Pillow Talk: Learn the Lingo of Cushions

Cushions and pillows in any space introduce color, texture and form — all vital design elements when you’re finessing a room. These days we are bombarded with all kinds of styles and shapes of cushions, and here you’ll learn the ins and outs of this surprisingly complex piece of decor from Spacio Designers. Then you can impress your cushion maker with your knowledge of terms such as “bobble fringe,” “knife edge” and “Turkish corner.”

 

cushion1

 

The word “cushion” was used in writings as far back as the Middle Ages. Made of sackcloth or leather, filled with hair or wool and often embroidered, these large items were more like the floor pillows of today.In the U.S., the terms “pillow” and “cushion” can be interchangeable. In many other Western countries, a pillow is usually larger and for sleeping, while a cushion is used for lounging.

 

Most standard cushions on the market are 17 by 17 inches square. This is because a standard roll of fabric is 54 inches wide. Allowing for seams, three 18-inch pieces of fabric can be cut, avoiding wastage. Custom-designed cushions may cost a little more, but they open up a world of possibilities.

cushion2

The knife-edge cushion is the simplest and most popular of all the cushions. It has just two pieces of fabric and four side seams that taper into sharp corners. Why not add a border in another color to an otherwise monochromatic cushion, as shown here?

 

If you want a zipper, get one that matches the fabric color. You can also ask for an envelope-back cover — as the name suggests, the back fabric is overlapped to create the closure.

 

The insert in a knife-edge cushion tends to look fuller in the middle and thinner on the edges. Use a feather-down blend, which will hold its shape and doesn’t need as much fluffing as a 100 percent down insert.

 

cushion3

The box cushion has a top, a bottom and four sides. The sides are called the boxing, and can be from 1 inch to 10 or more inches deep, depending on the overall size and use of the cushion. This banquette has box cushions for both the seating and on top of it. Keep in mind that the seat cushion will flatten in half when you sit on it, so be generous with your measurements.

 

Piping, also called welting, can add structure. This can be either in the same fabric, known as self-piping, or in a contrasting color. If you have other cushions in the room, link that color to your piping.

 

The insert should be firm and enhance the structure of the cushion. Synthetic inserts, such as hypoallergenic polyester, are a smart choice for cushions that will suffer from wear and tear. Just as comfortable as feather-down inserts, they’re also great substitutes if you’re allergic to feathers.

cushion4

The embellished cushion allows you to be creative. A room takes on a distinct personality when you think hard about your cushion design.

 

Embellishments are many and varied. Bobble fringes with pom-poms look playful. Ruched or cut fringes look soft and feminine. Braided and flanged cords in contrasting colors add elegance. All cushion makers carry an array of trims and give great advice.

 

Another tip when buying the insert: Make sure it is encased in a tightly woven fabric, like cotton. This will stop the feathers from popping through. The insert also needs to fill the corners of the cover. If you like the plump look, get an insert that’s the same size as the cover — if not, get one an inch or two smaller.

cushion5

The Turkish-corner cushion, in my opinion, is not done enough. If you don’t like the sharp corners you get with a knife-edge cushion, try Turkish corners.

 

The treatment is called pinch pleating. This works on the knife-edge cushion and the box cushion when it is a scattered — not a seat — cushion. The pleats create neat, rounded tucks at each corner. This treatment is used to great effect on this blue-gray plaid back cushion.

cushion6

Taupe Turkish Corner Pillow Cover
Here’s a closer shot of a Turkish corner. With this style, the insert fits right up into the corners, so this cushion doesn’t have the flat, pointy look of other cushions.

cushion7

The bolster cushion has many uses. Its tubular shape with round ends is a great head support for something like reading in bed, and a helpful armrest on a banquette. Bolsters also break the visual monotony of traditional cushions.

 

As with round cushions, piping can help create a neat finish. Use a color that is already in the room for your piping.

 

Bolster cushions may or may not have zippers. After the loose filling is inserted, the seam is closed with a slip stitch. If you don’t go with a zipper, remember to choose hard-wearing fabric, as spot cleaning will be your only option.

cushion8

The flanged cushion is also a change from the standard knife-edge cushion. A flange is a piece of fabric that extends beyond the seam, giving the cushion a gentle, fluttery effect.

