Decorating with Euro Shams

February 12, 2017

Betsy Americana Patchwork Quilt

We recently updated our photos of the super cute Betsy quilt, and I was reminded once again of the visual impact of adding Euro shams to your bedding ensemble. When we originally took the Betsy photo a few years ago, we didn't add any Euro shams to the bed because the Betsy quilt does not have any "matching" Euro shams. This time around we thought - why not add a couple of the new Charlotte Rouge Euros by VHC Brands? They don't technically "match" but they coordinate nicely. What a difference a couple of Euro shams can make! They add so much style and fullness to the bedding ensemble. Here's the "before" picture of Betsy without the Euro shams...

Betsy Americana Patchwork Quilt

Certainly an improvement, don't you think?

At this point, you may be asking yourself- what the heck is a Euro sham and why do I need one? Good question. When we started Retro Barn back in 2006 I was amazed at the number of customers buying Euro shams. Always the bargain shopper, I had personally never thought to spend the money on something that seemed so totally unnecessary. I just didn't get why these big square pillows were so popular. Well, it turns out that these seasoned decorators knew something I didn't. Euro shams make a big visual impact for a relatively small investment. They provide the backbone to your bedding set, and it's nearly impossible to get that fluffy and "put together" decorator look without them.

Here's the 411 on Euro Shams-

A Euro sham is a large square pillow sham that is generally placed at the head of the bed, right next to the headboard. The photo below shows the rustic Parker Euro Shams without any other bling, so you can see what they look like...

Parker Euro Sham

In front of the Euro shams you will usually see the rectangular pillow shams and then an assortment of toss pillows.The photo below shows the Columbus bedding set, accented with 2 Euro shams, one standard pillow sham and one toss pillow. This will give you an idea of how the various items look in comparison to each other.

Columbus Quilt Collection

The size of a Euro sham will usually be around 26" x 26" and you will often see two Euros on a queen or full bed, one on a twin bed and three on a king bed. Euros are usually sold as shams and not as pillows, meaning that the actual filler pillow is not included. The filler pilows can be purchased separately, and are widely available in any stores that sell bedding. Choose a filler that is about 1" larger than your sham  for a nicely filled out look.

How to choose a Euro Sham-

As our Betsy photo illustrates, it is not necessary for the Euro to match the rest of the bedding set. In fact, a contrasting fabric can add a nice touch. Another strategy is to match the Euro sham to the bedskirt. There are really no wrong answers here- just go with what pleases your eye. And don't assume that you need to purchase new Euro shams each time you update your bedding ensemble. You can invest in a fairly neutral set of Euro shams and use them with different bedding ensembles. Since these are background pieces, plain and simple designs work best. A few of our favorite Euros would be the Burlap Natural Euro Sham, the Abigail Cream Euro Sham, the Faux Leather Euro Sham, the Jasmine Creme Euro Sham and the Jasmine White Euro Sham. These are all very versatile Euros that could blend nicely with a variety of different quilts and comforters. Check out the Burlap Natural Euro Sham here with the Stratton Quilt. This is a basic Euro that plays well with others...

Stratton Quilt with Burlap Natural Euro Shams


What can Euro shams do for you?

Euros are great for adding drama to the bed. They instantly give that decorator look. The best way to place them is usually as vertically as possible- straight up against the headboard. Don't have a headboard? You need Euros even more. Just prop them up against the wall and they will provide the structure that your bedding ensemble needs. Euro shams are also great for disguising an old headboard that  you're not quite ready to replace. Once your Euro shams are in place, the headboard is not nearly so visible.

In addition to decorating appeal, Euro pillows provide great support to your back when sitting up in bed. You'll want to remove them before going to sleep, but they are super handy for late night TV watching, reading, or breakfast in bed.

When Euro shams don't work

So with all this in mind, why wouldn't you want to put Euro shams on your bed? Well, pretty much you would, but there are a couple of instances that come to mind when Euro shams just don't work. One would be when using an old fashioned bedspread with a pillow tuck. Another time when you should nix the Euros is if you're going for a more modern, minimalist look.

Other uses for Euro shams

In addition to the bedroom,  Euros are handy around the house. They make great floor pillows for kids and coffee table dining. We've even seen them used as sofa pillows (especially on large sofas) and as pet beds. All in all, this is a helpful item to have in your linen closet. Here's a final pic of two gorgeous Euro shams that will soon be available, the Quinn White Euros...

Quinn White Euro Sham

So there you have it-

Everything you've ever wanted to know about Euro shams! If you have any interesting decorating tips or creative uses for Euro shams please let us know. We would love to share them!

~ Thanks for stopping by!

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