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Bedroom Decorating Ideas: Pillow Talk

Use pillows to make a statement of style

Written and produced by Debra Steilen
  • Beautifully covered pillows artfully arranged on the bed are the signature of a masterful bedscape. This exquisite gold-leaf canopy bed in the home of designer Annie Selke (the bed is available in her Annie Selke Home furniture line) needed little embellishment. But pillows are an essential crowning touch to nearly every bed, and this one required those with an understated elegance. Crisp white shams with a subtle border decoration were just the ticket. The two-on-two arrangement of standard pillows covered in shams is as practical as it is pretty. When the shams are removed, these soft pillows are for sleeping on. A small accent pillow picks up the fabric on the duvet cover. All bedding is from Pine Cone Hill.

    Interior design: Annie Selke

  • Sometimes the best decorating is the easiest. Don’t overthink it. Beautiful fabrics on bed pillows make their own statement. These French-inspired white cotton pillowcases with understated border trim capture the essence of fine design without going over the top.

    Interior design: Gerald Pomeroy

  • Viewed head on, it becomes obvious that this pillowscape was created with ease. It’s a simple composition with two plump standard pillows plopped one atop the other, flat against the bed, just as you would sleep on them; a small rectangular pillow propped up for depth; and a small neck-roll in front for interesting round shape that breaks up the rectangles.

    Interior design: Gerald Pomeroy

  • Odd numbers are lucky in decorating. They are just a little more eye-catching, especially in arrangements of accessories including decorative pillows for the bed. Three is the magic number that makes this king-size bed appear proportionately accessorized. Muted blue-gray European shams cover three pillows plopped vertically against pairs of standard pillows laid for sleeping upon. Come bedtime, the decorative trio is easy to stash for some serious shut-eye.

    Tip: Think in threes when contemplating decorative pillows for a king-size bed. They minimize the bed’s width.

    Interior design: Eric Lysdahl

  • In a serene bedroom uncluttered with pattern, a decorative pillow can be the single source of pattern that imbues the room with life. The extra-wide bolster shown here gets the job done in style. Its oval print motif is minimal yet it articulates the soft blue, cream, and brown palette. A trio of brown square pillows behind it add verticality to the composition. Note: Those three are stacked on the sleeping pillows so bedtime doesn’t become a big deal—toss off the decorative pillows, and rest your head.

    Interior design: Georgia Carlee

  • A single big, round bolster pillow serves as a lesson in simplicity in this white bedroom. It keeps the palette clean and consistent. And by spanning the full width of the bed, it further cleans up the design with its streamline shape. Most important, it allows the understated bed curtains and puddling bedspread and window sheers get the attention they deserve.

    Interior design: Georgia Carlee

  • Dressmaker detailing ensures you’ll rest easy, as shown in this Lake Forest Showhouse guest bedroom designed by Chicago’s Eva Quateman. The delicately scalloped edges of the pillow shams make these white pillows anything but plain vanilla.

    Interior design: Eva Quateman

  • Designer Eva Quateman swathed the entire guest bedroom of the Lake Forest Showhouse in luxurious textiles, down to the last pillow. The bed pillows go crisp white to provide a neutral zone for the headboard and pleated bed skirt, which feature a floral trellis pattern, and for the dramatic bed curtain and window draperies, which are a rich embroidered silk in soft ivory, pink, and green.

    Interior design: Eva Quateman

  • Repeating shapes from furniture to accessories stitches a design together, and this well-knit bedroom is proof. The dramatic rolled bar of the mahogany footboard is alluded to again at the top of the bed with the round bolster pillow. The slender size of the bolster draws in the eye to ensure that the connection is made. The alternating colors of the pillow arrangement layers from gold to silver and back to gold provide contrast while remaining quiet and elegant.

    Tip: When arranging bed pillows, the rule of thumb is to start big at the back and work your way forward with smaller pillows.

    Interior design: Tom Riker

  • Sweet serenity isn’t the goal of every bedroom. Sometimes a little sass is the ticket to even sweeter dreams. The bases are covered here with bed pillows that display a mix of kicky fabrics that also match other bedding features. The Florida palette of coral, pink, and lime green is delivered on three layers of pillows in stripes, solids, and a finishing splash of plaid. The striped shams match the duvet cover, and the middle pillow matches the pink bedspread. A summer home? You bet.

    Interior design: Georgia Carlee

  • Home fashion and the whole green movement sometimes seem at odds, at least in our perceptions. Beautiful interior design and eco-friendliness aren’t really enemies, as this bedroom’s toss pillows prove. Check out the gorgeous paisley, to start. Here’s the really beautiful part: These fabrics are made from recycled polyester and waste products such as plastic bottles.

  • You just viewed a close-up of these earth-friendly pillows in the previous slide. Now step back and take a look at how they’re arranged on the bed: in the back, the largest Euro-pillows covered in shams that match the bedspread; second, a layer of rectangular pillows in a solid wheat hue; next, a couple of squares tossed in the mix for a third layer; and as the finale, the paisley neck-roll. The secret to the arrangement is its large-to-small order and the variation in shape of each layer of pillows. And, by the way . . . the sleigh bed also is made from sustainable materials.

  • The green machine just keeps churning out more and more chic home furnishings so that it seems almost dumb to design an interior without them. This streamlined bedroom concentrates its palette and patterns on the bed’s pillows, all of which are organic cotton. Organic cotton meets U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, including avoidance of pesticides or any toxic chemicals from start to finish.

  • As the bedroom’s finishing decorative touch, bed pillows have the final say in declaring the mood of the space. When the design is traditional and luxurious, skimping on decorative pillows makes no sense. The mood of this elegant Dallas bedroom is declared loud and clear by its pillows: huber-plump, and covered in the most elegant fabric of all—antique Fortuny.

    Tip: Invest your money wisely, spending on pricey snippets of fabric for pillows. The cost per yard may be staggering, but the final price tag is a fraction of what you would pay for covering an entire chair or sofa.

    Interior design: Julio Quinones

  • A ‘60s mod-inspired bedroom gets into its groovy gear with Ralph Lauren Home pillows in stripes and paisley. A safe rule of thumb for blending patterns is to mix one geometric like a stripe with one print like the paisley. Of course the two different fabrics should sport overlapping palettes. In this bedroom, the saucy pillow fabrics appear more insouciant against the backdrop of an orange velvet headboard. Dig it.

    Interior design: Jessica Lagrange

  • A Gustavian-style king-size headboard upholstered in a soft Cowtan & Tout fabric (“Country Leaf” by Jane Churchill) becomes beautifully embellished with three tiers of elegant white pillows (all pillowcases, shams, sheets, the duvet, and throw are from Dujardin Design Associates). The Euro shams’ cotton lace trim captures the Old World look and is the most important ingredient  in the arrangement’s success.

    Interior design: Trudy Dujardin

  • Designer Trudy Dujardin decided against blanketing the full width of the king-size bed with piles of pillows. Instead, she centered two fluffy stacks of pillows on the Gustavian-style bed, bringing them high up to nearly the top of its upholstered headboard. The white pillow shams capture the clean, airy aspect essential to Swedish style, and they also provide contrast to the pattern and palette of the headboard and bedskirt.

    Tip: Factor in function when planning your pillow arrangement. Do you sleep all over the king-size bed or mainly in the middle? This makes a difference in how many pillows your decorating should display.

    Interior design: Trudy Dujardin

  • Want more ideas for your bedroom decorating? See numerous bedroom window treatments here.