Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Have bags of fun with cushions of many colours

Yorkshire Post - 17th June 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


They're practical, stylish and very underrated. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall picks out cushions that could give your interior design scheme a real boost

Cushions are one of the unsung heroes of interior design. They are often overlooked or seen as unnecessary frippery.

However, a carefully considered cushion should be an extremely useful addition to your interior scheme.

The most frequent use for a cushion is to inject a blast of colour or pattern. However, it is essential to reference this colour to something
else in the room (a background colour on a piece of furniture or wallpaper; or a lampshade). This will ensure that the cushion provides a design focal point, rather than just being an after-thought.

You can give any room a quick (and cost-effective) facelift by replacing one set of cushions with another and then highlighting that change with accessories that pick up on the cushion's accent colour or design.

Using the cushion as a focal point can also help you bring an entire design scheme together. For example, in a bedroom you may wish to include cushions on the bed that draw inspiration from various areas in the room, maybe a combination of three fabrics or textures that relate to the headboard, curtains and the flooring.

The humble cushion also allows you to create an additional layer of texture to your room design.

Velvet works wonderfully when placed against a harder fabric (such as linen) as it gives a contrasting feel, but also a visual alternative.

Groups of cushions can re-invigorate furniture that has lost some of its original comfort.

Simply combine two or three cushions in different sizes at each end of the sofa (creating a symmetrical design) to create a cosy bolt hole to relax in. Remember not to overdo it though. Cushions should be there to enhance your furniture, you do not want so many that they appear overly fussy or have to be removed before you can contemplate sitting down or getting into bed.

Large cushions can also provide great "slouch wear" loved by teenagers (and quite a few adults) making a room feel informal and laid-back.

Oversized cushions can be a neater alternative to beanbags; perfect for lying around on, rather than sitting formally, when watching television or playing on games machines.

They are also relatively easy to store away should you wish to convert the room back into an "adult only" space.

The advent of "all weather" fabrics also means that you can now add comfort and introduce a feel of continental outdoor life to your external furniture, without worry of sun or rain damage. The addition of brightly coloured cushions will transform the look and feel of even the most basic garden furniture.

It is important that cushions look opulent. If making your own cushions or replacing the insides of cushion covers, ensure that they are filled to the maximum. You are far better using a cushion pad one size up to ensure a healthy stuffed look, rather than a limp, half- hearted pad of fabric.

An important point to remember is that cushions require maintenance to ensure they add, rather than detract from your room.

Saggy cushions make a room look unkempt. Feather cushions need regular plumping and all cushions should be replaced as they begin to flatten out with age. However, if your bedtime routine includes a quick cushion tidy-up, you will always be greeted with a great view in the morning.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of BIDA and one of the region's leading interior designers. www.jamiehempsall.com or contact him on 01777 248463

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