Session 4 of #AskTID was the best one ever and it really humbles me how many of you trust me with all your queries. As has been the case with all the other sessions there seems to be some questions most of you tend to ask more than others and this time a large number of you (close to 40%) had some question or the other to do with scatter cushions. So for those of you who are sitting in the abyss of cushion confusion and don’t know where to turn to let this post be your saving grace. Be prepared for a lengthy post but I want to touch on everything scatter cushion related, from the type of filling, to the art of cushion arrangement, to the age old question on whether or not to chop. Don’t know what chopping and cushions have to do with each other then you really need this post.
Have you ever had a long day and all you can think about is getting home and falling onto your comfortable couch, then when you do get home and throw yourself onto it you get the harsh realization that your couch isn’t comfortable as your imagination may have played it out to be. You were expecting that soft cloud-like feeling and all you get is the tripping and falling face first onto the hard pavement feeling. More often than not its the stuffing/filling in your scatter cushions that are the culprit because it determines how squishy and comfortable they are. The most common filling for inexpensive cushions is foam or synthetic wadding. This filling which is what you commonly get in cushions here in Kenya tends to be firm and helps cushions hold their shape, but they can be uncomfortable if they are overly filled or mixed with foam chips. If you want that cloud-like feeling and money is of no concern then the natural fillings such as feather and down make for a much plusher, more squishy cushion that can have its shape plumped up a lot more than a cushion with a synthetic filling. Although they do cost relatively more they are definitely worth the investment as they last longer. But remember that you should only take into consideration cushions that you intend to relax on. If they are purely decorative, as is usually the case with those on beds, then you don’t have to go the expensive route with the filling. Polyester inserts actually do a nice job of keeping pillows full and upright so they’re perfect for the “I’m just here to look good” look and for those who are allergic to feather.
CUSHION INSERT SIZE
Fit is very important when dressing, right? Man or woman, an ill-fitting outfit, as perfect as it may be, will end up looking shabby and kill the intended look. The same is the case with scatter cushion covers dressing the insert cushion.
But unlike dressing a human the right fit for cushion covers is that they are meant to be smaller than the cushion insert and thus giving a tighter fit. There’s actually a simple rule; use cushion inserts that are 2″ larger than the size of your pillow covers. So if you have 20″ square pillow covers, use 22″ square inserts. This tight fit will ensure that the cushion is plump and visually appealing.
TEXTURE, PATTERN AND COLOURS:
The key to having a visually appealing sofa/bed is to select cushions that have different textures. Just because your sofa/headboard is linen or polyester doesn’t mean that’s your choice in scatter cushion fabric. There are so many materials with such wonderful textures that the Lord has bestowed upon us, who are you to deny your sofa/bed such wonders. You can have some wool, silk, faux fur… the list is endless. Now, I’m not saying that you have all these textures on it. I’m saying that you should at least choose one and pair it with the with the regular cotton/polyester cushions.
When it comes to patterns you can choose to mix it up and have a quirky look with different printed cushions or just one printed cushion for a simpler look. If you’re going to have your cushions in one texture and with one colour then you have no choice but to have at least one cushion with a print to create some drama. And don’t you dare use the word minimalism as your defense of not having even one print because I’ll have you know that minimal doesn’t mean boring and not having a mix of texture, colour or print, my dear, is what is considered BORING.
Speaking of colour, I beg of thee, don’t have cushions with one colour. If you insist on doing so, then all I ask is that you don’t stick to one tone of the colour. Let’s say you decide to have only grey cushions, could you at least vary the type of grey tones. Some could be darker and some lighter. Visual interest is key!
Oh, and remember that scatter cushions are always a great way to add another colour to a space. If you have a grey sofa/bed headboard and black curtains and want to have some yellow in the room then adding one or two yellow scatter cushions is the first step to introducing the colour in the room, allowing you to accentuate it somewhere else.
ON THE SOFA
Have you ever had what would potentially be a brilliant meal and all it had missing to make it exquisite was just a slight dash of salt. Well, as small a role as it may seem to play it makes a huge difference to the meal and the same applies to scatter cushions on a sofa. You may have the best sofa this side of the Sahara but when its plain and bare there always that “dash of salt” missing. A couple of cushions are not only perfect for snuggling into, but they also add an aesthetic boost to the whole room allowing you to add texture, prints and colours. Now that we’ve established their importance here’s how to arrange them to ensure that you get most out of them:
1. SOFA DESIGN: First and foremost you have to consider the design of the sofa. If you have a modern, more streamlined sofa then it doesn’t make sense to have large bulky sofas as they will over power it. Stick to 18 x 18-inch as the largest or even 16 x 16-inch cushions. On the other hand if you have a bulkier sofa with a higher back then you need to balance it with cushions that are larger. So remember that it’s important to balance the size of the cushions with that of the chair. They should complement the sofa and not overpower it or make it look too large and bulky.
