What is a Pillow Sham? All you need to know in 2024

If your bed needs extra oomph or you desire to add a flair to your bedroom, these decorative pillow shams are here to save you time and money. Pillow shams are not just covers; they're the style statement your bed has been waiting for. Whether your aesthetic is sleek and modern or cozy and rustic, there's a pillow sham that will perfectly complement your vibe.

So, if you're ready to take your bed from basic to beautiful with a single swap, pillow shams are the must-have accessory your bedroom's been waiting for.

What Is a Pillow Sham and When To Use a Pillow Sham?

Pillow shams are not just ordinary pillow covers; they are decorative pieces that instantly transform your bedroom look. Here are the reasons why you should consider using a pillow sham:

  • Enhancing the Decor: Pillow shams are the perfect way to add a touch of elegance and style to your bed. With their decorative patterns, textures, and colors, they can complement your existing bedding and tie the whole room together.

  • Easy to Clean: Unlike decorative throw pillows, pillow shams can be easily removed and cleaned. They can be thrown in the wash with your bed sheets, making them a practical choice for those who want a stylish bedroom without the hassle of spot-cleaning.

  • Cost-Effective: Purchasing new throw pillows can be expensive, especially if you want to change them frequently to match different sheet sets or duvet covers. Pillow shams are less expensive and can be easily modified to give your bed a fresh look.

  • Versatility: Pillow shams come in various sizes, making them suitable for different pillow types. Whether you have standard, queen, king, Euro, or boudoir pillows, there is a pillow sham that can fit them perfectly.

  • Seasonal Updates: With pillow sham, you can easily change the look of your bed with each season. Opt for bright and floral patterns in the spring and summer, and switch to warmer and cozier designs in the fall and winter.
  • Minimalist Appeal: If you prefer a minimalist look but still want to add style to your bed, plain cotton shams with white texturing or wider flanges can add interest without overwhelming the space.

  • Convenience: Unlike bulky throw pillows, pillow shams are easy to store. They take up less space, allowing you to have multiple sets for different occasions or moods without cluttering your bedroom.

What’s the Difference Between a Sham and a Pillowcase?

Pillow shams and pillowcases serve similar purposes, but several distinctions set them apart:

Let's delve to understand what is a sham pillow:

  • Design and Decoration: Pillowcases are typically plain and functional, designed to protect the pillow and provide a clean surface for sleeping. On the other hand, pillow shams are primarily decorative. They often feature textured surfaces, bright colors, or embellishments like flanges, appliqué, embroidery, quilting, or patchwork.

  • Closure: Pillowcases usually have an opening on the side for easy insertion and removal of the pillow. In contrast, a pillow sham typically has a back closure. It means the pillow sham opens at the back, making slipping the pillow inside easier.

  • Intended Use: Pillowcases are primarily used for sleeping and are in direct contact with the face and head. On the other hand, pillow shams are not to be slept on. They are primarily used for decorative purposes, adding visual interest to the bed.

  • Heat Retention: Pillow shams are not designed to sleep cool as their main purpose is decoration. They may trap more heat compared to a standard pillowcase made from breathable materials.

  • Placement: Pillowcases are hidden beneath pillows, with only the open end visible. In contrast, pillow shams are placed in front of the sleeping pillows, showcasing the decorative design and adding depth and dimension to the bed.

How to Pick the Right Sham Pillow?

Choosing the right pillow sham can significantly affect the overall look and your bedroom feel. Here are the tips to help you pick the perfect sham pillow:

  • Consider the Bed Size: The size of your bed will determine the size of the sham pillow you need. Standard shams (26 x 20 ) suit standard or queen pillows. King shams (20 x 36) are for king-sized pillows. Euro shams (26 x 26) are ideal for Euro pillows.

  • Match the Bedding: When selecting a pillow sham, consider the colors, patterns, and textures of your existing bedding. Choose a sham that complements or contrasts with your sheets, duvet cover, or comforter to create a cohesive and visually appealing look.

  • Explore Different Fabrics: Shams come in various fabrics, from cotton and linen to silk and velvet. Consider your bedroom's overall style and ambiance when choosing the fabric material. For a casual and relaxed look, opt for cotton or linen shams, while silk or velvet shams can add a touch of luxury and sophistication.

  • Pay Attention to Details: Look for shams with captivating details like edging, closure types, and embellishments. Flange-edge shams feature a framed look with an additional seam allowance, while welted-edge shams have piping or decorative trim. Closure options include back closures, tie closures, buttons, or zippers. Embellishments like appliqué, embroidery, quilting, or patchwork can add texture and visual interest.

  • Consider the Overall Style: Consider the style you want in your bedroom. If you prefer a classic and traditional look, choose shams with timeless designs and neutral colors. For a modern and contemporary feel, go for clean lines and bold patterns pillow sham. Experiment with different styles to find the one that resonates with your taste.

  • Take Pillow Comfort into Account: While sham pillows are primarily decorative, it's also essential to consider pillow comfort. Choose a sham that fits your preferred level of firmness and support. A too flat or fluffy
    sham may not give the desired comfort when used for sleeping or lounging

  • Mix and Match: Don't be afraid to mix and match different sham pillows to create a layered and visually interesting look. Combine shams of different sizes, colors, and patterns to add depth and dimension to your bed. Experiment with various combinations until you find the perfect arrangement.

  • Personalize Your Shams: Personalize your pillow sham with monograms or initials. A monogram can bring a sense of individuality and uniqueness to your bedding. Consider personalizing shams to make them truly your own.


Pillow shams are an excellent way to enhance the look and feel of your bedroom. Their decorative appeal and practical benefits make them a versatile and cost-effective solution to sprucing up your bedding. Whether you're looking to add a pop of color, experiment with different patterns and textures, or simply update your bedding with the changing seasons, pillow shams have endless ways for customization. You can consider your style, existing bedding, and desired aesthetic to choose the perfect sham pillows and transform your bed into a stylish haven.

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