Hug It Out!

BY BEV BENNETT ON OCTOBER 12TH, 2017

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When you yearn for a little comfort or a nest of calm in your life, where can you turn? How about your pillows? Plump, plush, soft and resilient after every little squeeze, pillows are the adult version of a child’s security blanket.

Ah, pillow talk. This is the season for it. You may not be plunking down big bucks for an imported Italian-crafted distressed leather sectional and your media room plans may have short-circuited, but you can always buy pillows. For a few dollars – or a few hundred dollars, if the budget will bear it and you’re so inclined – you can change your décor, bring individuality to mass-produced furniture and cuddle up in great style.

If you prefer a homey setting, look for pillows made from chenille, the high-pile fabric your grandmother used for a bedspread. It’s soft, like velvet. If chenille isn’t cozy enough, how about cashmere or mohair?

Another best seller is a triangle-shaped pillow. You can wrap your arms around it while you’re watching television.

Fabrics from the ‘60s and ‘70s are returning, sometimes for the better. For example, Kathleen Chan, a San Francisco interior designer, sees interest in faux fur.

“It works, but people either do or do not like it. Faux fur has to be on a higher level [to be attractive],” says Chan, who sells her custom designs to the trade and in her own San Francisco shop, Luxury Pillows. The mirror-accented bedspreads that were the height of dorm-room chic in the ‘60s are back in pillow form now, says Lynn. They’re not quite snuggle-up material, but the look has a two-fold appeal: It’s retro and faintly exotic for the younger set, while baby boomers find it nostalgic.

Twenty years ago silk was too pricey and impossible to clean to use as a pillow fabric. Price, at least, is changing. The difference is that buyers from the United States are going to India, China and Turkey for moderately priced silks.

“Many buyers from the U.S. hadn’t gone afield for textiles before. Now they’re finding beautifully designed textiles and the prices are moderate,” says Nancy Wilson with Arhaus, a Walton Hills, Ohio company that manufactures and sells home furnishings and accessories.

“Silk is an everyday fabric in China. It’s extremely strong and extremely light weight,” Wilson says.

While fabrics are soft, colors can be subtle or flaming. Soft, muted colors may be reflective of the economy, says Wilson. “When the economy is down colors are somber. I’m seeing continued interest in the vintage look, with tea-stained or duller colors and slightly fuzzier textures. It’s more comfortable.”

But some designers are embracing a rosier, or at least livelier color scheme. Oxblood, purple, turquoise, millennial pink and amazing green. You can use these colors throughout the year, but oxblood and amber look amazing near the fireplace. And if you’re stumped for a fabric or color that reflects your tastes, look to your souvenirs. More of Chan’s customers are asking to have pillows made from fabrics they brought home from their travels.

“Everyone wants to bring back their comfort zone and people are finding it in fabrics that have personal meaning,” Chan says.

blog-image Bev Bennett, a veteran food writer and editor, is the author of "Dinner for Two: A Cookbook for Couples" and "30-Minute Meals for Dummies"

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