The pretty little throw pillows in my living room pissed me off.
I never realized how much they bothered me before. Maybe because there was more room for them in our old house to be scattered around the floor without becoming a tripping hazard.
But now, even after drastically reducing the number of throw pillows we have, our living room is like a minefield of misplaced pillows.
I thought I loved throw pillows. I needed them in my life. I thought they were essential for a pretty room that looks and feels comfortable.
I loved the idea of throw pillows. Perfectly fluffed pairs in the corners of the sofa, one precisely centered in each chair.
I hate the reality of throw pillows.
Squashed and mangled. Seriously, does my family sit on top of the pillows?! How do they get so messed up?
The pillows end up all over the floor. Because what do you do when there are too many pillows? You move one (or more) out of the way. The extra sofa pillows get shoved aside. Then when someone else wants the room to sit down, the pillows go straight to the floor.
Even our dogs kick the pillows to the floor before they lay down. Yes, we let them on the furniture. They’re very polite about it, except for the needier which they forcefully ejected from the chair before curling up for a nap. So even when my kids are at school or nobody is home, the pillows end up on the floor.
The throw pillows are needier than my kids and my dogs combined. Always needing to be picked up and fluffed.
One day I noticed the first thing my husband does every time he walks into the living room is pick up throw pillows and fold blankets. Every time. Constantly.
I realized I was doing it too. We couldn’t walk into our living room and relax without having to straighten up first.
So, as much as I love the look of throw pillows, it’s clear to me now that they’re (mostly) useless. Not only that but they demand attention—not in the look at me, I’m so pretty way that I want, but in the pick me up, lint roll me, fluff me, come back in an hour to check on me kind of way.
So, I did a little experiment.
I stuffed all the living room throw pillows into a black trash bag, except one, in case I want to take a nap. While I was at it, I stuffed in all the throw blankets, except one, because I’m always cold (and for those naps I like to take). I put the bag of pillows and blankets in the garage.
I told my husband but not the kids. I wondered how long it would take them to notice. Or would they care? Would they miss shoving the pillows on the floor? Would they say, “Hey, where’s my throw blanket, I haven’t tripped over it yet today?”
That was over two weeks ago. The kids still haven’t said anything about it. Either they didn’t notice, or they don’t miss the pillows. There haven’t been any complaints.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- My house looks cleaner without trying.
- Cleaning the living room is quicker because I don’t have to lint roll or wash pillow covers for dog hair.
- We can sit down and relax without straightening up first.
- The one pillow that’s left stays put in the corner of the sectional (ready whenever I want to take a nap).
- I’m not constantly nagging the kids to pick up the pillows and put away the blankets.
What surprised me the most is I don’t miss the pillows, even the look of them. Well, I miss the way I wish they looked all the time, but I don’t miss the way they actually looked most of the time. I’m content to live without throw pillows, so my living room looks clean all of the time.
My husband has slowly won the battle over throw pillows. He never thought we needed them, but I persisted and won him over. Now, I’ve come around. He can claim victory. I’m done with throw pillows…until my kids move out, my dogs stay off the furniture, and I train my husband to lean against the pillow, not to sit on it. A girl can dream, right?!
For now, I choose the effortless, fuss-free route that makes my living room clean and relaxing.
I’ve picked up the pillows for the last time.
I think our living room still looks warm and inviting. What do you think?
Nicole Q-Schmitz says
Oh my goodness – what a fun/funny experiment! Growing up, we never had throw pillows on any sofa; everyone in my family naps a LOT so we just had regular ‘bed’ pillows on our couches (maybe one or two?). Now that I’m grown up, I have a combination of throw pillows (ie: decor) and bed pillows (ie: comfort) on the couches that we use the most. I find that the bed pillows are heavier so don’t slip, and people are more likely to use them for naps. My throw pillows are always on the ground (but I have a toddler, so that explains that) so I’m also trying to pare down what we have so there is more room. I haven’t found the one perfect throw/bed pillow combo – but in the meantime I just try to get a nice pillow cover that sort of blends with the décor…
Nicole, I never thought of a bed pillow on the sofa for naps. I’d probably never get up :) Keep experimenting until you find the right mix for your family.
Your room looks great without the pillows. When we downsize, I, too, will get rid of the pillows – my husband has always hated the!
You should. But do it before you move. I can’t believe how much space I wasted on throw pillows.
And wasted money!
I am living the same throw pillow battle with my children and husband. I’m going to try the same experiment starting today! I love the splash of color the pillows add to my monochrome living room, but I’m not sure it’s worth the battle! Thanks for the inspiration. I’m a long time follower, but this is my first comment :)
April, I was worried about missing the pattern and texture too. In my case, I think our new rugs add plenty of color and pattern to the room, so that helped. Maybe without the pillows you’ll be inspired to find other ways to bring color into your room too.
