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Plumped up on pillows

If you love pillows, you’re going to love this quote from designer/ television personality Jonathan Adler: “Pillows are the exclamation point of the home.”

That’s because a lot of personality can be packed into an 18-inch square of fabric – or a rectangle, a circle or other shapes and sizes.

“Pillows are the most wonderful accessory that you can use. You can always change your setting with a different color pillow. You can change the look of your room every season if you want,” said local interior designer Mark Taylor.

Cable-knits, velvets or faux furs in the winter, perhaps. Florals, fronds and birds in the spring.

Pillows also are useful for adding pops of color to a room – or for pulling together the whole decor. And, Taylor noted, you can pick them up relatively inexpensively – although there are pricey versions out there.

Today’s vast array of designs includes outdoor pillows in weather-resistant fabrics for the patio, porch or garden. Trendy pillows that appeal to teens and tweens. Animal motifs to suit wildlife or pet lovers. And “word” pillows that offer inspirational messages or humorous phrases.

East Aurora interior designer Susan Reedy Jackson of Reedysign Interiors has a pillow in her sitting room near the front of the house that reads “Snuggle.”

“I love it. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in. It sets the whole tone of the house,” she laughed.

Pillow trends often echo what’s going on in fashion – whether it’s ruffles a few years ago or metallic looks this fall and winter.

“Right now, geometric patterns are really big. You can combine them with a small, tone-on-tone pattern or even a floral pattern in a different scale. It’s a quick way to get a current look,” Jackson said.

Another plus about pillows: “You can experiment more with pillows than you would with big upholstery pieces,” wrote Mary Carol Garrity in her book “Nell Hill’s Rooms We Love” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99).

“One pillow added to the wing chair in the living room can turn a good chair into a great one and can give it a whole new life,” she wrote.

Something else to remember: Fabrics for pillows don’t have to be new. They can be made from tapestries, quilts, clothing such as old sweaters or flannel shirts, table linens and other interesting textiles.

Jackson is converting her late father’s leather jacket into an 18-by-12 throw pillow for the sitting room.

Another idea: Take photos, such as those from favorite family vacations, and have them transferred onto fabric and make pillows out of those, Jackson said.

As for other tips, Taylor said he likes grouping together odd numbers of pillows. He also prefers down-filled forms.

“They’re comfortable, and they look better and plump better,” he said.

Remember, too, that removable pillow covers enable you to use the same insert. You just rotate and store the covers, not the whole pillow.

As for mixing and matching pillows, experiment.

“Make them fun. They don’t have to be matchy-matchy. Throw together different sizes, different shapes, different patterns,” Jackson said.

Ideas for combining different shapes and patterns can be easily found in decorating magazines, books, catalogs and online. Pottery Barn offers a pillows “look book” on its website,


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