What do I need to think about when choosing cushions?
Cushions - in all their shapes, styles and sizes - are an ideal accessory for the home. They're a low fuss way to add style, impact and coziness, and their affordability means they can be quickly and easily swapped to change the mood or design of a room.
It doesn't take too much planning to get started with cushions but here are a few factors you might like to consider when choosing the best ones to give your home some pizzazz.
Match but don't match
Whatever approach you choose, make sure it matches the rest of your room. But, when we say 'matches', that doesn't mean you need to choose the same colours. In fact, mixing things up is the best way to inject creativity, fashion and fun into a space.
Matching is more about complementing the style of your room than anything else. For instance, a bohemian or ethnic cushion pattern might be better for a casual area while a classic pattern would suit a more traditional space, like a formal dining room.
Be bold and proud of it
Don't be afraid to make bold choices and put different styles together, especially when you're in the store and have a wide array of cushions to test against each other. Playing it safe with neutral colours ultimately creates a washed-out and dull effect.
Highlight an existing colour
Draw on existing colours in your room that you love and want to highlight. Look to your artwork and frames, rugs, window coverings and feature chairs. Avoid directly matching your cushions to the colour of the furniture they're resting on, as it can make the furniture fade into the background and feel lifeless.
Patterns & Textures
Get passionate about patterns
Choose patterns that attract you, and that may connect with other elements in a particular room. For example, you might introduce a floral pattern into your cushions that already matches a floral aspect in your curtains, or even an artwork. Mixing up patterns is great - such as geometric shapes against a Persian-style design - but stay within your overall colour scheme. A useful tip is to break up patterns with solid colours.
Make a friend of texture
Texture and the cushion fabrics are the final factors in your cushion equation. Unusual textures and fabrics help set a theme for your space. For a contemporary look, choose fabrics like cotton, linen or corduroy. For a luxurious look, turn to silk or fur. Cushions with trim and added texture can help create a bohemian flavour.
Cushions come in many shapes and sizes, even the shapes of animals to keep the kids - big and small - amused. In determining what you need, look at your furniture and overall room style then pick the size and shapes of cushions that work best with your design.
Square or rectangular?
Square cushions are the most common and look great in almost any context. They're perfect for mixing and matching, tend to offer the most support, and can be thrown across beds, couches and chairs to create a stylish splash. Rectangle cushions are also popular, especially as an accent on a feature or signature chair, or to prop behind your back.
Play with size
Just as with colour and pattern, you can be creative with cushion size. Not every cushion in a single arrangement needs to be the same size. In fact, mixing it up helps create character and a unique look that is distinct to your home.
Practicality & purpose
You should also take practicality into account when thinking about new cushions. Remember that a more detailed or formal arrangement will take extra time to reset after you've used your bed or couch. Choose a style and arrangement that suits your lifestyle, as well as your design tastes.
It's not just about style, it's also about substance. Cushions offer comfort and support for seating, whether they're tucked under the lower back or the neck while relaxing in front of the television or reading in bed.
Hard or soft?
It's important to have cushions on hand that can prop you up when and where you need them most. You know better than anyone whether you like your cushions soft or firm but, if you're not sure, make sure your cushions a 'test-drive' in the store before you buy. Material matters
Different fabrics are softer or gentler on the skin than others, so look for textures that make you feel comfy and cosy, and don't irritate when they're used to bolster your sitting or lying position. You also need to consider factors like allergies, which is why cushion inserts come in different materials and styles, depending on your personal and family health demands.
Know your allergies
Feather or down cushion inserts help keep your cushions looking and feeling great by holding their buoyancy for longer. But make sure you check to see if anyone in the household has an allergy to the filler material before making your selection. Refresh your inserts periodically to keep your cushions looking shapely.
While there's no official rulebook, designers suggest four to six cushions for most couches or beds because of the aesthetic effect it creates, although these cushions can then be grouped or presented in different ways.
2-1-2 or something else?
A popular rule of thumb for medium to larger couches is the 2-1-2 arrangement:
- two larger solid-coloured cushions on either end of the couch
- two slightly smaller, patterned cushions (but with similar colours) in front
- one small rectangular cushion in the middle of the couch
You might choose two larger cushions and two smaller cushions, and then space them evenly or you might have something completely different in mind. The smaller the item of furniture, the fewer cushions you'll need. For feature chairs, one signature cushion is often enough but, if the chair is large enough, two can also work very well. Bottom-line: your cushions should enhance your furniture, not swamp it.
While these tips should help guide you in your cushion choices, the most important thing is to enjoy the process. Cushions are a creative delight with countless options you can play with, and even easily change on a seasonal basis if your budget allows.
Have fun and experiment until you find the right mix of style, size, arrangement and comfort that works best for you, your family and your rooms.