Pretty, Practical Pillows


Bring color into a room with throw pillows.

Pillows aren’t just for your bed. Accent throw pillows provide an easy, inexpensive alternative to remodeling a whole room. Pillows can also solve those ergonomic troubles you may be encountering with your new deep-set sofa or your favorite, aging recliner. But don’t take our word for it; try it for yourself.

Create an instant makeover by adding several large pillows to your sofa. An odd number of pillows will kick the old traditional look aside. Look for complementary pillows instead of matching designs to embrace a more artistic style all your own. Find a combination that speaks to you. For example, place a big, down-filled, striped, ultramarine pillow on one end of the sofa with a smaller, solid, brighter green one in front of it. At the other end, go for a floral or contemporary pattern with splashes of green, pink, and white.pillows image

For a clean look, leave space between the pillows. One idea that’s worked for some is to set matching floral pillows on each end, and then arrange three smaller striped pillows in front of the larger floral pillows and in the center of the sofa. The five throw pillows create clean lines, plus guests can find their own comfort with or without them.

If your pillows are too small, they become dwarfed by the sofa, chair, or bed. Instead, choose pillows that are at least 18 to 24 inches in diameter to show off the new colors you’re bringing into the scheme. Place an unexpected shape in the center, such as a long, oblong pillow. Alternatively, mix it up with a few round pillows that contrast the larger squares.

Stick with linen, cotton, and duck fabrics in a modern setting. Add class to traditional rooms with silk or velvet. Tassels and fringe on pillows can enrich the room. To prevent your traditional look from getting too formal, mix up the fabrics and patterns a bit. Pair busy patterns with solids and stick with just two primary colors.

pillows2While you’re in the market for new pillows, consider how you’ll use them. If their appearance is paramount, the stuffing is not that relevant; however, if you plan to use them to help support your back, make sure you get firm accent pillows filled with goose or duck down. The pillows sold at Rug & Home can provide the support you need if you have trouble touching the floor when seated. If your lower lumbar is acting up, rely on large firm pillows — they can allow you to sit for hours in comfort while you visit with friends or watch your favorite TV show.

When shopping for pillows, you must try them out in the store. Place one behind your back while sitting on a sofa similar to yours at home. How does it feel? Is it firm enough? Does it give enough?

Another shopping tip is to choose pillows when you purchase a new living room rug or the picture that will hang behind the sofa to be sure the colors and patterns don’t fight. You’ll more likely avoid horrid mistakes when you buy pretty and practical pillows at the same time you make other decorating purchases. It’s like giving your room a complementary upgrade.

Art and Practicality Converge in Gabbeh Rugs

Gabbeh (pronounced “gah-BAY”) is the Farsi word for natural or raw. In this case, it describes the coarse materials used to create early tribal rugs in Persia. The Gabbeh weaving tradition dates back as far as 3500 BC. Those first Gabbeh rugs were made by nomadic women to protect tender feet and to decorate bare homes. While they were practical, they also inspired. The artisans who wove those ancient rugs infused their designs with symbols that displayed their spirit, artistic talents, and love for family. In time, certain symbols evolved to impart love, prosperity, and good fortune to their families.

Modern families can grace their homes with those same sentiments with a beautifully hand-knotted Gabbeh rug from either India or Iran. Since both hand-weavers and modern manufacturers incorporate the emblematic characters found in early Gabbeh rugs, you can find the symbols on all-wool hand-tufted rugs and even in the synthetics used in machine-made rugs.

Each character woven in a Gabbeh rug has its own unique meaning. Some of the most common symbols found on today’s Gabbeh rugs include:

  • The Cypress Tree stands for life after death.
  • The Lion boasts of honor and victory.
  • A Camel is a common symbol for wealth and happiness.
  • Peacocks are holy birds that symbolize the spiritual nature of man.
  • The Dog serves as man’s protector, saving him from his own misdeeds and harm from others.
  • The Cock represents the devil; it’s woven into rugs to protect the owner from outside evil.
  • A Comb suggests cleanliness and brings wishes of health to the family.
  • The Hourglass reminds the family that time passes for everyone.
  • A strip of Clouds sends happiness to the family.
  • A Pomegranate is the ancient symbol of abundant wealth.
  • The Tree of Life, one of the most common symbols, expresses the belief in eternal life.

The characters are woven as small geometric shapes, caricatures of the symbols they portray. On some rugs, they are lined up in no particular sequence, bringing a wealth of wishes to the bearer. Other rugs focus on a primary wish, such as the popular Lion Gabbeh rug that contains one or two bigger lions surrounded by smaller lions in a horizontal pattern, ideal for a family of warriors. Gabbeh symbols may be also woven into a larger pattern made of a floral motif. In these rugs, you may have to look closely to see the artistic symbols imbedded in the overall pattern.

No matter which kind of Gabbeh rug you purchase, the original thoughts and heart-felt symbols can bring an aura of love and good intentions to your home. You may recognize the symbols and be able to interpret their meanings, but even if you can’t, a Gabbeh rug has an uncanny way of snuggling up to your heart and making you feel good somehow. Perhaps it’s the ghosts of the tribal Persian women who loved and cared for their families, or perhaps it’s the actual resonance of the symbols themselves.