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Travel stories, inspiration, news and musing

We are the dreamers, the seekers, the travellers, the adventurers, the optimists. It's nice to meet you! There are lots of us with the same DNA - we look forward to sharing the journey with you.

How to overcome cushion crisis

Elissa Webster

My name is Elissa, and I have a problem with cushions.

It's a running joke among my friends that I am in a constant state of cushion crisis. I have this nagging feeling - all the time - that my living room, or my daybed, or my actual bed, would be so much more warm/comfortable/character-filled/magnificent if only I could get my cushion arrangement exactly right. That The One cushion out there that would perfectly resolve my soft furnishings layout for all time does exist, but still eludes me. Every now and then I become convinced that The One actually resides in my house and has just been sequestered in the wrong nook all this time - but on redeployment, I find I have struck another useless match. And now I have a brand new cushion quandary on my hands.

Anyway, the good news is that after all these years of romancing the cushion, I have picked up a thing or two about making cushions work - with the important caveat of understanding that the *perfect* arrangement is a lifelong quest that may never be fulfilled. So here are my four top tips.

1. Embrace difference

One of my pet cushion hates is a whole row of the exact same size, shape and fabric cushions in three evenly-spaced-across-the-colour-wheel tones. The best arrangements, in my view, mix up size, shape, texture, pattern and colour. The more tactile and authentic the fabric the better in my book (like these handwoven wool cushion covers from Peru, for instance. Excellente!). You want to feel like a person put it all together, not a styling bot.

 A variety of patterns are your friends...

A variety of patterns are your friends...

2. Double up (thanks, Sir Mix Alot)

While embracing difference is good, ending up with a techni-colour cushion vomit is not. You need a bit of consistency in there. As a general rule of thumb, I try to reign it in to no more than six different cushion designs, with at least two of each of three or four of those designs. You might want to have three of one design as well, and then a couple of singles, just to keep it lively.

 Double ups help with cohesiveness

Double ups help with cohesiveness

3. Have an anchor

Further to tip two, in the interests of avoiding vomit style, you need to have some kind of unifying theme. This is often a colour, but it can also be a texture, a pattern, or just a motif in a pattern, like a flower shape that's the prominent image on one design that might be repeated in a smaller form within a more detailed image on another design (check out these batik motifs, for example). It's good if this theme is also present in the bigger space where the cushion will be living - a rug in the living room or a picture in the bedroom, for instance. Just don't get all matchy matchy, because no one like homogeneity (except for maybe One Nation). 

 Three different patterns but they're unified by colour and geometric shapes

Three different patterns but they're unified by colour and geometric shapes

4. Plain Jane helps Suzi Sparkle shine

Harsh, but true. Having a couple of plain, solid colour cushions among the mix will give the eye somewhere to rest amid the excitement of the rest, and help the gems in your collection really shine. It's also a good way of pulling out the colours you want to accentuate in the other patterns and the room at large.

And the moral of the story?

One cushion can change the whole look, so if you're not feeling it with your current arrangement, don't give up - you just need to find The One that works. Start your quest at Wanderlust People, and then you can be sure that it's ethically sourced and artisan made to boot. Perfect.