Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lead a cushy life with cushions for company

Cushions have become such an integral part of the modern interior decorative scheme that a room without them looks undressed. Even the most pared-down, minimally accessorised room will appear more complete with a few cushions.

They can be judiciously used to reflect the main colours in a scheme, accentuate the chosen period/style and add texture as well as enliven an otherwise plain setting.

Ladies to luxury

Using cushioncushion-home-house-improvement-tipss to add ornamental embellishment and luxury to a room dates back to the Middle Ages, when cushions were placed on the floor for ladies while the men sat on hard wooden seats.

During the 16th century, wooden seats were given a flat squab (loose) cushion; from the 17th century onwards, tie-on squabs began to be used on unadorned cane-seated chairs. Seeking to make seats more comfortable, 18th century upholsterers invented air cushions, later often made of Indian rubber.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, tapestry work, damask and velvet panel cushions, ornamented with elaborate trimmings such as gold-threaded braid and heavy corner tassels, were brought in as a sign of wealth and status. Improvements in seat springing and the general use of thick upholstery in the 19th century allowed cushions to be included as a solely decorative addition.

Essential styles

Antique tapestry cushions have become very popular and also expensive in recent years, but many woven materials are available that cleverly imitate expensive needlepoint /embroidery. These cushions can be easily finished with a suitable edging trim for greater impact.

The trim can be made with cord, twisted-cotton rope, fringe, or tassels ? in colours that pick up a tone from the central pattern, usually from the lighter colours, so that the daintiness of the work is not lost. As antique fabrics are inclined to be fragile, the reverse side of their covers should be of a plain material that complements the weight and colour of the antique fabric in front.

Cushions with an all-lace front are appropriate for the bedroom, and a bed piled up with a variety of these looks sumptuous and relaxing.

Cushioning tips

Linen is happening! Create a formal modern setting with a central piece of woven raffia/jute in earth colours, edged with a broad flap of natural linen around it. With the uncomplicated look of linen, this combo is ideal for generating an unusual textural effect.

Clusters of pearl beads can be hand-sewn onto a pale-coloured linen pillow and finished with a light-coloured piped edging for elegance and luxury (white pearls on cream linen look almost divine). This will also add valuable texture to the room.


The ubiquitous checked, say blue gingham, seat cushion, given a feminine touch by a border of white lace and placed on a stark blue painted chair, can give a modern slant to a classic countryside look.

Traditional checks in lightweight fabrics are easy to sew and are inexpensive.

You can also continue the theme around the room through curtains, tablecloths and any other soft furnishings for a cohesive setting.

For the balcony

Wrought iron and similar furniture in balconies/verandahs can be made comfortable by using seat pads and bolster cushions. Neatly buttoned, check seat-pads (tied to the chair frame) give a farmhouse look to chairs in balconies and verandahs.

Even worn bits of carpet can be turned into floor cushions, perhaps with a different, hard-wearing fabric for the underside.

Small and smart

Do not worry if your budget does not stretch to buying large quantities of fabric and you only have a small scrap of silk fabric.

Mix luxury fabrics with contrasting materials or finishes. For instance, velvet and cashmere, and chenille and natural linen will create an aura of sensual and tactile indulgence. Always back luxury materials such as organza, lace and silk with a lining fabric.

Use dress materials instead of furnishing fabrics, if you wish, for covers; there’s a wide range of elegant materials and designs from silks to ginghams. Incidentally, silk headscarves make fantastic cushion covers when wear and tear is minimal.

Take care while placing cushions together. Keep texture-based fabrics segregated from patterned and colourful cushions.

Clean with care

Needless to say, keep your cushions absolutely spotless.

With constant usage and handling, these soft furnishings are prone to get soiled fast.

Besides, your body is in direct contact with cushion covers more often than with other furnishings, raising a larger health issue. So, clean them much more frequently and carefully.

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