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Are you having a hard time deciding what throw pillows to pick and how to mix and match them?
Don’t worry, we’ve ALL been there!
In theory picking throw pillows seems easy, until you buy one at the store, bring it home and find that it doesn’t match anything that you have … and it just sticks out like a sore thumb! 😩
Today we’re here to talk about all things related to mixing and matching throw pillows, so that you end up with a perfectly cohesive look that is a reflection of your personality!
How to Mix Throw Pillows Like a Designer
Styling with pillows is one of the most creative and easiest ways to infuse color and personality in a room! Throw pillows are like the jewelry to your couch backdrop (or bed!) and can help complete the overall look and appearance of your palette.
And since there’s a wide array of affordable throw pillows in the market, you have the option to be as creative and as imaginative as you want. Once you get the hang of coordinating throw pillows, you’ll be swapping them out like there’s no tomorrow! 😄
Throw pillows have the potential to make or break your space. Well, not really, that’s kind of dramatic, haha.
The worst that can happen is that your throw pillows look disjointed or clash with the rest of your decor. But because pillows are not a permanent change and are such an easy thing to fix, it’s no big deal if you mess them up! After all, making mistakes is how you learn. 👍
The great news is that a beautiful mix of throw pillows can truly enhance the vibe of your space, and the successful combination of throw pillows will always make a room feel much more cozy.
Pick Three Colors
When you start thinking about a palette for your throw pillows, you will want to look at the existing color story in your space. The colors you’re already using in your room are going to guide what colors to use in your pillow scheme.
Pick three colors from your existing wall finishes, rugs, curtains, bedding fabrics, or any other decorative accents in your room.
For instance, if you have a burnt orange color in your artwork, try adding that tone on one of the throw pillows to create a well-balanced look.
These can be any colors you like but if you’re just getting started with pillow pairing, it’s always a good idea totry and choose three colors that complement each other.
Here are a few examples of playful color combinations to get your creative juices flowing! See if you can come up with a few combos of your own, and don’t forget to look at inspiration images and see what color palettes are being used in your favorite pics.
Play With Patterns
Next, we want to try and create a sense of harmony, balance, and hierarchy in your room. A great way to achieve this is by picking different patterns for your different throw pillows.
You can mix and match three different patterns – polka dots, abstracts, geometrics, floral, or check. Also, try to note the key features of your interior design style to infuse a pattern that speaks to that design. For instance, for the modern farmhouse style, you might want to add a couple of buffalo checks. If you’re a boho style kinda gal (or guy!) then perhaps a kilim pattern or a vintage turkish inspired pattern is the right for you!
It can be overwhelming when choosing throw pillows, so it helps to try and break patterns down into 3 groups:
Solid throw pillows are self explanatory, and while they’re not really a pattern per se, solids are such an incredibly important part of your pillow combinations. Often the solids will be the pillows that have a lot of interesting texture on them.
Geometric patterns have motifs like stripes, checks and polka dots. Basically they are mostly linear shapes.
Organic patterns have botanical prints, abstract motifs and anything that falls under the floral category.
When you’re looking at pairing patterns, try to vary the scale of your patterns as well. For instance, if you have a large scale floral pattern, mix it with a medium size geometric pattern and another pillow with a small scale geometric pattern.
Ideally you want to avoid your patterns fighting for attention – they should all work together. This part might take some practice, so don’t be afraid to play around in the store when you go shopping! I love doing this when I go to Homesense 🤩
Mix and Match Pillow Scale and Shapes
Pairing throw pillows together is not only about color and pattern but also the actual scale and shapes of the pillows themselves.
When you plan to mix and match the throw pillows in your living room or the bedroom, ensure that you play with the sizes. Just like when you mix patterns, where you’re paying attention to mixing different scales of patterns, it’s the same with the actual size of the pillows themselves. You’ll want to try and vary them a little.
If you pick the same size for all three pillows, you lose out on an opportunity to bring some movement into your decor. And again, you’ll risk things falling flat.
If you do want to pair two pillows of the same size, try to make sure each one has a different pattern in order to keep things interesting.
You can also layer different sizes. For example, you could have a large dominant pillow, say a 22″ or 24″, followed by a slightly smaller pillow in front, like a 20″. And then if you wanted you could even add a slightly smaller lumbar pillow to complement the first two square pillows.
Most throw pillows are square and they look good everywhere. You’ve also got rectangular pillows, often called lumbar pillows. Then there are round pillows, bolster pillows and even spherical pillows, which are a fun new trend.
Standard square throw pillow sizes:
26″ (66 cm)
24″ (60 cm)
22″ (55 cm)
20″ (50 cm)
18″ (45 cm)
Common rectangle (lumbar) pillow sizes:
14″ x 20″ (35 x 50 cm)
12″ x 24″ (30 x 60 cm)
12″ x 36″ (30 x 91 cm)
You don’t have to use the same shape for all your pillows; what you want is a blend of shapes! You’re probably noticing a theme here … variation is key with throw pillows!
DESIGNER TIP: Make sure your pillow insert is always 2″ larger than the throw pillow cover you’re putting it in. This ensures a nice snug, plump look! For example: if you have a 22″ pillow, buy a 20″ pillow case for it.
Just imagine a row of 5 identical pillows! Wouldn’t that be kind of boring?
Pillows come in many sizes and shapes, so try playing around by pairing different shapes (however, there CAN be too much of a good thing – going too overboard and adding all differently-shaped pillows might create a messy and chaotic look, so be sure to edit!).
