Monday, February 15, 2010

FAIL: Pillow Shams

What is up with pillow shams anyway? I'll be honest, interior decorating is really not my thing. I have no concept of what goes together, what's in, what looks good, why we have certain items, etc. However, lately I have been trying to combine decorating with my dad's sage advice of "Don't own stuff you don't like" and switched my bedspread from a so-called Bohemian pattern that I feel "meh" about to my plain black bedspread from college that I like much much much better. However, by switching I created a bit of a problem: Bohemian pattern had pillow shams and my college bedspread doesn't.

Many questions ran through my head as I tried to process this decorating dilemma. What do pillow shams do? Do I really need pillow shams? What do I gain by pillow shams? Why are they called pillow shams? Who will benefit from me having pillow shams? Will anyone notice if I don't have pillow shams?

I decided I should check out the options available for these strange bedding items since a little research couldn't hurt. First stop, Tuesday Morning the discount housewares store. I entered, hoping to find the Holy Grail of pillow shams but at 60% less than their department store counterparts. I located the shams only to discover an important detail in the world of shams: there are TWO kinds, the Euro sham and the Standard sham. Euro: 26"x26", Standard: 20"x26". I'm glad they put the measurements on the packages, but this is getting complicated. Tuesday Morning creeps me out, so I tried to ponder quickly and chose a Standard beige linen sham. The next day, I returned it. I am going to slightly tweak my Dad's advice to include "Don't shop at stores you don't like."

Today I had the day off, so I checked out the selection at Wal-Mart since they have a new line of interior decorating items, again hoping for a cheap solution to my naked pillows. No good. The new line of decorating items was very embroidered, very flowery, very pastel-y, very not the right solution for me. My third and last stop on the sham quest was Kohl's. At Kohl's, the bedding, along with the signs declaring a SALE, attacks you from the tiny aisles. Somehow, the brands of "Park Avenue," "Chaps" and "Hannah Montana" didn't do much for me. I did find a bedding design by Daisy Fuentes that could have made my bedroom look like a cheap brothel, but sad day, they only had Euro shams. Once again I walked away empty handed.

Since then, I have decided to try life without pillow shams. When I did have them, all I did with them was move them every night & again every morning. My dog enjoyed them as a comfy nap surface, but she has other options available. I'm still not sure if I've failed at interior decorating because I'm lazy or if I've succeeded in uncomplicating another aspect of my life. I'm thinking I'll just postpone the shams until I need them. But that would involve figuring out what one actually needs shams for...


  1. have you ever seen Along Came Polly? there's a scene where Polly {Jennifer Aniston} shows Rueben {Ben Stiller} just how unnecessary throw pillows are. they end up ripping them all apart and creating a snowy wonderland in his bedroom.

    i think that extra pillows on the bed not used for sleeping are pointless. that may not be the most "decorator friendly" advice, but who sees your bedroom that will think "hmmm, no shams. what a loser."? if they think that, do they really need to be in your bedroom?

    i think you can decorate well without all the extras cluttering up your space.

  2. Ask yourself "Do I need this or do I just want this?" and then "Is a tool or is this a toy?" and ultimately "Does this make Christ increase and me decrease?" Be honest and realize that these questions are very biblical and should be answered with honesty.

  3. I think pillow shams are handy tool for covering pillows which can be drooly and lumpy. No one wants to see a drooly, lumpy pillow.
    I'm not suggesting a bed full of pillows is necessary, merely a sham and pillow in a 1 to 1 ratio.
    They are also handy when you are having extra guests; you just pull the pillow out and put a regular pillow case on it. Then the rest of the time you don't have to find a place to store a bunch of extra pillows.

  4. I was totally going to reference the Along Came Polly scene, too! I used shams once when I was little because it came with the set, but honestly thought of them only as "fancy pillowcases" and nothing more. I think as long as your pillows match the decor (color & theme) of the rest of your bedding, and they're aren't weird shaped or drooled on, you're ok. :)

  5. It used to be that everyone used a bedspread, which required the technique of doing a neat fold-over maneuver to cover the pillows. Comforters came along, and shams then became the way to cover up the foibles of the bed pillows (wrinkles, drool, not matching the sheets). A sham refers to something that is false, and a pillow sham provides the illusion of being a fancy decorative pillow, whereas it is really a normal pillow in a disguise.
    I use the second tier pillows in the shams - the ones that have been retired and replaced.

  6. I LOVE that scene from Along Came Polly!

    And there seem to be a lot of drool references, is this a subtle hint about my sleeping habits?

    And thanks Mom for the background on the sham term! That makes a lot of sense.