Kiersten Hickman/Family Handyman
After recently celebrating my birthday, I was gifted two Visa gift cards to buy whatever I wanted. My immediate reaction was to decorate my apartment. While my apartment does have some décor in it right now, I have the urge to do even more with the space I already have.
When I took some time to evaluate the space, I drew up some notes of things that I would want. I wrote down throw pillows because, well, why not? Could you really ever have too many throw pillows?
Yet as I stood there looking at my couch and the two throw pillows I already have, I came to the realization that I never thought I would come to: Throw pillows are just plain useless.
I mean sure, they can make a space look pretty. Pinterest sure loves a good couch or bed covered in throw pillows. But in all honesty, the throw pillows I have on the bed (although beautiful to look at) end up being thrown to the floor every single night. I don’t actually sleep or lay on them. They simply are decorative.
Even worse—who actually sees the throw pillows I decoratively set up on my bed every day? It’s not like I have company coming into my bedroom every night. And yet, I continually make the bed and add those throw pillows every morning.
I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this story, so first, I took a quick look at the history of the pillow.
Pillows were made of…stone?
Mesopotamia, dating back to 7,000 BCE, was the earliest time a pillow was recorded in history. At the time, pillows were made of stone and only used by the wealthy. It’s not like citizens thought these pillows to be comfortable, I mean, you’re sleeping on a stone for crying out loud. The reasoning behind it was to prevent insects to crawl into your noses, ears, and mouths while you sleep. The practice of using stone pillows soon spread to the Chinese, sometimes using different types of material such as bronze, bamboo, jade, and wood.
As time progresses, the pillow starts to take a softer form. The Greeks and the Romans would create pillows made of cotton, reeds, and straw. Soon after, pillows were stuffed with softer materials and became the pillows we know today.
So when exactly did the pillow turn from functional to frivolous?
Kiersten Hickman/Family Handyman
The mystery of the throw pillow
As I continued to dig through the history of the pillow, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when someone decided to make a pillow decorative and appropriate to throw onto the floor every night. And yet, having throw pillows is a common practice in home décor today.
With almost no history documented on the evolution of the throw pillow, I decided to take a different route and ask some of my coworkers what they think of throw pillows instead.
When I asked them how many throw pillows they considered to be “too many,” the responses varied.
- “One is too many on a couch. One is good for a bed.”
- “I have four, but I have a really big wrap around couch. I put one on each end, two in the middle.”
- “Anything above 10, even 8. I wouldn’t go over 6 or 7. On our bed, I could care less. We have two.”
- “Anything over four is excessive for both [a bed and couch] I think.”
- “Since I don’t like pillows, having a throw pillow is definitely insulting.”
- “They’re completely useless, but they’re pretty to look at.”
- “Throw pillows can be thrown in in the trash.”
Everyone has varied opinions about throw pillows, but everyone had the same conclusion: No matter the number of throw pillows, they always end up on the floor. While some pillows are used functionally on a couch, maybe while watching television or reading a book, most of the time pillows are just thrown to the floor in order to make room for human bodies to rest.
So how many throw pillows is considered too many?
While hunting for the “proper” amount of throw pillows, I came to a very important conclusion: It depends on the person. Master organizer Marie Kondo tells you to keep things that “bring you joy.” If looking at a mountain of throw pillows brings you joy, then so be it.
Personally, I decided to officially limit my throw pillow count. The two throw pillows on my couch are functional for times when I’m cozying to watch television. As for my bed? Those pillows have no function. But they sure do give me joy when I look at how perfect they match the gorgeous quilt my grandmother-in-law made for our wedding.