The Elusive Throw Pillow Equation

Did I mention I’m addicted to decorating magazines?

I only subscribe to two, but every time I take the kids to Chapters, stock up at Costco, pop into the pharmacy or check out at the grocery store I inevitably find myself picking up, flipping through and buying another.

And the one piece of advice that they all repeatedly offer as the simplest way to update a room (besides a fresh coat of paint, which, seriously, decorating magazine people, is NOT AT ALL SIMPLE) is to change out your throw pillows.

I love their photos of accent chairs with a one-pillow pop of colour. But I especially adore the pictures of couches you just want to sink into, artfully piled with an assortment of throw pillows in various colours, patterns, shapes and styles that somehow works. This is the look I’d love to replicate on my own sofa.

Two problems:

  1. Luc has issued an official Throw Pillow Limit of two, deeming any more than that to be excessive, unnecessary and irritating.
  2. I totally suck at it.

You’d think that with my extensive informal design training (which has cost me as much in glossy mags as my university education) I could accessorize a simple chocolate brown microfiber couch, but I just can’t pull it off.

I started with the two throw pillows that came with it. Yes, I know. If they came with the couch they probably go with the couch. But the brown shot through with a subtle line of blue was just too, well, subtle.

So I tried the cream and brown floral cushions I’d saved from our last sofa. But they just looked dated.

A quick trip to Home Sense and I was back with a beautiful new pair of cream, blue, grey and mocha ikat cushions. We kept them on the couch for awhile, but I knew from the beginning that the scale was all wrong. And I quickly realized that no matter how popular that pattern currently was, I’m just not a boho-chic kinda girl.

The graphic lattice ones were too stark.

The watercolours too washed out.

The stripes too stripey.

Yes, this has been going on for a while.

I’m pretty close with the latest set: a soft cream, blue, grey and green abstract floral that perfectly matches the two framed prints behind the couch. But they’re stuffed with feathers and no matter how many times I fluff, reposition and karate chop the tops of them, they squash down into little lifeless floral clumps the minute you sit anywhere near them.

And what of my cast-offs, you ask? Well, they’ve all made their way into the basement playroom, where they usually languish all over the floor. But at least they get regular use for sleepovers and forts.

Except for a few weeks ago. After reaching my “It’s the basement and I don’t really care how messy it gets because nobody ever goes down there anyway” threshold, I yelled at the kids that if they didn’t do some serious tidying soon, I’d pick up every last toy myself and throw them in the garbage.

An hour later they called me downstairs. The basement floor was spotless. And our old sofa was artfully piled with all of my throw pillow rejects. What should have been a jumbled mess with their varying colours, patterns, shapes and styles, somehow worked.

It was a masterpiece, worthy of a two-page spread.

Tomorrow I’m heading back to Home Sense, Throw Pillow Limit be damned.

This time, I’m taking the kids with me.

And I’ll probably pick up a magazine on the way home…

Read what Luc has to say about throw pillows.