushions

One very inexpensive way to accessorise a room is with cushions. You can change the entire ambience of a room using the right types of cushions. The size, texture of the fabric and colour of the cushions can add to the room's cosiness, formality and colour scheme. In fact, some people, particularly apartment dwellers who often face solid white walls as their only option, use accessories, such as cushions, to create the mood, style and colour scheme for the room.

Living Room


The types of pillow used should have a cohesive colour combination. Use colour families, whether showing complementary colour shades or monochromatic shades. When using cushions on several pieces of furniture, the cushions don't have to match but they should blend well with each other. To test that out, put all the cushions together. If one looks out of place and doesn't quite match the colour scheme of the others, it shouldn't be used in the room. If you use it, it could be a slight difference, but enough to make your room look less than unified.

You can use contrasting colours for a bolder look or monochromatic for a more restful appearance. The colour choice can come from a variety of options. It can be based on the sofa, rug or walls or a combination of the three. When selecting cushions for the sofa, particularly on a solid colour sofa, feel comfortable using other shades, patterns or contrasting colours to the mix, rather than trying to match the couch perfectly, which is often difficult to do. Colours that blend in subdue the accent and those that contrast stand out from the furniture.

Print, Solid or Combinations

Some decorators go for one a combination of one simple print, one bolder more complex print and one solid. The larger the print, the bigger the cushion should be. Using a cushion with a pattern adds interest to the room without overwhelming the entire décor. You need to keep within your colour scheme. Using it with a solid cushion of a complementary colour on each side of the pattern, completes the decorating statement in a bolder way. Using an analogous (colours next to each other on the colour wheel such as blue and green) or one of the colours of the pattern will create a more reserved and often calming appearance.

The furniture pattern makes a difference, too. If your chair or couch already has a bold design, solid cushions can tone it down and create a softer appearance. While you'll find that adding patterns make the room more interesting, using too many can make it too busy and even a bit dishevelled.

Cushion Shape

You'll find a wide variety of shapes, from square, rectangular, box, round and bolster. Bolster cushions are the tube shaped cushions that you may find at the end of sofas and act as arm rests. Today, most are used for décor. Use a mix of the cushions to create more interest. You can use cushion shape as one method of creating more cohesion for the room, just as you can use colour.


Texture adds interest. Texture also adds a tactile dimension to your décor. You don't have to have all the cushions textured, but adding one or two to your mix can make the room look like it's been done by a decorator. Combining smooth cloth with a nubby linen or silk with a soft fabric makes your decorating more inviting. If you have a smooth leather sofa, a highly textured cushion can make the décor feel warmer and more inviting.


Larger cushions should go toward the outside with smaller ones toward the inside. This is just common sense. Not only will the arrangement be more pleasing visually, it also will insure the smaller ones are seen and not covered by the larger cushions. It also creates a natural incline to lean against on the couch.

Decorate, Don't Overwhelm the Sofa or Furniture

There's no exact number you should use, but rather size and space taken by the cushions. A winged chair with smaller cushions might be able to accommodate one or two and still leave room for sitting. Using more or larger cushions will be different. Make your chairs and sofas easily accessible to humans and not just a place to display decorative cushions. Cushions shouldn't reduce the number of people that can sit on the sofa from four to one. People sitting on the sofa shouldn't feel crowded because of the cushions.

Consider the Fill

The firmness of the cushion also makes a difference. Be aware of the fill of the cushion. Feather and/or down filled cushions have a plush feeling and may be more comfortable. Limp or cushions that don't hold their shape need to be retired. Some cushions are hypo-allergenic and others aren't.

Add Interest with Trim

Some cushions have piping or rope trim for traditional look, while others may have a simple knife edge to add a cleaner, more contemporary appearance. Fringe, tassels and other edging often is used for retro, shabby chic or bohemian décor. If your cushion has buttons, sequins or other embellishments, consider whether they could cause discomfort to the person leaning on them.


Some Rules Don't Change

You can use many of the same rules for the bedroom as you do in the living room when it comes to colour, size and shape. In most cases, decorating in the bedroom with cushions can be as simple as having two bed pillows with a sham covering in the back, leaning against the headboard and two with traditional pillow cases in front. To create even more interest, a bolster pillow or patterned smaller cushion can be used in the front middle front of the two.

The Size of Your Headboard Matters

Your headboard size does make a difference. The bigger the headboard, the taller the rear pillow can be. Pillows never should go beyond the headboard, but typically come up two-thirds of the way. For taller headboards, putting a Euro size pillow with a sham in the back, then king and finally standard pillow with an accent cushion in front is a good layout.

The Size of the Bed Is Important

For single beds (twin size) One king pillow with a sham that goes across the entire back of the bed with two pillows in front with some accent cushions is a good blend. Add another Euro sham to the back for a full size bed. Get two to three queen size shams plus two or three queen size pillows plus several accent cushions for this size bed. Use the same combination for a kingsize, except use king pillows. Accent cushions or small boudoir cushions can be placed in front of your arrangement to add further interest and style.

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