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“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo most definitely speaks a life truth to know and practice everyday, but so too does Amy Poehler when she reminds, ”Sleep helps you win at life.” In other words, a quality life containing both is the answer to a well-lived and savored life because we are well-rested and able to fully participate.
Which brings me to selecting the most beneficial, supportive, yet also aesthetically pleasing pillows for a comfortable snuggling-in routine as well as night of deep, restful sleep inspired by the French culture. The French’s Traversin pillow, more commonly called the polochon in France, both translated into English to mean a bolster.
By definition in the Collins French dictionary, a ‘bolster’ is a firm pillow shaped like a long tube which is sometimes put across a bed under the ordinary pillows.
Wikipedia defines the traversin as something sometimes considered to be a pillow. It is the same width as the bed (and is generally tubular in shape).
My introduction to the traversin began unknowingly while I traveled around France in 2018 as nearly each of the vacation rentals I booked accommodations had one, although most were less tubular in shape, but all were the width of the bed, placed behind the rectangular/’ordinary’ pillows.
Keeping this observation in the back of my mind, but not paying it much mind, it wasn’t brought back to the forefront until I began to customize my primary bedroom (see above and become a TOP Tier subscriber to tour the entire room reveal here) with the guidance of interior designer Veronique Waldron, the owner of a local design studio here in Bend, Studio Vero, that I was shown the benefits of adding a bolster/traversin to my bedding.
Largely uncommon in the states, the traversin is frequently used not only in France, but also in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan. And it is not used for decoration. It is used to ‘bolster’ up your rectangular pillows for a quality night’s sleep. If you choose to use it as decoration secondarily as I have, you absolutely can.
As you see above in my primary bedroom photos, when I am not sleeping, the traversin is positioned in front of my pillows, but when I sleep, it is placed against the headboard and behind my rectangular or Euro pillow whichever I choose to use for sleeping (see below).
As I traveled around Normandy, Paris and Provence visiting brocantes (view this post and this post), I would frequently look at linens for French linen sheets to sleep on (the best! find out why here), and there would also be pillowcases for the traversin – long in length, not as tall in height as for a rectangular pillow. In 2018, I didn’t have a traversin of my own, so I didn’t purchase that size, but I love knowing such vintage pillowcases are available when I return and begin to peruse Brocantes again.
Working with Veronique, who is Belgian, taught me oodles about linens, textures, finishes and layering. Her studio makes pillows, and custom-made mine with a 48″ down pillow, 8″ in diameter. The fabric from Schumacher was made to fit the pillow and does have a zipper, so it may be washed.
The edging of the pillow was also a choice that had to be made, and I decided on the self-welt edge versus a knife’s edge (clean) to create a frame of sorts for the end of each pillow. I also chose to finish with a cloth covered button meeting in the middle of the gathering of the fabric to add some contrast to the smooth face of the pillow. Again, all of these finishing details can be your choice to fit your preferences and style in your bedroom.
The two key benefits the traversin brought to my sleeping space were the ability to sit upright comfortably and for a long period of time prior to going to sleep as I enjoy reading in bed; secondly, and most importantly, having my chosen rectangular or Euro pillow propped up on the traversin ensures I sleep well and my neck doesn’t ache – side-sleeping or on one’s back.
A traversin can also be used as a body pillow, and in France, the phrase bataille de polochons (battle of the bolsters, aka a pillow fight) refers to traversin pillows as they are long and perfect for engaging in the childhood game before bed. 🙂
So whether you want the traditional size and shape of the traversin – running the width of your bed and in a tubular shape, or a shorter, less tubular shape, find and perhaps add a traversin to your bedroom, and you too will be adding a lovely element to prompt a fantastic night’s sleep.
I have shopped a few traversins (known as ‘bolsters’ in the states) below, but don’t hesitate if you do know a design shop to request a customization for your sanctuary. The time and investment are well worth it. OR better yet, purchase a bolster with the length and structure you want and just have it recovered – a bit of a middle-of-the-road option. 🙂 Also, One Kings Lane is currently taking 20% off all decor items (this includes bolsters), so be sure to take a look as they have MANY fabric options and a variety of sizes.
I have also shopped the pillow itself from two trusted French companies, if you would like to explore customizing.
from Tradition des Vosges – the Traversin pillow
from Dumas Paris, Bolster Natural (filling)
Natural Linen, 18″ x 60″ (more colors) (from One Kings Lane)
EXPLORE MORE POSTS FROM FRENCH WEEK 2021
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