by Winthrop Rodgers
This season of Fox’s reality show “Home Free” features the creations of Falls Church resident and designer Carol Sanders. Specifically, Sanders designed and fabricated the unique pillows that grace the living space of the show’s contestants.
Hardly background pieces, her work reinforces the show’s mission of creating a comfortable and stylish living environment through hard work and passion. “Home Free” features teams of contestants building a “dream home” per week, which is then given to the personal hero of one of the contestants as a show of gratitude.
Sanders runs her own business, called Crofton Living, where she makes “linen pillows with a twist.” Her goal is to appeal to a wide range of customers who are looking for clean, classic-looking pillows that bring a bit of fun flair.
For instance, her current offerings feature trim such as small buckles and luggage clasps over crisp designs. She also uses natural materials like coconut shell buttons that go well with the natural fibers of the linen fabric.
Sanders got her start creating drapes and worked in that industry for 25 years. Looking for a change, she decided to focus on her favorite thing to make: pillows. Sanders says that she wants to create pieces that will “look great from farmhouse to townhouse.”
However, she wanted to do more than the usual tassels or frills. To get started, she made trips to New York City and to coastal South Carolina to find inspiration and create something new and different. On her trips, she looked for colors and trim that stood out, had a seasonal flavor, and would look at home in multiple settings.
Attracting around two million viewers per week, “Home Free” is now in its second season. The contestants both work on the houses and compete in skill contests with one competitor being eliminated each week. However, the departing participant presents the house built that week to their chosen hero. The eventual winner also receives $100,000.
The show features a wide range of contestants. One of them is a veteran of Afghanistan who is building a house for a fellow soldier who saved his life and another is a public relations representative who will give a house to the stranger who donated her kidney to his father.
Set outside of Atlanta, the contestants all share a living area where Sanders’ pillows help create a stylish and comfortable atmosphere where they can relax after a long day on the job site.
She was approached by a contact in the art department of “Home Free” who thought that her pillows would be a perfect addition to the show’s look and atmosphere. “It’s definitely fun to see how they are incorporated into the show and to see my designs on TV,” said Sanders.
The show is currently halfway through the season and for the past few weeks, Sanders and her friends have been eagerly watching. “To have my pillows selected to be on TV is a validation of my design aesthetic,” Sanders said.
“Although I did custom design for so long, this is the first time I’ve put my brand and my design sense on a line of products and it was gratifying to be chosen by a show that both deals with design and celebrates good works by its participants.”
Currently she markets her pillows at croftonliving.net and sells them through the online marketplace Etsy. However, she is planning on working with local vendors starting this August to begin selling her line in stores.
She is currently working on new designs featuring new patterns and trim and hopes that having her work featured on “Home Free” will help to spread the word and increase interest in her pillows. “Home Free” broadcasts its final two episodes on Thursday, Aug. 4 at starting at 8 p.m. on Fox.