How to Arrange Throw Pillows Like a Design Pro

Do you know how to arrange throw pillows on your sofa and make them look amazing? It’s not a secret – you just have to consider your pillow sizes, colors and combinations. I’m sharing what you need to know so you can easily style your sofa pillows like a design pro.

I’m not ashamed to admit that throw pillows are one of my favorite accessories for my sofa. It’s a great place to add some texture and color into my decor and it helps to tie everything in the room together.

Throw pillows also make me feel better about my big and dark sectional. We’re going to be living with it for awhile so finding new ways to style it are always fun.

The bonus of throw pillows is that you can easily switch them out for a quick change to your decor. Not only do I move the pillows from room to room but I also like to change them seasonally. I love having lighter colors in the warmer months and darker colors and patterns in the cooler months.

If you ask my husband he’ll tell you that we have way too many throw pillows.

I honestly really don’t think that there’s any such thing as too many (as long as I’ve got a place to store them)!

When you’re choosing pillows for your sofa you’ll want to consider their size, color, texture, pattern and shape. Then it’s just a matter of styling them all to work together.

Here are 5 tips to help you choose and arrange throw pillows like a design pro.

Your Guide to Choosing Throw Pillows

I might tell you that you can’t have too many throw pillows, but you can actually have too many at one time. Your throw pillows are meant to compliment your decor, not compete with it. If you pile too many pillows on your sofa, you won’t even be able to see it.

A pillow arrangement is a lot like decorating a shelf. It’s a little vignette on your sofa and it’s a great place to add some personality to your decor.

PRO TIP: I like to make sure that all of my throw pillows have zipper covers so that I can wash them. Fingerprints and dogs mean they have to be hard working in our house. I honestly think the dogs are worse than kids when it comes to keeping my throw pillows clean!

Throw pillows should coordinate with each other and the rest of the decor in the room or surrounding area.  Check out our tips on how to choose and arrange throw pillows like a pro.
via Etsy

Throw Pillow Size

You might be surprised to learn that there are lot’s of different sizes of square throw pillows. Or you may already know this and can’t decide which size is the best for you.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb to remember…

The closer to the outside of the sofa the larger the pillow should be!

Simple, right?

Well it might be that simple but pillows do come in all kinds of sizes and are generally even numbered. The most common sizes that you’ll find are going to be 18″ squares and the larger squares which can be 20″, 22″ or 24″.

There are also lumbar pillows – which are the rectangular shape and then there are circles and other unique shapes too.

A larger sofa is going to need larger pillows, a smaller sofa will need smaller pillows. Always choose your pillows so that they’ll fit into the proportions of the sofa that you’re working with.

PRO TIP: I like to purchase down inserts for my pillows. If you have an allergy then you should use the alternative fill but the fill should be loose, not packed like foam. Foam is great for cushions but I prefer my throw pillows to look soft.

You’re going to want to purchase your inserts a little larger than your pillow covers so that they fill out all the edges nicely. If your pillow cover is 22″ then be sure that your insert is 24″. Then your pillows will be pretty and plump!

Don’t overlook clearance sales – sometimes I’ve found some fantastic inserts hiding in some really ugly or damaged covers and for a much lower price than buying an insert would cost. I just donate the cover that I don’t want and put the insert into one of my pillow covers!

Throw Pillow Shape

Most throw pillows that you find are going to be square or rectangle but it’s also possible to find round ones and bolster’s. Or maybe even a fun shaped pillow that you just have to own. We have a llama pillow shaped like a llama on one of the beds in our home.

When I arrange throw pillows, I generally like to use a couple of square pillows and add in a lumbar (rectangle) to the mix. Sometimes a pretty round solid velvet is just what you need to tie things together.

You should play around with the shapes so that your throw pillows make your sofa look amazing.

What color of Throw Pillows to Use

Well this is probably the first, or second thing you think of when you’re shopping throw pillows.

I think there are two ways of shopping, one is finding something you can’t live without and figuring out how to make it work. The other is shopping with a plan for what you’re about to purchase.

Both of these are great ways to style your decor.

