How to Decorate a Sofa with Pillows

Adding throw pillows to your sofa is an easy and inexpensive way to breathe new life to your living room or bedroom. It can, however, be overwhelming with all the choices out there. Here are a few tips to consider to help you find your way and have fun creating a new look with the simple addition of pillows.


Picking Out Your Pillows

  1. Choose pillows with complimentary colors for a bold and vibrant look. Pick two colors, opposite of one another on the color wheel, that are already present in your room and stick to them when choosing pillows. Remember that you can choose different shades of your complimentary colors. [1]
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    • Orange and blue is the most common complimentary color pairing.
    • Red and green are opposites on the color wheel.
    • Yellow and purple is the boldest combination of complimentary colors.
  2. Choose neutral, earthy tones in your pillows to tone a room down. Neutrals have a calming effect and leave an impression of sophistication. They can accentuate an already neutral room or bring balance to a brightly colored sofa or room. Choose either warm neutrals or cool neutrals, rather than combining the two.[2]
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    • Warm neutrals are in the brown family with undertones of red, orange, and yellow.
    • Cool neutrals are in the grey family with undertones of blue and green.
  3. Select pillows in shades of one color for a playful but modern look. Look around the room for a color that you’d like to draw attention to and buy pillows in varying shades of that color. Take a picture or sample of the color with you when you go shopping.[3]
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    • Your favorite painting features a large tree. Choose pillows in shades of green to draw your guests’ eyes to that same painting.
    • The rug under the coffee table has a deep color of plum that you’ve always wanted to bring out. Choose pillows in shades of that same plum to give your rug its due.
  4. Pick pillows in all solid colors if you want to draw attention to your sofa. Choose bold complimentary colors to enhance the center piece effect. Solid colors are also a good choice if there is already a lot of patterns and prints in the room.
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  5. Combine large prints, small prints, and solids to create a sense of depth. Generally speaking, the larger prints should be on the outside of the sofa, with the smaller prints and solids closer to the middle.
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    • Large prints have bolder designs and less repetition.
    • Small prints have small to tiny designs and have more repetition.
  6. Choose one special pillow as a focal point. Find a pillow with an ornate design you like, or a word, letter, or image and place this pillow in the middle of the sofa, with several complimentary pillows on each side, for a personalized look.
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 6.jpg
  7. Choose pillows in a variety of shapes and fabric types to create an eclectic look. Consider shapes other than square and fabrics with a tactile appeal. These variations will add texture to your arrangement. Have fun and mix it up.[4]
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    • Velvet is classic and regal in bold primary colors, and can soften a look in pastels.
    • Cottons and linens are crisp and modern.
    • Faux fur gives the room a cozy den-like feel.
    • Oblong, rectangular, and circular pillows can add whimsy to your look.
  8. Look for pillows with partial feather or down inserts. The look of your pillows is not their only contribution. Ideally, they are supportive and comfortable as well. Avoid all-foam inserts as they provide very little support.[5]
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 8.jpg

Arranging Your New Pillows

  1. Scale pillows to your furniture. If you have a large, overstuffed couch, choose large pillows. If you have a small, antique couch, choose smaller pillows.
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 9.jpg
  2. Determine the number of pillows you want. Four to six pillows on a sofa is typical. Don’t overdo it. Remember, you want your couch to remain usable for you and your guests.[6]
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 10.jpg
    • Use an even number of pillows for a traditional look, one, two or three on each side.
    • If you are after a more eclectic look, choose an odd number of pillows and have different amounts on each side of the couch.
  3. Place the largest pillows on the outside of the sofa. Arrange the rest of the pillows in descending order of size. If you want to highlight one pillow, place it in the middle of the sofa and bracket with two complimentary pillows on each side.
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 11.jpg
  4. Keep the pillows in a symmetrical arrangement for a traditional look. Typically, pillows are bought in pairs. Each pillow in the pair occupies the same placement on the sofa as its mate, but on the opposite side.[7]
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 12.jpg
  5. Choose asymmetrical placement for a fun, bohemian look. Throw tradition out the window and place pillows however they please your eye. Play around with a different number of pillows on each side of the sofa. Place pairs in differing spots or don’t use pairs at all!
    Decorate a Sofa with Pillows Step 13.jpg



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