Lillian Ellzena White says
Oh my goodness…I feel better after reading this. I just finished a 5-day stretch keeping 3 grandchildren, and finding the throw pillows tossed UNDER my grand piano, AND feeling bad for reprimanding the kids for doing it! Yes, there was dog hair on them. The only ones the kids really like are the two velvet ones. The others may get stashed, and now I won’t feel so guilty for doing it! Thank you for the very helpful article, Jackie!!
Lillian (such a beautiful name), you shouldn’t feel guilty at all. We forget sometimes that we are allowed to do things that make our homes easier for us to manage, even if it goes against expectations.
I love what you wrote. So raw and natural.
You have a lot of the same issues I deal with. ( My kids throw the pillows behind the couch,husband puts up with the pillows, dog hair and happy to hear you take naps too).
I’m keeping mine for now, but your place still looks great, pillows or not.
Thank you Danalee.
Oh boy, pillows are a big problem in our house, too, though not because they’re on the floor. Our problem is that my pretty pillows get ruined! Since we don’t have a family room, the kids and the hubs regularly watch TV in the living room. They prefer to lay down while doing it, so they like a pillow or two for comfort and my nice pillows get squashed and end up misshapen.
After fighting it for a while and getting extremely frustrated, I finally decided to just leave a few old, comfy throw pillows on the couch and loveseat for everyday use and then whenever we have guests over, the old pillows go away and I pull out the nice, fluffy, colorful, coordinating pillows from the closet. I always make sure to promptly put the nice ones away after the guests go home so they don’t have a chance to get ruined. It’s the best of both worlds!
Deb, That is a great compromise.
Karen Mattox says
I totally agree!
We’ve been doing without sofa pillows for quite some time because the idea of ‘throw’ (!) pillows is great but the reality stinks.
Your family room looks great without them! Yay for your peaceful family room!
Oh Karen, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one and that you’ve made it without pillows for years.
Lydia @ ThriftyFrugalMom.com says
This was so funny to read. About 2 years ago, I ended up coming to the same conclusion that you did. I loved the throw pillows that I had in our living room, but with 4 young kids, they were always getting thrown around and left all over the floor and I was sick of it. So, I got rid of all but two of them. One stays on our couch (well, in theory at least!) and the other one I have tucked in a basket along with a blanket, and we just grab it whenever we need it. My husband immediately proclaimed it a great improvement, because he was of the same mind as your man. :)
I do kind of miss the coziness that pillows gave, but it just wasn’t worth the headache anymore!
Lydia, Now if only we could keep the kids from jumping on the furniture when we’re not looking, right?!
In this sense, I might as well get rid of my sofa! Or at the very least buy a sofa like yours. My children love to remove the sofa’ cushions. And I apparently haven’t learned from that because I just bought a new sofa with even more cushions (Ikea Soderhamn)!
Oh no! We used to have that issue too. My kids used to make forts with the sofa cushions. Without realizing it, I guess our recent move solved that problem. Before downsizing we had three sofas, two with loose seat cushions. We took a family vote on which sofa to keep and everyone chose this sectional. We all think it’s the most comfortable without loose cushions or pillows.
I did the same and got rid of all of them a while ago.
I am happier and my lounge looks cleaner as well.
Khadija, Thank you for sharing. It’s amazing how much cleaner a room feels without such a normal decoration.
I love it! Picking up throw pillows and folding blankets has became a daily habit for our family too. I think I may reduce the amount of pillows we have to two and keep blankets in an ottoman close by. Thank you for sharing!
Krista, We’re still fighting the blanket battle. My kids bring blankets from their beds down to the living room. Thankfully, since it’s the blankets they sleep with, they go back every night. I’m the biggest throw blanket user in my house (always cold) so I can’t quite imagine giving them up entirely.
Julie Rawding says
Love it. I always admire your style and stylish home, but I always knew it wouldn’t work for us. We are too messy and one pillow is more than enough for us. On top of it, we rarely have time to stop on the sofa:) In a way, I am happy you are a real family with pillows on the floor:) But you found a great solution.
Julie, The pillows is only the start of how real we are around here. With two boys under the age of twelve, nothing in our house is precious. My boys have learned to respect decoration but I also respect that they are young boys that need to tumble and play without being worried they’ll get in trouble for messing something up. I think my favorite part about this whole no pillow thing is not nagging my boys anymore in the living room.
Terri Asbury says
Not long ago I got rid of a few throws and hid just a couple in the storage section of our chaise. We also got rid of most of our throw pillows as well. Amazing how much neater everything looks.
Terri, You just reminded me we used to have a tall basket to toss the throw blankets in…no folding required. I’ll have to see if I can find a place for it in this room.
