Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

My New Obsession...

The Extra Long Pillow

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Bed styling for a catalogue/advertising shoot is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It takes a certain brain with a lot of patience and at times eagle-eye super-powers. In fact there are a few really famous bed stylist that get flown around the world just for their bed styling skills – I’m talking to you Steven Whitehead. You need special home-made ironing boards (to fit in tiny little areas for touchups), different kinds of tapes and lots of sprays that would probably give my unborn baby a really cool fifth limb. You have to make sure that each wrinkle looks “natural” and “organic” but not harsh and distracting.

For everyday living you want your bed to look nice but not have 1 million pillows to manage, nor do you want to iron the sheets daily. So here is what I do…I have my two really soft/flat pillows that we sleep on (in the back) plus two thicker/fluffier ones that are good for leaning/reading (in front) and then, and here’s the secret, just one big extra long pillow in front. Call the New York Times, nay Geraldo Rivera and tell them you have the story of the decade. I’m not saying this is a new innovative way to style your bed, but I think it’s easy to obsess about the decorative pillows when all you need is one EXTRA LARGE AND LONG RECTANGULAR PILLOW.

This life-changing pillow is my new favorite thing and I’m kinda shocked that it’s not more commonly used. Forget the three decorative pillows and just throw on one of these long rectangular pillows IF you want a decorative pillow at all. It makes me happy to have my bed look pretty and inviting, even though it’s just for Brian and I, so while this pillow is one that I put on the bench at the end of the night, that swift action is worth it every day. Just make sure that it’s extra long – like at least 24″ long, but 30″ is necessary for a king.

Naturally, I rounded up my favorites, so you too, can be part of the “easy, simple bed styling” club.

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Some of these are kinda expensive, but remember you only need ONE. Just double check the measurements – a full/queen bed can have as small as a 24″ rectangular pillow (normally 12 – 16″ high), but if you have a king go for one of the really long ones (at least 30″) so it properly spans your bed.

1. Chai Bolster | 2. Collaged Majida Pillow | 3. Dansbo Pillow | 4. Quilted Pillow | 5. Mongolian Lamb Pillow | 6. Adana Extra Long Pillow | 7. Suede Lumbar Pillow | 8. Graphic Pillow | 9. Isunda Pillow | 10. Petiole Pillow | 11. Mary Pillow | 12. Indigo Bolster | 13. Glitterati Pillow | 14. Ikat Pillow | 15. Black And White Rectangle Pillow | 16. Skylar Pillow | 17. Mongolian Lamb Pillow | 18. Flock Pillow | 19. Striped Linen Pillow | 20. Baya Lumbar Pillow | 21. Canvas Bolster Pillow | 22. Mint Pillow

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  1. I’ve always just had one long pillow in front on the bed. Recently I found a patterned shirt at a thrift store. I wrapped it around the long pillow and have a 2 dollar update that I love! I’m gonna make it longer though! Thanks

  2. Love #20.

    I saw you yesterday at the Rose Bowl Flea Market… But was far too nervous to come up and say hi like a crazy fan girl haha

  3. I love this and have been doing it for years. I actually use even fewer pillows – 2 continental, 2 standard pillows and my one extra long pillow. Ballard Design and Garnet Hill both sell great extra long down inserts and then I go the Etsy route and search out fabric that makes my heart sing! There are so many fantastic makers on Etsy and I have been thrilled with the cushion cover results from them. I agree with you that too many pillows on a bed can be high maintenance and look cluttered. There is a seller on Etsy that creates the most gorgeous extra long pillows from vintage needlepoint – Retrocollects https://www.etsy.com/shop/Retrocollects. She is a French woman named Jacqui and she is a cushion cover creating genius!