Generally square and rectangle are the best shapes to pair together. If you vary the size as well, you’ll get a great, dynamic pillow combination.
Round pillows are great to use if you have a lot of linear shapes and you want to soften things up a little. Personally, I find circular pillows a little too quirky for my taste and I tend to stay away from them, but definitely introduce circle pillows if you want to!
Don’t Forget Texture
If you choose the same fabric for all three pillows, things will fall flat pretty quick. In order to add depth to your pillow arrangement, you need to select different textures.
Texture is paramount especially if you’re decorating in a monochromatic color scheme, or a primarily neutral-based color scheme.
Here are some interesting materials that will lend some great textures to your throw pillow combos. Look out for these when you’re shopping:
Throw pillows with pom poms and tassels are also elements that add texture and are definitely perfect to incorporate if you lean towards boho style decor! Don’t feel shy experimenting with various textures, materials, and fabrics – the more creative you are, the better!
How many throw pillows to use?
There are soooo many pillow combinations you can use. But I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you’re probably a beginner, so I’d would recommend you start with the guidelines below:
Number of throw pillows to use on a sofa:
Loveseat: 3 pillows (or 4)
Standard 80″ to 92″ sofa: 5 pillows (or 6)
Large 100″+ sofas or large sectionals: 7 or 9 pillows
Another fun way to figure out how many pillows you need is the following: think about how big your sofa is in feet. Let’s say it’s 8′. Then subtract 1 from that number. It leaves you with 7, so you’d use 7 pillows for an 8′ couch.
Some of us will prefer more pillows, some of us prefer to use fewer pillows. Again, this is just a guideline!
Number of throw pillows to use on your bed:
When it comes to bedroom pillow formulas, there are tons of combinations; the sky is truly the limit! But if you’re just starting out, it helps to have a basic combo to start off with. Once you build up your throw pillow “inventory”, you can start experimenting! 🙂
It may be my European roots, but I tend to prefer fewer pillows on my bed rather than too many. So feel free to add more if you feel my formulas are too minimalistic!
Twin bed: 2x standard size sleeping pillows, one smaller lumbar layered in front
Queen bed: 4x 20″ x 30″ queen size sleeping pillows, 2x 20 x 20 pillows layered in front
King bed: 4x 20″ x 36″ king size pillows, one extra long lumbar layered in front
Example Throw Pillow Formulas
As a starting off point on your journey mixing and matching throw pillows like a pro designer, here are some combinations you could try:
Floral + Geometric + Solid Lumbar
Geometric + Solid + Geometric Lumbar
Textured Geometric + Solid + Geometric Lumbar
Small Geo Pattern + Large Geo Pattern + Solid Lumbar
Textured Geometric + Solid + Solid Lumbar
Below I made a graphic that you can save, share or pin for later 🙂
Where To Shop For Beautiful Throw Pillows
There are so many places you can find gorgeous throw pillows, but some of my favorite places to shop are the following:
I also adore Amber Interiors pillow collection (her store is called Shoppe), but they’re too pricey for me 😵😭
Some Random Pillow Tips and Tricks
Now that we have discussed the major points of pillow mixing, it’s time for a few final thoughts and to bust a couple of myths.
- You CAN have matching throw pillows
When designers say to avoid being too ‘matchy-matchy’, it doesn’t mean that NOTHING should match.
Some of your foundational throw pillows can absolutely be matching, in fact it might be exactly the look you are going for. So yes, you can of course repeat pillows and still create a cohesive and interesting design palette.
- You don’t have to ONLY group pillows in odd numbers
The general advice is to always stick with odd numbers when grouping throw pillows, but I disagree. If your space is more on the traditional side, or you’re going for a classical look, then use even numbers for your throw pillows. Try using an odd number of pillows for a more contemporary look.
- Pillow Fill Matters
When purchasing throw pillows, it’s important to consider what they’re filled with.
Choose a feather fill for a softer appearance. A synthetic fill can give a stiffer appearance (and maybe slightly more flat as well). Synthetic filled throw pillows don’t add a luxurious look and are generally more affordable. On the other hand, down tends to cost more.
I prefer to buy my pillow inserts from IKEA; I have been buying their feather filled pillows (and duvets) for well over a decade and they have never failed me quality-wise.
- Ditch the throw pillows that came with your sofa
If your sofa came with a set of “free” throw pillows, most likely the pillows are made out of the same fabric as your sofa, which is probably some kind of durable or performance fabric. Usually, they’re also filled with synthetic stuffing. So they might look a little flat and pancake-y if you’ve had them for awhile.
If I’m wrong, then feel free to ignore me right now! But if you’re nodding your head right now then you need to donate those and replace them. They are seriously cramping your style!
Practice makes Perfect!
The way you mix and match your throw pillows can express a lot about your room and even about you!
Color, size, shape, texture, materials, fillers, and positioning are the major elements to consider.
In a nutshell, you want to always be checking that you’re keeping things varied but still in harmony with each other. This is a sound principle to follow for most things when you’re decorating!
I know, it’s easier said than done 🙂
But I promise if you practice playing with the elements we talked about today, before you know it you will find yourself looking forward to shopping for throw pillows, rather than dreading it! Don’t be afraid to throw things together when you’re shopping in person in stores, and play around with mood boards and pairing things digitally when you’re at home and shopping online.
What are some of your tried and true pillow combinations? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment 🙂