Sofa Pillows: How to Match Them To Your Living Room Setup


A lot goes into creating the perfect living room. There's the heady, technical, and complicated stuff like installing flooring or wiring for lighting fixtures. There's the tedious, detail oriented tasks like painting the walls or putting up wallpaper. Then there's the fun stuff, like picking the perfect pillows for your big, comfy couch

Sofa pillows will typically come towards the end of the decorating process. Since pillows are some of the least expensive accents for your living room, it's easier to select pillows that coordinate well with some of the pricier projects or purchases in your living room. 

Choosing patterns, sizes, colors, and textures of your sofa should be a fun and creative process. It's a little more whimsical and lighthearted than making a permanent design choice, especially since pillows can easily be swapped as often as your heart desires. Keep a few basic design principles in mind, and let your artistic side run wild.

The Color Palette of Your Living Room

Sofa pillows give you the perfect opportunity to impactfully use accent colors. If the rest of your room (including your wall color) is relatively neutral, you can break free of the confines of your comfort zone with your sofa pillows. They're a great way to bring forward other tones that exist in smaller amounts within the room, or to introduce new complementary or contrasting colors that you haven't found other ways to implement in your color palette.

The easiest way to play with colors is to utilize paint swatches. The best part of this project is that it's essentially free, and it's a highly effective way to try before you buy. Go to the hardware store and pick some up. If you're comfortable at your desk, you can use an online color palette generator for the same experiment. Get a swatch of your wall color, a swatch that closely mimics your floor color, one that matches your sofa, and a few that match other elements of design or decor in the room. Lay them out in front of you. This is the color palette of your living room.

Then, begin to experiment with other colors. By laying swatches of different tones and hues of your desired accent colors next to your living room palette, it will be easy to determine which accent shades create harmony. Hold swatches of accent colors up to your walls, curtains, rugs, and sofas during the day and at night to see how they mesh in different types of lighting.

Choosing Your Colors

Once you've tried a wide variety of accent colors with your living room's color scheme, it's time to decide on a few. You want at least two colors, but preferably three colors. Trying to use four or more colors simultaneously can cause things to get out of hand rather quickly. Three will always be the magic number because it's easiest to manage. Try dividing the colors in a 40-40-20 ratio. You can divide up the two main colors between the majority of your sofa pillows, and use the remaining color in one or two pillows. Better still, you can utilize that third color within the pattern of your two main colors. 

If you have a very neutral living room, one color may be enough. Nearly monochromatic rooms benefit from the use of an eye-catching accent color. Without one, the room will look flat, cold, and unwelcoming. If the shade provides a heavy contrast (like bright magenta in a wholly cream room), you might not want to overcomplicate the scheme by adding in more colors with your sofa pillows. You might want to translate other colors to different areas of the room, essentially color blocking the space.

Choosing Your Patterns

If you want to use all solid color pillows, you can. They just won't be as impactful as patterned pillows. You can break up patterned pillows with a few solid pillows using the same 40-40-20 rule, where 20 percent of your pillows would be solid colors. Mixing patterns adds richness and life to the space, so when possible, utilize several different patterns in your final sofa pillow scheme. 

Floral, plaid, buffalo check, gingham, polka dots, stripes, chevron, and geometric patterns are great places to start. There are hundreds of patterns to choose from. You can also utilize textures, like different knits, for a more subdued version of a pattern. 

You also have the option of matching the color of your pillows to your sofa, but choosing a different pattern that incorporates your accent color. The contrast of the pattern will be a little more subtle than the contrast of a completely new dominant color, but it will still provide a noticeable statement and a nice homey touch. 

Coordinating Your Throw Pillows with Curtains, Blankets, and Rugs

Coordinating with what you already have is the easiest option if your room is mostly decorated to your liking. It also takes a lot of guesswork and imagination out of the process, a bonus for people who enjoy beautiful homes but don't necessarily consider themselves to be the creative type. Play off your existing colors and patterns. If they're already working, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. You'll be able to create a cohesive theme without much effort.

If you have a large Persian rug, a floral patterned pillow that incorporates the rug's colors will help you paint a more complete picture. Chevron curtains? Try using a few chevron pillows. The same goes with any accent blankets you'd like to drape over your sofa. You can use the same knit pattern on your blanket and your pillows work the pieces together in order to create your desired ambiance. 

The Right Amount of Pillows

You can't exactly pack ten pillows onto a couch. It's easy to estimate how many pillows would reasonably fit. What may not be easy is deciding how many pillows you should get. The answer lies in the way you intend to arrange them, and the size of your sofa. Larger sofas obviously offer more play space than smaller sofas. The rest is aesthetics and placement.

If you like classic and simple aesthetics, you'll likely want an even number of pillows. Two, four, or six pillows can easily be arranged on a sofa in a balanced way, utilizing the arms of the sofa as start and end points for your pillow lineup. You can arrange your pillows by color and pattern to make your entire sofa symmetrical. 

Odd numbers of pillows are a little more modern. You might want to toss more pillows on one side of the couch than on the other. You can lay them all out in the middle, with the most unique patterned pillow positioned toward the front. Depending on the size of the couch and the size of the pillow, it's unlikely that you'd ever want more than seven.

It's good to look for sofa pillows that are about 20 by 20 inches in size. You'll need fewer if you go for a larger size, and maybe more if you go for a smaller size. If you decide to throw out the rules and mismatch sizes or shapes, have at it. There are a lot of variables at play in that scenario, so you'll have to use your best judgement when making those decisions.

Keep In Mind The True Purpose of Pillows

Sofa pillows are decorative in the way that they add color, texture, and patterns to space. These are not the primary function of a sofa pillow. You want your sofa pillows to be plush and comfortable. How they look is somewhat important, but not nearly as important as the way they feel. 

Scratchy fabric, lumpy filling, and unique decorative shapes may not be as cozy as traditional, soft, overstuffed pillows. Always test your pillows for comfort before you make your final decision.

You Can Always Make Your Own

It's easy to find solid color or basic patterned throw pillows that are beautiful and comfortable. If you're looking for something a little more unique, you might have to make your own pillows. Making your own pillows isn't expensive or difficult. You just need access to a craft store and basic knowledge of a sewing machine. Square pillows are difficult to mess up, even for a complete beginner.

When you make your pillows yourself, you get to decide every single aspect. If you want silk pillows with feather fill and contrasting stitching, it's all down to you. The project will most likely take less than a day to complete. If you can set aside a few hours and you have a specific vision, there's no reason to compromise for pillows you won't love as much as the ones you'd make yourself. Though, it's worth noting that a craft store pillow will often look like a craft store pillow, and won't compare to the elegant accent that high quality pillows can offer to the rest of your furniture. 


Sofa pillows are supposed to be a lighthearted and fun process. It's easy to choose how involved you want to be or how elaborate you want to go. It's just a little bit of matching and playing with colors and patterns, and it can be as simple or as complicated as you choose for it to be. For people who like to keep things simple but tasteful, Whom offers a selection of decorative pillows that will perfectly complement any sofa. 


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