Decorating with Pillow Shams

Pillow shams can dress up any bed. 

One must admit, the bed on the left looks boring, the one on the right looks spectacular and inviting. 

Well made bed vs. cheap hotel bed

  • A pillow sham is simply a pillow that is generally used for decorative purposes. Although, some pillow shams can be slept on.
  • Pillow shams can also be finished on the edge with a flange, cording, fringe, tassels or a simple knife-edge. 

 Flanged pillow sham vs. Pillow sham with corded edge

To achieve a more interesting look with your pillow shams, consider, mixing things up by season. Use different color shams for the spring & summer (softer pastels) and fall & winter (jewel tones).

  • If possible, use the same fabric found on your shams with other pieces on your bed such as the dust ruffle or coverlet.
  • Use feather inserts in your shams, synthetic fills, such as polyester do not hold up as well over time
  • They don’t fill out the corners of the shams well.
  • Feather inserts are inexpensive. Feather is free flowing so it never bunches up.
  • If your sham is not filled properly, it won’t look great.
  • Don’t use worn out pillows inside your shams, as they may look under stuffed.
  • You might save a little money by trying to re-purpose them in a sham, but they may look sad.
  • On a Queen bed use (2) or (3) Euros shams.
  • With a King bed use (3) or (4) European shams (Euro 26” x 26”) – set them on their edge, as straight up and down as you can.
  • We like to place the Euro shams against the headboard.
    • Euro shams offer a nice height and tiered look. They are functional to, they are great to lean against when reading or watching TV in bed.
  • In front of your Euro shams, place your sleeping pillows, again, set them straight up & down on edge.
  • In front of your sleeping pillows place another layer of either Standard or King shams (on edge).
  • If you really want a full bed, use a few decorative pillows or a boudoir sham.
  • With this combination, you achieve a nice layered look and a nice elevation (from the head going toward the foot) with the tallest to the shortest.
  • The entire look of a bed can be changed with little cost simply by adding a few shams.
  • If you are using (3) shams on a bed, consider the center sham in a different color than the ones you have one each side. 
  • You’ll be amazed at how easily you can transform the look of the bed with this easy switch.

Italian Pillow Shams king, standard & Euro sizesCommon size shams are:

  • Euro – 26” H x 26” L
  • King Sham – 20” H x 36” L
  • Standard Sham – 20” H x 26” L
  • Boudoir Sham – 12” H 16: L

Flanges on pillow shams have a tendency to flop over, in the below video we demonstrate how to get the flanges of your pillow shams to stay up.

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The below video explains the difference between a pillowcase and pillow sham.