Decorative Pillow Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Decorative Pillow

Decorative pillows in a variety of shapes and sizes give your decor visual "pop." Carefully chosen accent pillows can turn a room from austere to cozy and inviting and express your personal sense of style. Learning how to choose decorative pillows that are right for your room and your family ensures that you will get the most bang for your decorating buck.

>> Consider where and how you will use decorative pillows

The best decorative pillows invite you, your family and your guests to get comfortable and relax. They liven up your room and your furniture, and the different types of decorative pillows available allow you to express yourself in a budget-friendly way. Create a cozy reading nook in your den or bedroom by adding throw pillows in various textures to a chair, couch or window seat. You can also use decorative pillow sets to add life to your patio furniture. Add two or three decorative throw pillows covered in a tropical pattern to a wicker bench or patio swing to liven up your deck or lanai area.

Decorative pillow styles are easy to adapt to your surroundings. If you want pillows for a chair, the best decorative pillows are round ones. For a sofa or couch, the best types of pillows are squares or rectangles. For a cozy reading nook in your child's bedroom, put four or five throw pillows on a loveseat or easy chair and add a source of light nearby. You might want to brighten up a kitchen by using a set of small decorative accent pillows as seat cushions. Bolster-style pillows can be used with a futon to make "arms" at the ends when the futon is in "couch" mode. Bolster-style pillows are also popular among teenagers.

>> Consider who will use the decorative pillows

One important factor to consider in figuring out how to choose decorative pillows is who will be using them.

If children are going to be the primary users, buy decorative pillows that can be easily cleaned at home. Polyester throw pillows, for example, are great for a playroom or den, where children and teenagers are the primary users. These pillows withstand wear and tear, an important characteristic because children may use them for pillow fights and other games. When considering the best decorative pillows for children, remember animal-shaped pillows. Kids love to cuddle up to these while reading or watching television. Also, when buying pillows for children, keep in mind decorative pillow sizes. You want to choose pillows that your children can handle easily.

Choose decorative pillows for teenagers that will stand up to a fair amount of wear and tear and that are easy to keep clean. Some of the most popular decorative pillow designs for teenagers include band logos, instruments and pop culture icons. Some teenagers may be partial to frilly pillows, so do not rule out pillows with lace coverings and ruffles attached to the edges.

Adults are easier to buy decorative accent pillows for, because they tend to be more careful than children. You can have a greater variety of decorative pillow styles in rooms for adults, too.

Do not forget your dog or cat when purchasing decorative pillows. If you have pets, you want your accent pillows to be easy to care for. Smooth-surfaced pillows work best for environments with pets, since you can clean them by running a lint brush over them and then toss them into the washer as needed.

>> Consider the type of decorative pillow fabric

You can buy pillows in many shapes, sizes, colors and materials. In every pillow department or shop, you can find decorative pillows in fabrics from cottons to brocades and from easy-care polyesters to metallic ribbons and fabrics covered with beads. Determining which materials will work best in your home is one of the many factors involved in figuring out how to choose decorative pillows. A few carefully chosen pillows can take your study or work area from utilitarian to home-like, while maintaining a professional atmosphere. Sequin decorative pillows are great accent pillows for formal areas.

>> Consider the size of the decorative pillows

Decorative throw pillows come in many sizes. The most common sizes for decorative pillow designs range from 12 inches to 30 inches. Square and rectangular pillows are measured by their length and width, rather than diagonally. Circular decorative pillows are measured by their diameter. Whatever decorative pillow sizes you are considering, knowing how to choose decorative pillows includes understanding that pillows appear to be about an inch smaller than the stated size. Make sure you add an inch to decorative pillow sizes to take into account the pillow's stuffing.

>> Consider cleaning and care of decorative pillows
Whatever types of pillows you choose, you will need to keep them looking their best. A major factor in how to choose decorative pillows is determining what maintenance is required to keep your pillows clean. Decorative pillows can be maintained in one of two ways: home care or dry cleaning. The chart below recommends cleaning methods according to the cover fabric. Most types of decorative pillows can be maintained on a daily or weekly basis by wiping them with a cloth to remove surface dust. If a pillow's cover can be removed, it can often be cared for at home, usually by washing on a gentle cycle with cool water and machine drying it. If you wash the cover with the pillow, when you are drying it in a machine, add a couple of tennis balls or a cloth bag filled with dried beans to help the pillow retain its original shape.

Cover fabric Home care Dry cleaning Polyester Machine wash Not necessary Leather Wipe with damp cloth No Other synthetics Wipe with damp cloth Read care label Shaggy Wipe with damp cloth Yes Brocade Wipe with damp cloth Yes Cotton Machine wash Not necessary When learning how to choose decorative pillows, read the manufacturer's care label so you know how to take care of the pillow.

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