Throw Pillows: Are They Really Necessary?!

I call this the Throw Pillow Debate.

At one point or another in the design collaboration, we will enter the accessories planning phase. We enter the “pillow conversation”. I explain they will add color, texture, warmth, personality to the space. They will cushion the room and tamper down echo, as do the window treatments. Pillows also serve a function, improving back support and comfort, especially for shorter people who need to have their feet touch the floor and for anyone who suffers from a sensitive back.

Rare are my female clients who do not understand the value of the decorative pillow. Most men, and pardon the generalization, tend to find them fluffy and unecessary. I hear strong words about clients’ distaste for pillows: “my husband hates them!”, “they are non functional!”, “why do we need them?”, “I’ll just throw them on the floor!”

Allow me to illustrate my line of thought.

This beautifully upholstered bed by Bernhardt  feels blah. It’s a bed with white linens. Period. 

Now look at what happens when color and texture is infused on the bed with the use of interesting pillows. Image courtesy Bernhardt.

Let’s look at one of my designs:

Detailed View

The bed before. 

Barbara Elza Hirsch | Elza B. Design IncThe dressed up bed after: linens and 2 decorative pillows leaning against white shams. Note how the custom fabric tells a story: the colors and texture add depth and warmth, coordinating with the wall and accessories. Designed by Barbara Elza Hirsch of Elza B. Design, Inc. Photo Rosemary Fletcher.

Decorative pillows on a bed need not be overdone, I usually recommend 2 or 3 on top of sleep pillows, which I cover with shams or pillow covers. The sleep pillows usually go in pairs to hold everything up but also add adequate back support when reading.

What to do with the decorative pillows at night? They can plopped on the floor against the wall, or simply laid on an armchair. Not as complicated as one would think!

What about the sofa pillows?

Gunner Sofa

I love this velvet sofa found via Jayson Home. But it feels so naked. 

cozy and sophisticated:

Rooms cannot be fully inviting without color, texture and  layering of mutiple fabric accessories, such as the sofa pillows above. The art piece adds a lot to the space as well. Photo : Interiors Magazine.

Beautiful yet bare sofa from Cisco Brothers with no pops of color or layering that make it inviting.

Traditional Media/Game Room by CarolEgan Interiors and Andre Tchelistcheff Architects in Water Mill, New York: Carol Eagan Interiors room offers inviting seating options with colorful pops of pillows.

Many people, including myself, welcome back pillows on seating. I frankly cannot enjoy my evening if there is not something soft and cushy to lean on and allow my feet to reach the floor, especially with a deeper sofa.

Guests or family members who do not find pillows comfortable can simply move then to the side or put on the floor. There is no need for guests to feel uncomfortable : I always make everyone at ease in my living spaces and let all know pillows can be moved around or put on the floor.

Scale and texture of pillows is very important as well. It’s nice to have a blend of squares and a rectangle or two. Make sure you let your designer know if you prefer down or poly inserts. Down allergy considerations are important as well. Down feathers will feel soft and pliable. Polyester feels firmer but can be very useful for the pillows in the far back position to creative supportive layering.

So the next time the designer talks pillows, please keep an open mind and remember this blog post.

Custom pillows are an investment, but they really truly make a space and bring it to the next level!

Outdoor Accessory and Fabric CRUSH

Link is a fantastic outdoor fabric and furniture brand I’ve used for diverse projects. Recently as I checked out their website, I crushed for these outdoor bolster pillows. They’re fun, zippy and originally finished.

Playing with trim and interesting patterns, Link created something different from the bland square nautical striped pillow. Imagine these poolside or on your outdoor sofa!

Link recommends the following steps when creating these:

1) Use different fabrics on ends

2) Change direction of fabric layout

3) Flange, contrast welt and different trim options

So let’s imagine I was to create my own using similar methods.

1- I chose this three striped outdoor friendly trim :

Three striped fringe in Melon by Link

2-The main fabric I would do in :

Palme in Melon by Link

3-The ends would be in this small pattern:

Sketch in Ocean by Link

Et voilà!!!

Fabric and colors always make my day, enjoy!

Barbara

ABC Home and its Little Culinary Jewel

While visiting with my sisters in New York, I had the wonderful opportunity of having lunch at ABC Kitchen, situated in the ABC Home building. A charming and vast room, with a gloriously high ceiling held by visible (thank you!) wood beams, white brick walls, the restaurant is simply a feast for the eyes and mouth. Created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and dining mogul Phil Suarez, the restaurant offers a locally grown and organic cuisine of the finest quality. The construction of the restaurant is made of recycled and sustainable materials and decorated with an array of tastefully designed items such as: a medley of softly lit chandeliers, comfy white steelwood chairs, handmade porcelain dinnerware by local artisan Jan Burtz, recycled and pleasantly shabby-chic European porcelain plates.

ABC Kitchen softly lit seating area.