2. SIZE AND HEIGHT: Play around with size and height. Yes, your cushions DON’T have to be different sizes. However, you have to note that it does create more visual interest if the sizes vary as opposed to them all being the same. In simple terms it looks boring! The trick I use is to create a diagonal with the cushions going from larger to smaller this brings your eyes from the top of the couch all the way down allowing one to fully appreciate it. To enable you to achieve this, especially with lower back seats, you can and should play around with cushion shapes. Mix it up by having larger square cushions and smaller rectangular ones.
3. DON’T OVERLOAD: Remember this is your sofa that you have to sit on comfortably and not have to constantly throw around and move cushions to get comfortable. It isn’t a cushion display area. If you’re scared you might be overloading and need a rule to keep you on the straight and narrow then the 2-2-1 ratio is for you. It’s pretty straightforward actually, all you simply have to do is place two square pillows of one size on the ends, two smaller pillows next to them and finally one jazzy rectangular pillow for the center or wherever you please. If you have a larger sofa then you can do 4:4:2….I’m sure you get the drift. This rule also helps you to create the diagonal I mentioned earlier.
4. ODD NUMBERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS: Odd numbers are a go to for interior decorators when it comes to styling sofas. Your living room is meant to be relaxing and subconsciously we tend to find that odd numbers accomplishes this. Sounds coo-coo I know but trust me on this one.
5. EMBRACE ASYMMETRY: When it comes to the cushions on your sofa having asymmetry actually creates more balance on it and in the whole room. Plus having the same exact look on both ends of a sofa creates that boring look we are avoiding. You can have a larger more graphic cushion on one end and balance it out with smaller ones on the other end. Or have cushions on one end and none on the other opting to have a throw. Have fun with your placement it’s a couch after all not a military line up.
ON THE BED
Close your eyes and imagine the best hotel room you’ve ever seen. Now look on over to the bed with all its comfortable relaxed glory. Don’t you agree that the scatter cushions displayed on the bed (even if its just one) plays a huge role in turning what would be a simple bed into the centerpiece of the room. With the risk of sounding cliche they are the icing on the cake, aren’t they? But remember that their role is aesthetic and not necessarily functional so ensure that you have a basket or something to throw them in so you avoid throwing them onto the floor when going to bed. Now here’s how to arrange them:
1. SIZE: As is the case with a sofa the trick here is to create a diagonal slope with the cushion arrangement having the larger ones at the back and the smallest at the front. In regards to the largest cushions at the back ensure that they are the largest option you can have based on the size of the bed you have. As much as these back cushions play an aesthetic role they are also quite practical to lean on when you are sited up relaxing or reading so make sure they are not only large but also comfortable.
2. ROWS: You honestly don’t want to overload your bed with cushions. Your bed isn’t a rapper with a butt-load chains on their neck, your bed is a classy business man with a simple tie and pocket square. For that perfect look I suggest, actually I insist, you keep it to three rows at most. Note that the smaller the bed you have the less the rows you need. So a single bed would work best having at most two rows whereas a larger bed would need three rows for that wow impact. As stated above each row would have a smaller pillow than the ones in the row behind it.
3. ODD NUMBER COUNT TOO: Yup, even on your bed keep to odd numbers if you want that put together look. The 2:2:1 ratio works here for the three rows which obviously means you’d have five cushions in total. If you’re going with a two row arrangement then the 2:1 ratio works for you meaning you’d have three scatter cushions on the bed.
4. SYMMETRIC OR ASYMMETRIC: More often than not arrangements on beds tend to be symmetrical to balance out the space. If you’re a rebel and want to shake things up you can actually create asymmetry instead. You can do so by either placing the front most cushion on one end rather than in the center or you could actually select heavier colours on one side of the bed therefore one side looks heavier than the other. Have a look at what I mean:
Now that we’ve figured out what type of cushions you need and how to arrange them here comes one of the profound questions man has ever asked. Okay maybe it isn’t that dramatic but it does tend to be a question I encounter a lot from clients…whether one should or shouldn’t chop their cushions. Now for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about don’t worry, I’m not talking about cutting up your cushions, its actually the creation of a V-shape in your cushion by hitting/chopping it at the center of one of the edges (the one opposite t he zipper edge). To successfully achieve this look ensure that you plump them up first so you get that full luscious chopped look.
To even consider going down this route you have to know that it only works with cushions that have natural filling as it’s easily manipulated and also square shaped cushions as they bring out the V-shape better. In regards to whether or not to chop is purely a personal choice. Personally I don’t like having chopped cushions in my home as it looks too conservative and fancy for my taste but I have had clients who love it and chopping worked perfectly for their aesthetic. So to each their own as long as you have the right cushions for it.
So what say you? Have I successfully answered every scatter cushion query know to man? If not, be sure to tell me, in the comment section below, what I’ve missed looking into and I will definitely touch on it. If this post was an eye opener and you don’t want to miss out on any other posts be sure to SUBSCRIBE BELOW and you’ll I’ll send you email notifications every time a new post is up.
Again, thanks a million to everyone who emailed me with all your questions.
Till next time Be Inspired…Be You!