Pillow Talk

The other day I showed some photos of our family room and talked about all my little junk.  One of comments mentioned that my sofa looked like a big white hole without pillows and a throw. My first thought was “whaaa? I have a million pillows on my sofa, what is she talking about?” Then I went back and looked at the photo, ahhh, I think I was washing all my pillow covers, and she was right, it did look like a big white hole.

Part of the problem with showing photos of my house every day is that we live here.  So unlike a magazine, this house hasn’t been staged or prepped {or cleaned} it just is.  I try to move rouge shoes and papers out of the way but I don’t style things much before I snap photos.  And I understand that can be really confusing when I’m talking about how to make your house pretty and then I show something that is unfinished or in progress.

I also don’t like to make a zillion disclaimers…my coffee table is gone, I don’t like that lamp, I’m working on the shelves, the sun is refusing to come out, I had to take a photo out of one of those frames for my son to use for a project, the blue on my garden stool is a little off for the room, the blue on the coffee table that is now back is being slowly introduced to the room….you get it right?  It’s a process and I’m sharing it with you.  I like to think that might be one of the reasons you hang out here.

You have all been incredibly gracious and forgiving of my imperfect home.  It’s not ever going to be done or perfect.  Thank goodness.

So, back to the very true point that was brought up. Here’s the photo in question. I think it’s a fun idea to compare a room with pillows and without pillows {and a coffee table}.

And with pillows and a coffee table and a fur ottoman and I switched the garden stool and the stump table because I move stuff every 4.5 minutes, and I’m moving it again as soon as this post is finished.

I think these pillows are so pretty all filling up the sofa like that. This is the way I would have them if we didn’t have to live here.

Here’s a little yellow added in.

Brighter colors.  This is the perk of having a white sofa.

But, in real life, I usually only keep three of those pillows on the sofa.  At least there are supposed to be three.  Someone must be using one for a fort or something.


In real life all those pillows will be thrown on the floor so that a herd of boys can sprawl out all over it or so that my husband can stretch out on it.

It’s a delicate balance.

Each of us can figure out what works for our family in every season of our life.  Maybe for you even one pillow drives you batty.  I actually LOVE a sofa full of pillows like this. But, I know that pleated one will get destroyed quickly.  And that throw back there is fragile and only comes out in our room or for special occasions.  However, all of my pillows are actually feather pillow inserts with washable pillow covers.  So, I think I’m gonna try to leave a few more out.  If they end up on the floor most of the time, I’ll put them back up on the guest room bed until we have guests and I want our room to look really pretty.

What about you, do you have a pillow policy?  Do you have anything you only pull out on special occasions?


  1. This post makes me smile. Thank GOODNESS you were washing the pillows. Wink, wink. Because someone might have noticed they needed washing.

    I like the look of lots of pillows but I hate moving them so I can sit down. That’s why I have a quilt draped over my ugly brown couch back. Doesn’t get in the way. :-) OTOH if you have lots of “floor-sitters” pillows are nice to have around.


  2. How do your feather pillows survive? I just bought a few feather pillow inserts, because I heard at least with those kinds of pillows, you can just “fluff” them back into shape on your couch, but with my three boys wielding couch pillows like weapons around here, I’m finding little feathers all over my floor! They also poke at me when I’m cuddling up to a pillow. I’m not sure if I just bought the cheap kind, or what. I love all of your pillows and really love the redone coffee table!

    • i have all down pillow inserts too. i usually buy them at tjmaxx on clearance. i just take off the ugly pillow cover that comes on it and put the insert in my own pillow cover. we too have feathers all over….and get poked in the ear now and then. but i wouldn’t have it any other way. i think the feather/down inserts are way more comfy and it’s easy to wash the covers and i think they look better on the couch. maybe you could mix a few different kinds and only snuggle up to the ones that are not down?

    • I had this same problem with my down pillows. I’d either find feathers all over the couch OR I’d have one poking me in the back. I started collecting pillowcases at the thrift store (preferably with a high thread count). I remove my pillow covers. Then I place the pillowcases over my pillows (after washing them, of course). Sometimes I will cut off the excess pillowcase. Other times I fold them over.
      Then, I put the pretty pillow covers over the cased pillows. I rarely find feathers now and the pillows are actually softer than they were before.

