Self styling: Cushions are becoming a statement of design

Carol O’Callaghan explores the elevation of the cushion from casual accessory to design statement

Cosy faux fur in cushions and throws styled on one end of a sofa for an on-trend look (Dove sofa from Michael Murphy Home Furnishings €1,049).

LET’S face it, styling cushions is hardly life and death stuff, but it can get a little out of control where you spend more time removing and arranging cushions on your bed than you do in it. Equally, a sofa can become cushion central with little or no room to sit on it, and any attempts to do so ruins the aesthetic of the carefully arranged selection, organised to be looked at — but touch at your peril.

Nevertheless, piles of cushions have become a look for the winter season with themed styles to suit all tastes.

Artfully designed

Maybe you are all about design, where your immaculate and carefully constructed cushion vignette paying homage to the shapes and shades of a Frieda Kahlo canvas, on a par with a curated art exhibition. It’s full of luxury, hand-painted textiles, each one carrying stories of chi-chi craft market stalls and artisan textile makers.

The arrangement might look thrown together but it’s actually a result which took work to achieve, requiring daily attention to keep it all so effortless, including a styling session before going to bed to make sure each square and rectangle sits beside a complementary colour or creates an arty clash.

Next purchase: Until you take a holiday abroad and locate a weaver secreted down a shady Florentine lane weaving heritage patterns on silk, it has to be an online purchase like Christian Lacroix’s Mystère from Amara (€155).

Naturally chic

Clusters of floral and dual-tone cushions create a stylish clash with vibrant yellow upholstery. The addition of yellow trimming on strong burgundy tones pulls the look together Windsor sofa launches with DFS on November 28 and is available in ROI thereafter).

If the natural look plays to your interiors sensibility, muted tones of grey, olive, indigo and flat dusky pink will appeal. Produced in woven hemp or organic cotton with Fairtrade credentials, these cushions are coloured with vegetable dyes to give the perfectly faded look and will add to the comfort of your sofa without taking from its star position as the room statement piece.

Neither will the cushions require plumping as their duck feather and down inserts miraculously bounce back, while the messed up cover, creased by a slothful family member enjoying a restorative nap, forms part of the style.

This look promotes a simple, unfussy lifestyle where drying washing out of doors on an autumn breeze is de rigueur, having soaked the textiles in eco-friendly detergent first. Sounds wholesome and appealing? Well, you’ll need a good income to invest in and maintain this understated and socially worthy look.

Next purchase: Check out Kathryn Davy’s organic and naturally dyed cushions in indigo with hand stitching €84. Make it a lifestyle theme too and don a matching apron.

Cosy comfort

Faux fur cushions, throws and rugs can be gathered together on a sofa and around a fireplace for a Scandinavian-type styling option (cushions from €6, throws from €10).

Well, thank you Scandinavia, and the Danes and Swedes in particular, for giving us a couple of unpronounceable words — hygge and lagom — to sum up the deliciously cosy way of living we all crave in winter and at which they excel.

Cushion comfort sums up the look and applies to your bed and sofa, and even a pile thrown on the floor beside a blazing fire. Faux fur is the essential ingredient, used to create a cosy nest for hibernation. Throw in a matching blanket, drag on your onesie, apply hot chocolate and cake to face, throw another block on the fire and gorge on some television, suitably Nordic Noir re-runs of Borgen and Wallandar. You’re all set to hibernate til March.

Next purchase: It has to be the Skold from Ikea, in all its winter wonderland furriness. Add in a long fringed herringbone blanket from Sostrene Grene (€23.30) to complete the Scandinavian vibe.

Girly night in

Autumnal florals are new to HomeSense this season. Multiple cushions decorate floral bed linen for a feminine, blowsy lo ok(cushions from €16.99, bed linen from €34.99).

Have you ever met a man who understands the need for cushions and utter boudoir feminisation? Me neither. Castration by cushion starts by waking up with his cheek embedded with plastic fringe baubles after dozing his way to a hangover cure.

This girly look is all about lace, velvet, Toile de Jouy and chintzy florals to bedeck the bed, emphasising multiple cushions of all shapes and sizes in layers of descending height, working outward from the pillows. Likely there will be a dedicated armchair or window seat on which to fling the cushions when the bed is needed for sleep, rather than as a showcase of personal interiors style.

Next purchase: It’s got to be the floral intense look from HomeSense where cushions starting at €16.99 are crammed with motifs of late blooms and dried hydrangeas. Addthe equally floral bed linens (from €34.99) to ensure an all-out gonadectomy.

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