When it comes to home decor, nothing quite compares to the ubiquitous throw. No Instagrammable room is complete without a plush faux fur tossed ever so casually across the arm of a sofa or a colorful knit folded neatly over the back of a chair.
“Throws, to me, say, ‘this is a comfortable home, this is a welcoming home,’ ” says Yvonne Pratt of Quarryville, author of the StoneGable (stonegableblog.com), a blog about American farmhouse living, where you’ll find plenty of pretty photos of throws paired with pumpkins on front porch rockers or draped over hallway benches. “Throws are really textural, and texture is a big, big thing. … You want a cozy feeling as the weather gets cooler and the evenings get shorter.”
For those of us who don’t have Instagram- or blog-worthy homes, throws can be a challenge. You probably have plenty of them. They’re everywhere, after all, from big box stores to high-end home decor retailers. You may have gotten them as gifts, as favors for an outdoor wedding, or even as swag for your new college student. And they come in every style imaginable, from flannel to fleece.
How do you make the most of your throws? Here’s help from the experts.
Not for show
Michael Chiodo has two no-sew blankets — those throws made by cutting a fringe around two coordinating pieces of fleece, then knotting the fringe together to create one double-layer of coziness.
He loves them because they’re warm and his mom made them, but…
“They are brighter colored and overall generally don’t match with anything at all,” says Chiodo, a brand manager and designer for the home furnishings store Ville & Rue, whose personal decor palette leans more neutral.
Chiodo is not alone. Not everyone has a collection of throws that could grace the pages of Architectural Digest. Raise your hands if you have one in orange and green crocheted by your grandmother or made like a quilt out of old high school T-shirts.
Fleece throws are available in everything from unicorns and spaceships to favorite sports teams and even celebrities. At the online art marketplace redbubble.com, you can find throws featuring bottles of ranch dressing, hedgehogs and mushrooms, or even Cheetos. But maybe you don’t want any of those options gracing the back of your formal living room sofa.
So how do you keep them handy and hidden at the same time?
— Use a basket: “I’m such a basket person because a basket is so textural,” Pratt says. “Just find a nice basket with a lid. … Grab that and put it somewhere in that room or convenient.”
— Keep them in a storage ottoman, says Anita Yoder, owner of Heritage Design Interiors in New Holland.
— Repurpose a trunk and use it as a coffee table and a place to store blankets, suggests Better Homes & Gardens.
Show them off
Throws don’t necessarily lend themselves to every kind of decor, Pratt says.
“A real minimalist style wouldn’t use a throw,” she says. “In a really minimal home, you really want to see the shapes and not a lot of extra things in the room.”
But for many transitional styles — an umbrella that includes farmhouse, industrial and even mid-century modern — throws fit perfectly, she says.
“Anything that goes under that huge transitional style has a collected, curated look,” Pratt says. “Those are the styles that are so amazing to put a throw in.”
How exactly do you throw it in there? Draping it on a sofa or chair is obvious, but there are other ways to display your pretty throw blankets:
— Lancaster County is known for its quilts and quilt racks, Yoder says, but you can use those racks to display throws, too. “Perhaps your mother or grandmother has one in the attic,” she says. “Update it by painting it.”
— Put them in an open basket. Yoder’s preference is the braided, wire or reed variety, with the blankets neatly rolled or with one draped out over the top. Pratt folds and stacks her blankets in a wide, shallow basket.
— If you have a large cabinet or hutch, fold and stack your throws inside and drape another one over the open door, Chiodo says.
— If you love the look of a throw but you’re not likely to wrap yourself in it, use it as wall art, Yoder and Chiodo suggest. “It kind of creates a tapestry-like feeling, and textural pieces as art are really growing in popularity right now,” Chiodo says, noting it’s best to use a lighter weight cotton or linen that you can hang with curtain clips or a rod. “Larger art does tend to be pretty expensive, so I think it’s a good inexpensive way to show off those throws you really like.”
— Drape them over the rungs of a decorative ladder. Although ladders tend to take up wall space, they’re a nice option for a dead corner of your living room, Chiodo says. “I think using ladders is a great blend of being practical and stylish,” he says. “You get to display nice ones in a neat setting but they’re not thrown all over your furniture.”
— Roll them up like logs and display them in a firewood rack or magazine rack, suggests Better Homes & Gardens and the website craftsyhacks.com.
Think outside the living room
Throws are great for curling up on your favorite sofa or big comfy chair, but you can really use them throughout the house.
