In today’s home the humble cushion is as common place as the chair or sofa it sits upon. Quite simply the easiest and most accessible way to style any living space, cushions are one of the most popular home accessories available. With over 1000 styles to choose from online at Amara, from scatter cushions to floor cushions, the variation in style is overwhelming in itself let alone material, filling and design. We take you through everything you need to know about finding the perfect cushions for your space...
Cushions and pillows are now a clearly divided range of home accessories, but in the beginning they were really the same thing. In ancient times Egyptians would use stone or marble blocks with a half moon shape cut to lay their head on. It is believed rather than for comfort these types of early pillows/cushions were used more to keep bugs from crawling into ears. There is also evidence to suggest that the Romans were using cushions too, of the softer variety, and the Zafu meditation cushion has its roots in ancient Chinese and Japanese history.
It is also said that in Europe during the Middle Ages, when cushions & pillows were a status symbol, King Henry VIII banned the use except for himself and pregnant women. The industrial revolution finally saw the widespread use of both cushions & pillows in the UK when they became mass-produced by companies in the United States, making them more affordable.
Coming along way from then, luxury cushions are now used in everyday society, and are as much a style addition as they are a comfort creator. Used on sofas, chairs, beds, daybeds and floor spaces they can transform a room’s look as well as help create a relaxing living area.
Floor cushion is a term used for luxury bean bags and poufs, essentially any type of cushion that lives on the floor. Bean bags are often used as an extra chair and poufs can be used for both sitting on and resting your feet. Ideal for adding an accent of colour or pattern to your room, when choosing the right one it is important to consider your current interior. Unlike the standard scatter cushion, floor cushions are usually bought singularly so are unlikely to transform a room’s decor and therefore they need to be incorporated into the existing style.
Scatter cushions are incredibly versatile and can be used to accentuate existing themes in your decor or they can be used to create a new style completely. Available in many different sizes, the most regular being 40x40cm or 50x50cm, they tend to be square in shape or rectangular. Different shapes work really well together, adding depth to a sofa or bed, when complementing style and colour palettes are used.
Cushions are either sold with a pad or without one; at Amara if the cushion comes without a pad it will always be called a cushion cover. Many brands tend to produce the vast majority of their cushions with a pad, e.g. Designers Guild, or without e.g. Lexington. Cushion covers are a great idea if you like to keep up to date with the latest trends and seasonal looks. Invest in a high quality pad and then simply change the cover as you wish, without having to buy the entire cushion each time.
The pad is almost as important as the style; a beautiful design is no good if the cushion is lumpy or uncomfortable. The most luxurious, and most commonly used at Amara, is the duck feather filled cushion pad. Soft and long lasting, most duck feather filled pads are dry clean only, and for best results need regular airing and plumping.
The fun part is choosing the right design and this is all about personal preference, purpose and style. Designer cushions are just like designer clothes in that they can completely transform a look, but in this instance it is the interior not the wardrobe. Colour palette is a great place to start, always pick out key shades that are already used in your decor and match with coordinating tones in the cushion designs. If the room you are adding cushions to has plain walls, say white or cream, or just a block colour then you can add patterned designs to create interest. Another important factor is texture, first think about the texture of the sofa or bed linen that the cushion will be layered on and make sure it will work with the cushion’s texture.
The material of the cushion cover can vary wildly from most typically cotton, to velvet or silk. Choosing the right material is really down to where you want to place your cushion and what you want to use it for. For a cushion intended to be placed on the sofa, that will be used every day for comfort as well as style, cotton is the best option. Durable, usually machine washable and still soft cotton is also probably the most widely used fabric for cushion covers.
Wool or wool felt is also another popular choice that features a beautiful texture, but will need to be dry cleaned. Silk is one of the most luxurious materials that a cushion can be made from, with its smooth texture and high quality feel it is best reserved for cushions that are going to be placed on a bed or an occasional chair. Cushion covers that require more care are more ideal for decorative use over comfort, not to say that they shouldn’t still be comfortable.
Use bold & lively patterned cushions to brighten up a plain decor, vibrant styles are also great for giving an old sofa or chair an instant makeover. Remember to mix size as well as style, a great format for cushions on a bed is two 60x60cm sized cushions mixed with two smaller styles, say 30x30cm, with plain reverses and patterned fronts. This is ideal for adding comfort, style & depth all in one, the cushions can also be reversed for an instant change. Rectangular shape cushions work well with arm chairs and can also be used to layer with other sized scatter cushions. Don’t forget that there are now also many outdoor suitable scatter cushions & floor cushions available, so you can style your garden furniture, poolside or yacht in the same way as you living space.
Be adventurous with your choices, cushions aren’t a permanent fixture in your home or outdoor space so it’s safe to experiment. Mixing zigzags or stripes with florals is a great way to break up the designs, but always use similar colours to avoid over clashing. For the less adventurous, try a patterned cushion mixed with several plains, pick a colour from the patterned piece and choose plains in this colour to accentuate the pattern without being overbearing.
Lastly, think about cushions as a personalised touch to an overall decor theme. They can bring all the elements of your interior together by simply fusing colours and patterns found around the room. A great style counts on the details, and this is extremely true in cushions. Details such as appliqué, embroidery, fringing and tassels can be the perfect finishing touch to your cushion arrangement and in turn your room’s overall style.