Sharon Pichai says
Haha! This piece is great–really made me laugh! I do think I still need throw pillows because I haven’t done as nice a job decorating with other pieces (area rugs, sofas, chairs) as you have. However, I do have the same problem with them. I have to straighten them EVERY morning. And I tell my husband not to use my new and best throw pillows to prop under his head when he watches TV or takes a nap; instead, he has to use a throw pillow I’ve ok’d because it’s already worn out! :) This is a great blog post, Jackie! . . . . I must say, I do like the magazine-shot with the throw pillows a little better than the shot without the pillows; however, I can understand your wanting to keep life simple without them. Maybe just keep the throw pillows in the closet in a big Marshalls bag for when you have guests? But if you decide to get rid of them, I’d understand! :)
Sharon, I agree. In photos the shot with the pillows looks better but in real life I don’t even notice the difference. The room doesn’t need the pillows. I have to admit, as a blogger, some of my decorating choices have been swayed by what looks best when I photograph a room. I was definitely guilty of that with throw pillows here and in the bedrooms too.
We have throw pillows and they have become the puppy’s toy. I will walk in the living room and she is holding it between her teeth shaking the pillow like it has done something horribly wrong to her. haha
I just recently cleaned up what should be a coat closet in our living room and added shelves to hold all our extra blankets. I filled it and donated the extra fleece blankets and the larger ones we didn’t use and didn’t fit in the closet.
I love the colors of your living room.
Cindy, That’s a great use for your closet if you don’t need it for coats.
Sara P says
I’m having a similar problem with just our removable sofa cushions. They always end up half off the sofa and I’m forever straightening and tucking them. We’re in desperate need of new sofas, and the ones I have my eye on have removable seat and back cushions (Ikea Vimle). Am I going to regret not buying a fixed-cushion sofa? We have a toddler and I like the ability to change/wash the removable covers. I’m tempted to stick adhesive velcro on the seats if we do go with the Vimle.
Sara, For that reason I haven’t had removable seat back sofas in 15 years. Until recently we had removable seat cushions, but other than the kids they weren’t much of a problem. Our yellow chairs have removable seat cushions but they came with two giant strips of Velcro sewn across the bottom of the cushion to secure them in place. We love that!
I completely agree with you that the ‘clean’ look – sans pillows – is just great – if you don’t need them, why have them? I do use my throw pillows, though, every time I sit on my couches, and in my armchairs – I find that I need them behind me for support or my back starts to hurt. I’ve never been able to find a sofa or armchair shallow enough for me to scooch all the way back so my back is supported firmly by the back of the piece. Our one dog does like to practice her ‘princess and the pea’ act by balancing on not one, but TWO, pillows piled on top of one another on top of the couch, however, so we don’t use those pillows for naps – lol!
I was really curious as to how you solved the pillow problem. I guess hope that I could have pillows without the constant picking up and fluffing springs eternal! So, when I had the exact same problem…I found the exact same solution! I was just tired of always picking the pillows up off the floor. All the decorating mags show throw pillows and I thought they looked great and gave the room a nice pop of color. Once I gave them up, I never looked back and no one else in the family missed them either! I’m thinking that throw pillows are for decorators, not real people who actually use the room!
Thank you so much for the inspiration. Your room looks great without the pillows and your new rugs add plenty of color and pattern to the room. All the decorating mags show throw pillows and I thought they looked great and gave the room a nice pop of color. I’m decorator and now I’m going to regret all my throw pillows for the seasons.
Sandy Wamble says
I love this post, it is so true pillows are pretty, but pretty annoying most the time because they require so much maintenance every day. I fluff and stuff and puff pillows that my husband sits on top of. And they seem to be very annoying, so much useless time spent Fussing with pillows, the texture of the color, the size, where to put it, what so far and how many should I have my small living room. I am basically a minimalist and pillows take up unnecessary space, unless you need it for back or neck support. I shall have to have a pillow talk! Thank you for you for the amusing article, it truly hit home for me, now I can rest easy without having to plump up pillows every day!
Denise Cartiglia-Alberti says
I feel so sad that you’ve decided to abandon your carefully selected, perfectly matched throw pillows ;( After taking all your courses (and following your expert advice), I feel somewhat betrayed; and a little silly, as I thought the fluffing, rearranging and “teaching” the hubster pillow etiquette was a requirement for having a beautiful space.
Originally, I signed-up for Define Your Style when we decided to build a second home in Florida; then I enrolled in several other classes, so I could continue decorating my new “blank canvas” … everything turned out so beautifully that we decided to re-do our entire home in NJ – we started last Feb and are two-thirds finished; however, I was going to post on the FB group for advice on (drum-roll, please) the throw pillows on our new sofa, which are driving me crazy!!
In all fairness, our kids are in college, our three cats have their own decor-coordinated bedding, and the hubster is almost fully trained – lol – plus, I’ve invested too much time & effort to throw in the pillows. So, on I will go with the purchasing & returning until I find my perfect pillow paradise!