From Zero to Pro: How to Decorate with Throw Pillows

Pillows stacked on a chair

Throw pillows can help you change up your style quickly and easily. They add comfort, texture, and most of all, a more inviting look to a room. Although there are no hard and fast rules to arranging decorative pillows on a couch, chair, or bed, getting your look “just right” can be a little tricky.

Let’s demystify the process so you can decorate your home with throw pillows like a pro!

How many throw pillows is enough?

The short answer: it depends.

The number of pillows you add to your bed will differ from those on the couch – even then, the size of each piece of furniture can call for more or less to achieve that picture-perfect look. You do want to avoid going overboard, though (on a couch especially, you know you have way too many pillows when you have to throw them on the ground just to have a place to sit).

We spoke with our design experts, who recommended the following arrangements:

Throw pillows on a bed

For a queen-sized bed, the go-to placement is a mixture of six pillows set up by size in descending order. Start by laying your regular pillows down flat, and then layer on the decorative pillows from back to front, largest to smallest. 

In the back, place two 24”x24” or 26”x26” throw pillows next to each other. Follow that with three 20” pillows in the middle straight across. Finish with a lumbar pillow of your choice, such as a 14”x24” or 16”x32”.

Throw pillows on a bed
Your final layout will look a little something like this

For a king-sized bed, follow the guidelines above but replace the two back pillows with three instead.

Throw pillows on a couch or sectional

A good rule of thumb is to follow the theory of odds: place one pillow on each corner, and a third in the middle. If you have a longer couch, add two to each corner and one in the middle for a total of five pillows.

Illustration of throw pillows on a couch

For sectionals, use groupings of three in each corner.

Illustration of pillows on a sectional

You can always add more, but be sure to start by placing your largest pillows further out and arranging the rest in descending order by size. Generally, the size of the pillows you choose should correspond to the depth of the seating: 20” for a standard depth, 24” for deep sofas, and so on.

Throw pillows on a chair

For chairs, it’s especially important to be careful as this is the easiest piece of furniture to overload. One or two pillows is the way to go, and it’s best not to go larger than 20” x 20”.

No matter where you’re using pillows, a mix of solids and patterns works well. Experiment as much or as little as you want to achieve the look you like best.

Pro Tip

Start by picking an anchor color, which is the color of one item in your room. The pillow colors you choose should help your anchor piece stand out more without distracting from it.

Choosing pillows by material

After you’ve gotten an idea of how you want to place your pillows, you may also want to consider the best type of throw pillow fabric to fit your lifestyle. If you have kids or pets, indoor/outdoor or polyester pillows (especially those with removable covers) are ideal as they’re made for easy cleaning. Outdoor throw pillows are, of course, also great for dressing up your patio furniture. In warmer climates, you can also choose breathable materials like cotton and linen when decorating exclusively indoors.

Ready to start styling your space?