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Tips for Picking the Right Throw Pillows

Puja Lalwani Mar 14, 2020
It's easy and all a matter of trial and error. Here's how to pick throw pillows for your couch, bed, or that lovely single chair you love having your early morning cup of coffee on.

Decorating with Throw Pillows

There's a reason they're called throw pillows. Just throw a bunch together and see how they look. And if you don't like what you see, keep experimenting till you get it right.
While selecting a good throw pillow is not rocket science, there is loads to consider. Why? A throw pillow is not just for the pretties. It can provide you much-needed back support, but at the same time, one too many can easily throw comfort out the window.
But yes, it is a decorative accent that can, believe it or not, make or break the look of your room, couch, or bed.The good news is that this can be rectified easily simply by adding another cover atop the existing one or just changing the way these pillows are placed.
So let's dive into the know-hows to buying the right throw pillow, with tips that tell you how many are right, what size they should be, and how to practically use them for decorating.

The Technical Aspect

Number of Throw Pillows

You already know how uncomfortable too many throw pillows can make you. Depending on the number of people your couch can seat, there should be at least one for each person.
A couple more in smaller sizes won't hurt, but they should not eat into seating space. If you have to move the pillows to get comfortable, you know there are way too many on the couch. The same goes for your bed.


A well-stuffed cushion can provide the epitome of comfort, and a bad one can cause you to develop a backache. The best choice would be cushions with down or feather. Other fillings usually flatten over time and no amount of fluffing up can save them.
If you are looking for an alternative to down or feathers, polyester fill or poly fill is a great option. Such pillows are also machine washable and do not lose their shape or softness easily.


Shapes can be traditional, they can be quirky, and then, they can be functional. A square throw pillow is most comfortable as it provides complete support to the back. A longish, rectangular pillow or a bolster, or even a triangular pillow can provide support to the lower back.
A bolster is also great as an armrest, particularly on day beds. Round pillows and other quirky shapes are more decorative than functional, though they can provide some amount of support to the back.
Choose shapes based on your requirement as well as the shape of the sofa/chair you are going to put the pillows on. While it is not mandatory, a round cushion on a roundish sofa does look nice.


The average size of a throw pillow varies between 16"-18". You could also go for 22"-24" cushions for the full back support that they provide.
Ensure that the pillows are to scale with the furniture you are buying them for, be it a couch, a bed or a single chair. Not only do over-sized pillows look bad, they will ensure that you never sit comfortably on that piece of furniture.

Covers and Fabrics

There are throw pillows with sewn covers, and there are those which can be adorned with covers of your choice. The former are more expensive, but sometimes adding the cost of covers to a regular pillow can add up to the same amount.
The only difference is that you can experiment more with different types of covers in the removable ones. You can also use different covers on cushions with sewn covers, but would you like to pay the price for its design and then spend more on covering it up?
Next, the fabric should be in sync with the material of the couch. Not that it should match, but imagine a silk cover on a silk sofa, and all you're trying to do is stop yourself from sliding down it.
Go for textures that will go against the sofa fabric so that they stay where they are and keep you comfortable at the same time. For instance, you could go for textured linen on a leather sofa.
When choosing the fabric, consider the usage of the pillows. Luxurious materials like silk and velvet can get easily damaged with daily use, more so if you have kids. The most sturdy material is cotton or polyester. And the designs and patterns available with these are endless.

The Decorative Aspect

Decorating with throw pillows is LOTS of fun. There are so many ways you can experiment, and there's so much you can do. From plain, neutral throw pillows to those with big, bold, and vibrant patterns, the options are endless. And guess what? There's absolutely no formula to decorating with these.

You can keep throw pillows as organized as this ...

The mother of symmetry! A bolster, followed by a throw pillow in striped fabric, then by one in a floral fabric, and then by one in a more dainty pattern. Then this entire set is mirrored!

Or as random as this ...

For those who are scared of venturing into this world of decorating with throw pillows on their own, here's some inspiration.
Do you see what's happening here? This endless couch has throw pillows in different shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. The best of all worlds, isn't it?
Pick a throw pillow cover with a print that matches a certain part of your room (like the print on the pillow cover somewhat matches the wall behind it).
For an eclectic touch, opt for covers with mirror work on them. They're subtly bling and definitely fit in anywhere easily.
Pick an accent color from the rest of your decor and showcase hues and tones of the same color in your throw pillows. The fabrics, patterns, designs can all be a harmonious mismatch.
Every throw pillow is not about adding color to a room. Sometimes, it can be perfectly in keeping with the color scheme in that room, such as the black and white throw pillows in a black and white room.
Throw pillows can easily up the quirk quotient in your room, like this Union Jack pillow on a black Chesterfield couch.
Because lots and lots of throw pillows are not always needed on a sofa. Two of the colors that belong to the couch is just fine. And for moments when it gets too dull, that printed pillow placed strategically on the floor can find its spot on the sofa.
And because a mix and match of patterns are not needed everywhere, this outdoor seating chooses to have only solid-colored throw pillows, which look simply charming.
Throw pillows are not meant only for big pieces of furniture. This chair immediately becomes more aesthetically versatile because of the solid and printed cushions placed on it.
It would seem a little difficult, putting so many patterns together, but look how charmingly they work. Different patterns on different scales, such as the bold floral with the tiny polka dots work together perfectly and bring a plain black boring couch to life!