Decorating with accent pillows can enhance any bedroom. Whether your quarters are outfitted in soothing neutrals, sensual textures or bursting with patterns and colorful cheer, accent pillows can play up the theme and add comfort to daytime lounging. Ideas range from high-end masculine styles with several large, firm, square pillows covered in neutral cashmere, to synthetic metallics over squishy polystyrene-bean-filled circles, to a few comfy standard-sized rectangles covered with cotton prints. When you are decorating with accent pillows, keep in mind that you will have to remove them every night before you go to sleep and replace them every time you make the bed. For some people this is no big deal, but for others, tons of pillows can become an aggravating daily task. Know your personal style and decorate keeping both practical requirements and design principles in mind.
Hip graphics make an old space young. Visit small indpendent boutiques and cool online DIY retailers to find throw pillows with covers that artists have screenprinted in small batches. Images can be elegant, botanical silhouettes, kitschy celebrity profiles or artful abstractions. Choose a mix of colors and imagery for a dynamic look on a king bed, or a big solo pillow for a small futon. Or, use words to send a message. Go cross-stitch shopping for examples of religious messages, alphabets and pithy phrases. Use them in earnest or ironically, alone or in groups. Contemporary cross-stitchers create expressions that can resonate humorously in a modern apartment, while classic sentiments such as the serenity prayer or the name and date pillow your grandmother made when you were born might be the private touch that makes your bedroom feel grounded and secure.
When considering multiple accent pillows, think contrasts. Splash taupe linens with pillows outfitted in hot-chili red. Use white lace against a black velvet blanket. Look at a color wheel to get ideas for opposites--orange and blue, yellow and purple and pink and green are all high-contrast choices that suit an energetic bedroom well. Alternatively, matchy-matchy doesn't have to be boring. Particularly if your room is otherwise visually busy, matching the throw pillows to the bed linens can provide shadows and dimension while adding grace and depth to the design. A heavily ornate, velvety Victorian wallpaper in emerald blues and golds with a four-poster bed and a lush oriental rug might call for a simple pairing of high quality white sheeting, white blankets and white accent pillows.
Fabric texture can feel like quality. If you are normally a little over-the-top with your bedroom designs and are trying to mature your aesthetic, look for pillows that offer exciting textures in a mix of quiet colors. Accent pillows covered in knobby wool yarns in variegated creams and grays make rich additions to a room with bamboo flooring, woven wallpaper and a queen-sized bed covered with a handmade afghan throw. For a hand-made touch, sew vintage scraps into fantastic throw pillows. Shop vintage stores and flea markets with an eye out for discounted, slightly-damaged curtains, tablecloths, sheeting and even dresses and coats. You can use them by cutting them into squares and making a patchwork pillow. If you don't have any sewing skills, ask a friend or hire someone--this is a small project that should be inexpensive to execute.
If you like to knit, hand-knit designs add a homey feel. Knitters can knock out a pillow cover as fast as a scarf; find examples in an array of fibers on display in artisan craft boutiques and online. Alternately, if you have a design in mind, say, a bedroom pillow to resemble a pale yellow and blue striped sweater you once loved, this could be the time to take up the art. How-to books offer a plethora of knitted pillow cover patterns that can inspire some crafty creating. To save money, you can use the same fabric to cover pillows of different shapes and sizes. This technique is a way of varying the contours of your bed while keeping the design simple and unified. Try a deep red and blue ornate paisley canvas on the fronts of rectangular pillows with solid cream cavas backs against a navy blue duvet on a guest bed, or gerbera daisy patterned squares against a leaf-patterned cotton blanket for a child's room.
Seek out unusual shapes for another great way to create visual interest. A toddler's bedroom is fun when it's filled with accent pillows shaped like firetrucks and robots. Fruit-shaped pillows are suitable for a tween with a passion for cooking. Cyllindrical and wedge-shaped pillows are more sophisticated, offering practical support to adults who enjoy reading in bed. A body pillow is priceless to a pregnant woman; cover it in the softest polar fleece, natural cotton velvet or crisp sheeting with a dense threadcount for additional comfort, placing it horizontally across the bed when it is not in use.
You could also mix and match ethnic textiles. Search specialty shops for African wax-printed cloth that is often less expensive than what you can find in the fabric store. Sari shops showcase a sparkling array of embroidered, sequinned and beautifully dyed pastels, hot oranges, electric blues, lilacs and marigolds. Mexican, Peruvian and other Central and South American embroideries can depict scenes or animals in flashy yarns. Antique Japenese embroidery might be expensive, but can make a stunning accent pillow in an austere bedroom. Sturdy, monochromatic weavings from northern Europe and folk designs from the former Yugoslavia all offer creative uses of color and pattern and can even suggest interesting stories.
When it comes to accent pillows, don't overdo it--or do. Some people have a true aversion to accent pillows. When they lean back they tend to growl and toss them on the floor. If you share a bed with someone like this, consider whether it is worth a regular argument before you deck out the bed with your carefully chosen designs. On the other hand, some people love the fun of stuffing pillows behind them to get into just the right position, throwing them at one another playfully or just shopping for them and mixing them into the collection. Find a balance that is right for your bedroom.