Accent Pillows are a perfect combination of functionality and beauty, and switching them around fills a need for creativity and change. (Photo: Mary Lynn Bruny).

By Mary Lynn Bruny

Times are hard, so let’s talk about something soft: accent pillows.

I am Spock-like logical when is comes to buying most home furnishings, but accent pillows are my shopping Achilles’ heel. I know I’m not alone here.

Why do people love accent pillows? Simple: They are a perfect combination of functionality and beauty, and switching them around fills a need for creativity and change. Plus they’re fairly inexpensive and fun to buy. Perhaps most importantly, they take up little space when not in use (if one buys just the covers), thus they can easily be hid, one’s quasi-embarrassing little shopping habit fitting nicely into one drawer.

How many do I have? Let’s say dozens. I’m fairy certain my husband has no idea how many we own, probably a good thing. (I’m not sure this is what they mean about “keeping the mystery alive within a marriage,” but God knows both of us view each other’s quirky habits as sources of mystery.)

Related side topic: bed pillows. How many couples have fierce debates over the number of pillows they should have on their bed? One party argues for comfort and beauty (thus lots of pillows); the other side resenting it takes 15 minutes, a detailed diagram and ridiculous amount of pillow fluffing to properly make the bed. I believe we may achieve world peace before a finding a compromise that pleases both sides here. And I know, you single people are smiling smugly right now, as you should be.

Back to accent pillows: As with any bad habits, one can easily and conveniently blame one’s parents, always a solid option. In my case, I point the finger at my dear mother who has a bit of a “linen thing” herself and no doubt genetically passed this to me along with my Hungarian peasant thighs (very sturdy and great for potato harvesting).

I used to use synthetic pillow inserts until I discovered down ones. Turns out down inserts are a thousand times better feeling and I am only slightly exaggerating. And now just like I can no longer drink the bad, boxed wine I was perfectly happy with in my 20s, I can no more go back to those overly puffy synthetic inserts.

In my perfect pillow world, not only are the insides cozy, the covers must also be very soft. My best friend had these basket weave pillows on her couch that felt like they were made out of dried straw. They looked nice, but it was like you were exfoliating your arms with a loofah when you leaned on them.

My current favorite covers are faux fur. You can find them in several types of animal fur feel: dog, cat, rabbit or sheep. We have several kinds. Sometimes when I’m engrossed watching TV I think I’m petting the cat but it turns out it’s a pillow. Other times I think our cat is a pillow; this surprises us both in a bad way. It can be confusing.

This is rather sexist of me, but I thought this love of accent pillows would end in our family line with me since we have two sons. But when our youngest son got his first apartment and a used couch, he surprised me. The same day he bought accent pillows and a matching throw. “Really?” I said with astonishment. “Well, of course, mom,” he said. “Just a plain couch? Boring. Plus girls love this stuff.”

So the mantle is passed. In years my son can blame me for his abundance of cozy accent pillows. There are certainly worse things for which to be blamed. Luckily he didn’t get my thighs.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].