Sofa Throw Pillows. I’ve finally convinced the denizens of my household that sofa pillows are not the spawn of Satan…now what? How many should I use? What size should they be? How does their arrangement impact the room? So. Many. Questions.
Throw pillows are, undeniably, one of the best and most cost-effective ways to pull a room together. Just look at any beautifully staged home, catalog picture, or shelter magazine and picture the room without the pillows...it falls flat, doesn’t it?
I know there is a whole camp of “they are impractical and just end up on the floor” folks, but a sofa without them just looks naked! THIS post covers the 6 reasons why you need throw pillows in your life. Almost ALL sofa’s come with 2 throw pillows – most of the time these are wholly inadequate as they are made of the same fabric as the sofa, contain cheap fill, and are usually a bit undersized. My best advice would be to stuff these with better, fuller fillers and move them to a different piece of furniture (like a chair) where the scale works and they don’t fade into the background quite so much.
Some better sofa lines will allow you to choose different fabric for your sofa pillows and if this is the case, you should absolutely take advantage of it!
Now that we have established that you need sofa pillows, here are some tips on how to make them work and look their best.
Generally in more contemporary or minimalist environments, a sofa can get by with 2 pillows and in more ‘new traditional’ rooms a sofa can use 4 or 5 depending on the length of the sofa. Sectionals with arms at both ends might have 2 at each end and 3 at the corner piece. A sectional with a chaise on one end but no corner should be treated like a sofa since it is, essentially, a sofa with an ottoman attached to one end!
Most often, at least 20” and more likely 22” or 24” is a good size if you are only using 2 pillows on a sofa. It’s a matter of correct scale - the larger or taller the piece, the larger or more plentiful the pillows need to be. A little 14” or 16” pillow hanging out by itself on an 8’ sofa has all the impact of a piece of lint. And a whole passel of too small pillows just ends up looking like clutter. For a 4 or 5 pillow set up, use 20” – 22” for the background pillows (depending on the scale of the sofa) and 18” – 20” for the front pillows, and 12” x 22” (to 24”) for an oblong shape. NOTE: pillow measurements are for the pillow cover corner to corner un-stuffed. For full, luxurious looking pillows, buy fillers that are an inch or two larger than the cover.
ALWAYS buy feather and down pillow fillers. These are available in different feather to down ratios ranging from 50/50 to 90/10. The small feathers have quills and the down is clusters of soft fluff. The higher the down percentage, the softer and pricier the pillow insert. These will look great for a very long time because they can always be re-fluffed. The polyester batting fill or foam used in inexpensive pillows packs down quite quickly with use leaving you with unappealing lumpy pancakes instead of lush welcoming throw pillows.
Usually, you want some repetition of pillow color and pattern. If using only 2 pillows, a matching pair is probably best. If using more, you can match the pairs, or just match the base pillows and mix up the patterns or colors on the front pillows.
Symmetrical arrangements are inherently a bit more formal - two pairs of matching pillows flanking an oblong center pillow, for example. For a more casual feel, aim for balance instead of symmetry. Mix up the colors and patterns - use a pair of solid or textured larger pillows in the back on each end that contrast with the sofa fabric to ground the arrangement, then add two different pillows in front of them. These can be different in pattern, color, or even shape. You can even mix in a pretty throw to balance out color and create an inviting “curl up here” impression.
The graphic below illustrates some common successful sofa pillow arrangements.
Sofa pillows offer a way to introduce pattern or tie in accent colors in an otherwise monochromatic space. I almost always advocate for a neutral or at least solid/textured fabric on the sofa rather than a dramatic patterned fabric that may become tiresome long before it wears out. This makes pillows the place to add a splash of color or pattern that can be easily moved or replaced as styles, seasons, or color schemes shift. Pillows, done well, can be your secret superpower in creating an inviting room. It is no accident that home stagers keep a staggering array of throw pillows on hand! Thay are, by far, the fastest and easiest way to create the welcoming feeling of home in a room.
For more information on selecting throw pillows check out THIS post.
Some favorite options (click on image for more info):
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