What Are Euro Shams? A Guide To Bedding

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So What Are Euro Shams Anyway?

There are pillows that are slept on, and there are those primarily for decoration. Decorative pillows often have a covering called a sham, but not all pillows are created equal. There are two main sham deviations: American and European.

Standard decorative American pillows fit a 20-by-26-inch sham, appropriately called an American sham, but European pillows fit a 26-by-26-inch sham called, of course, a Euro sham. Trying to fit the wrong sham on a pillow is an exercise in futility. The sham will either be too tight and won't close, or it will stay baggy and wrinkly. Ideally, though, the sham should fit tightly around the pillow, but still maintain the pillows original shape.

Why Should You Use A Pillow Sham?

Beds can be boring with only the bed sheets covering the main sleeping pillows, but decorative pillows are not necessary. On the other hand, pillows with interesting and decorative shams can bring a bedroom to life with vibrant colors and break up the bland linearity of the bed spread. Euro shams come in a variety of colors and decorations. You can often find several different designs and fabrics to fit the needs of your room. Shams can complement the design of a bed or couch, and they can match window treatments. Euro shams also tend to have a 1-inch fringe or tassels around the pillow. They can be purchased from a department or home store or made by hand with a pattern, fabric and a little sewing knowledge. Sham pillows are either placed behind the main pillows as a backdrop or placed in front of the primary pillows along with a duvet cover.

How Much Does A Euro Sham Cost?

Since there is such a wide variety of Euro shams available, the prices vary greatly. A cotton sham with a plain decoration can cost as little as $8 a piece, but designer shams made of silk, satin or chenille can range from $40 to more than $100 for custom designs. The choice should depend on what kind and color of fabric the bed sheets are made of. A satin sheet set should be complemented with an equally luxurious pillow and sham.

How to Decorate With Euro Shams

There is no reason why a bed cannot have a mix of Euro and American shams. European countries and North America may not always see eye to eye, but in sham form, they complement each other rather well. Two rectangular American sham pillows bordering a European sham pillow of similar design and color is a perfect addition to a bedroom's décor. Some people cover their beds with many pillows, until it looks like a fabric factory exploded on their bedspread. This is generally considered overkill, as the pillows should always have both a decorative and a functional side. A king-size bed should have three decorative shams, a queen size should have two, and a twin size should only have a single sham. The pillows are not meant for sleeping, but are rather placed under the primary pillow for support and height. If pillows are thrown off the bed and not used, then there are too many on the bed.

While beds are supposed to only have a set number of decorative pillows, that doesn't mean there has to be only a set number of shams. Feel free to take one sham set off and replace it with a new one every now and then to keep the décor changing. This can include special shams for Christmas and other holidays or seasonal changes. Several shams can be stored in a single drawer and taken out whenever needed. This is much less expensive than buying and storing different pillows.

Where To Use Shams

While the bedroom is primarily the area where the sham pillows are used, they can be taken out of the boudoir and used to accent other pieces of furniture. Place a few Euro sham pillows on a large couch to help accent the couch's style. Place one on a wingback chair or in a window sill to bring a little color and flair to a bland living room or kitchen. The pillows can bring people's eyes to furniture and be great conversation pieces.

Euro shams have been around since the late 1800s, providing people with a way to bring out the colors of their furniture and create a vibrant bedroom. There are hundreds of designs to choose from, so there is bound to be one that turns that average bedroom into design powerhouse.

Last Updated: March 28, 2012
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