design: my throw pillow hypocrisy

Beloved Squirrely

It’s once again time for us at the home tome me to admit to some serious hypocrisy, a whole lot of contradiction, and since I’m referring to my stance on throw pillows, I’ll just come out and say it: I am a sham. Now it’s once again time for me to apologize for the punning. And now it’s time for me to explain what I’m talking about. I’ve done a lot of soul searching in the last few days, so here goes…

Remember, a few days ago, when I shared a hyperbolic, extremely sarcastic piece on the uncomfortable state of throw pillows? I lamented that they have become too bedazzled to actually cuddle up with? Well, I must confess:

I don’t cuddle up with my own throw pillows.

I don’t lean on them. I barely touch them. I sit a reverent distance from them. In fact, I encourage the other inhabitants of this household (Rob) to do the same. While I still stand behind the fact that our throw pillows rate high on the comfort scale, (at least I think so, though I’ve never tried them), I have deemed each and every one of them to be too precious to actually use. “Is their house a museum?” you might be wondering with an annoyed eye roll. No, it’s a throw pillow museum.

Take Squirrely, for example, pictured above. Yes, this throw pillow has a name. He only gets to sit on the couch when guests visit. Most of the time, he rests in a wooden bowl/plate/decorative thing from Ikea on the floor beside the couch – it’s kind of like his dog bed:

Squirrely in bed

This shouldn’t be seen as a punishment, but an honor. I love Squirrely so much, I don’t want him to get ruined. I got this pillow at a cute (but now closed) gift shop in Hockessin, Delaware back when I was living in Manhattan. It’s not that I have a particular affection for real squirrels. In fact, I don’t trust them: anything with that much energy and agility is either too hopped up on Red Bull, is OD-ing on speed, or is simply to amped up on NO GOOD. Maybe while I was caught up in that cement jungle Squirrely represented my yearning for a more natural setting, more green space and trees. Or maybe I just related to this message on the back:

Squirrely's got back

Whatever the case, I don’t want him to get stained or mis-shapen. And if our white couch is any indication (see that freshly pressed post here), daily life can do some real damage.

But he’s not the only Throw Pillow of Distinction (TPD) around here. This LAUGH pillow from CB2 has the power, like the best kind of life coach or therapist, to bring me back to my roots:

Laugh pillow CB2

It says, “LAUGH= To express certain emotions, especially mirth or delight, by a series of spontaneous, usually unarticulated sounds often accompanied by characteristic facial and body movements…” Let’s just say that it’s not always fun and games around here, and sometimes this basic human need has to be defined, spelled out, and maybe even hit over our heads (but gently, don’t hurt the pillow!)

This citrus-y TPD is from one of my favorite stores, Marimekko. This sits in our library/book nook in a symbolic nod to summer:

Marimekko Citrus pillow

In the winter, we change out the cover so that the cows come running in, also thanks to Marimekko:

Cow pillow marimekko

Look, I grew up in Wisconsin – I don’t own one of those big orange cheese head hats, and I don’t obsessively root for the Green Bay Packers, but I’m allowed to have a little bit of pride. (I’m apparently also allowed to not iron this pillow cover for the photo shoot…)

Speaking of pride, I’ve had this hippo-shaped TPD since I was 14 years old:

hippo pillow

Do you think if I’d ever actually used this pillow it would still have its handsome shape and luster after all these years? I got it when we moved from Wisconsin to Delaware and it was a central figure in a major design breakthrough. My childhood room back in the Dairy State had a white frilly canopy bed, white ornate-ish furniture and pink and blue flowery wallpaper. On the other hand, my teenage room had a bolder palette with laughable amounts of plaid. This hippo presided over a plaid bedspread featuring his same color of electric green mixed in with hot pinks and blues. (I’d share a photo of this colorful triumph, but the only shot I have would also reveal my perm, my train track teeth, and the unseemly amount of blue eyeliner I’d recently started to apply.) I couldn’t have been happier with this decorative tide change, and couldn’t be happier that the hippo has now agreed to hang out on the futon in my office. He couldn’t be happier to be free of that plaid prison.

