Layering: Floral Pillows

**Wow, this turned out to be a wordy post. Apologies in advance.**

When I posted last week about how I like to work in layers on decorating projects, I got some comments and email feedback asking for elaboration. I've been wanting to share my new pillows anyway, so I thought maybe I'd share a little bit more about my overall approach to decorating a space. It's not fool-proof, but this has been pretty tried and true over the years for me.

Here's how I get to the first foundation layer with a client. If I can have these three questions flushed out at our first meeting, we are in good shape.

1) How do you live in the space?

So, the first point is obvious, but so important. What is the primary function for the space? And be honest with yourself. It's okay if you mostly watch tv in your living room. It's easy to convince yourself that a pair of lovely little antique chairs would be perfect for your space because they are so amazing to look at. But if the chairs are uncomfortable - no one will ever sit there. Waste of space. Waste of money. Function comes first.

{BUT! If you have the room in your budget, get those chairs you love and put them where the function of the seats would be different, like in a bedroom or in an entry.}

2) What has to stay?

Deciding what has to stay and what can go is a really great way to overcome decorator's block. People will sit and stare at their old furniture and accessories and work and rework configurations and feel like nothing fits right. Or, and this is a really tricky one, people will fall in love with a handful of fabrics and run themselves in circles trying to figure out how to use them all together. Don't let that happen to you. It's okay to love a piece of furniture or a fabric and decide to not incorporate it into your home.

Be a ruthless editor. Do you love it? Do you use it? Does it work well with what you DO love and use? If not, can it go elsewhere? Or can you sell it and then maybe buy something better for the room? Try to only keep things that have both form and function perfectly suited to your space and to your budget. (which is a whole other post for another time - decorating for your budget)

3) What's your inspiration piece going to be?

Once you've put on your Editor's hat and made an inventory of the items you're keeping, the exciting part starts! When I decorate rooms in my own house, I like to pick one serious statement item for each space. A piece of furniture, a fabric pattern or a colorful work of art.

This is key: Don't get caught up in matching everything in the room to that inspiration piece. Just use it as the first piece of the puzzle and build from there. A room where everything matches perfectly can feel lifeless and flat, so try to mix it up. Throw in a random color that's nowhere to be found in your inspiration. Use an accent color that's four shades darker than the color found in your inspiration fabric.

Rather than mastering the matching of fabrics and furniture, focus on nailing the mix.

Here's some applied theory. I am probably on the second layer of decorating my living room and it's starting to come together. But, this is how I figured out the first layer.

1) For us, our living room is used for one part tv-watching (just keeping it real here, folks), one part hosting (we like to have friends over), and one part kids play room (though toys are usually corralled in the girls room, just a few feet away). This all means we need kid-friendly and comfortable seating and lots of floor space. I bought a new slip-covered sofa and had our green linen LEE roll arm reupholstered in an outdoor velvet and I bought a pair of arm chairs (posts coming soon about the specifics). We opted out of a coffee table so we could have more room for the kids to run around. And we got rid of the old ottoman because I'm not planning on having another baby for a while (ba dum dum).



We do have lots of side tables and the big red credenza as flat surfaces for books and drinks, etc. And we have a pair of extra benches that sit in front of the tv for extra seating (and to keep Evie out of the DVDs). Also, despite my huge sale last summer, I still have ridiculous amounts of stuff, so the two armoires act as great storage for china collections, picture frames and other accessories not currently in rotation.



I tried to buy and place things in our living room with purpose. I sold stuff that I still liked, but knew wouldn't work for us here in a loft apartment. And I kept things that fit the space and our needs and that were investment pieces, like the LEE sofa. I'm pretty sure we'll have this thing for decades to come. It is as sturdy as can be and I love the pretty shape. But best of all, it is so dang comfortable. We call it the nappin' couch.

Since the LEE is the last thing your eye stops at when you walk into our apartment, I knew the inspiration item needed to be some killer pillows. I searched high and low for just the right pattern. I wanted something colorful, floral and modern. I thought a lot about this Designer's Guild pattern, called Rugosa, but the scale is really better suited for drapery.



But right next to it was the heart-stopping Orangerie. For some reason, I had never seen this pattern before (though I've recently seen it used as wallpaper).



The colors are amazing. The pattern is big and bold, with a crisp white background and there's lots of black, which I like in florals. And I love that the flowers have this really lovely hand-painted quality.



It's a pricey fabric, but I only needed a little more than a yard to make two 12x36 lumbar pillows. To help justify the cost of the fabric, I sewed the pillows myself and I'm so proud of the black piping and the invisible zipper. Each side has a different scene (the repeat on this fabric is huge), so I can flip and switch these up to see different flowers and colors. Also, they're fully lined and the inside edges are serged to help them stand up to washings.