The color’s that you use for throw pillows should do one of the following:

  • Add a pop of color
  • Tie together the color palette of the room
  • Make a bold statement

If you have a neutral color palette throughout your home then you’ll probably want to add more neutral’s with some texture (which we’ll talk about next).

If you’re adding some seasonal color to a space then you might want to add a pop of color. Remember a pop doesn’t have to be a super bright color, it can be an accent color that you don’t see a lot of in your room. It can be a subtle pink that matches some flowers. Or green that ties in with your plants.

A bold color or pattern will look best if it’s paired with a rug or artwork that ties it all together.

I like to use colors that match the rest of the decor in my room. Since my rooms are pretty open to each other I’ve got a pretty broad color palette to work with. Remember that you want your pillows to link your room together so try to find a color or pattern that shows up elsewhere in your room.


Texture give your pillows, especially neutral pillows, more depth and interest. Even if you’re using the same color in pillows, different textures will change how they look together, so change up those textures for more visual interest.

I’m especially partial to linen for my pillows. I love the way they feel and I can find linen pillow covers in lots of designs, colors and sizes. For some variation I like to add velvet pillows as well.

If you’re using lots of patterns or contrasting colors in your room then the texture is going to be less important. But if you’re using a single color or a neutral color scheme be sure to mix up the fabrics.

Texture can be rough (although I don’t recommend that for pillows) or smooth, nubby, silky, or shiny and smooth.

How Do You Combine Patterns?

Patterns are fun but they can also be intimidating!

The key to mixing patterns is to find something that they have in common. Generally you’ll find a color that links pillows and then it’s easy to mix patterns.

An easy way to do this is to think in a group of three’s. Try mixing a larger pattern with a smaller pattern and a solid. You can mix a floral with a check and a solid. Or a check and a stripe and a solid.

This is your opportunity to bring a pattern into your space that you love. If you’re afraid of color or pattern then this can be a great chance to add a little of either or both in a small dose.

A throw pillow is a great opportunity to take a decorating risk! Or to try out a color in a small dose to see if you love it in your home or just admire it when you see it.

How to Arrange Throw Pillows

Now that we’ve got the basics down let’s talk about how to style your pillows!

Placing one or two pillows on your sofa isn’t always going to look the best. Throw pillows want to be layered onto your sofa and they’ll look best if you use different sizes.

Here is where you’re going to have to trust yourself and try a few things out. Because the real rules to decorating are that there aren’t any real rules!

When I arrange throw pillows on a sofa I will generally use pillows at either end. I start with a larger pillow on each end – a 20″-24″ size in the back and then layer a smaller size in front of them. That’s usually going to be an 18″. I like to add a little lumbar pillow in the middle just for fun, and because I like having 5 pillows instead of four.

A throw pillow styling idea:

Here’s a beautiful combination of pillows from Caitlin Wilson Design! She has beautiful taste and once you’ve seen her style you’ll instantly recognize it!

Using Odd Numbers

Generally speaking odd numbers give the most visual interest, just like they do on a bookshelf. If your room leans more casual then you’ll want to use odd numbers but if it’s very formal you may want to use even numbers and keep your lines even.

Odd numbers will keep us visually interested in a room or display. We don’t realize that while we’re noticing things, our brains are processing it all rather quickly. An odd number slows us down.

How to Arrange Throw Pillows on a Sectional

Since we’ve got a sectional right now I like to add a mix of pillows to each end and then a mix in the middle section as well. It’s almost like decorating two sofa’s.

Be sure that your throw pillows are looking toward each other so that they appear to belong together like the photo above. They’ll also fit on your sofa much better this way.

What’s a Common Throw Pillow Mistake?

The most common mistake that we all make when decorating in general is being too safe. We may do this in all parts of our home but avoid it when you’re shopping for throw pillows!

Your sofa and flooring are most likely a neutral color. They take up a lot of visual space in your home so add in some pattern and color with your throw pillows. This is your chance to add something in a small dose that will give you a big win!

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One Comment

  1. I really appreciate your efforts put into this blog post. Thank you for sharing useful tips with us. Keep sharing…

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