This orange cylinder/hot dog-shaped pillow sits on our guest bed:

hot dog pillow

I searched high and low for the perfect, unique pillow to match the vintage (garbage pickin’s) orange chair that sits in a nearby corner:

orange vintage chair

But I couldn’t find anything that coordinated the way I wanted, so I settled on this striped pillow and improvised by wrapping it in this reversible table runner:

Pillow DIY

I have every intention of sewing this so that these two pieces stay together. And I have every reason to believe that this will never actually happen. So apologies to past and future overnight guests who have become understandably befuddled by this precarious arrangement. After my mother left one time, I found the pillow in this state:

pillow detached

In our own bedroom, we have our own trifecta of TPD fun:

bedroom throw pillows

The orange and blue one in the back came from Sears, of all places. I’ve never purchased anything of a decorative nature there before, but I thought it worked well with the Ryan Sarah Murphy collage on the opposite wall:

ryan sarah murphy

The Palisades Parkway souvenir banner pillow holds a special place in our heart because that’s the road that takes Rob and I into New York City. As I wrote in a previous post, we affectionately call this road The Driveway: when we moved away from the city (we’re about 40-60 minutes away now), it was important to tell ourselves that the hustle and bustle of NYC was still close by. And this road, which rarely has traffic but does have nice scenery, keeps us connected to all that we love there. The funny thing is that I found this pillow not locally, but in a shop in Columbus, OH.

Finally, the square pillow in the foreground was made by Rob’s friend Jade – it is filled with corn and makes a nice heating pad after a few minutes in the microwave.

Jade also did this tree drawing we have in the bedroom:

Jade's tree drawing

This is all the long way to say that our throw pillows, though theoretically comfortable, are usually just looked at but not touched. They are held in high esteem and are treated with great reverence as decorative embellishments. Please don’t let this scare you off: when you visit, you are quite welcome to lean against them, hook them under your arm, or lay your weary head upon them. Just know that they’ll be fluffed after you’re gone and will sit undisturbed until the next guests arrive. In fact, the same is true of our napkins (both linen and paper) and our vast dishtowel collection…but more on those cherished items at a later date.


Do you have any Throw Pillows of Distinction or does this whole concept only prove that, as the back of Squirrely posits, that I’m nuts?

Thanks to for taking me up on my advice regarding under-cabinet lights: though they can be difficult to install, I do believe in these wholeheartedly, without any hypocrisy.

18 replies

  1. Love your nutty pillow. It “cracks” me up! (giggle)
    I too am a big fan of Marimekko… how could you not be. Love yours!
    Really all your fancy never-to-be touched pillows are super fun and pretty. I have very boring pillows at my house because my husband uses and abuses them smashing them into balls for the back of his head, piling them one of top of the other on the floor so he can watch TV… HELLO, WE HAVE FURNITURE! Who does he think he is … Prince and the Pea.
    Oh no, every pillow gets used. So I’m planning something pretty for the bedroom to get my fix. No glitter, buttons, or glued on macaroni… but something fun!!! All your pillows made me anxious to get on it.

    Love that you still have the hippo… that’s too sweet. I’d never give that one up and who knew Sears was so stylish?
    I love the tree drawing so much. Simple perfection. Thanks for sharing your museum of pillows. Your collection is untouchable!

    • Macaroni pillow – hee hee. Can you say Christmas Craft Idea 2012?!

      Yes Marimekko – love it – I even carry a messenger bag by them every day. Kind of weird that Crate and Barrel is carrying their designs now – I guess I liked when it was more of its own thing, but I suppose the more people who get it in their homes, the merrier. 🙂 Funny thing: my friends hosted the greatest wedding shower for me at a cookie place in Manhattan. This party was one of the most excellent things that happened to me. But to top it all off, the walls of this cute place were covered in Marimekko fabric – I almost swooned.

      I am glad that Richie makes full use of the goode house throw pillows. Maybe every house should have two lines of throw – dailythrows and fancythrows (hey, lots of people do that with silverware and china.) Oh god, please intervene when I cover the couch in plastic!! 🙂

  2. I love all of your throw pillows, especially Squirrelly.

    Sadly, we can’t have throw pillows as one of our pups sees them as enemies and destroys them on sight.

