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Designer Tips on How to Style Your Throw Pillows

JULY 21, 2021
Photo credit: Amber Lewis for Architectural Digest

Our designers love throw pillows and for good reason.  Pillows have the power to transform your sofa, much like a killer pair of shoes or some new jewels can change the look and feel of a simple t-shirt and jeans.  We’ve asked a few of our Decorist designers for their expert advice on how to nail pillow styling, but here are our general rules when it comes to throw pillows.


Pillow Styling 101


  1. Stick to a color palette: Keep your pillows in the same color palette (typically 3-5 colors) and you can easily mix styles and patterns since everything is in the same color family and will play nicely together.

  2. Vary shapes and sizes: Keep things interesting with pillows in various shapes and sizes so it doesn’t feel one note.  Larger pillows in the back, round or lumbar in the front.

  3. Add texture: If pattern play is not your thing, stick to solids and neutrals in a few different textures to keep things interesting.

  4. Pay attention to the scale of patterns: Be sure to mix in both small and large scale patterns to add personality and interest to your sofa.  


Now that you have your basic guidelines, take a look at how our experts have all styled the same sofa and learn their tips and tricks.


 Designer Vanessa Yufe

When designing a pillowscape, I like to create a design that looks layered and effortless, although this does take some planning. I use varied shapes, sizes, patterns, and textures when layering throw pillows on a sofa. I often incorporate a combination of neutral-toned pillows with color and texture as a contrast to create balance in the arrangement.


From Left to Right 1. Chairish Graffito Pillow  2. Lulu & Georgia Sabine Velvet Bolster  3. Bed Bath & Beyond Safavieh Marcen Oblong Pillow 4. Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines Hunter Throw Pillow  5. Etsy Floral Handblock Linen Pillow


 Designer Gauri Ambekar

Pillows are a great way to add a pop of color to the space. They are also a medium to tie in the colors of other items in the room.  A single color used in combination with neutrals will add interest to the design. 




From Left to Right 1. UGG Coco Luxe Square Pillows (set of 2)  2. Bee & Willow Home Braids & Tassels Pillow  3. Serena & Lily Oakdale Pillow 4. Anthropologie Kantha-Stitched Round Pillow  5. UGG Coco Luxe Square Pillows (set of 2)



 Designer Joshua Jones

I suggest a mix of decorative pillows in different sizes for your sofa.  Start with a 24"x24" and then step it down, 22", 20", and finish with a lumbar pillow.  The lumbar pillow height needs to be slightly less than the smallest decorative pillow size in order to balance the overall look for your sofa. Don't forget that pillow inserts should be two inches larger than the pillow cover size.  This ensures those pillows will be at maximum fluffiness and actually they last longer!

1. Bed Bath & Beyond O&O Velvet Pillow  2.  McGee & Co. Roselie Patterned Pillow  3.  Etsy Farmhouse Decorative Pillow  4. McGee & Co. Carissa Pillow



Designer Casey Hardin

When styling pillows, I always keep the rule of three in mind--three colors, three patterns, and three pattern sizes.  This is a foolproof way to style your pillows like a pro, because it ensures the perfect balance of color, pattern, and scale. 


1. Bed Bath & Beyond Ink & Ivy Lars Pillow  2.  The Citizenry Prisha Linen Pillow  3.  CB2 Estela Black & White Pillow 4. Etsy Mudcloth Lumbar Pillow


Need more than just pillow styling advice? Let our designers take the guesswork out of creating your dream living room and start a design project today.


* Every product was selected by our expert designers and we only use an affiliate link on items we love, and would include regardless.  We may receive a small commission on things you buy through our links. 

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