There is an endless variety of pillow shapes, colors and patterns. How to choose ones that will enhance your décor and make a room feel complete?
Everyone craves a change from time to time, but painting the walls a different color or reupholstering the furniture is not always the solution we can or want to go for. The easiest and affordable way to give your room and instant makeover is to add a set of decorative throw pillows. It’s this type of low-key modification that can give tremendous outcomes, and most importantly, it can be easily reversed if you don’t like the effect or get bored with it again.
A great pillow can truly make a world of difference and give your home a polished look, but how to choose the right one? And how many should we aim for? Both a bad pillow and too much of a good thing can be counterproductive. If the color, pattern or size is not suitable, you will throw off the balance. If you have too few or too many pillows for the size of your couch, the effect will be either too skimpy or visually overwhelming.
When it comes to decorating with throw pillows – as with everything else – it’s never worth to act on impulse. Even the most beautiful pattern may look cheap if it doesn’t go with the rest of your décor or when the filling is poor quality. So here’s a little bit of all that pillow stuff you need to know to make the right choices, or perhaps get inspired to make your own personalized set of decorative pillows.
How to choose throw pillows?
Size, shape, colors, patterns, the number of pillows and the overall style you are aiming for are the basic considerations you need to decide on before you go for the hunt. A good tip: if you don’t buy online, take a picture of the room with you so you have a truly realistic judgment of what suits your décor. This may also come in handy in stored that employ decorators who assist customers without charge. So here’s what you should know:
Thesize ofthrow pillows should primarily be determined by the size of your sofa or chair. The average size, which is between **16-18″x16-18″**, will work for a larger sofa – small pillows will simply look out of place on a roomy couch. Oversize pillows (24”) create a comfy, loungey feel, but they should be reserved for really large furniture with ample seating room. If your sofa is modern and compact or you need a pillow for a delicate side chair, go for smaller ones. Otherwise, you will have to move them or take them off every time you want to sit comfortably.
The typical fillings for pillows are feather, foam, or a synthetic mix. They maintain the shape of the pillow quite well and are cheaper than goose down, which is much softer and better quality, but tends to be quite pricey. Think how you’re going to use the pillows. Are they going to be leaned on a lot or are you going to use them as bed decoration only? If the former is the case, don’t try to save up – it won’t pay in the long run.
You may think it’s no big deal but if you buy really cheap fillers stuffed with loose foam or the most inexpensive polyester, chances are the stuffing will break down after several weeks of frequent use. And there’s nothing worse than a lumpy, flattened out, shapeless pillow looking like a piece of old rag. When buying pillows in a local store, always examine them for quality. Fluff them several times to make sure they don’t lose feathers and resume their original shapes easily.
Number of pillows
Most people will tell you thatthe rule of thumb is to always go for an odd number of pillows, but it is not necessarily true. There’s nothing wrong about a symmetrical look, so if you want to have four pillows, don’t give up on the idea. Just choose 2 identical pairs, preferably one solid and one patterned pillow on each side.
A more important consideration is how many will be suitable for the size of your sofa. There is such a thing as too many throw pillows, and if you have to move them to sit comfortably, you’ve probably got an excess. On a very large sofa, five decorative pillows will work, but most couches look best with just three. For a small chair, choose one pillow while a love seat may get two. Of course, this is just a hint. If you crave the comfy feel of multiple soft pillows lining the couch, go with your gut.
There are 4 basic types of pillow shapes to consider – bolsters, squares, rectangles and rounds. How do you best judge what shape will work where? One thing to take into account when deciding the shape of throw pillow is how it will be used. If you need it to support your body while lounging, squares will provide the best full-back comfort. They are the most common and versatile throw pillow shape, ideal for the back of a hard chair or to cozy up a sofa. Rectangles will support the lower back or neck, but if you have a leather sofa, perhaps you should consider bolsters as they don’t slip down and provide better lumbar support.
Also, consider the aesthetics of you furniture. Severe sofas with sharp lines can be softened up a bit with round pillows, and the other way round, large squares will give a balanced look to a squishy, puffy couch. If you really cannot make up your mind on what size to choose, why not go for a mixture of two or three shapes. A combination of squares, rectangles and a bolster can be a great solution if the room is sparsely decorated and lacks variety.