    Though today I did get some new ones, just for a home visit we were having to be interviewed to be foster parents, which were snatched up as soon as she left so as not to tempt fate.

    I might be brave tomorrow and try leaving one out for a few days to see if he has grown out of that habit…

    Maybe, I like them too much. But I do love cuddling them when sitting on the sofa so it would be lovely to be able to collect some lovely ones.

    Bob willing!

    Thank you for making me giggle.

    • This is why I am not meant to have pets! I am trying to think of things that dogs don’t like…bears? broccoli? dinosaurs? so that I can suggest you get pillows depicted them as deterrent.

      I love the idea of putting them away in the closet for safe keeping. Very wise.

      Hope your home visit went great – I am sure the pillows sent exactly the right message 🙂

      • We were accepted for the training and as we didn’t get to use the clincher we had planned (the three tier cake stand) it had to be the pillows that sealed the deal!

        I would love to have pillows everywhere – but Bob loves killing stuffies – and he is sure that pillows are just boring shaped stuffies.

        So until he gets over that we are pillow-less! 🙂

  3. Your collection is incomplete. You need a still life in needlepoint and a flowered latch hook number. You can then achieve TPD Nirvana.

  4. Your wrapped pillow log is hilarious – especially the fact that your mom didn’t fall for it! Such a “mom” thing to do.

    Ever shopped Etsy for throw pillows? I have willingly tossed hours of my life out the window doing just that. 🙂 Try it, you’ll see.

    • I know! I even asked my mom for some assistance with that project since she has some seamstress savvy – and that’s what I got 🙂

      You are so right – I have trolled through the pillows on etsy (for a while I had it in my mind that we needed a pillow with bicycles on it and discovered many many cool selections) – there is so much amazing stuff on there, in every category. Oh sigh, so many cool throw pillows, not enough couches…

  5. I have a blogger I need o show that squirrel pillow to! I jut ironically got the first new throw pillow in years yesterday and forgot what a pillow that’s not worn in feels like. Never mind pillows omg that chair! Someone threw that out!?

    • Maybe it’s just like new shoes except without the pain: you’ll have to break that pillow in! I think that will be a good project for this weekend.

      Yup, spotted that chair in my headlights in the dark of night, many years ago: I screeched on the brakes, put the car in reverse, did a quick inspection and then it was MINE 🙂 moo ha ha ha!

  6. My entire house is a museum… That’s normal, right? I’d actually prefer we go live elsewhere so it wasn’t so much effort to keep it all perfect. Then we could just come here to visit when we have guests.

    My throw pillows are a reflection of that—never used, never touched, never squashed… I don’t even really like them anymore, but since they’re still brand new, it’s not like I’m getting new ones. (And I have better things to do than sew new shams for pillows I no longer care about.)

    • I must confess, I often fantasize about sewing new shams – I haven’t used a sewing machine since 7th grade home-ec class and I remember that threading those things was akin to rocket science, but it would be so nice and much cheaper to whip some of those up when and if you want a new look. I once saw a commercial for a teeny sewing machine that you hold in your hand – I asked Santa for one a few times but he never bought it 🙂

      Yes, perfectly normal to live in a museum as far as I’m concerned – but as I mentioned in another reply above, I really want people to step in once I put plastic on the couch!! 🙂

  7. I love your TPDs. They have a sense of whimsy.

    I only have one pillow which would qualify as a TPD. It is made from a t-shirt I bought on a trip to Hawaii. I wore the shirt once, washed it and it shrunk. I couldn’t bare to part with the hula dancing Kilban cats wearing grass skirts and leis so I asked a friend to sew it into a pillow for me.

  8. I love squirrely, he’s so cute. If he lived in my house, he probably wouldn’t spend much time on the couch either. There are just somethings that are too sacred to be squished. Which is probably why I’ve totally given up on the idea of throw pillows in my house, unless of course I’m shooting a room for the blog. Otherwise, the pillows stay safely stored away from squish happy dogs and husbands.

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