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How to Style Throw Pillows on Your Couch Like a Designer

Throw pillows on a couch.
Written By
PARACHUTE TEAM
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome

Throw pillows lend a cozy and luxurious vibe to any space. They’re also an easy way to bring your personal design aesthetic into your living room. But styling a couch with pillows is not always an easy task, since there are so many sizes, materials, and designs to choose from.

Thankfully, choosing the right pillows — in the right sizes, colors, and textures — can be easy if you follow a few simple guidelines. Knowing how to style pillows on a couch comes down to styling, mixing, matching, coordination, grouping and seasonality to keep things fresh.

So if you want to achieve that luxe, magazine-worthy look in your home but are not sure where to start, this guide will help. From how to select the right decorative throw pillows to creating attractive groupings, you’ll quickly master the art of decorating with throw pillows.

How to Select Throw Pillows

When choosing the right throw pillows for your couch, start with the right size. Choose a base size, then consider adding complementary sizes to mix and match. Decide on the number of pillows (for a standard couch, five is best). Finally, consider your room’s existing style, colors, and textures.

Before you start your sofa pillow styling session, here are a few tips that will help you choose the perfect pillow sizes and materials to match your furniture.

Pillow Size Is Essential

Size is the first and most important thing to keep in mind when you shop for decorative pillows for your sofa. The dimensions of your couch are key. Throw pillows should complement your couch, not overtake it. Pillows that are too big can overwhelm your room’s decor. But if they’re too small, they’ll look out of place.

For a regular-sized sofa, start with a 20-inch square throw pillow. But if your living room has a modern couch with a low back, use 18-inch or 16-inch pillows as your starting point, since these will complement the couch.

Variety plays a major role in styling couch pillows, so consider adding a few 22 and 24-inch pillows, too. Later, you’ll arrange them by size, starting from the largest in the far corners and working to the smallest on the inside.

Learn more about the right pillow dimensions for you in our How to Choose the Right Pillow guide.

How Many Pillows Do You Need?

When grouping pillows on a couch, interior designers agree that an odd number usually looks best. With loveseats, three is the magic number. But if you own a standard 6-foot sofa, count on buying five to seven pillows.

The one exception to the even-numbered rule is in more modern, contemporary-style living rooms. An even number of pillows creates the symmetry that works best here. In this case, you can get away with two larger pillows — one at each corner of the sofa. That way, you adhere to the modern vibe of your space.

How to Choose the Right Colors?

Your living room’s color scheme will guide your throw-pillow palette. Choose an anchor color, and look for pillows in that exact shade. If your goal is an eclectic look, opt for bold patterns that use your anchor color. If you’re aiming for a more minimal vibe, look for throw pillows in a solid color.

You can choose up to two more shades that complement your living room decor. Choose between bold prints or solid hues. Finding colors that look good together is not as tricky as you may think. Just consult a color wheel. For high impact, opt for a combination of opposites or contrasting colors. For a harmonious look, choose two shades near each other on the color wheel.

Texture Matters

When styling sofa pillows, texture is essential. It adds depth, interest and vibrancy. So while colors are important, using a variety of textures can be even more so.

Take some time to choose pillow covers in different materials such as faux fur, leather, chunky knit wools, velvet, linen or silk. Think about how all these fabrics feel to the touch — some are smooth, some are fuzzy and others are rough. Ultimately, you’ll want a good mix of three different textures.

To learn more about the best materials for your decorative pillows, check out our Pillowcase & Sham guide.

How to Style Pillows on a Couch

Start with pillows in different prints, shapes and colors that match or complement the style of your existing furniture and room decor. Mix and match your prints and shapes, keeping your room’s dominant color in mind. Finally, pay attention to seasonality, to add variety and keep things fresh.

Follow these simple tips for how to style your couch with throw pillows to achieve a luxurious look.

Mix and Match Prints

With so many throw pillow styles to choose from, working prints into your living room decor is a breeze. The key to selecting complementary patterns is making sure they share a dominant color. If you’ve already chosen your anchor shade and purchased solid pillow covers in it, you can go ahead and choose prints in the same hue. This approach produces a cohesive look, even when the prints are completely different. You can also choose a separate, standout print such as an animal print or a bold floral print. Just make sure to color-coordinate the rest of your pillow prints.

Mix Shapes

Styling different-shaped throw pillows is another way to add visual interest. Standard square and rectangular pillows are a safe bet, but including round, oval or lumbar options will elevate the look. That way, you’re playing with proportion and adding new shapes to your living room decor. This is a great way to break up a monochrome color scheme and develop a more personalized look.

Coordinate by Style

One good way to design pillows on a couch is to match your room’s existing vibe. If your living room is furnished in a distinct interior design style such as Scandi minimalism, industrial, boho chic or vintage, work to complement it. Solid neutral colors and rich fabrics like leather look more modern. Argyle and gingham prints are perfect for vintage interiors. Florals and tropical motifs will bring the outside in, while classic geometric prints like chevron, quatrefoil and scale work with a variety of styles.

But don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If pairing a leather pillow with a pillow in a boho paisley print looks good on your sofa, run with it. After all, style is about personal choice.

Keep the Season in Mind

Nature is the best designer. So if you need some beautiful couch pillow ideas, look outdoors for inspiration. In the fall, mix pillows in warm reds, oranges, yellows and browns. In summer, switch to pillow covers in nautical prints and shades of blue. Spring calls for florals and winter is the time to incorporate heavier fabrics and chunky knits. Just think about the colors, prints and materials that reflect the season, and style your couch with them.

Check out our Fall Decor and Summer Decor guides for some additional seasonal inspiration.

How to Group Throw Pillows

Creating pillow groups is a big part of knowing how to decorate a couch with pillows. Two pillows — a larger and a smaller one — can look great in a corner of a loveseat. If you have three pillows, put two in one corner and the third one opposite. Five is the magic number on a couch, giving you a lot more freedom to play with styling. You can place two pairs on each corner and a lumbar pillow in the middle. A three-by-two distribution can also look lovely.

Experiment

Knowing the rules is important, but breaking them can be inspiring. Each home is different, so have fun with styling throw pillows, and find what looks best to your eye. Mix colors, prints, shapes and materials until you achieve a look you’re happy with.

Just keep in mind that overstuffing your sofa with pillows looks overdone, and leaves no space for lounging. So — leave a little breathing room.

Also, when you’re buying pillows for your couch, consider the fill. Parachute offers down decorative pillow inserts that are fluffy and have more “give.” They’re made from a sustainably sourced blend of European down and feathers, with a cotton shell for a luxurious feel you’ll love.

Need More Couch Pillow Ideas?

Throw pillows are fun to style, and they make your home so much cozier. If you need more tips on using them in your living room, book a complimentary styling appointment with one of Parachute’s expert decorators. You’ll receive personalized advice on everything from buying the right pillow size and shape for your sofa to choosing a boldly-printed throw pillow to accent a chair. After the consultation, your stylist will send you a lookbook with even more tips that will help transform your home into a dreamy sanctuary.