Love and marriage, the song once said, go together like a horse and carriage… You can’t have one without the other! As a designer, one’s job is to ask basically the same question of the pieces of furniture and the soft furnishings one puts into a room or into a home.
Take designer cushions and designer sofas, for example. Can you have one without the other? The two are technically separate, in that a client will buy a designer sofa without having to purchase throw cushions to go with it; and that he or she can also buy a designer cushion or two without having to get the sofa to go under them.
However, when you get the two together, in a way that offsets the two designs properly, your sofa and cushion combination can make a unique design statement.
Embellishments are what give individual style to overall themes and trends. For instance, if your client wants Regency sofas, then he or she falls in line with everyone else in the country who also owns designer Regency sofas. But when he or she specifies – or you suggest – a range of throw cushions to complete the look, then it becomes personal.
This is the difference between style and fashion; between personality and trend. Think of the sofa as a set of trendy clothes; and the cushions as the jewellery, the additions that set one outfit apart from another, and make it something specific to the client in question.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules for matching cushions with sofas – any more than there are hard and fast rules for designing whole houses. What feels right is what works, because when it feels right it’s all about the personality of the client rather than the dictates of the latest home design fashion magazine.
That said, there are some combinations that just can’t be put together. This is the point where the designer really earns his or her fee.
The personal style of a client (to put it bluntly) simply might not be that good. This would be (to carry on our suiting analogy) the same thing as a person choosing to wear a really loud suit and tie because he thought it looked cool. A little reining in is required in these situations – and it’s the job of the designer to make sure that no clashes occur between the design on the cushion and the design of the sofa.
One of the most common errors, in matching cushions to sofas (or ties to suits, for that matter) is putting a pattern with a pattern. One heavily patterned piece of fabric is enough in any eyeful – so if the sofa has (for example) a bold stripe, then the most the cushion can really have in the way of patterning is a two tone block. And even that, in the case of some color schemes, is pushing it.
Cushions may be used to bring out other soft furnishings in a room – commonly, the curtains. In some cases the cushions and the curtains may be made from the same fabric.
Ann Gibson is an interior designer who recommends that people have a little fun and try something different when decorating a room and picking their wall colors, carpet colors, Designer cushions, designer sofas.
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