Some of my favorites dishes included the Roasted beets with house-made yogurt, the Spinach, goat cheese and herbs pizza, and the Gazpacho with watermelon and tomatoes:

ABC Kitchen Gazpacho soup served in a Jan Burtz bowl.

The service was impeccable. Young and friendly servers popped in and out of the kitchen at lightning speed, yet managing to seem unrushed,  gracefully depositing plate after plate on tables. My sister is friendly with one of the sous-chefs there, the talented Ross Mendoza, and we thrilled to have a quick chat with him after our meal.

One word: Dessert. Please, please indulge. The toasted almond Panna Cotta is SUBLIME.

Now, on to the store itself. Meandering in the ABC Home aisles I found myself having to take deep, calming breaths. Thoughts going through my head : How can I check out all these beautiful offerings in just under two hours?? Remind me why don’t I live in New York again?! This place truly feels like a museum exhibit!

A few eye-catching sightings:

Handmade Italian dinnerware at ABC Home.
More Italian handmade tableware at ABC Home.
Stunning arrangement of containers and stones on a back lit surface. ABC Home.
ABC Home has a love affair with lights. And it shows…

 

Lovely geometric pendant at ABC Home.

 

Paper bubble pendant at ABC Home.
Stunning Murano Glass chandelier with a painted iron chandelier in the background.
Blu Dot Floor Lamp with red cord at ABC Home.

Textiles and pillows abound. I particularly enjoyed these indigo items:

Indigo Blue Pillows.

 

Indigo Blue blankets and textiles.
Intricate patterned blue pillow by Eskayel.

I loved how the pillows and blankets were organized by color hues:

Superb pillow and blankets arranged on a shelf at ABC Home.

There were many other fascinating floors are items but I just cannot cover all. Make sure to check the Raw section (a space dedicated to industrial vintage finds), the Cobble Hill furniture line:

Cobble Hill furniture upstairs at ABC Home.

And take the time to check out spaces with quietly gorgeous pieces such as above the restaurant, if you go up that staircase, you can find cream and wood and metal sculptural beauties such as:

Jaw dropping imposing French fountain at ABC Home (I would estimate it measured about 4 feet in diameter).

Dashing across the street to the ABC Home Rug building, 10 minutes before closing, I was able to take a glimpse at one of my favorite rug designer, the great Madeline Weinrib:

Madeline Weinrib cotton flatweave rugs.

Voilà, my friends! Hope you enjoyed my tour. Clearly, I shall have to visit ABC Home again very soon.

WEST ELM Mania

Okay, I love WEST ELM. I promise I was not paid to say this! But it’s a fact. This most interesting company is growing at a very fast pace, introducing (still) affordable lines and great accessories, showcasing artists and designers, florists and other talented creators. I drove to Boston the other day to pick up some furniture at the West Elm Store on Brookline Avenue. A lovely sunny day, and a wonderfully styled store with such friendly customer service!

I met the very talented Becca Olcott, owner and florist at PETAL FLORAL DESIGN, presenting her wonderful bohemian floral creations at the WEST ELM Pop-Up Flower Shop. Now, what is that, you ask?! Fresh flowers and arrangement advice from a West Elm favorite local florist are offered on a few Saturdays in a few cities in the nation. A flower shop is literally set up temporarily for the day, as shoppers browse and stop to purchase flower arrangements or simply take in the beautiful selections.

WEST ELM Pop Up Flower Shop in Boston, MA with Petal Floral Design
Becca Olcott, owner of Petal Flower Design, at the West Elm store in Boston, MA
Becca Olcott from Petal Floral Design, and one of her amazing floral creations at West Elm Pop Up Floral Shop

 

Bouquet by Becca Olcott, Owner of Petal Floral Design, prepared for West Elm Pop-Up Flower Event

I am sure you will agree Becca’s creations are simply superb. I love that they don’t appear rigid and uptight but, rather, offer a relaxed yet subtle and refined assemblage. Becca Olcott specializes in weddings and social events in the new England Area.

On another note, here are a few photos of the superb styling I encountered at this West Elm location:

West Elm Pillow arrangement in soft grays and yellows.
Ash, Salesperson at Boston West Elm, demonstrating how comfortable the sofa is! Ash was very helpful with my purchases that day.

 

I particularly enjoyed the selection of white vases, containers, candlestick holders:

Collection of glass and ceramic containers at West Elm.
Colorful Napkins at West Elm.
Napkin holders. West Elm.

And finally, I thought this little CURIO table lamp was a smashing idea: The glass “cloche” allows you to display whatever strikes your fancy!

Curio Lamp by West Elm

 

Next post, I will share an article on lovely fabric prints I found at the Boston Design Center recently. Have a grand weekend!

Blue Day Shopping

Last week my post was about feeling blue and the wonderful atmospheric quality of the  color blue.

This week I explore interesting items to shop for a Blue Day. Whether you like to be totally immersed in blue or just use pops of it here and there in your interiors, I have something for you!

Please have a seat:

Accessories, extra seating and coffee table:

Pillows, rugs and mirror:

Blue Fabrics: