My Story: Decorating with Pillows

contributed by Karen in Orlando


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I enjoyed reading Shaunna Privratsky's tips on Affordable Luxury in the Bedroom. I have used those same techniques in the past and she is right. If you shop carefully, you will be thrilled with the beautiful looks you can achieve at a bargain price! I would like to add a few tips to go along with Shaunna's on that same theme.

Pillows - I prefer the really thick, full pillows for sleeping and for decorative purposes as well, but invariably, when it will be time for new pillows, my budget often only allows for the "cheapest of the cheap" bed pillow. Eventually, these become flat and lifeless, but rather than throw them away, I let them do "double duty" in a new role. I simply stuff two of these limp "old faithfuls" into the same pillow case or sham to achieve that overstuffed look, and it's like having an expensive new pillow!

A second use for the cheaper bed pillows is as pillow forms. When I want new decorative pillows for the bedroom or living room, I'll first consider covering any old throw pillows I happen to have on hand. But if I still need more, I simply take one of my "cheapest of the cheap" bed pillows, hold it by one end and shake it down to compact the stuffing and reduce the length into a more "square-ish" form (easier to do with the older/used ones), fold over the excess fabric, and baste it down with long hand stitches. Now, I have a "new" and cheap pillow form that is ready to recover. Even if I don't have any used pillows on hand, buying these really cheap pillows new at the store for $3 to $5 is often cheaper than the much higher cost of standard throw pillow forms or finished throw pillows. I also use old sheets and comforters as a lining under the pillow cover fabric to give them added fluff and thickness and to add a more luxurious look and feel to the pillow cover fabric.

Pillow Cases - I like to have extra pillow cases on hand that match my sheet sets, because sometimes there are occasions when you may want to freshen up the pillow cases before the regularly scheduled laundering of the entire bedding. I'm amazed and frustrated to often discover that the pillow cases when purchased separately can cost almost as much as the entire sheet set! My remedy for this is to purchase an additional flat sheet in the same or coordinating fabric as the main sheet set. Solids are usually cheaper than prints, so if I find a complementary solid color, I will opt for that. Usually, a twin flat sheet will yield plenty enough fabric for several pillow cases, but if you want more, you may have to go with the bigger size. Then I simply use an existing pillow case as a guide or pattern to make new pillow cases out of the flat sheet at a much reduced cost over purchasing new pillow cases.

Duvet Lining - I usually try to go with Shaunna's suggestion to use sheets to make duvet covers, but sometimes I can't find the perfect fabric in a sheet or I just fall in love with or find a real bargain with traditional fabric. In that case, I will use the traditional "fabric store" fabric for the top, but still use a flat sheet for the bottom, usually the cheapest one I can find in a coordinating color or print. There's no need to spend money on expensive fabric for the "underside" of a cover that no one but the user will see!


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com.

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