Oct 9 2013

by Anna-Kristin Yabrough

Trim it, tassel it, pipe it or simply cover it–the pillow today is as much a part of the interior design world as it has ever been. Without having to break the bank, a pillow can infuse that pop of color or slyly add a subtle accent of texture, and take a space from being dull to dynamic. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Fort Worth’s, Rebecca Atkinson and Kelley Roberts, with Beckley Design Studio, share their amazing examples of how to aesthetically elevate a space using the pillow.

BACKGROUND: Beckley Design Studio was founded in 2011 by friends Rebecca Atkinson and Kelley Roberts in Fort Worth, Texas. After a combined 26 years of experience practicing commercial and residential interior design they were ready to fulfill their dreams of owning their own business. Both Rebecca and Kelley hold degrees in Interior Design and use their training and broad experience to create unique and sophisticated spaces for their residential and commercial clients.


We are so excited to talk about one of our favorite things – pillows! While this may seem like a simple subject, there are many things to consider before investing in pillows for a space. Whether they are custom or ready-made, decorative pillows are a great way to add color, texture, and pattern to a living room, bedroom, and even dining room. Pillows are an easy and affordable way to quickly change the look of the space and can be switched out depending on your mood or season.

In this breakfast nook, the custom pillows and artwork add color to an otherwise neutral space. We selected Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon fabric in Alabaster as the starting off point, then paired it with fabrics in coordinating yellow and coral. When mixing patterns, it is important that the patterns be different scales that are complementary to each other.

Let’s start by talking about custom pillows. Custom pillows are made from scratch in a work-room using the client’s own fabric, trim, or cording (which can be purchased retail or through a designer). We prefer pillows to be made with hidden zippers so the pillow covers can be removed from the inserts for easy cleaning. When designing custom pillows it is important to consider several things:

•Size and scale – Since custom pillows typically cannot be returned, it is important to make sure the pillows are made to the correct size and the scale of the pillows fit the proportions of the furniture. For example, for a sofa we typically design pillows that are 20” – 24” square depending on the size of the sofa. However for a chair, we like to use smaller lumbar pillows. When purchasing inserts, our trick is to go up a size to give the pillows a fuller look.

For this client’s family room, we designed custom lumbar pillows using a Duralee fabric that coordinated with the contrast piping on the chairs.

•Investment – We aren’t going to lie, custom pillows can be pricey! However, they are a great way to add a unique look to a space and we encourage our clients to make the investment. Just think – you will be the only one of your neighbors to have those exact pillows! If you want custom pillows in an expensive designer fabric but don’t want to break the bank one way to be cost-effective is to only use the designer fabric on the front and opt for a less expensive solid fabric on the back. When doing this, it is important to use a solid fabric that coordinates with the front fabric, and trim out the pillow using a coordinating cording, welt, or flange. This will give the pillows the custom look without the hefty price tag.

For this client’s guest bedroom, we used Schumacher’s Sinhala Linen Print in Jewel on the fronts of the standard shams and less expensive navy blue velvet on the backs of the pillows and for the flanges. The gingham bolster fabric is Villa Romo and is trimmed out in the same navy velvet.

• Design – We love delivering new pillows to a client’s home because they add the perfect finishing touch to any room. When designing custom pillows, we consider every element in the room and how the pillows will work to pull the space together. Adding a decorative trim or contrast cording to a pillow is a good way to tie in with other colors and fabrics in the room. Other ways to add style to your pillows is to play around with different shapes such as a bolster in front of bed shams or a box detail. When designing custom pillows have some fun and get creative! Even if your pillows are neutral or solid, there are ways to make them unique and interesting.

For this client’s living room sofa, we designed the floral blue and white pillows with a braided cording from Kravet and the simple white pillows were given a box detail with a contrast blue cording from Robert Allen.

The colorful custom headboard in this master bedroom is offset by crisp white hotel linens and a custom monogrammed pillow sham from Leontine Linens. Monograms are a great way to personalize a space.

For this master bedroom we paired a trio of custom euro shams using Kravet’s Goldmine Sterling with a king sham using Lee Jofa’s Groundworks Bengal Bazaar in Graphite/Rose. The monogrammed bolster is from Leontine Linens.

If custom pillows aren’t your thing or you don’t have time to wait (custom pillows take about 3 weeks depending on the availability of the fabric), then shopping for ready-made pillows is another good option. Just like with custom pillows, there are several things to consider and look out for with ready-made pillows. Size and scale are still important – pay attention to the pillow cover size when browsing the internet or walking through your favorite home store. Another thing to be aware of when shopping is whether or not the pillow fabric you like is on the front and the back or just the front and how the pillow is finished (self-welt, knife edge, etc). There are many great sources for ready-made pillows and we love to incorporate them into our designs (we love shopping)!

In this black and white bedroom, ready-made pillows add a pop of color and can easily be changed out for a new look.

This colorful Jonathan Adler pillow was the perfect complement to this client’s yellow sofa.

This chair in a master bedroom needed something, so we found this navy blue designer pillow on Etsy and paired it with the small Paris pillow by Jonathan Adler. The Paris pillow adds a lot of character to this room and is a nod to the owner’s favorite city. We love pillows with personality!

In this bedroom we mixed custom shams with a velvet pillow from West Elm. We took the West Elm pillow cover to a local monogram shop and had the couple’s initials stitched onto the pillow. Monogramming a store-bought pillow is a great way to personalize it and give it a custom look.

In this client’s entry the Dwell Studio pillows are the perfect complement to the yellow and white runner.

So as you can see, these relatively small elements within a room can make mighty differences to an overall look. We hope you’ve enjoyed our pillow talk!

Thank you, Rebecca and Kelley! This is such a fun topic and we’re in love with these many pillows you’ve designed! For more information on Beckley Design Studio, see below:

Rebecca Atkinson and Kelley Roberts




(All images courtesy of Beckley Design Studio)


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