By JEAN PATTESON
It took just moments for Sam June to decorate his family room for the holidays - and to switch it back once the season ended.
He simply swapped the earth-toned throw pillows on the sofa for pillows in shades of red, green and burgundy, added a few holiday-themed ornaments to the fireplace mantle - and he was done.
"It's a subtle change, but it still says 'holidays.' And it's easy to take it down when the holidays are over," says June, a designer who lives in Longwood, Fla.
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The pillow-switcheroo trick can also signal a change in seasons, and refresh or update the look of a sofa, he says. It's quick, easy, "and a lot cheaper than replacing the sofa every few months."
Pillows have a place in almost every room in the house, says Orlando, Fla., designer Debbie Sheaf.
"There is something luxurious, even indulgent, about pillows and cushions. Besides the comfort they provide, pillows can instantly transform a sofa, chair or whole room," she says. "And as long as they're not used for pillow fights, they will last for years."
In his living room, June doesn't even trade pillows when he wants a different look for his black-and-white sofa. He simply flips them over.
On the front, the jumbo pillows feature either an ikat print or a leopard design in needlepoint, both in shades of black, white and mink. But the backs are either plain brown linen or mink-colored ultrasuede.
The solid colors create a less-busy look than the ikat designs. They also form a neutral background against which to display smaller accent pillows. June's current favorite is a green-and tan needlepoint pillow acquired at an estate sale.
"I like to mix old pillows with new, high-end with low, casual with formal," says June. "It gives versatility."
PILLOW DECORATING TIPS
Designers Sam June and Debbie Sheaf offer these suggestions:
A mix of pillows is more interesting than uniform pillows. Mix sizes, shapes, colors, prints, fabrics and trimmings.
Knife-edge pillows, which have no trim at the edges, look casual. Basic cording along the edges gives a more-polished finish. (Use same-color cording to unify a mix of pillows). Elaborate trim, such as fluffy caterpillar edging or crisp dressmaker pleats, creates a formal look.
For custom pillow covers, raid the remnants bins at fabric stores for interesting end cuts of upholstery and drapery fabrics. To cut costs, use an expensive fabric on the front of the cover, inexpensive fabric on the back.
Pillow inserts can be found at fabric stores such as JoAnn's and Calico Corners, or online (search "pillow inserts"). Down inserts are softer than poly-type inserts.
Inexpensive, ready-made pillows can be found at stores such as Kohl's, Steinmart, Target, T.J. Maxx and Tuesday Morning.
When using patterned pillows on a patterned sofa, coordinate the colors but make sure the patterns are different sizes.
The bigger the sofa, the more pillows can be used. An even number of pillows looks formal; an uneven number looks more informal and dynamic. But remember, too many pillows leaves little room for sitting, which can be off-putting.
For extra seating, add a stack of jumbo-sized floor pillows, available at stores that offer children's furnishings, such as Pottery Barn Kids.
Currently in vogue are pillows in shades of coral, red and black//white combinations; detailing such as fringe, hand-painted designs and embroidered initials or proverbs; and luxurious fabrics such as silk and velvet, as well as durable, stain- and liquid-repellent microfiber.