How to Decorate with Throw Pillows

If you ask us, there’s no such thing as too many pillows—the more pillows, the better. They’re perfect for adding a little comfort to any seat and are a great way to bring a bit of texture or a whole lot of color into a room. Explore the tips and tricks in this guide to decorating with throw pillows, then mix and match to create your own style.

Know How to Choose Throw Pillows

There are two main varieties of throw pillows: all-in-one options or versatile two-piece styles consisting of an insert and interchangeable decorative cover. For personalization and easy cleaning, we recommend the insert-and-cover variety. With an insert and decorative pillow cover, you can change up your home decor whenever you wish, without having to store your out-of-season pillows. Another benefit is that you can wash the covers when necessary, without putting the inserts through the laundry.

What Size Throw Pillow Insert Do I Need?

Choose a pillow insert two inches larger than your throw pillow cover for a full, plush appearance. For example, an 18- by 18-inch throw pillow cover paired with a 20- by 20-inch pillow insert provides a more robust, full appearance and just-right support for reading or watching TV. If you’re not a fan of the plump pillow look, you can choose the same pillow and insert size—for example, an 18- by 18-inch pillow insert with an 18- by 18-inch cover—but your pillows may not offer as much support.

How to Mix and Match Throw Pillows Like a Pro

Decorative throw pillows are for more than comfort alone: they add interest and color to a room. If you’re wondering how to decorate with pillows, first consider your personal preferences and decor style. You can toss extra pillows anywhere—your bed, the sofa, a statement armchair, the bench at the foot of your bed—to add some oomph to your space.

  • Pair Colors with Complementing Patterns: Pull inspiration from the hues found in your patterned comforter, blankets, or furniture. Pair solid accent pillows in fresh spring green with a statement pillow that features a floral print. Love the hints of bold orange in your throw blanket’s medallion print? Find a decorative throw pillow cover to coordinate—it’ll add gorgeous pops of color and tie the decor together.
  • Go for a Monochrome Look: Monochrome is in—choose a handful of your favorite shades of blue, stick with all-white pillow covers but feature a different embroidery design on each, or choose a series of gradually darker pillows to create a contemporary gray-to-black gradient effect.
  • Pair Patterns with Patterns: Chevron and polka-dots, florals and stripes, medallions and damask—the pattern pairing options are endless. The only limit is your creativity. To coordinate throw pillow patterns, decide on a base color and choose complementing patterns that echo the hue. If you’re new to interior design, stick with patterns in similar sizes. When you get more comfortable, experiment with bold choices like big polka dots and herringbone or grand scale florals and narrow pinstripes.
floral bedding with several throw pillows
  • Play with Textures and Colors: Velvet, linen, embroidery, appliqué—textures play nicely together, so choose a variety and pair them up for stunning results. Velvet and silk are a winning combination, but don’t overlook options that seem like complete opposites. A chunky knit pillow cover offers bold contrast when teamed up with a festive appliqué or elegant embroidered design.

Choose Your Throw Pillow Arrangement Method

Throw pillows can create a natural, inviting look, and—when arranged properly—offer both style and function. Too many, and they’re not useful anymore. Choose an arrangement method that both puts your design chops on display and creates a comfortable place to sit or lounge.

three pillows drawing

Use an Odd Number of Pillows for Balance

While there’s no ‘right’ number of pillows, an odd number helps create balance. We like to use five decorative pillows for a large sofa, or three for a smaller one. When adding decorative pillows to a queen-size bed, a winning formula for a cushy layered look is two to three decorative pillows, two Euro pillows with shams, and two to four sleeping pillows.

five pillows drawing

The Always-Reliable Bookends Method

Create bookends with matching pillows on either end, then add complementing pillows between them, getting gradually smaller as you move toward the middle. The pillows at the ends ground the whole look, and you can add a single statement pillow in the center. This method is a fantastic option for a bench or sofa.

throw pillow drawing

Display a Single Standout

Looking to bring a bit of color to an armchair or bench, but don’t want to go overboard? Sometimes, simplicity is best. Choose a single toss pillow to bring some attention to a statement-making wingback, funky wicker chair, or simple bench.

multiple pillow shapes drawing

Mix Up the Shapes and Sizes

Square isn’t your only option—pair different shapes for more impact. Choose from bolsters, long rectangles, round cushions, and square pillows in a variety of sizes. Use the bookends method to frame an embroidered rectangular toss pillow, or line up your throw pillows by size.

pillows chopped drawing

Decide If You Want to Chop - Or No

A chop—an indentation in the center-top of your throw pillows—can tie the whole room together. This step is purely for aesthetics and is totally optional. The chop turns the pillow corners into points that sweep the eye upward, so you can highlight a focal point above the furniture.

Not all pillows are made for chopping: lofty, down-filled pillow inserts work best for this technique because down is more malleable than synthetic fill. Firm throw pillows may not hold a chop as well as less-dense medium or soft throw pillows. Chopping is your choice: put a dent in one, some, or all, as you see fit.