Ask Kate

Sofa Pillow Styling: Basic Tips

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In my mind, the best party would be one where I was invited to a city loft filled with a dozen sofas and hundreds of pillows stacked up on shelves and someone hands you a glass of champagne and says “go style some sofas with some of these killer pillows”.  Add of course there would be some design loving friends and bloggers present – call me crazy but that’s my idea of a really good time. 

Nancy from Minnesota wrote to me the other day asking about pillow styling on her neutral sofa and how to go about picking accent pillows that look modern and fresh. Every sofa needs a few toss pillows for comfort but also to give it a finishing touch. I believe in mixing them up so they’re coordinated but not too matchy matchy. 

For any sofas anchored on a rug, that rug should be the first thing you pay attention to – the pillows should complement and not compete. The simplest way to do it is to use a color that’s already present in the rug. Below is a neutral ‘goes with everything’ gray striped rug and a basic white sofa.

Mixed Neutral Palette.  There are four patterns on this sofa and they all work together because they all carry a varying shade of the color in the rug from light gray to charcoal. Include a classic stripe, a geometric or two (notice one is large and one is smaller in scale) and then add a contemporary floral or paisley or block print motif with a pop of color. gray and white rug and pillows on sofa

hampton sofa + striped rug + pillows: graphic gray / mod floral / small chevron / stripe

 

Monochromatic Palette.  Use a similar formula to combine any number of toss pillows in a single color. Below a large scale geometric is paired with a smaller scale floral and combined with a navy border pillow and an embroidered medallion pillow in indigo. Use one or two more of the same patterns on chairs that sit adjacent.

monochromatic pillow styling

manchester sofa + seagrass rug + pillows: trellis + floral + medallion + border

 

Complementary Color Palette. Complementary colors are ones that are opposite each other on the color wheel, the blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green and their varying shades. Coral and teal are also complements since coral is a version of orange and teal is a blue hue – below you see a combination of the two using a larger scale and medium scale botanical, two solids, and a small scale geometric.

blue and coral pillows

chaise sectional + trellis rug + pillows: coral needlepoint / teal lumbar / coral geometric / spruce solid / russet botanical

 

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Recliners in Design: Yay or Nay?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The debate continues between husbands and wives about how to mix his and her tastes, and one of the common requests by husbands (yes I’m generalizing!) is the placement of a big ol’ recliner smack dab in front of a giant screen. I’ll admit, there’s something comforting about the feeling of certain cushioning recliners for the television and movie watching experience, but the look?  I’ll just say it: I’m not a fan. Raise your hand if you’re with me.

Kathy M. recently wrote to this to me. “How can I incorporate a leather recliner in a design plan for my main living area? My husband is insistent!” I invited contributing writer and interior designer Courtney of Courtney Out Loud to tackle this topic, please welcome him back with his thoughts on the issue of recliners in interior decorating. 

“I don’t think I have ever met anyone who has ever said they want their home to be an uncomfortable and uninviting place. Mind you, that everyone has a different concept of what that is, but I think I can safely say that home is where we all go at the end of the day to kick off your shoes, let down your hair, and relax.

So it comes as little surprise when clients come to me and ask for interiors that exemplify those ideals of comfort. Kate came to me with a question from one of her readers on how to integrate a recliner into her home, I had a moment of pause. To be honest, I still have flashbacks of the large, over-stuffed leather recliners that seemed to dominate the 70s and 80s living rooms. To me, they exemplify an overly relaxed way of addressing a client’s need for comfort.

However, I firmly believe you can still have a place to put up your feet without sacrificing style. Incorporating a recliner into your room is simple as these rules: Reimagine It, Scale It, or Forget It.

Reimagine It.   Canadian designer Meredith Heron, believes that recliners can work in any space but they shouldn’t look like recliners. "I use recliners in many of my rooms" states Heron. "But I do them all custom which allows me the greatest control." In the example below, Heron reimagined the traditional leather recliner as a pair of streamlined, velvet club chairs that flow effortlessly into her pale grey and cream palette. 

merideth heron recliners in living room

Meredith Heron Designs

Stephen Tomar and Stuart Lampert of Tomar Lampert Associates followed a similar approach to Heron in creating the pair of channel back recliners in the serene shade  that serves as the focal point in a monochromatic room.

Tomar Lampert Associates

Tomar Lampert Associates 

Takeaway: If budget allows, a custom upholstered recliner allows you to all the creature comforts of a recliner without sacrificing any style (see also some of Kate’s picks below).

Scale It.   Typically, I love big things. Huge things. The more oversized the better, as they relate to accessories, artwork and lighting. However, when it comes to furniture, pieces should always be balanced and in scale with the room, which is why I have a hard time with recliners. I find many to be bulky white elephants that clients try to shoehorn into a space. They are the furniture equivalent of bullies, forcing all the other furniture in the space to the edges of the room.

Fortunately, retailers have taken heed and are producing some fantastically sleek and deliciously modern takes on recliners. Mid-century modern lovers will undoubtedly love the classic lines of the Milo Baughman Recliner 74 by Design Within Reach. The walnut legs elevate the body of the chair making it less bulky than its current counterparts and the wispy arms along with the elongated back create a frame that is less ballerina than lumbering lumberjack. The sense of lightness and airiness of the piece isn’t overpowering and won’t overwhelm a room.

milo baughman recliner

Design Within Reach

 

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