People tend to really struggle with how to pair pillows as well as how many to use on certain pieces of furniture. I’m here to help!
I have a little bit of a formula when it comes to pillow patterns– I like to mix a solid (with or without trim), an organic (florak, ikat, etc.) and a small scale or geometric. Like below, on the sofa are a solid and small scale/texture and on the chairs are a floral. The scales are all different, which is important, especially given that the chairs have a pattern on them too. The tiny stripe on the sofa would have been way too busy on the chairs and too similar on pattern style. So the floral breaks up all the linear pattern and the sofa has a nice mix of saturated color and smaller scale movement.
As far as size goes, I like my pillows to be a little on the larger side and ONLY use down filler. Here’s two examples of sizes and pattern pairings that work well!
Pillow Pairing 1: Purple Stripe // Floral // Small Scale
Pillow Pairing 2: Greek Key // Pattern // Geometric
COMBOS TO AVOID:
- All geometric patterns together
- All the same scale pattern
- All the same material (I like to mix velvet, linen, wovens, fur, etc. to create texture)
- Get rid of the pillows that come with your sofa. Always.
When it comes to how many and what size to use on various sofas, here is a cheat sheet.
And since men tend to feel like this about most throw pillows (or having too many) I noted where you can option out with the third pillow :) Too many pillows looks ridiculous and creates issue when you try to actually sit, too few looks sad and anemic.
Another example of a great pairing of patterns and sizes
On daybeds I go a little nuts because I want daybeds to function as seating and sleeping space. So typically we make round bolsters for the ends and then put three Euro shams pillows along the back and a pair of king shams in the front. On top of that you can add one or two accent pillows too.
For regular beds, I am a BIG fan of one long, large lumbar pillow. I do this in almost every king or queen bedroom I design. I make these custom, so the sizes aren’t something you can just pick up most places. But you can message the many Etsy vendors who make custom throw pillows to ask them to custom size one for you. For king beds, we do an 18″ x 40″ pillow, for queens slightly smaller 16″ x 36″. For full and twin beds you can use a square accent pillow or regular size lumbar!
I hope this little cheat sheet helped! If you have any other pillow questions, ask in comments!
Photography of our work above by Michael J. Lee, Michael Partenio and Sarah Winchester.