  3. omg…so glad you posted this. i was so inspired by your past few posts about removing junk and i kept thinking that you had intentionally removed your pillows. i love the pillows on my sofa and all weekend i kept staring at them thinking, “ok, nester, i’m not sure i can do this!” LOL! (i was willing to at least give it some thought though b/c, like you, our pillows always end up on the floor and i am constantly having to re-stage and fluff them on the sofa). thanks so much for this post. it was exactly what i needed from you today!!! ;) yea! the pillows can stay!!!! hahaha….

  4. oh, and btw….it totally cracks me up that your son is in the background of that one picture in his roller blades, in the house! i love it. makes me smile. :)

  5. Love that your house is always in progress makes it seem like me moving stuff around often isn’t quite so crazy :) I told my hubby that one of my biggest fears is having a house that never changes it gets decorated once and then 20, 30 or 40 years latter it is still the same with the same stuff out for decorations. UGH! Gotta keep it fresh. I didn’t notice that your couch looked weird without pillows however with 6 kids I know lots of pillows is not practical or even a good idea at all. :)

  6. i actually love your couch with or without pillows!.. (we come here bc idhtbptbb right?!.. no disclaimers needed) i love how you show us your process :) it’s fun to see things changed up and i get inspired to do the same, so thanks!!! in fact, i just made some pillow covers last night bc i was inspired by a post a while back… anyway, keep on rockin :) …oh and thanks for your comment on my instagram pic of flowers yesterday- “WOW! nester commented on my photo!!!” :)

  7. I think your couch looks beautiful with or without pillows. I love the look of pillows but I have 4 kids and they are never where they are meant to be. The pillows that is. I hate clutter in my life and pillows would be something more that I would have to step over so for now we have none. Someday though. I think it is great when people have the patience for them but I don’t.

  8. i was going to ask midway through your post….but do they end up on the floor all day from the kids?! drives me crazy. we have three pillows on our couch and one on each slipper chair. because the slipper chairs aren’t as comfortable as the couch….those stay looking pretty most fo the time! but I do love a couch full of down filled pillows. and p.s. ikea has great down pillow inserts for $6!!

  9. It must be funny to hear the things people catch in your photos. I always think that you must have an entire bed filled with pillows because it seems like your sofa always has a different set on it. As much as I love the look I have young kids and they would be all over the place constantly. Keeping two is enough work for me at this point!

  10. I have WAY too many pillows on the sofa and love it! My son will sit on them or throw them down but they’re only pillows after all. :)


  11. I have a ‘formal’ living room. You know, one of those rooms that you thought you’d never use or want, but when you have it, it becomes your space. Your refuge. Your spot for all your pretties and delicates to be placed and admired. Well, that’s where I have my plethora of pillows. I have frilly delicate pillows, embroidered pillows, monogrammed burlap pillows. It’s my pillow heaven. My rather rotund Lhasa, however, also has a thing for my pillows in my ‘formal’ room. She takes her rolly polly self outside, gets a bit of mud between those hobbit toes of hers, and then plunks her meaty bod on my delicate, precious, ‘fancy smancy’ pillows. My children know not to mess with my pillows (trust me, they have the entire rest of the house to play in, make forts, set up princess castles etc etc). My big lug of a dog (mom likes to say she has a slow metabolism, but mom is a vet and knows better, but we won’t go there) cares not if I have deemed my room and pillows off limits. She thinks I’m being ridiculous, and that pillows are to be used for afternoon naps in the sunbeams. Maybe she’s right. Hate it when my dog is right.

  12. my daughters line up all my couch pillows and play hopscotch on them. sigh. i totally relate to everything you said…we LIVE in our houses…our kids are young…they destroy things…i’m trying to enjoy this season because i know (sorta) that one day my house will be empty, my pillows will stay in place, and i’ll miss these days…

  13. Really nice pillows!

  14. I love your living room, and I love your honesty. BUT I don’t love that someone left you a comment telling you your couch looked like a big white hole. I think we’re confused these days, thinking “But it’s true!” and so we can say whatever we want? That’s not how it works. It’s still bad manners. I never would have noticed something like that. I was taking in the beauty as a whole.

    • Carolyn says

      I have to agree. I think people hide behind the anonymity of the internet and say things they would never say in person, if they were actually visiting you in your home. And that’s what you do, invite us into your home every day in the most gracious way. Thank you, and I hope we can all use our best manners–both in person and online!

      • Thank you two for your sweet words.

        I agree that people do hide behind anonymity online, that is such a valid point. But in this case, the words were not meant to be harsh and were included with a compliment and were stated as a simple observation plus, they also left a name and email~a good lesson oh now to leave a comment even if you don’t agree with someone!

