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From Zero to Pro: How to Decorate with Throw Pillows

Last updated on April 17th, 2024

Throw pillows can help you change up your style quickly and easily. They add comfort, texture, and most of all, a more inviting look to a room. Although there are no hard and fast rules to arranging decorative pillows on a couch, chair, or bed, it can be a little tricky to get your look “just right”.

Let’s demystify the process so you can decorate your home with throw pillows like a pro!

How many throw pillows is enough?

The short answer: it depends.

The number of pillows you add to your bed will differ from those on the couch. And even then, the size of each piece of furniture can call for more or less to achieve that picture-perfect look. You do want to avoid going overboard, though. On a couch especially, you know you have way too many pillows when you have to throw them on the ground just to have a place to sit.

We spoke with our in-house design experts, who recommended the following arrangements:

Throw pillows on a bed

For a queen-sized bed, the go-to placement is a mixture of six pillows set up by size in descending order. Start by laying your regular pillows down flat, and then layer on the decorative pillows from back to front, largest to smallest. 

In the back, place two 24”x24” or 26”x26” throw pillows next to each other. Follow that with three 20” pillows in the middle straight across. Finish with a lumbar pillow of your choice, such as a 14”x24” or 16”x32”.

Throw pillows on a bed
Your final layout will look a little something like this

For a king-sized bed, follow the guidelines above but replace the two back pillows with three instead.

Throw pillows on a couch or sectional

A good rule of thumb when decorating the living room is to follow the theory of odds. Place one pillow on each corner, and a third in the middle. If you have a longer couch, add two to each corner and one in the middle for a total of five pillows.

Illustration of throw pillows on a couch

For sectionals, use groupings of three in each corner.

Illustration of pillows on a sectional

Start by placing your biggest pillows further out, then add smaller pillows in descending order by size. You can always add more pillows if the couch looks unbalanced. Choose pillows that correspond to the depth of the seating: 20” for a standard depth, 24” for deep sofas, and so on.

Throw pillows on a chair

For chairs, it’s especially important to be careful as this is the easiest piece of furniture to overload. One or two pillows is the way to go, and it’s best not to go larger than 20” x 20”.

No matter where you’re using pillows, a mix of solid colors and patterns works well. Experiment as much or as little as you want to achieve the look you like best.

Choosing pillows by material

After you’ve gotten pillow placement squared away, you may also want to consider the best type of throw pillow fabric to fit your lifestyle. Consider the texture and feel you want to achieve in the space. Velvet and faux fur pillows can add a luxurious look, while silk and satin pillows bring a more elegant and sophisticated style. A word of caution: silk pillows are best used in pet and child-free areas where spills are less likely to happen.

If you do have kids or pets, polyester and indoor/outdoor pillows are ideal as they’re easy to clean. Outdoor throw pillows are, of course, also great for dressing up your patio furniture. Breathable materials like cotton and linen are perfect for creating a more casual and relaxed vibe. Plus, you can use them in warmer climates since they’re less likely to retain heat.

Mixing and matching different materials can also add depth and visual interest to your room. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different textures to create a look that’s unique to you.

Choosing pillows by color

Like the number of throw pillows to use in your space, the best color and pattern depends on the space. A good place to start is by looking at the room’s color scheme, and picking out 2 or 3 prominent hues to guide your selection.

For example, if your room has a neutral color scheme with shades of beige and grey, try throw pillows in bright hues like teal or mustard yellow to add a fun pop of color. If the room already has a lot of bold elements, you may want to stick to neutral pillows to balance out the space. Mixing different shades of the same color can also create a cohesive and harmonious look.

Pro Tip

Can’t decide on a color scheme? Try the anchor color method instead, which is the color of one item you want to draw attention to in the room. The pillows you pick should help your anchor piece stand out without distracting from it.

Besides the color of the room, you should also consider the mood you want to create. Soft pastel pillows can create a calming atmosphere, while bright and bold patterns add a playful and energetic vibe.

No matter what pillow arrangement you choose, the final look you settle on should do more than serve a functional purpose. It should also reflect your style and personality. After all, isn’t that what home decor is all about?

So go ahead, have fun creating the coziest spaces to relax with throw pillows!