    1. Thanks so much for introducing me to Retrocollects – their pillows are amazing – I have already bought two and I am just addicted – they are beautifully made too – I think I’m going to buy more as unique Christmas gifts –

  4. I used to be a home furnishings photographer and remember explaining to the uninitiated that we could get a maximum of two bed shots per day – if we were lucky! And I’ve definitely noticed how hard it is to get the look right at home…this is a great tip – I like that it varies the shape of the pillows on the bed and limits the ‘extras’ to three.

  5. I guess you mean new-to-you, but this is hardly a new technique. I’ve seen the single long pillow used on a bed for years from other bloggers/designers for years. It is a good tip though.

    When can we finally expect to see some new makeovers from you? Maybe at least some more rooms from the shelter house? I am dying for some more meaty posts. Perhaps you are saving them all for after the baby is born?

    1. Yes ‘new to me’. And yes, the shelter is being published by the LA times so I have to wait on that and my house was in Good Housekeeping (coming out this week) so you’ll see that here on wednesday, with the weekend makeover next week. Stay tuned!

    2. Wow, what a snarky, mean-spirited, condescending comment. If you don’t like the content of this blog, maybe get off your high horse and make a blog of your own.

  6. This is exactly what I’ve been planning to do with our master bedroom refresh! I have 3 extra decorative pillows on there now and my husband always refers to it as the Along Came Polly syndrome.. ha

  7. Is your bed a king or cal king? Are those standard size pillows behind the long pillow? Just asking because i hate big kind size pillows to sleep with but the standards are dwarfed by my huge cal king bed.

  8. Guess what? I use the extra long pillow aka body pillow to cushion my leg and arm while I sleep. Side sleepers love them. Not a new idea, sorry.

    TMI?

  9. Emily, you are a hoot! You famous stylists make everything look so effortless. It’s funny to learn that bed styling is the toughest. These pillows are cute and totally solve the problem that I didn’t know my bed had. XOXO

  10. Yes! Except I want a pretty, long pillow to stay on the bed to hug all night! I’ve often wondered how people can justify spending lots of money on pretty decorative pillows that they don’t even use. Maybe I’m just too practical and would rather use that money on traveling or something. One long pillow definitely makes more sense to me. Of course the one I think is the prettiest of your pick is $495, which made me laugh out loud. That’s fantasy, right? I mean, people don’t actually spend that much money on a pillow when there are so many starving and hurting people in the world to help, right?

  11. I am so happy you posted this! I consider myself pretty with it on my styling, but my bed has stumped me for YEARS! What’s more, I live in a studio apartment, so the bed is the first thing people see when they walk in the door.

  12. The inexpensive “body pillows” sold at Target and the like are a good size (~ 20 x 50 inches) to get this look on a king bed. Just find a great fabric to stitch up a cover. Make the cover a few inches smaller so it will look nice and plump.

    1. I second this idea…have done it and loved it. Just make it with a zipper, and make two or more, for laundry day. It is super satisfying to be able to use the decorative pillows!

  13. Yes! We have one that’s around 30″ long that I made from sewing up a thrifted table runner. It looks great and is useful for when I’m watching tv on my tablet in bed. Cha-ching!

  14. Ok, so I doubted your post today… I was like, “a whole post about a pillow, huh…” and then I was reading and nodding my head and ….. And then, I bought #9 from urban outfitters. 🙂

  15. Always gorgeous Emily!! Could you do a list of your favorite (not break the bank) white sheets that don’t wrinkle like crazy for everyday use?! I love the crispy bright look! Thanks Xx

  16. Love this and that’s what I’ve been doing for years now. But it’s not just something to get in the way at night I’ve found because when I was pregnant it doubled as a support pillow and then I used it to prop up our little baby when he was moving towards sitting on his own and now he loves to practice his kneeling skills by tossing himself against it 😉 Definitely the best bed pillow set-up!

  17. I do this! Except instead of a long skinny pillow, I use one king sham in the middle. It has all the same benefits – tailored, clean look and not too many pillows, plus it’s functional for sitting up in bed.