        But I still love that you are taking up for me.

  15. Your boys are so cute. What color is on your coffee table? I love it and need it. I also like a lot of pillows but completely understand about the more delicate ones. They just don’t hold up to family life too well!

  16. Love your blog! Love your house! and Love even more that you posted a picture where you son is rollerblading in the background. PRICELESS!

  17. This is a great post. Your room is gorgeous. I think people notice and comment on some really odd things sometimes. BTW I have the side table version of your coffee table. I just painted it in two shades of grey. I thought about doing the top in aqua , I love that you did yours that way, it looks amazing. Stop by and take a peek at mine if you can. Love your blog.

  18. We have them. They are out all the time. They may be on the floor, etc. Every few months I want to change them anyway. So when they are beyond repair — they get recovered or tossed. :)

  19. If you start adding in disclaimers about your home I will quit reading the blog. It is your HOME, not a staged model. My favorite pictures of people are the candid ones where people look like they do in real life. The perfectly posed ones are boring. Same goes for homes. Your blog and your home are inspiring and fun because they are REAL, not perfect.

    As for pillows, I love the way they look. Love how cheaply they can transform the color palette and feel of a room. I don’t love the way they are constantly covered in dog hair and slobber (we have a Lab, it’s part of life…) and how guests act like they have to leave them where they are on the couch. No matter how many times I’ve told our friends “They’re called throw pillows cause you can throw them on the ground!” they still sit awkwardly with them when they obviously don’t want them stuffed behind them. So for now I have a kind of artistic pile of pillows on the floor next to the couch to be used whenever, wherever, and however you want. And that is working beautifully for us right now. My hubby hasn’t caught on to the new routine, so every so often he “helps” me make the room look better by taking the pillows and arranging them on the couch like they are in a cheap furniture store. He’s so sweet.

  20. I think your real life lived in home is great. It is inspiring me to embrace what works for my family and learn to love the everyday imperfections. I think throw pillows are so fun. An easy way to add color and character to a room. Sort of like necklaces and earrings with an outfit. I just had a baby and she loves to pull on anything that dangles so I have to wear fewer and smaller accessories now. I think I may need to look at throw pillows the same way. They always get flung everywhere and scrunched up in my home. I love them when they are “just right” and left alone but they rarely are. So I’m not sure what my pillow policy is. It’s still in the works. I’m hoping to find a balance – a home that can be comfortably lived in and pretty at the same time. Though I have to admit sometimes I wonder if that ideal only exists in fairy tales with unicorns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows. ;)

  21. I only notice missing things when they are mentioned in a disclaimer (which tends to bog me down and annoy me) so I am glad you don’t do that! I think so many throw pillows are beautiful, but I tend to live my life more practical than pretty, and I don’t find throw pillows to be practical past one or two per piece of furniture.

  22. Can I just say that as a momma who is about to have her second boy, I’m amazed that you have a white couch and chair in your living room!!! Just this morning I was telling my 3-year-old not to use the couch as a trampoline. And how about we use tissues to wipe our runny nose instead of the couch cushions. Awesome.
    Your home is beautiful and inspiring, yet it still looks comfortable and lived in. Those are the best kinds of homes. I often have to remind myself that although I want my house to look perfect all the time and I’m constantly dreaming of making it prettier, we are at a stage with little ones that sometimes means I’m going to be scrubbing popsicle juice off of the green chair or apple juice off the rug. And that’s okay. It’s a “home” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  23. While I like the pillows, I find them a bit tiresome in real life because they are always in my way. I think what really helped you in this room was the continuous use of the aqua color as an accent plus the addition of the coffee table. While a tribe of boy-children may make it akward at times to have that table there, and lets face it, it’s something else for them to use as a launch pad, I think it fills the hole in front of the couch. OR you could get a bigger dog; animals are my favorite accessory.

  24. The touches of aqua blue around the room really bring it together. The coffee table is a wonderful piece. Did you make it?

    Our living rooms most days have quite a bit of living going on in them. So, it would be impossible to keep them staged. I actually prefer the lived in look my self. It just means my family is comfy at home.

  25. I love that your son is rollerblading in the background!!! Thats real life!!!

  26. I LOVE that there is a rogue boy rollerblading in the background of one of the pics. Too cute. :-)

  27. I love that we get to see the process of your lovely house as it changes and evolves. And I’m slightly covetous of all those lovely throw pillows!

