There is a home decor crisis quietly infiltrating America’s homes. I’m talking about throw pillows. You know, those puffy monstrosities that have all but taken over your couch. And bed. And beyond!
We are a nation obsessed with throw pillows. One look at the home section of Target, HomeGoods, or just about any store confirms this; my local At Home store has entire aisles dedicated to these items.
And I totally get why throw pillows have burst on the home decor scene so strong: They are so pretty! They really do liven up a space, and for cheap. They inject instant pizzazz, and are an easy way to stay on trend with colors and patterns.
So you drop $20 on one or two pillows … and soon find your home buried under a mountain.
In fact, every time I see a cute pillow in the shape of a flamingo, or in the vibrant deep purple I love so much, I have to employ the same mind trick I do in the candy aisle during Halloween: head down, keep walking, don’t make direct eye contact.
And I’m not the only one buried in a love-hate relationship with this invasive species of stylish decor. Here are some ways throw pillows are rooted at the intersection of fluffy joy and evil.
They take up space on couches and beds
For Seattle resident Danny Williams, throw pillows have driven a wedge between him and his wife, Kim. She loves throw pillows, but he calls them “furniture pariah.”
“They’re essentially stuffed furniture knickknacks,” Williams says. In his mind, they take up space with little to no functionality. They add a “pop of color” at the expense of taking up valuable space whose true purpose is for sitting.
“It’s essentially taking a well-thought-out and engineered seating space and adding a lumpy, unstable component to it,” he says.
And when you are dying to recline and throw pillows are in your way, they must be put somewhere else. But where? This brings us to our next point…
You can’t just throw them on the floor
Photo by Robeson Design
I have one family member who piles her guest bed with so many pillows, you feel like you are diving into a foam pit at the trampoline park. But they have to stay on the bed, or at least off the ground. Putting them on the floor is a no-no. Let’s face it, people get weird about their throw pillows.
They’re hard to clean
Enjoli Francis, a digital producer and mom of three, keeps seven to eight pillows in rotation in her Bronx living room, with others stuffed into the built-in storage under the couch.
“I love them because they offer a splash of color or vibrant pattern to an otherwise drab room or sofa,” she says.
“They also gross me out, because so many people are sitting on them and against them, so I forbid the kids from putting their actual faces on them.”
On a related note, one of my pillows has taken up residence in the laundry room, awaiting a spin in the washing machine because I have no idea what my various family members got all over it and, frankly, I don’t want to know.
So how does one wash a pillow so big without causing the washer to spin off balance? If I tried to throw two pillows in there to even things out, it would be stuffed to the gills, which is never a good way to wash anything.
So there my pillow remains, unwashed, unloved. Note to all? Get pillows with removable covers.
Throw pillows are rarely used for their intended purpose
Frankly, I don’t even remember why I bought all my throw pillows. Was it to rest on? I don’t nap. Was it to make my house look chic and proper? Because that’s not working out, either.
As a result, throw pillows often go right to the dogs. As Oklahoma nurse Lacy Ash puts it, “The only family member in my house who likes throw pillows is my golden retriever.”
The same is true in my house—just consider my own personal throw pillow inventory:
- 1 fancy pillow out on the patio, currently being used as a sunning cushion by Phoebe, my 14-pound Italian greyhound who rules my house.
- 1 fancy pillow in the far corner of the backyard, in the dirt, dragged out there by our two other dogs, 15-month-old Spanish greyhound puppies Pearl and Luna.
- 2 fancy pillows in the living room, where they belong, but tossed onto the floor to make room for two- and four-legged bodies on the couch.
- 2 throw pillows in the house that were originally destined for an entryway bench. I was gifted those pillows for a birthday, but they both fell victim to Pearl and Luna, who ripped them to shreds and spread their innards all over the backyard. RIP, pillows.
My advice: If you have dogs, forget it. You are not throw pillow people.
Different styles of throw pillows don’t go together
Susan Archer, a TV producer living in London, took stock of her throw pillows and counted five on her couch, two on the armchair, and five on a chair in her bedroom.
“Honestly, I have a problem,” she said. “All different colors, sizes, and shapes. Don’t forget different textures, too: suede, faux fur, linen.”
This brings us to our next point: The sheer selection of throw pillows presents its own problem. Put them all together, and they can look fairly discombobulated, if not crazy.
All told, throw pillows require too much maintenance
Viktoria Yuravich, a Connecticut news editor, bristles at the mere mention of throw pillows.
“I despise throw pillows,” she says. “I think they are a waste of time and space. Who needs a hundred pillows on a bed, couch, ottoman … wherever? Can you even imagine trying to make your bed and putting every pillow back into place?
“That’s never going to happen at my house.”
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