Believe it or not, there is an art form to how to arrange pillows on a bed, and it can really make all the difference to your bedroom, elevating a tired old bed into something that is cozy, and sumptuous, while giving a real focal point to a room.
'Dressing the bed is key. There's a psychological association with seeing a big, well-dressed bed with lots of cushions and thinking positively about your sleep,' says lead designer of Soho House, Severine Lammoglia.
'Styling beds is an art in itself, and we learned lots of magic from stylists we've worked with in the past,' says Anna Burles of the interior design house, Run For The Hills. 'We rarely do the same setup in projects and try to experiment with size and formation of the pillows and cushions.'
So how many different ways are there to lay out the pillows on your bed? And have you been doing it wrong all along? We speak to the designers and brand experts to give us some top bedroom ideas and tips.
Oonagh is an experienced homes writer and editor with a penchant for all things interior decorating. For this story, she spoke to the decor experts to find out how to make a functional space beautiful through cushion arrangement.
How many pillows should there be?
First thing is first - get the number of pillows right. 'According to my husband, the maximum number of pillows a bed needs is one per head,' says designer, Bethany Adams, 'but as a designer, I say you need a minimum of two per head, plus at least one decorative pillow or cushion.'
This look works for a minimalist bedroom, but you can build your scheme with more pillows in pairs to add more of a luxury hotel-like feel.
'We know how annoying it can be staying in a hotel where there are scores of cushions and it takes you 10 minutes to declutter the bed before you can get into it,' says Anna. 'So we avoid that at all costs. Less is more, just choose the right shapes and have them 'sing' to the rest of the bed linen and bed styling.'
'Every bedroom throughout the Soho Houses follows the same pillow formation,' says lead designer at Soho House, Severine Lammoglia. 'We dress each bed with three medium, square pillows along the back, against the headboard. Then, two large, firm pillows are layered in the middle, with two medium, long pillows at the front. Add a few decorative cushions, preferably with a patterned fabric, trim or some detail. Then, at the end of the bed, we always have a throw for an extra layer.'
How to order your pillows
It's very well having the right amount of pillows, but ordering them is important to create the right mood, create a luxury bedroom look and style a bed like you'd see in a hotel room. 'I would advise making your bed with your sleeping pillows leaning against the headboard,' advises Bethany. 'Then, add a pillow in a sham (square or rectangle) to match your bedding, and finally add a single decorative pillow in the center.' This decorative pillow can be a long bolster, a round pleated or fringed cushion, or a smaller square, but it should be interesting and separate to your bedding set.
'I typically prefer a long lumbar pillow in place of decorative pillows. It can easily be layered in front of two sets of stacked standard pillows for a simple but stylish-looking bed,' says Lauren Sullivan of Well X Design.
When ordering your sleeping pillows, put the denser full-size pillows in the back and the fluffier pillows upfront so that you can enjoy more comfort. You might also want to consider height order, and move the smaller to the front so they cascade down in a satisfying height order.
Go for symmetry
In this bedroom project by Run For The Hills, the designer opted for two decorative pillows per head for a luxury bedroom feel. 'In this project, we added two decorative pillows each as we wanted symmetry and an uncluttered look. We chose two lovely extra wide-sized pillows in super soft linens, which we paired with lovely, low cushions, to keep a hierarchy. Square tall cushions would have been too dominating in our cozy space,' says Anna.
'An alternative option would have been to lay pillows flat instead of upright, for a more Scandinavian bedroom look. There are just so many options,' says Anna.
How to pick colors for your pillows
As well as sizing and order, when it comes to how to style cushions, you also want to make sure you have a good mix and match of coloring and pattern and make sure you order them accordingly. You might pick a contrasting color or pattern decorative pillow to complement your two sleeping pillows, or if you have one decorative pillow, it's a good look to pick this in a contrasting color or material. If you're going for more pillows and placing a central pillow in the bed, pick a third color that complements the other colors used.
'It's always nice to then pick up the colors in the bed-dressing in some way in the surrounding areas of the bed, which we did via the art and paint colors in our bedroom design,' says Anna.
Where do you put pillows at night when they are not in use?
Perfectly laid out pillows make a great addition to a guest bedroom, giving that hotel feel and helping your guest really feel at home, but you want to make it obvious where to put the pillows at night when they are not in use so they don't end up thrown on the floor and potentially ruined. If you have a small bedroom, making space for your pillows on the floor of a closet or wardrobe is a good idea. You might have a shelf at the top of your wardrobe that will work for the pillow space. Alternatively, a trunk, chest or ottoman at the foot of the bed is a good and obvious place to store blankets, linens, and extra pillows.
Finally, a window seat might be a good option with secret storage under the seat area. If there is no storage inside the window seat, you can always display the pillows to create a comfy spot to enjoy the view.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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