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Pillow Talk: How To Choose and Style Decorative Throw Pillows

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Pillow Talk: How To Choose and Style Decorative Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are an elegant (and comfortable!) way to update the look of your home at any time. They can be swapped in and out easily as the seasons change and your design needs evolve, and they can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your space.

Because throw pillows are such a simple addition, you may be wondering why we wrote an entire guide to choosing and styling pillow combinations. Shouldn’t selecting throw pillows be as simple as finding some you like and gently tossing them onto your couch or bed? Perhaps, but thanks to the large number of pillow options available, it can be hard to narrow down what look you want and what style looks good without a little guidance.

That’s why we’ve put together some straightforward guidelines to help you combine pillows and create the comfortable and stylish look of your dreams—and maybe even fortify the walls for your pillow forts.

Let’s get started.

1. Select your colour scheme

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Get the Look: Dylan Lumbar Pillow | Douglas Lumbar Pillow (sold out) | Butterfly 1 | Butterfly II | Peg Floor Lamp

There are a couple of different ways you can narrow down a colour scheme:

  1. Select a shade that matches or complements the items you already have in your home and build your colour scheme from there.
  2. Ask yourself what colours speak to you at this time of year. Your colour scheme doesn’t necessarily have to have a seasonal or holiday theme, so instead of limiting yourself to seasons, events, or what’s trendy, your palette can simply feature colours that fit your home or delight you at this particular moment.
 DESIGN TIP: Most interior design experts recommend including at least one neutral colour in your palette to offset the others. While this is good advice, don’t be afraid to select a less conventional “neutral” if you prefer a bold hue, such as a subdued yellow. Your home should make you happy!

If you want to take a more technical approach to choosing a colour scheme, try using a colour palette generator like this one from Adobe. It will help you create a colour palette using colour harmony rules, and it can even create a palette out of colours from an image you upload. This is a great way to play with colours to get a good idea of what you want and what will look good before you start picking out pillows.

 DESIGN TIP: For a more subdued look, select analogous colours. These hues sit next to each other on the colour wheel, providing a similar tone and vibrancy that is a bit more subtle than the other colour harmony options.

2. Pick patterns and styles

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Get the Look: Daniel Pillow (sold out) | Darcy Pillow | Dawn Pillow

Selecting a good mix of styles and patterns is key to building an attractive arrangement. 

Make sure you include some solid coloured pillows to help balance out any bold patterns. Or, if you want to stick with solid colours across all your pillows, remember that just because they are solid doesn’t mean they can’t have an interesting texture or look. Whether you mix up patterns or opt for a monochromatic look, you’ll find a wide variety of pillow styles to choose from, including:

  • Plain covers, including patterns and solid hues
  • Envelope front
  • Button flap
  • Mitered
  • Buttoned/Tufted

In addition to different styles, throw pillows are also available with a variety of different edge types to add even more texture and appeal to your pillows, including:

  • Straight edge
  • Self-welt edge
  • Ruffle edge
  • Flange edge
  • Fabric tie

To begin, we recommend choosing one or two patterns to go in an arrangement, along with one solid colour—you can always layer in more patterns and solids later. Solid colours can have a textured material or different style or edge to add some variety without creating a busy-looking arrangement.

Here’s an arrangement we created that features two solid-coloured textured pillows, as well as one patterned pillow that combines both colour tones. The combination of shapes, colours, and textures creates a balanced look that adds interest without looking busy.

Get the look:

Neutral Solid

Cora Pillow (Square)

Neutral Solid

Cora Pillow (Lumbar)

Pattern

Cameron Pillow

Pattern

Carly Pillow

3. Size and shape

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Get the Look: Dean Pillow | Dominique Pillow | Drake Lumbar Pillow | Dawn Pillow | Peg Floor Lamp | Birds in Flight I Wall Art | Birds in Flight II Wall Art

Like patterns and colours, having a mixture of shapes adds depth and creates height and visual interest on your couch or bed. Throw pillows come in a lot of different sizes and shapes:

Shape

Where to use it

Round In the middle and front position
Lumbar Because of its short profile, this is best used in the front
Neck roll and bolster Front position
Square In back or side and middle positions
Rectangular Any position, but larger pillows should be placed in the back or at either ends

Lumbar

Linnea Pillow

Square

Alegro Pillow

Standard sizes

  • 26” x 26” (Euro): Ideal for king sized beds
  • 20” x 26” (Standard): Ideal for queen sized and double or full beds
  • 14” x 36” (Large Lumbar): Ideal for king sized beds
  • 22” x 22”: Ideal for twin beds, couches, and layering in on larger beds
  • 20” x 20”: Ideal for couches and layering in on larger beds
  • 18” x 18”: I deal for couches and layering in on larger beds
  • 16” x 20” (Small lumbar): Ideal couches and layering in on larger beds

It’s a good idea to include some large pillows in the mix because they are (most importantly) comfortable and great to lounge on top of, but they also take up lots of visual space and create the look of a plush, full, intentional look.

22" x 22"

Eglo Pillow

24" x 24"

Zalli Pillow

DESIGN TIP: If you want a fuller pillow, size up your insert. For example, if you have a 20″ cover, and you want a really full pillow, use a 22″ insert.

4. Arrangement

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Get the Look: Birman Mirror | Diamond Blanket Pink

Arranging pillows is deceptively simple. If you’re new to arranging pillows, consider our earlier advice and start by including:

  • Two prints—one large or bold pattern and one small or subtle pattern
  • One solid—solid pillows can feature a texture or can come in several shades of the same hue, or feature complementary or contrasting colours

How you organize your selection of pillows is up to you, but there are a few different approaches you can take and some general rules you can follow if you need some guidance:

A symmetrical or an asymmetrical arrangement is a matter of personal preference. Symmetry is more traditional and lends a clean and orderly look to your home. Asymmetry is a bit edgier and can look great in the right setting, but it can also look messy if done incorrectly.

On a bed, place your largest pillows at the back of the arrangement and layer medium and small pillows in front like we’ve done here:

Pattern

Brenda Pillow

Neutral Pattern

Courtney Pillow

Pattern

Chloe Pillow

On a couch, day bed, or window seat, smaller pillows should be in the middle and the largest on the outside. Not only is this more visually pleasing, it also makes it easier to sit because you aren’t being pushed off the seat by large pillows.

Neutral

Boni Pillow

Neutral

Connor Pillow

Pattern

Cindy Pillow

DESIGN TIP: While it can be tempting to pile on the pillows, try to have a light hand. Too many pillows can make it difficult for guests to get comfortable or know what to do with all those extra cushions when they sit down. No one wants to have to shove pillows onto the floor to find a seat. 

A comfortable collection

Switching out your pillows is a simple way to create a new look in your home, and they are easy to store when not in use—most pillow covers can be unzipped, unbuttoned, or untied and packed flat for storage. When adding new throw pillows to your collection, just remember to:

  1. Select your colour scheme first
  2. Pick out your desired patterns and styles to fit the colour scheme you selected
  3. Choose a range of sizes to create some depth and visual interest
  4. Arrange them with larger sizes and taller pillows towards the back and sides, layering patterns and colours in a way you find visually appealing

Shop our collection of modern throw pillows

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