We've had a chance to live with these pillows for a bit now, and I have to say that I'm a big fan of the long lumbar style, especially for a deep couch like ours. The pillows provide nice back support, but don't get in the way at all like big square throw pillows sometimes do.



PHEW. 10 points for you if you're still reading this.

I'm beat, so here's the conclusion in a nutshell: Once we had figured out the function of the space, the main pieces we needed and then the inspiration fabric, I have been able to sort of build a master plan. After deciding on the floral pattern, I knew I wanted a striped rug. From that, I knew it made the most sense to do a solid color on the curtains. The next step is reupholstering the arm chairs in a small scale print and making a skirt for the tv console with a more organic/flowy pattern, like an ikat. The next layer will be the smaller stuff: reupholstering and painting the rope benches, pillows for the chairs and the gray sofa, lamp shade changes, throws, accessories, etc. I'm not really even thinking about what I'll do for that layer until I get there and can see what colors and pattern scale I'm lacking in the room.



I've learned the rooms I like the best aren't usually designed with moodboards in one day or even a week. I think you'll be most happy with your space if you move a little slower and try to decorate in layers.

Aaannd, I just want to point out lastly that it's 75 degrees here in NYC today! Awesome. I'm looking forward to lots more one on one time with Evie's belly, which has been absolutely neglected all winter long and needs lots of tickling and squeezing.


60 comments:

KatyB said...

This is so timely for me. I have been agonizing over fitting a very expensive fabric into my living room. I love the fabric, but I just can't make it work. Maybe it is time to throw it on Ebay and look for an alternative....Thanks!

Belly said...

To me, this is one of your best posts, Jenny. What you say makes so much sense and I appreciate your sincerity. On a different note- those pillows and drapes are gorgeous! You're strengthening my case for colorful, solid drapes, neutral seating and lots of pattern in pillows.
xo,
Chedva

Fran said...

I really enjoyed this post, Jenny. It was so helpful and I loved how forthright you were with what you do with your accessories not in rotation. My biggest challenge and I always forget what I have b/c its not in a central location. LOVE your lumbar pillows and the fabric- congrats on sewing them yourself!!

meenal @ maison marigold said...

I agree.this is one lengthy post..but then there is so much useful information..that one needs to read it till the end and earn those 10 points too!! love your LEE sofa and those lumbar cushions are simple gorgeous! and last but not the least..your lovely children!! have a great new week, jenny..do visit my blog when you have a moment xx meenal

Three Little J's said...

I have never posted but read your blog faithfully. As a 33 year-old mother of three young kids, I appreciate your willingness to share your techniques. I have been working on my interior design degree part-time for 6 years. I am almost there and find you truly inspiring.

laxsupermom said...

Great post! I so easily fall in love with fabric, and this is a great reminder that I don't have to bring every one home. Love the pillows and I love how you got there. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I just love your blog

bryn alexandra interiors said...

Jenny, I love it as always! That fabric is awesome.. I think I may file it away in case I ever have a baby girl - it'd be a great fabric to use!

Allison Egan said...

Amazing post! So helpful and I totally agree about the layering and about being honest about the function of a room! Most of us do watch TV and need a cozy space to do so! (and your girls are adorable!)
xo Allison

things that sparkle said...

That orangerie fabric is one of my all time favorites. And yes I read every word!

Meredith said...

I love the changes you have made.

Can you share what fabric you reupholstered your sofa with? I am looking to do ours too, and that might be just right.

Meredith

Anonymous said...

This post is exactly why I love your blog so much. You make decorating so FUN and approachable!!

I have to say, I never felt like I was the girl with a good eye for decorating, but after being a faithful reader of your blog, I feel like I am really learning! I am also starting to trust my own eye. And you know what? I am pretty good!! People are starting to oooh and aaah when they come over to MY house! Who would have ever guessed?? NOT ME!!

Thank you a million times for giving me this confidence. Bookmarking this one to re read again and again.

love,
Becky

Dina @ Honey + Fitz said...

Read and loved every word but the two words that stood out to me were "outdoor velvet". ?!?! Where do I find outdoor velvet? It is the perfect solution for an ottoman fabric I've been agonizing over. Also, I have those same Ming blue drapes from Penneys but I noticed you jazzed up the edge of yours with some fun trim. Any chance we can get a full post on those?

Bethany said...

BEST. POST. EVER.

Jessica Langdelle said...

So much good stuff here (aka Evie's chubby little body!), but definitely my fave line:

Rather than mastering the matching of fabrics and furniture, focus on nailing the mix.

PLEASE SOMEONE GIVE THIS GIRL A BOOK DEAL!

erin said...

i loved your post and read it to the end. i love step-by-step instructions...it makes it all more tangible to me, not a huge ocean of ideas and thoughts swimming around! thanks for taking the time to share! your home is awesome!!!!!
erin

Julie B. said...