  28. Colleen P. says

    I have…no pillows in my living room. Not a one. I have a big modern microfiber and leather modern sofa and a big overstuffed microfiber recliner. Pillows just don’t seem necessary at this time. Perhaps in the future I might make some. I do, after all, sew. A lot. All the time, in fact.

    Which brings me to my next point-a cover over the feather insert of a high thread count fabric will keep your feathers in and the pokies to a minimum. If you can sew a reasonably straight line, you can make them-and I say reasonably because it’s going inside the decorative case-it doesn’t have to be perfect (wink wink!) You’re just trying to keep your feathers INSIDE your pillow.

    As a side note-I do have pillows in my sewing room, along with a futon and a big overstuffed chair. It’s crowded as heck in there but when I’m sewing seems to be when everyone needs to talk, so we have pillows, blankets and a place to sprawl. It works for us! LOL!

  29. Thank goodness you clarified your pillow policy for those of us expecting perfection and a sofa filled with copious amounts of pillows at all times. Your home is fab looking every time I’ve seen it. It’s because it’s decorated beautifully and lived in a lot and loved fully. It shows. By the by, the pillows are all wonderful AND I’m crazy about the throw. It looks a lot like the throw Linda MacDonald from Restyled Home featured on her blog. Do you mind telling me where you got the beauty? ♥

  30. I am glad that you posted this!

    I also don’t mean to criticize in any way because I love your room, but I kind of “saw” something when I looked at the photos this time. The introduction of the hot pink pillow helps to balance out the fact that a few of your blue tones looked slightly out of place (turquoise table lamp, garden stool) by opening up the color scheme to something a little broader. It kind of reminds the eye that you aren’t going for matchy, but coordinated and harmonious. I think the table color and the little pot on the stump help to balance out those colors.

    I also have been to afraid to mention (again I think your work is incredible!) but I feel like the collage style wall area is very detailed and involved, and the end table is perhaps a bit too cluttered with both the blue painting and the urn/lamp/etc. I think because of the enormity of the collage, removing the painting and maybe hanging the photo behind the urn directly above the turquoise lamp would provide a good balance of clean space and art. Instead of the art being a piece of the collage, it looks disconnected. Sorry for my art-nerdiness! Feel more than free to disregard!

    • I hope I didn’t accidentally somehow imply that I now want everyone to point out everything in my rooms that they think is off.

      Here’s the thing… EVERYTHING IN MY HOUSE IS OFF. It’s all wonky and unbalanced and wrong and too matchy and not matchy enough and too much and too little. And not one person loves everything I do and rightfully so.

      I’m not trying to create a design work of art that can be judged by others, I’m trying to create a meaningful home.

      But, you will like this…see that photo with my husband asleep? It’s a peek at the new looking gallery wall with some fresh colors~I’ll share more this week, hope you come back and read, more blue! xoxo

      • Brittney says

        I didn’t at all mean it that way, I hope you didn’t take any offense to it whatsoever. I guess I see this as art though, and as putting it out there on the internet like putting a piece of art in a gallery, it is up for critique. Nothing at all about your home is bad because I don’t believe in the concept of bad art if the creator loves it. I suppose I figured you wouldn’t be offended because you write a blog where you give people design advice, and that isn’t much different than the intent of my comment.

  31. I love that one of your boys can be seen rollerblading in the background of one of the photos. In the house! Love it!

  32. Rebekah says

    Nester, you are a diamond and a blessing to all who read your awesome blog. I love that you encourage us that we don’t have to have a perfect home. That’s why I keep coming back to your blog, especially when I am discouraged about how things look in my home. I come here for inspiration and that sister’s voice that says it’s okay to have a home that doesn’t look like a magazine spread. I come here because I can see a home that is beautiful and real. There are plenty of sources that show pictures of houses that would not stand up to anyone living there, except for someone like Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge or maybe the person who criticized your gorgeous sofa. I don’t want a home that makes people scared of bringing their kids in. I don’t want a piece of furniture or rug that says, “Be careful!” or “Your kids are going to ruin me.” Isn’t the world a hurtful enough place? I want to make my home a safe haven for my family to come to. I want my home to give my family, friends and visitors a hug. I want my house to say, “This home is here to serve you; put your feet up on the coffee table.” Why are people compelled to offer harsh words over whether someone has pillows on their sofa for goodness sakes?!! Your sofa looks beautiful with or without pillows. What is better, having a sofa that says, “Come sit and rest,” or “There’s no room for you to sit here; this is reserved only for pillows.” Please keep sharing your lovely home to us as it is. Your home is an inspiration. It’s a real home full of warmth and love. It is beautiful, and you are too.

