apartment progress: a floor pillow.

November 10, 2022

I made a dog bed for my children. This was not my intention at the onset, but it is what I ended up with and I’m not complaining. A puppy is a puppy is a puppy, human, canine, or otherwise.

A number of weeks ago, Faye and I found ourselves in the Muji Store near Astor Place. She stationed herself by the table of rubber stamps, I hunted for the elusive kraft paper sticky notes that seem to have gone the way of the Dodo. Together we sought a bit of relief in a temple of shoppable organization and order. Eventually we ventured below-deck where we found a group of twenty-somethings lounging on a bulging bean bag squished into the cement floor. There are probably two camps of people when it comes to lounging on public bean bag chairs. In one, I imagine, are folks repulsed by settling into a public petri dish. In the other, are folks unable to walk past such a squishable beacon of comfort without giving it a try. And maybe there’s a third: parents and children who have just walked half the length of Manhattan and who are willing to put misgivings aside for the chance to take a load off. It’s not every day you meet a bean bag chair in the wilds of New York City and when you do, you might as well take advantage, is the way I see it. We waited our turns and relinquished our spot only when it became awkward not to.

This brush with comfort in the form of a floor-model chair put me back on the prowl for one of our own. This has been a recurring hunt of mine. Every few months, while watching my children tumble off the sides of our very modest “couch,” I think that some kind of pouf or ottoman or otherwise furniture-adjacent spot of comfort could be nice. For small humans who enjoy lolling on the floor (or pitching themselves there), it’s reasonable to assume that a soft place to land might be welcomed. But every time I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of researching what such a place might be, I’ve been confronted with a list of options longer than my arm and fillings of dubious provenance. Most bean bag chairs are stuffed with polystyrene Israeli couscous-sized pellets that look like a looming environmental disaster for the planet, not to mention my apartment. (I recently walked three city blocks plagued by a polystyrene pellet spill, and the tiny pellets skittering across the sidewalk and sticking to everyone’s soles confirmed my hunch that the event of an exploding bean bag is not something I’d wish upon anyone.) Other options like wool or buckwheat are expensive and heavy and even the many, many Etsy shops hawking shredded foam fill (purportedly recycled) by the pound couldn’t convince me to take the plunge.

So stymied again by lackluster options, I did what I do best, which is to shunt the idea to the recesses of my brain and hope that just the right solution materializes before me. It’s not magic that sometimes makes this happen, so much as a stubborn unwillingness to compromise. And in this case, as in most cases, it was a waste problem that led to the appearance of a solution. More specifically, it was two bed pillows that were no longer sparking joy (or a good night’s sleep) for one of my children. The pillows were filled with a mix of shredded latex and kapok which looks suspiciously like those bags of shredded foam fill and so I did what any reasonable person would do and cut them open. I sewed a simple square from an old sheet and stuffed it, clumsily, with the innards of the offending pillows. Then I stitched up the side and made an envelope-style pillow case for that out of a yard and change of denim. The result is floppy kind of dog bed that my kids drag from room to room and prop against the wall while watching movies. It’s perfect enough.

PS. If making a dogbed/floorpillow from old pillows is not something you plan on doing anytime soon, here are some delightfully kooky upcycled options from my friends at State: Cloud Cushions and Scrap Cakes! And if you’re willing to make an investment, Home of Wool sells a large wool-stuffed bean bag vhair and another one in an enticing wedge-shape that might do the trick.

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  • Reply Emily November 10, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    So inspiring on so many levels. Thank you!

  • Reply Emily November 10, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    “Stubborn unwillingness to compromise.” Maybe I should get a tattoo of that ;). Any time I try to prioritize making do/finding a way/doing without I seem to stoke the frustration flames of my family members and friends. Nothing makes people lay on the pressure more than an unwillingness to participate in the life-easing cheap production stream! I always admire your commitment to doing otherwise.

  • Reply Madeleine November 10, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    I laughed right out loud at your opening sentence 😀 I recently came upon a bean bag display, propped in a quiet corner in a noisy mall while waiting for my companions. I nursed there – twice – and am contemplating finding a similar shape for home. Best nursing position I’ve ever found.

  • Reply Megan November 10, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Love a good floor pillow, and so do my canine and human puppies.

  • Reply Patra November 10, 2022 at 11:13 pm

    My family is from Thailand and we LOVE these floor pillows. No idea if this company is good (my mom usually gets them from Thailand for me!) but just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 11, 2022 at 9:01 am

      oh amazing! those look incredible.

  • Reply Mary in Maryland November 11, 2022 at 10:37 am

    We have canines. I found that the sofa cushions I reclaimed from a sofa put out on trash day made great dog beds. And that visiting children back in the day loved jumping off the sofa onto said pillows. Have also used those cushions as a bed for visiting children.

  • Reply Nina November 11, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    I have three big floor cushion covers that hold our spare/out-of-season duvets which we’d otherwise struggle to find storage space for.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 11, 2022 at 1:16 pm

      such a good idea! do you do anything to protect the duvet or just stuff it in the cover and go for it?

      • Reply Nina November 11, 2022 at 4:33 pm

        They’re just stuffed in there – the cushion covers are made of thick fabric.

        • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 11, 2022 at 4:45 pm


  • Reply Sid November 11, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    As an impatient, non-crafty person 🙂 two options I came across on a search for something similar were the Floyd squishy chair: https://floydhome.com/products/the-squishy-chair#the-squishy-chair___Color_Sea and Suay’s great collection of pillows: https://suayla.com/collections/pillows-1

  • Reply jo in london November 11, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    I made the same sad kraft paper sticky notes discovery at the Muji shop in Sydney last month. Why, oh why?

  • Reply Madison November 21, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    My dogs have taken over my throw pillows – so they are floor pillows now lol. Yet they still look nice on the floor though – accidental design.

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