Accessories give one white sofa six distinctive looks
By Stacy Downs, McClatchy Newspapers
Neutral certainly doesn’t mean boring. Especially when it comes to sofas.
In fact, most designers say a neutral sofa is your best bet. As seasons change and your home decor evolves, you can update a room simply through throw pillows.
We thought we’d put that theory to the test with one white sofa, six designers and their pillow selections and styling. The results: A sofa can be a blank canvas and easily evoke your personality.
Costume designer Hilary Brown of Kansas City, Montana, discovered a multicolored placemat she loved (“Andre,” $9.99, Crate & Barrel), so she turned it into a pillow that informed the rest of her design scheme. “It’s so easy to turn a cloth placemat into a pillow,” says Brown, who’s also an interior design student at Park University. “You rip a side seam, stuff it and sew it together.”
She added two 22-inch charcoal Belgian linen squares ($60 each, Restoration Hardware) and a two-pack of plum “Wesley” pillows ($19.99, Bed, Bath and Beyond).
Brown sewed the white pillows herself from a Calvin Klein apparel fabric (half a yard, $16, Kaplan’s Fabrics) and appliqud black stripes on them, using silver thread.
“Instead of hanging a piece of art behind a sofa, the art can be one pillow.”
― Hilary Brown, Kansas City costume designer and Park University interior design student
Pillows usher in new seasons, says interior designer Mark Sudermann, based at Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. No matter the time of year, he admires the pillows of Aviva Stanoff.
The Brooklyn textile artist lays real flowers, leaves, stalks of wheat, fish nets, sea fans, as well as custom pieces on fabric, and then etches forms into the surfaces of silks and velvets, hand dyeing them around silhouettes. No two handcrafted pillows, backed in silk dupioni, are alike (starting at $185 for the orange-red rectangle, M. Sudermann Interior Design).
“Tempo” velvet pillows in pumice and ivory are $39.95 each at Crate & Barrel.
“Pillows are an easy way to change the look of a room, adding a pop of color. They finish a room as well.”
― Mark Sudermann, interior designer of M. Sudermann Interior Design in Kansas City
M. Sudermann Interior Designs in Kansas City provided pillows for this sofa at Crate and Barrel in Leawood, Kansas. (Kansas City Star/MCT)
Alejandro Lopez is a Spanish-born designer who recently located to Kansas City from Miami. He chose a neutral-on-neutral look he finds reminiscent of 1940s garden parties. “You see photos of people dressed in whites and tans,” he says. “It’s very chic. This is a contemporary version of that classic look.”
Dransfield & Ross Herringbone Linen pillows ($245 each, Black Bamboo) build the backdrop for Japanese head-rest pillows made of 100 percent cane, the skin of a rattan plant ($25 for small, $30 for large, Shop at Studio Dan Meiners).
“The cane pillows aren’t just head rests. You could use them to relax your arms.”
“Don’t just think of pillows as beauty and decoration. Consider their comfort level and how they feel.”
― Alejandro Lopez, designer/owner of Runway Interior Decor in Kansas City
To a ‘T’
Julie Comer Granstaff, owner of the Monogram Shop in downtown Overland Park, Kansas, believes in personalizing pillows. She created a preppy, nautical-inspired look by mixing traditional and modern monogram styles.
“The single initials with periods are on the contemporary side,” she says. A similar design costs $30 each for already-made pillows (these coral ones made from outdoor fabrics were two for $34, Costco). The coral design costs about $30. The large traditional monogram ― Granstaff’s initials combined with her husband, Mike’s, would cost about $90. Granstaff sewed the navy-striped pillows herself (Nautica indoor-outdoor fabric, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores).
“Indoor-outdoor fabrics are a great way to go with pillows, especially when you’ve got kids and pets.”
― Julie Comer Granstaff, owner of the Monogram Shop in Overland Park, Kan.
Fancy Smith owns Cactus Creek, a bohemian Western store in Weston, Montana. She blogs about her discoveries at antique shows, like Round Top in her home state of Texas. “Pillows allow you to change a whole look without spending much money,” Smith says.
She loves a rustic mix that makes you want to put on your boots as you kick back on the sofa: cowhide pillows ($52 to $98) and a pair of Turkish-rug pillows ($54). The pillows in front of the groupings are remnants from crazy quilts, holes and all ($48 and $78; all pillows from Cactus Creek).
“Buy the pillows that define your style. Don’t be afraid. They’re just pillows.”
― Fancy Smith, owner of Cactus Creek in Weston, Montana.
Adrienne Molstad of Twigs Interiors in downtown Overland Park, Kansas, thinks pillows are an easy way to infuse trends. “We saw lots of smokes, mustards and purples at market (High Point, North Carolina) this year,” Molstad says. “They are refined, luxurious and feminine, which we’re also seeing.”
The lingerie pillow is by Aviva Stanoff (starting at $240), mustard pillows by Asia Minor (starting at $225), and the rest are by Bliss Studio ($398 each); fabric throw ($210, all from the Design Boutique).
To give the pillows a relaxed look, Molstad ― and lots of designers ―“chop” the tops of pillows with their hands.
“I keep a stack of pillows on the floor near my sofa or on top of it. It’s laid-back and inviting.”
Is a white sofa right for you?
White upholstery is popular this year, as evidenced in stores this spring and at the recent High Point Home Furnishings Market in North Carolina.
The absence of color makes a good backdrop for bright hues, and you’re also seeing lots of white on white for a calming, serene look.
“White is timeless and clean,” says Erin Strowig, a furniture saleswoman at Crate & Barrel in Leawood, Kansas. Lots of snow-colored sofas are on the store’s showroom floor.
White is also good for making small spaces seem bigger and has a crisp appearance when paired with wood and metal. But keeping white and its vanilla counterparts clean can be trickier.
Brush or vacuum slipcovers once a month.
For machine-washable ones, use a triple-load washer or divide slipcovers into manageable wash loads. Always wash the entire slipcover for uniform results. Close all zippers and fabric tab fasteners prior to washing. Use cold water and mild detergent. Tumble dry on low until slightly damp; remove promptly to reduce wrinkling. Do not line-dry slipcovers because it might stretch the fabric.
Hemp is becoming a more popular slipcover material. It should be dry-cleaned because machine washing can stretch out fibers and cause wrinkling.
Rotate cushions and pillows weekly to distribute wear. Vacuum upholstery on a regular basis with the upholstery attachment and crevice tool of your vacuum to remove loose particles.
Annual cleaning by a professional upholstery cleaning service is recommended, including the furniture base beneath slipcovers.
Don’t apply fabric fresheners or fabric protectors.
Spills and spot cleaning
Always blot (don’t rub) spills immediately with a clean, absorbent white cloth. Blot from the outside of the affected area to prevent rings.
Pile fabrics may require brushing with a nonmetallic, stiff bristle brush to restore appearance.
Follow industry-standard cleaning codes (they say what types of detergents ― if any ― can be used).
(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)