Should a sofa ever go without decorative throw pillows? Most designers are liable to say no. While throw pillows sometimes get a rap as extraneous fluffery, they’re far more purposeful than many naysayers give them credit for. In addition to adding pomp and polish to a sofa, decorative throw pillows can prop and bolster, offering legitimate lumbar support when called upon. So what’s best? A single pillow or an armload? To give you an idea of how to best decorate with couch pillows in your own space, we’re spotlighting some of the most common pillow arrangements. From a single stunner to an entire passel, decide which pillow option is right for upgrading your sofa or couch! 

Design by 2to5 Design / Photo by Dustin Halleck

The Single Stunner

Whether you’re a minimalist — or you share a couch with one — a single throw pillow is a viable option. This option tends to work best with an abbreviated sofa such as a settee or loveseat, but it can also work with a larger sofa. (Simply size up.) To prevent any sense of asymmetry, consider placing your solo pillow in the middle of your sofa. A pillow that’s wider than it is tall tends to flatter the center area of a sofa more than a standard square shape. If your sofa is solid in color — or even if it’s not! — consider springing for a patterned decorative throw pillow. Typically, patterned pillows add more gravitas than solid color ones. 

Design by Laura U Design Collective / Photo by Kerry Kirk

The Dynamic Duo

If you’re soothed by symmetry, consider dressing your sofa in a pair of decorative throw pillows. Cap each end of your sofa in matched pillows for a classically balanced look. Those who dare to go a little more off-kilter might consider elapsing two complementary pillows on a single side of the sofa. Opting for this arrangement provides you with the option to integrate additional pattern and color. As an added bonus, they’re only two pillows — even the most staunch pillow opponents would be hard pressed to give you a hassle. 

Design by Stefani Stein / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

The Brilliant Bolster

More of a non-conformist? If square pillows strike you as, well, square, consider outfitting your sofa in a bolster pillow. Traditionally designed to bolster necks and backs, there’s something undeniably appealing about the bolster’s oblong shape. Its contours are perfect for breaking up the linear lines of a boxy sofa — and as a bonus, they can be used to add more support to a sofa with particularly high arms. (Think: chesterfields.) If bolsters pique your interest, but still feel too formal, consider ball pillows. 

Photo courtesy of Waiting on Martha

The Monochrome Armful

When only a royally plush sofa will do, go ahead and pile on a battalion of pillows. We love using this technique to frill out a basic slip-covered sofa. It’s also a sage way to elevate a hand-me-down sofa until you’re in the market for an upgrade. When working with three or more pillows, it’s usually best to stick to a monochromatic color scheme. Collect pillows that adhere to a one or two-note palette and you’ll have more license to experiment with pattern than you might think. 

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Lead photo courtesy of Waiting on Martha


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July 10, 2022

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