  18. Great Article AGAIN. You are a great teacher because you explain things simply and clearly. You make the “impossible for me to do” syndrome vanish because the idea becomes vividly clear. Way to GO!

  19. Great Article AGAIN. You are a great teacher because you explain things simply and clearly. You make the “impossible for me to do” syndrome vanish because the idea becomes vividly clear.

  20. Emily, you have just changed my life for the better.

    My husband hates ‘foo-foo’ pillows, so I have long since given them up. We have 2 – one to sleep on, one to prop against. I really really miss the little pretty touch of decorative pillows, but I mostly agree with him that they are a nuisance.

    But one long pillow – Hey, I can manage that. I just have to find the right one.

    Thank-you.

    (returning to lurking, now)

  21. Yes! This is what I actually do. Ok, my rectangular pillow just happens to be smaller. But it is an actual styling thing that I am actually doing right. Accidentally.

  22. I use a body pillow as my regular pillow because I tend to end up smack in the middle of my queen bed and I used to wake up with a sore neck from sleeping in the crack between pillows. 🙂 Maybe I should get a decorative pillow to put in front of it to distract from my weirdness.

  23. I love this post! I think one long pillow in front is SO much better than a million decorative pillows that you throw on the floor every night. I have one (now I’m wondering if it is up to regulations on the length…) because my husband refuses to put away pretty pillows that we never use. Anyway, I love the shift towards both decorative and functional.

  24. I’m not saying this will work for everyone (or that I will keep it forever) but I had an aqua rectangular accent pillow in my mind for my bed and I couldn’t figure out where to get one at a reasonable price until I stumbled upon the body pillows at Target. They happened to have the perfect Aqua velvet cover with subtle striations. Best $20 I ever spent though I may have someone cut down the height so it doesn’t look so much like a body pillow and add pom poms in the corners.

  25. I’m guessing the fact that you’re pregnant is how you discovered the extra long pillow? I know I couldn’t live without mine (body pillow from target) for my pregnancy. It is the perfect length on a king size bed when not in use!

  26. When I was pregnant with my now ten year old daughter, I slept with a body pillow but had no use for it once she was born. About five years ago, I found a longish pillow cover on sale at West Elm for a ridiculously low price. I also had an oddly-sized Ikea pillow cover stashed away at my house. I came up with an ingenious (I think!) idea. I cut the body pillow to size to fit the two covers and now have two more pillows on our bed to disturb my husband when he turns in for the night!

  27. What brand are the floral pillow cases on the bed in the photo!? They’re beautiful!! I’ve been looking for something similar everywhere!!

  28. As a bonus, it is the perfect pillow to snuggle when you’re pregnant too! Of course, I’d not use one that’s super designer, but it doesn’t have to just sit on the end of the bed during the night 😉

  29. OMG thank you so much for this! 😀
    I always love looking at interior design/bedroom design photos, and I’m amazed at how people’s rooms appear so flawless!
    And here’s the secret! <3 I've always kept my long pillow in the back, but I'll definitely try it this way! 🙂

    xo, elizabeth t.

    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

  30. I figure you mean new-to-you, yet this is not really another strategy. I’ve seen the single long pad utilized on a bed for a considerable length of time from different bloggers/planners for a considerable length of time

  31. I have #6 from Lulu & Georgia and it is perfect with white linens! Makes it so easy to get a great look without so many pillows.

  32. Ha! This is EXACTLY what I swear by for my clients, and even have the second pillow you recommend as the single long pillow on my own bed. Doing a show home bedroom this summer and guess what? One long pillow. It’s perfect, it’s magic, it’s just enough.

  33. Very chic. And since I make my own pillows (straight seams being within my skill set), not expensive at all.

  34. I need some help, I have some luxury shams I bought with out the help of my decorator, now I have a delima? With our his sources I can’t find the 22 x 36 pillow filler I need, with out ordering 20+ pillows. Do you have any ideas?