Love it all! I love to see your space and what you've been doing with it. Awesome! Where did you get the teal (?) throw on your couch? I love that specific pop of color, not to mention the pillows :)
Thanks for sharing your beautiful space! Julie

Katie @ Noodle and Boof said...

Love those lumbar pillows!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE how laid back you are about decorating. A good reminder that this should be fun! I think it's really cool that you are all like WHATEVER! with your color choices! I would be too scared to be that bold, but you are helping me to live a more colorful life! I used to feel like I liked only neutrals, but I realized that I actually wear a lot of color, so why wouldn't my home be more colorful? I've been adding pops and these are my favorite parts of my home, and the parts that most people compliment me on my home.

THANK YOU JENNY!!

love,
Tricia

Jenny at LGN said...

Hey guys! Thanks so much for your sweet comments! For some reason blogger is having trouble with my comment approval, so sorry if your comment hasn't come through or if it looked funny.

I will definitely do posts on my drapes, the green throw and the sofa fabrics. Coming up soon!

Thanks!
xx

Carrington said...

You are the master of the mix! Everything looks lovely and I am dying to see more!

Janis@Home Style said...

Wonderful post with all sorts of great info, I too believe a room needs to evolve over time........makes it much more interesting. That fabric is B-U-tiful!!! And I now want to take a nap on your wonderful sofa......aaahhhh.

Ms. Bright said...

that floral is fantastic! the bright poppies and chartreuse and vivid blues! such a great look!

sticking this one in the file!

the-bright-life.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Yes! My two favorite types of LGN posts - home reveal and decorator lessons - all in one! Can't wait to reread!

Rebecca Gibbs @ gibbgabb said...

What a great post. I love the idea of layering over time and letting your space grow into something you love, rather than slapping together a matchy room in a couple of weeks. Thank you for your words of wisdom! :)

Koren said...

You have written about my new favorite DG fabric! I, too, came across that fabric several weeks ago in their showroom, and I am obsessed! I'm currently trying to decide whether to use it on a set of 4 Louis dining chairs, or as throw pillows. Love what you've done!

Anonymous said...

Frrrrreaking out at how much I love that fabric! MUST HAVE NOW!!

Thanks for the inspiration!!

kh said...

Agreed! Layers. My mind (and budget) can't seem to work any other way. You explained this all so well. Thank you.

Barbie said...

Thanks for such an informative post!! I love that floral and all the fun colors. It's so fun to see photos of your new place as it comes together. Really appreciate all the detail and good description. On top of your mad design skillz, you're a GREAT communicator, which makes for an insanely good blogger. :) Hope to hire you one day. Hope you can enjoy lots of sunshine with your sweet girls!

Ashley said...

Jenny, this was SUCH a helpful post, especially for someone like me who feels overwhelmed when I worry that everything needs to be done all at once. I love the technique you shared, and how it is important to prioritize and spread projects (and expenses!) out over time. I love that you "keep it real". This is why I love reading you every day. Thank you, thank you!

Brandi said...

This was a great post! I could've read more about your thought process actually! Those lumbar pillows are just beautiful! I may have to use that as inspiration!

paula said...

Jenny! It looks stunning!!!

karin meares said...

So succinct and yet detailed enough to help inspire me. What a great approach to creating a space that is functional and beautiful.

Anne said...

Jenny, what a helpful, thoughtful post--thank you so much! Also, love seeing your home--it's looking great!

Vinyasa Mama said...

I really enjoyed this post too, thanks! I'm not big on floral fabrics but the one you used is really beautiful and I love how it looks in the room.

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and being an endless source of inspiration!

Jenny at LGN said...

Thanks again for all the lovely comments guys! You make a girl feel so good!

xoxox

Andrea said...

I loved this post- I not only love hearing your approach to design, but also seeing you apply that to your beautiful loft. That being said, I look forward to your post on designing with a budget for all of us who love great style, but don't want to pay 1000s for it. (I already follow copy cat chic)

Jenn said...

Love this! I live in a studio apt so, of course everything happens in the same room and I struggle with making decisions. Have been wanting to incorporate some lumbar pillows for a while. The fabric you choose is TO DIE! Beautiful job :)

Sara said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this great post! It really helps illustrate your thought process, going through it step by step!

I definitely agree with you about the layers...and I think really getting into the groove about mixing things in that don't "match" is what makes a room interesting, personal, and is definitely something I feel like I have done well with in my own space...but need to learn how to do with "clients" as I transition from just helping friends to trying to start my own business.

Full House said...

Ah I am so excited to finally see the pillows. I love them.

