The one home decor item I love more than anything else is throw pillows. They’re the finishing touch on chairs, sofas, beds and even benches, and often one of the simplest ways to reinvent the look and feel of a room without shelling out an obscene amount of money.
But where are the best places to buy them?
While I’ll pick up a pillow (with removable cover only, but more on that later) just about anywhere I come across one I like, I do have my go-to retailers — all of which you can order from online.
Tonic Living is a family-owned business based in Toronto. The home decor shop was established in 2003, to bring beautiful designer fabric (often reserved for trade only) to the masses through online shopping. Eventually, it expanded into more offerings — pillows, ottomans, rugs, throws and other accessories — and an expansive retail showroom, offering pre-made and custom products (hello drapes) from its on-site workroom. However, with the pandemic, Tonic Living has moved back to online operations only and discontinued its custom sewing services. On the bright side, the pillows I’ve come to love (and rely on for staging) are still all made in-house and ready for pick-up within 24 hours (sometimes even the same day).
Located in Mississauga, Q Design offers eight different pre-made pillow collections, taking the guesswork out of pattern matching (though the collections can be intermixed). If you don’t see something you like, you can always go the custom-made route. Swatches can be ordered online for just $2 each, so you can make sure the fabric and colour work in your space. (If you join the company’s e-mail list, you’ll receive your first 5 samples for free!) Either way, the quality of the fabrication is beyond stellar for all products — in addition to pillows, Q Design makes bedding, window coverings, drapery and will even reupholster furniture — and the customer service is second to none.
While I’m partial to Canadian retailers, Woven Nook‘s pillows are beautifully designed, on-trend and reasonably priced — particularly the bundled packs. You can build your own with at least 4 single pillow covers and automatically receive 15% off at checkout or you can choose from pre-made sets. My personal fave is the grab bag, which includes 6 assorted pillow covers that are selected at random specifically for you. It could include square or lumbar pillows in cotton, faux leather, velvet or corduroy. Not knowing what you’re going to get adds to the excitement, like opening a surprise candy grab bag. But, in this case, nothing inside is a dud. Plus, it’s offered at over a 50% discount compared to normal prices.
If you want a huge range of decorative pillow options, then look no further than One Kings Lane. The New York-based retailer carries more than 2,200 pillows from 50 different designers, in every style, size, shape, colour and pattern you can imagine. The oversized selection means prices run the gamut, starting as low as $35 US for a single regularly priced pillow to as high as $1,845 US for a pair of vintage ones. One Kings Lane is also known for its home furnishings, rugs, lighting, art, mirrors and other decorative accessories.
Established in 2014, Elsie Home designs pillows for everyday use, guaranteeing they’ll stand the test of time — the company will take back or repair every purchase for the lifetime of the pillow. All pillows are handcrafted and embroidered in Los Angeles, and include reinforced zippers and seams. Inserts have been sourced from a manufacturer that adheres to sustainable down practices and is certified with the Responsible Down Standard, a company committed to the ethical treatment of animals. My favourite online feature is the pairings option, which is especially helpful if you’re unsure of how to effectively mix and match pillow combinations.
The designs and styles of Stitched by Grace‘s pillows have a modern, boho, farmhouse vibe. Fabrics used include mud cloth and faux leather. Since its founding four years ago, the Etsy store has grown in popularity and, as of December 2020, has partnered with Coterie Brooklyn, the fastest growing independent market with a thoughtfully curated collection of stylish decorative pillows.
Sisters Chloe and Olive have been hand-making accent pillows from the finest design fabrics — Schumacher, Kravet, Lacefield, Kate Spade, Robert Allen and Kelly Wearstler, to name a few — one cover at a time since they launched their self-named company in 2010. Over the past decade, their pillows have graced the pages of Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV Magazine.
Pillows that come pre-filled may seem like a good buy but if they don’t have a zipper, you’ll end up tossing them out when they’ve flattened or dirtied, which will cost you more in the long-run. Purchasing pillow covers offers greater flexibility — they’re removable so they can be cleaned, often in a washing machine, and storage is a cinch when you want to swap them out since they can be easily folded up and put in a drawer. What’s more, you have control over the insert. This goes beyond choosing faux down or feather (though important if you have allergies). For truly decorative pillows — those placed on beds and benches to ‘pretty’ them up — I generally go with a low-cost option like Ikea‘s Fjadrar since they fluff up well to hold their shape. However, these inserts are not ideal for chairs and sofas as they provide little support and if you lean on them, they deflate. For this type of furniture, I generally purchase the insert and cover from the retailer for best (aesthetic and long-term wear) results.