Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Dichotomy of a Pillow: To Chop or Not to Chop

That is the question! I've read hundreds of blog comments, dozens of blog posts, magazine articles, book footnotes, and even listened to advice from television decorators who weigh in on what seems to be a rather controversial decorating dilemma; when it comes to pillows: to chop or not to chop, that is the question!

I gather ideas for blog posts a number of different ways. And this post was inspired by a conversation that I had on instagram with my friend Joan of fortheloveofahouse. Joan posted this photo:

In her beautiful barnroom, pillows chopped and flounced about on the linen slipcovered sofa. The offender, sweet sweet Ella:

Ella is just one of many of the blogosphere's decorating dogs, but Ella shares a relatively uncommon trait ... she loves to chop pillows ... something she and her blogging mom don't see eye to eye on. I however, do chop my pillows, so together with Ella, I figured I'd advocate for pillow choppers everywhere by writing this post! 

The truth is, there are many degrees of choppedness, yes, I just made that word up - choppedness. Defined by the Artie and Ella First Volume Dog and Human Dictionary as: CHOPPEDNESS noun: the state of being chopped. "That pillow is in the fifth degree of choppedness." I have done my best to categorize and define them below.

The Half Chop
The half chop is what most of us see and appreciate, when in favor of the chopped pillow. It is a moderate level of choppedness. The half chop is noticeably chopped, with a polite crease in the center. This is easily achieved by first taking the pillow by the ears, slamming it against your closed legs (to fluff) then replacing on the chair or sofa, and giving a light tap in the middle of its head. Here are some published examples of the half chop: 

Leslie Dunn & Ann Tighe

Phoebe Howard

Jill Goldberg

Phoebe Howard

 Heiburg Cummings

Leta Austin Foster

Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Sally Wheat

Munger Interiors

Carrie Hayden

The Side Chop
The side chop is a little less common, and therefore confusing to some ... even chopped pillow enthusiasts, but it is my favorite karate move when dealing with rogue pillows. To perfect the side chop, you must first fluff your pillow (by any means necessary) and then use both hands to symmetrically chop at its sides, thereby trimming the fat off the pillow and giving it a plump and desirous hourglass shape. Here are some published examples of the side chop:  

All Jeffrey Bilhuber

Marco Meneguzi

Ryan Brown

Thom Filicia

Suzanne Rheinstein

Barclay Butera

The Pillsbury Poke
The Pillsbury poke is what many pillow chopping addicts do when attempting to quit the habit of chopping their pillows. They first fluff the pillow, place it in the corner of the sofa or chair, eyeing it intently as if missing something. Then they re-fluff, and give it the half chop. Determined to quit their chopping ways, they re-fluff, leave the room ... and run back in to give the pillow a poke. Here are some published examples of the Pillsbury poke.

Jane Moore

Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Brooke Giannetti

Phoebe Howard

Miles Redd

The WWF Full on Body Slam

This, my dear pillow chopping friends, is what even we avid pillow choppers avoid. This is the defcon 5 of choppedness. The WWF full on body slam pillow chop was created as an activity to reduce stress by Dr. Phil. Visualizing the person who has caused you grief, harm, or cut in front of you while in line at IKEA to buy your 20x20 down inserts for $4.99, you take your forearm and slam it into the pillow, narrowly stopping before tearing the whole thing in half. This, is how a true ninja assassin would treat their decorative accessories. Here are some published examples of the WWF full on body slam:

Barclay Butera

Bunny Williams

YAWN Design Studio

Michael Taylor

Barclay Butera

Eileen Kathryn Boyd

Ryan Brown

Barclay Butera

Laurie Pearson

The Soldier
The soldier is what the pillow chopping protesters have lined up on their sofas and chairs, prepared for decorating battle. These pillows are fluffed, but not in any way altered by an astute decorating hand. In fact, it likely takes longer for one to perfect the soldier, tightly fluffed but never pinched, poked, or chopped! Here are some published examples of the soldier:

John Saladino

Cullman and Kravis

Michael S. Smith

Charlotte Moss

Jan Showers

Phoebe Howard

Vicente Wolf

As you can see from all of the beautiful rooms above, ultimately, this is not a matter of taste, it's a matter of discretion. You either like the look of a chopped pillow, or you don't. It does not mean that you're stuck in an era of decorating that has long passed, or that you are less of a decorator than someone who prefers the soldier (no-choppedness) pillow look. It simply means you agree with me ... and Ella, and I think that puts you in pretty good company.

No pillows were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Posted with granted permission from Ella (and Joan)

Avoid the lines at Ikea - buy your pillow inserts at Amazon.

And please remember to vote for Color Outside the Lines now - February 12th for Best Writing on a Design Blog for the 2014 Design Bloggers Hall of Fame Awards. Read the full post here, or click here to submit your ballot!