Design 101: Throw Pillow Basics

Hello everyone- Elizabeth again. In case you missed my little introduction the other day, I’m the Junior Design Assistant here at KMID. I started out as the trusty intern and now, after being here over a year, I’ve learned more than I can put into words {or a blog post}. Since I recently graduated college, I don’t have as much traditional training as the other talented ladies on the KMID team.  I live and breathe design but every once in a while, someone will mention something that I don’t know as much about.  The difference in pleating styles of drapes?  And what’s the deal with the latex backing on some high end rugs? And don’t even get me started on picking grout colors…

So who better to get down and dirty with some design facts than me!  First item of business: pillows.

Throw pillows, to the untrained eye, may seem like something that doesn’t require a great deal of thought.  But when used correctly, they can make a dramatic difference in adding some serious design goodness to a space!  They provide a pop of color and texture when thrown on a couch or chair and can really add that extra oomph to any room. You may have noticed various differences in pillow styles before, but not really understood all of the options when buying or getting them custom made. I’m here to inform you that there really are endless possibilities when it comes to throw pillows. Honestly it can be quite overwhelming…which is why you hire people like us to make these decisions!  Here’s a little break down of the basics…


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This is the simplest and often most popular pillow style. It is formed from two pieces of fabric that meet in a sharp edge, tapering to a sharp corner. You can enclose knife-edge pillows with a zipper that matches your fabric choice, or with an envelope back.


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Box edge pillows have a top, bottom and are either cylindrical or have four sides. Rather than two pieces of fabric that meet at an edge, they have a long edge that creates a pillow with depth and dimension. Despite the name, box pillows can be square, rectangular, round, etc. You can always add piping to add more structure or a pop of color.  You can see an example of a box-edged pillow on the chaise lounge below.


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A bolster pillow is long and cylindrical-shaped.  It’s essentially a piece of fabric filled to be a tubular shape, with two circular end pieces on either side.  Bolster pillows are either firm, placed behind the lower back to provide support, or used decoratively to add a finishing touch to your furniture.



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A self-welt pillow has a cord going around the edge. The cording can be done in the same fabric as the pillow, or in a contrasting color/texture.


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Flange pillows have usually an inch or two of fabric that extends out from the edge of the pillow. This extra fabric gives the pillow a fluttery, decorative edge.  Flanges on flanges below!


That’s it folks! I hope this little run-down helps you understand the vast world of pillows. What I love about this “Design 101” segment is that I get to learn a lot from each post as well. One thing is for sure- pillows are a design element that’s meant to be fun and a show off your personality…so get creative!

Design is everywhere. Be Inspired.

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