Annie Green said...

Thanks for this, Jenny!

Lauren said...

More, more, more like this! I would sit and read ten more entries like this today if I could. Jenny, I think you truly shine as a writer AND as a decorator when you do posts like these. Not to mention-- the pillows are GORGEOUS.

Monica said...

Hi Jenny-

Great post especially since I am sitting here with a phone in my hand wanting to order a huge sectional for my family room! I have 4 littles and I to need it to be super kid friendly as well. I am planning on using Bella fabric which is supposed to be an indoor/outdoor velvet fabric and you can literally hose right off! Is this what you used? Before I make this investment, I want to make sure I'm getting the right stuff. I feel like it was divine intervention that I read this before I dialed! Thanks so much for all your help!

Jenny at LGN said...

Monica - my fabric is Sunbrella (waiting on some ordering info before I do a post). I haven't heard of Bella fabrics. I would be sure to order a swatch before getting the actual order placed. Feel it, rub it with a wash cloth over and over to see how/if it sheds, test it with staining, that sort of stuff.

Good luck!!
xx

Penelope said...

excellent...thanks for walking through the thought process of planning a family functional living room as i'm in the midst of it right now. and side note - i just read the post of how Evie was born...don't know you and shed a few tears...crazy & lovely story - that's one special family you have!

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

Jenny, it was so great to get inside your head to see how to get a perfectly decorated room (without looking too decorated). I loved this post!!!
And I LOVE THAT FABRIC!!! One of my favorite things about blogland is being exposed to items I'd have no other way of knowing about. I'll be using this fabric somewhere in my house, no doubt!

Joi said...

Your style is easily one of my faves! And that floral fabric? I love it!

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

Hi Jenny! Thank so much for this insight into your approach! That fabric is so beautiful and you did a fantastic job on the pillows. I love seeing pics of your space- I definitely see some copy cat decorating in my future...

Would you mind sourcing the outdoor velvet fabric you mentioned? I didn't know there was such a thing, but that seems like the perfect upholstery fabric for those of us with little ones.

PS- sorry I haven't been around much lately! I've been trying to cut back on my screen time for lent, but I can't resist LGN!

Lo♡ said...

Hello, I love your design style! Your home is coming along beautifully. Although unrelated to this post, i had a question about children's furniture. I have loved your past posts about children's rooms and would envision my child's room just like that....... if I'd had a girl! My son will be 2 in Dec. and I am beginning to look at big boy beds and am in desperate need of some "little boy chic" ideas. Any help is greatly appreciated!

Courtney said...

I love the print! Initially I thought it was overwhelming but once i saw it cutdown, I loved them!

--Courtney

Karissa Jade Ferguson said...

Thank you for this! So incredibly helpful. I recently got married and graduated college so this is the first time I've ever been responsible for decorating more than just my own bedroom so it's been a bit overwhelming. This post helps a lot! Please keep advice coming :) I love coming to your blog for inspiration for my space! Thanks again!

christine {bijouandboheme} said...

It's my all time favourite pattern- I love it as wallpaper and I loooooveee as fabric. Your pillows are amazing- I am seriously jealous of those puppies and I think you just officially sold me on the idea that Orangie has to find a place in my house- love love!!

Rachael said...

Love the long post! Like many of your readers I favor the posts where you really dive in and share a lot with us - of course I recognize that those are the posts that take the most time for you to do, and that's partly why I appreciate them so much. Thanks for sharing! Love the pillows and am very envious of your mad sewing skills.

Whits said...

I just saw your fabric in tradhome today -- used it on a louis xvi chair.

http://www.lonnymag.com/issues/19-trad-home/pages/1#p55

(tradhome spring 2011 page 105)

Love seeing that fabric come up somewhere else. Right on trend :) And I love, love those pillows. Fabulous work as always.

Elizabeth said...

There is a chair upholstered with your fabric in the new TradHome. Looks great!

cally said...

Where can I get that fabric?! I am so in love with it and I can't find where I can buy it online. help?

Tobe | Because It's Awesome said...

i have to thank you for this post. i get so frustrated with myself, always having a "work in progress" kind of home, but this really makes me feel okay about taking my time and finding new treasures at my own pace.....and even permission to blog about my own home, which i've been terrified of doing since it's not in photo-worthy finished form.

and might never be, i might add :)

also, FAB job on those pillows!!! they're killer!

Anna said...

that fabric is really gorgeous. that black piping makes it really stand out! great job.

Alainna said...

Love the pillows! Did you store your nolonger food worthy pyrex in the same place you are storing your ottoman? :) Sorry, after I saw the "ba dum dum," I just had to respond. Can't believe how big Evie is!!

Art Wall Katie said...

Could you give us a hint as to the price of the orangerie fabric?

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