  33. That throw is deliciousness.

    But in my house, it would be wrapped around baby dolls, or laying on the floor for a baby to lay on, or bunched up in a corner. It’s life.

    Kudos to you for valuing real life over photo perfection.


  34. oh my gosh… LOVE the table and all the final details! It turned out absolutely gorgeous!!!

  35. If I send you my address, will you mail me that throw? I just love it. Love this post too.

  36. LOVE all of those pillows :)
    I’m quite obsessed with pillows. Beds, chairs, sofas… they are just a fantastic way to spruce up any space, with minimal effort.
    I currently have a long burlap-type pillow from PB in the middle of our couch, and when you sit down, it’s a bit scratchy…… you would think I would have replaced or move it by now, eh?
    Nope! I just think it brings in that “natural element” too well, to part with it. lol.

    But just like Donna said… “most of the time pillows end up on the ground anyway, and who cares? They ARE just pillows after all”

    The House of Smiths

  37. Sarah E says

    OH, I love this post. But all I can think the whole time I’m reading is, “THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!!!”
    Name that movie…

  38. I love that your kid is roller blading through the house. :)

  39. Julie C says

    Yes, we have a couple pillows on the couch and a couple on the toile love seat that we use and enjoy; we find a balance between living in our living room but not abusing it–you know?!?

    I’d love to see an item in your room that was bold with the shades of blue (a couple look a bit bluish green on my computer) with taupe to pull them together in a cohesive manner. Those pillows on the couch have similar colors but aren’t the “punch” that I’d love to see. Just sharing as an FYI I’d give any friend IRL.

    Are you putting away the fur for late spring and summer? Good idea.

    What was that hanging woven something or another in the corner? Hanging lamp?

  40. That clock is so cute! Did I miss a post about it? Did you make it? Thanks!

  41. This is WHY I read your blog and it is my favorite one. Your couch is NOT a big white hole and I actually liked the room pic of no pillows and no coffee table. Thank you for being real and practical and paying attention to your kids instead of roping off the staged living room.

    I love a lot of pillows and I, too, use down inserts and wash the covers. I change the covers seasonally, but right now….with an 8 yr, 5 yr and 8 month old….I only have 3 pillows on the sectional. But some day, some season, I’ll have more!

  42. Love your pillows, house, blog, colors of blue, pink, roller blading kids, sleeping husband and I never notice any of the wonky…I think it’s normal! and it always inspires me!

  43. Nester, YOU RULE! You have been such an inspiration to me. Keep doing what you are doing because it’s beautiful!

  44. I guess you could have a hundred pillows or no pillows on your sofa. I didn’t notice until just now. ;)
    My pillow policy is…MORE PILLOWS and no throwing them any where near my antique madonna and child on the mantel. Thanks for a fun post!

  45. Jennifer says

    I love your reminder that pillows aren’t static & a “herd of boys” could be needing them for a fort or something. I have a stuffy pillow challenge…we have a huge daybed that I love but NEEDS the pillows to sit on & be comfortable. But it’s in a room we can’t seem to use much & the pillows are always hanging out looking a little too stuffy & perfect–so much so that guests are afraid to move them so they can sit comfortably & if we have guests in that room we need the seating. If you’re up for a little more pillow talk, any thoughts on how to make those pillows look more movable & alive?

  46. I recently had someone leave an off color remark on my blog and my husband chose that moment to remind me that not everyone is going to love everything I do. But I so want them too! Anywho – I love all of your pillows but I love even more is that your boy is rollerblading thru the casa – sweet!

    Bless, Lisa

  47. Hi Nester…I enjoyed reading this post and found it refreshingly honest. I have had people say to me that I live in a georgeous house and I laugh because I only show the bit I’ve cleaned up to take a photo of too! It is a very lived in house. I love cushions too..they are so changeable..just a quick cover change and the room looks so different and expresses a change of mood! I love making cushions too..I don’t seem to run out of colours or fabrics that I would love to live with or give away to make a couch a little handmade haven!

  48. So pretty and so real! Thank you.

  49. I love your house. I love the constant evolution, I love the pictures of messes, I love it all.

    I think sometimes readers skip over one of the most important thing that you’ve been sharing with us for years – and it’s right up there in your header! It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!

  50. Woah,woah,woah, there miss thang! That picture with your son roller blading through the house…what is that funky thing hanging from the ceiling. Details, please! It’s supa-cute!

    ps…I love your ever changing room and pictures.

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