Patterns and colors
This is the moment that most buyers fear most.How do I know what patterns and colors go well together? Should I consider the color of the sofa or the entire décor scheme? Will polka dots suit a modern room? Wouldn’t an orange pillow be too much of a pop? The questions flow like a river, and the stupendous selection of pillows on offer doesn’t make things easier. So, here are some suggestions that may help:
- If you have two pillows sitting next to each other on an item of furniture, make them different, preferably one solid and the other patterned.
- For a large sofa, choose two solid pillows for the ends that contrast with the color of the sofa and pair each of them with a patterned pillow that pulls in the color of the furniture (or use one patterned pillows in the middle).
- Choose prints that include neutral colors, especially if you like bold patterns. White, cream or beige will make the pillow less “tiring” for the eye.
- Do not be afraid to mix patterns. Just make sure most of them have at least one color in common (beside neutrals).
- When you’re mixing different pillows, vary the scale of the patterns so that each can stand out on its own. If one pillow has a small intricate floral print, make sure the other has a large pattern or none at all.
- If you’re buying pillows for both sofa and armchairs, consider them as a group. The pillow on a chair doesn’t have to match the pillows on the sofa, but if you care for a harmonious, polished look, try to look for features (palette, patterns, style) that could tie the pillows together.
Your room’s décor theme is another important consideration that comes into play and determines such choices as fabrics, colors, and texture of throw pillows.
Velvet, silk, elaborate ornamentation and decorative trims work well in a classic setting. Traditional arrangements love moderate variety so don’t be afraid to layer two different textures or patterns and put your pillows in groups.
Modern design schemes, on the other hand, prefer a limited palette, large geometric prints or no prints at all, and smooth fabrics such as cotton and linen. Pillows in modern environments tend to be larger and spaced apart rather than clustered.
If you prefer an eclectic look, you can have each pillow in a different fabric, but in order to avoid a random, incoherent look, it is wise to give them a common color denominator.
Where to look for throw pillows?
Once you have decided on the size, number, colors and patterns, it’s time to look for the closest equivalents of your dream pillows. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re running from store to store, so obviously it is most convenient to do it online. Online shopping is by far the surest way to find what you need as the selection is tremendous and you can quickly browse through thousands of pillows in every color, shape and fabric. Here’s where you may want to start your search:
- Wayfair: Traditional and whimsical, for everyday use and for holiday décor – a huge assortment of good quality pillows in reasonable prices ranges
- Amazon: A gigantic selection of accent pillows at discount prices
- Pottery Barn: Beautiful and affordable accent pillows for all sorts of styles and occasions; some items with the possibility to order free monogramming
- Pillow Decor: Over 1,000 unique throw pillow styles and super convenient browsing options
- Urban Outfitters: A place to look if you want something unconventional and funky
- Etsy: An invaluable source of all things trendy and unique. Some of the recommended stores are Trendy Pillows, My Pillow Studio, The Blurbird Shop, Elegant Touch and Aurelia
- Pyar&Co: Fabulous designer pillows that call for a bit of a splurge
DIY throw pillows
Haven’t found what you’re looking for or care for something truly unique? Why not make a fully customized set of accent pillow covers all by yourself? Here are some great inspirations and tutorials from around the web:
1. Recycled sweater pillow by Brassy Apple
Turn those baggy, tattered sweaters that you love so much and cannot part with into a set of pillows perfect for winter décor!
2. Sprocket pillows by Cluck Cluck Sew
What’s not to love about these patchworked sprocket pillows! They’re so beautiful and easy to sew up that you won’t be able to stop making them.
3. Petal pillow by Cluck Cluck Sew
If using a sewing machine is not new to you, you’ll make this fabulous felt petal applique in less than an hour.
4. Felt pillow by Persia Lous
A felt strip pillow like this takes a little time and patience, but the intricate lattice look is really worth it.
5. Doily pillow by Crap I’ve Made
Dip dye an old doily that you would never use otherwise and stitch it onto a plain pillow. Easy and very decorative. It is safest to use a matching thread, but if you’re an ace at zig zag stitch, why not go for a contrasting hem.
6. Gold stenciled pillows by Sarah Hearts
Give a touch of golden glam to ordinary pillow covers with some freezer paper and fabric paint.