 

Flanged cushion covers can be made with the same fabric as the cover itself (called a self-border) or as an integrated border with a contrasting fabric. These striped pillows sitting on the chairs have the flange on the vertical, rather than all sides. Using the same fabric but turning the pattern a different way includes both ideas and gives you a stunning result.

10 Popular Home Design Trends — Timely or Timeless?

It’s hard to know what’s going to stick and what’s going to go down in history. Interior design trends come and go and come again, to be sure.

In the ’50s, people ripped out Victorian details and claw-foot tubs in favor of vinyl and plastic and elements with the sleek, modern aesthetic of the atomic age. In the ’70s and ’80s, Danish modern pieces and other icons of the ’50s were eschewed as symbols of a stuffy, bygone era. Now they are sought-after treasures with giant price tags.

In the last decade, we’ve seen some new decorating trends emerge. Some will have staying power, and some will go down. We may see them in 20 years and think, “That is so 2012-2013.” But which is which? Spacio Designers have their predictions. What are yours?

eclectic-kids

 

Moroccan Poufs

We are a huge fan of Moroccan poufs, says Navin Kanodia of Spacio Furniture. They are great extra seating. They are great footrests. They are both exotic and modern, and they come in a rainbow of colors.

Capture

They’re modern looking, but with just the right amount of flourish. Not too sleek, not too busy.

Capture2

And they go with any decor: modern, traditional & eclectic. But are they here to stay?

Capture3

Woods Wallpaper

This beautiful and serene pattern hit its apex in about 2010, when it was absolutely everywhere.

Capture4

It’s simple, symmetrical and classic.

Capture5

Midcentury Modern Wallpaper

All love wallpaper, and love the big, graphic patterns inspired by midcentury designs. But they’ve already done their comeback circle, and we are betting that in a few more years they are going to fall out of favor again.

Capture6

In 1990 no one would have put this in their home. Now everyone is. What about in 2025?

Capture7

Same goes for midcentury textured wallpaper. Trend.

Capture8

Midcentury Starburst Mirrors

A design trend from our youth that now seems horribly misguided. The 50’s generation still cannot imagine why anyone would want this in a home where as the youth of today find it to be the trend and the in thing.

Capture9

But many, many people do want starburst mirrors in their homes. You see them in all sorts of different styles. Does that make them a classic, or are they just enjoying one last moment of favor?

Capture10

Midcentury Everything

All the midcentury design icons have made a huge resurgence in the past decade: Eames, Saarinen, Nelson , Bertoia. You can’t turn around without hitting your shin on a Tulip Chair.

Capture11

 

Midcentury modern design has real beauty and a very recognizable aesthetic. It is grounded in the philosophy of its time, which sought a sleek simplicity and integration with the outdoors.

Capture12

The ideas and designs of that time will never fade away. But the trend of creating a period-piece room will. We will always have Danish modern and Nelson lights, but we don’t think there will be quite so many rooms that look like Mad Men sets in 20 years.

Capture13

Butterflies

Butterflies are the insect of choice for everything from little girls’ rooms to sophisticated dining rooms. In the early years it was birds; now it’s butterflies.

Capture14

Nature never goes out of style, and we’ve been stealing its designs since we first wrote on cave
walls. But will butterflies scream “2012” in five years?

Capture15

Old Globes

These are another staple of modern, eclectic design. Just try to score a cheap out-of-date globe at a garage sale. There is no such thing, such is the demand.

Capture16

Old globes do have an innate loveliness. They are bright and round and colorful. They represent exploration and mystery.

Capture17

But will the old globe’s current iniquitousness be its undoing? Ten years from now, will you be able to score one at a garage sale for next to nothing?

Capture18

This is another big one in eclectic modern design. It’s funny and winking and ironic — very much a product of the time.

Capture19

But animal heads fashioned out of cardboard, plaster and ceramic have a limited shelf life.

Capture20

‘For Like Ever’ Posters

Already dated. They were just too popular for their own good.

Capture21

It’s always possible that they will make a nostalgic comeback in 20 years when all the children of today recall them from their childhoods. But they will never be a classic.

Capture22

They are great for people who can’t or don’t want to commit to wallpaper. And they are certainly a lot less expensive than art. But does the wall decal mural have a future?

Capture23

 

We think wall decals might be here to stay for short-life rooms like nurseries, but their best days
are behind them for adult spaces.

Please let us know your views and comments.