“I think it really goes back to kind of the home office space with the pandemic,” Chiodo says. “Everyone kind of gravitates towards the living room or kitchen, but really trying to create an overall enjoyable space you want to be in and having that trickle all throughout the home and not just concentrating on the rooms guests will be in.”
Here are some options:
— The bedroom: “In a bedroom, fold your throw in the long direction and place it on the bottom of the bed,” Yoder says. “(It) looks inviting along with adding a splash of color to your room.”
— The bathroom: Yes, the bathroom. And no, we’re not talking about curling up on the commode. “I know people aren’t typically using it in the bathroom,” Chiodo says. “It’s like having a basket of towels. If you have the space, it creates more of a cozy environment having them there, especially in the colder months.”
— The dining room: “If you have the chair that you see first draped with a throw in a pretty way, that sends a very welcoming message,” Pratt says.
— Covered front porch: Try a thick British tartan over a bench or rocker, Pratt says.
— Outdoor living space: As long as the weather allows, Pratt and her family like to relax and even eat outside right up to Thanksgiving. Fall is the perfect time to put a woolier throw over an outdoor dining table. “It’s a gorgeous look,” she says. You can also keep throws draped over outdoor chairs, so guests can easily grab one when the temperature drops or the sun goes down.
How to style it
There really is no right or wrong way to style a throw. There’s a sectional sofa at Ville and Rue with throws displayed on either end. One is folded neatly over the arm; the other is tossed more organically.
“Even looking at the two styles on one piece, I think it still looks nice,” Chiodo says.
“You need to decorate in a way that makes you happy,” Pratt says. “You’ve got to do what looks beautiful to you.”
Here are some tips:
— If you have a sofa or chair with distinct architectural details on the side, such as woodwork, take care not to drape a throw blanket in a way that would hide them, Chiodo says.
— Consider the room: “The more casual your room, like a family room, a game room, makes it look like it’s lived in,” Pratt says. “When a throw is all crumpled up, that invites people to go ahead and use it.” For a more formal room, try folding it over the arm of a chair or the back of a sofa on one side and let it drape about 18 inches down the back.
— For a smaller chair, fold a throw and drape it over the back, tuck it in and let it continue over the front of the seat. It’s a great way to hide a fabric you don’t like or to protect the chair from pets.
— Take two thinner throws — in a pattern and a coordinating solid — fold them together so both are showing, then drape them over a sofa or chair.
— For a more “thrown” look, Pratt suggests opening up a throw and placing it artistically over the back of a sofa. Take the center of it with your hands and knead it. “It will sort of fall into place,” she says. “You have to work with your decor. You can’t just do it once and let it be. Very rarely am I successful when I do that. Fuss with it a little bit and stand back and see if you like it.”
Choosing a throw
If you’re shopping for throws for your own decor, here are some things to keep in mind:
— Consider your lifestyle: If you have children and pets, choose throws in materials like cotton that are easier to clean, rather than something like wool that requires dry cleaning, Chiodo says.
— Take a risk: “Accent or seasonal colors are fun. Don’t be afraid of color!” Yoder says. “Break away from white with white with an accent of white.”
— Change the mood: Although many people tend to favor neutral pieces that stand the test of time, Chiodo says pillows and throws offer a great opportunity to add texture, a pop of color and some personality. “Think of them as a piece of art in terms of having the opportunity to change the tone or the mood of the room that they’re in,” he says.
— Think in threes: If you find a throw you love in a different color, introduce that color in your room with the magic of three, Pratt says. Along with the throw, add two other items to the room with at least a hint of the same color.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
Here are hints from the experts on ways to give spare blankets new life:
— Make placemats: Pratt has an entire blog post on this DIY project, which she crafted from some old plaid wool throws she had stored.
— Make hand warmers: Pratt also came up with this crafty trick for what she calls her “oddball” throws. Cut them in small squares, sew two squares together and fill them with rice. Toss them in the microwave for instant hand warmers. Pratt keeps a basket of them at the door so they’re easy to grab for sitting by the fire or keeping tucked in a pocket while walking the dog.
— Make a tote bag: Chiodo considers this a fairly easy project, even for people who don’t sew.
— Give them to your pets or donate them to an animal shelter.
— Keep them in your car: They’ll come in handy for a picnic, a football game or the next time one of your passengers thinks the air conditioning is on too high.
— Cut them up and use them as cleaning cloths.