Pad it out - transform your home with cushions

Pad it out - transform your home with cushions
Designers Guild’s cushion fabric range mixes a variety of on-trend patterns with plain colour (from €45 at www.designersguild.com).

It might seem super easy to accessorise with a scattering of cushions, but using multiples of the little beauties needs some thought and more than a few professional tips for success, writes Carol O’Callaghan

Never underestimate the power of a cushion. It might seem like a superficial part of the interiordesign process, but it’s also a real do-gooder if you want an easy and instant change of look to your room. To get it right, it’s best to adhere to a few styling tips, so the result means the difference between swish order and amateurish chaos.

Pick an anchor colour

There’s bound to be something in the room — a chair, sofa, or rug — with a distinct pop of colour. This is your anchor and ought tofeature in some of your cushion detailing to achieve a cohesive look, overall.

Aim for a little bit of excitement with something like a cool print fabric in your cushion selection. Tropical, botanical, floral and animal prints are the big looks thisseason, as is ever-trending colour, in case pattern is not your thing.

Front to back

The off-putting aspect of making cushions if you want a unique look is the sometimes breath-taking cost of a good quality fabric. A little mitigation exercise is to use it on the cushion front only, and use velvet in acomplimentary colour on the reverse,instead of cotton.

Plain chairs are a blank canvas for the cushion treatment. This extra-large, tropical-style version is from Homesense (€45).
Plain chairs are a blank canvas for the cushion treatment. This extra-large, tropical-style version is from Homesense (€45).

Velvet always says luxury and will hold its own in close proximity to the expensive fabric on the front. There’s an added benefit, too, as it offers the fun and variety ofturning the cushion around from time to time to mix up the look.

The small stuff

Adding piping to a cushion is a revelation, as are fringes, plaits and corner tassels, which can easily pick up a colour in new décor without investing in more purchases if the budget is depleted.

All shapes and sizes

Skip the tiny cushions, seriously. They’re neither practical for supporting a tired back, nor do they look meaningful when lost in the corner of a sofa.

Santorus offers a cushion made in cotton velvet with a duck feather filler (€150 from limelace.co.uk).
Santorus offers a cushion made in cotton velvet with a duck feather filler (€150 from limelace.co.uk).

Think big, ideally rectangles and squares, in different sizes, particularly if you have big furniture. Consider going oversized, as they add depth to a chair, a sofa or window seat. Opting for squares and rectangles rather than rounds also means getting best value out of a couple of metres of fabric.

More about the look

Mixing and matching colours and patterns has the added impact of keeping the eyeengaged and giving the room a bit of oomph.

Add in some neutrals for balance, and one statement-piece cushion for wow, especially if the overall scheme is neutral walls and muted accents. This mix also highlights natural textures in floors, and in artwork hanging on the wall above your cushion vignette. As a rule, if the cushions are animated in their pattern scheme,artwork ought to be more muted or the room will scream. The same goes for rugs and any other accessories.

Beyond traditional uses

Create a cosy nook on a window seat for weekend afternoons with a cup of tea and a book. A seat pad with a really deep, luxurious cushion provides comfort and addsanother dimension to your interior design.

Penneys blue Chambray foil cushion (€8) and the Chindi tufted cushion (€10), add gentle colour and texture to summer bedlinens.
Penneys blue Chambray foil cushion (€8) and the Chindi tufted cushion (€10), add gentle colour and texture to summer bedlinens.

Going inside out

If ever there was a guiding principle about cushions, it’s to spend a little more money on a decent filler. Synthetics, especially those filled with lumps of foam, are not the best way to show off that expensive fabric, and will flatten to the thickness of a pancake in no time. Try to stretch to a natural filler with feather, or a mix of feather and down, which can also do wonders for a cheaper fabric, as will buying a filler a size smaller than the cover to give a full upholstered look.

Rest with the best

Plain chairs are a blank canvas for the cushion treatment. This extra-large, tropical-style version is from Homesense (€45).
Plain chairs are a blank canvas for the cushion treatment. This extra-large, tropical-style version is from Homesense (€45).

Your sofa and bed are ideal blank canvases for cushion artistry. Sofas, in particular, have always been a natural habitat for our plump little friends and are ripe for a cushion makeover with the changing of the seasons. Think rich colours and fabrics for autumn and winter, and yellows, greens and blues for spring and summer.

The same goes for beds, where white linens offer a background for all possibilities and beg for colour and texture. For a solid structure against which to place your cushions, have the height of two pillows against the headboard.

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