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Perking Up A Living Room With Pillows

Hi! Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook here! I’m a decorator and blogger out of NYC (check me out in this month’s BHG!). I’m pretty embarrassed to share that I get the itch to redecorate one of my rooms within, oh, about a minute of finishing. It’s not one of my best traits, though I like to think of it more as an occupational hazard. To keep my spending habits in check, I’ve learned a great trick over the years for how to keep a room fresh for not a lot of money and hardly any amount of time or effort. The secret lies in new pillows.

It seems dramatic to say, but pillows can really make or break a room for me. A pair of perfectly patterned, colorful cushions can transform even the most drab beige sofa out there. Usually you can find a great pillow without too much trouble for less than $30, although of course it’s easy to spend more too, if you’re looking for something extra special. Also, it goes without saying that if you’re crafty with a sewing machine, for just the cost of a yard of fabric and a zipper, you can have a brag-worthy new cushion.

Sometimes my clients and readers get overwhelmed with the choices of fabrics and pillows out on the market. I totally get it. There are so many considerations and so many options. Here’s a really quick way to narrow down the field and add instant interest to your living room. If your walls are painted in the cooler color family (grays, blues, bluey-green, purple) try a pillow in a contrasting color like red, orange or yellow. If your walls are white, try contrasted with the color of your sofa fabric.

 1 – Charlotte Pillow, Home Decorators Collection, $45 –  2 – Beetle Pillow, Grandin Road $39 – 3 – Floral Block Print Pillow, Lands End $23.99 – 4 – Yellow Ikat Silk Pillow, $45 – 5 – Finishing Flourish Pillow, Anthropologie – $98 - 6 – Embroidered Stripe Pillow, Lands End, $17.99 – 7 – Chili Pepper Ikat Pillow – World Market, $24.99 – 8 – Hot Pink Batik Pillow, Fabricadabra, $28 – 9  - Peachy Gold Suzani Pillow, Amber Interiors Shoppe, $110 – 10 –  Adelle Pillow, Home Decorators Collection – $37 - 11 – Bright Pink Border Pillow, Furbish, $75

If your walls are painted a warmer tone, like yellow, brown, tan, orange, or rusty red, go with a set of pillows is a cool shade. Something with a lot of blue.

1 – Medallion Green Ikat Pillow, Wisteria, $29, 2 – Signature Border Pillow, Caitlin Wilson Textiles, $50 - 3 – Turquoise Cut Velvet Damask Pillow, Pier1, $29.95 – 4 – French Crewel Pillow, Wisteria, $59 – 5 – Ikat Diamond Pillow, West Elm, $24 – 6 – Coup Clover Pillow, $14.95 – 7 – Turquoise and Lime Stripe Pillow, World Market, $11.89 – 8 – Painted Dot Pillow, Lands End, $17.99 – 9  - Blue Double Ruffle Pillow, World Market, $$26.99 – 10 – Alexis Pillow, Crate and Barrel, $19.95 – 11 – Ikat Dot Pillow, WS Home, $59

And of course, if you’re not into colorful decor like I am, the new pillow trick still works and will give you a whole new appreciation for your living room’s old decor. Also, these more neutral choices below are great for mixing in with a pair of punchier pillows, like the options above.


1 – Kelby pillow, Crate and Barrel, $18.95 – 2 – South Street Pillow, Burke Decor, $60 – 3 – Squares Pillow, Burke Decor, $100 –  4 – Gray and Yellow Herringbone Pillow – World Market, $24.99 - 5 – Adeline Pillow, Burke Decor, $60 – 6 – Paradise Pillow, Home Decorators Collection, $33 - 7 – Chambray Stripe Pillow, West Elm, $14.99 – 8 – Black Tie Dye Pillow, Furbish, $50 – 9 – Garrick Pillow, Home Decorators Collection, $28

Happy shopping!

All interiors images from Better Homes and Gardens. Layouts by Jenny Komenda.

9 Responses to “ Perking Up A Living Room With Pillows ”

  1. Great tips and amazing pillows!!!

  2. So, I have a question for you! I bought leather couches without realizing that no pillow will stay put on the leather! The pillows just slide right down- any tips for me? I need the color to brighten up my brown couches but the pillows slide down and look lame!

  3. Great advice as always!

  4. This is great!! Thanks, Jenny!

  5. So glad you included the last category for the color shy! That’s me! I just get sick of color way too quickly if I have to live with it day after day. :)

  6. I love colorful, graphic pillows. My problem is that I just added a diamond-patterned B/W rug, and I have a colorful abstract painting hanging above my black sofa, and now I’m afraid that too much pattern in my pillows will overwhelm the room. But I can’t handle having just plain pillows, so I guess I’ll have to figure something out and use non-competing patterns.

  7. for the person with the slippery couch, how about a throw over the back of it? or put something textured on the back of the pillow to make it grippy, like those socks that are rubberized so you don’t slip on the floor.

  8. Love the pillows! I make (and sell) pillows. Thanks for the “pillowspirtion”!

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