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Tips for Mixing Throw Pillows in the Living Room

Learn this simple formula for mixing throw pillows on your sofa and chairs the stylish way. An easy way to update the look of your living room.

My love of decorating is in full swing as I focus on freshening the look of our home for spring. Like many people, I don’t feel like a room in our house is ever completely done (just ask my husband!). My approach is curating a room over time to allow character to develop, resulting in a true representation of our style.

Sometimes that means having sections of bare walls until I find just the right art or shelves that look sparse for a period of time. I’m not a believer in rushing the process, as I don’t want our home to look like it came from a page in a catalogue.

Oversized Art with Ocean and Clouds and Blue Throw Pillows Below on Bench

One of the quickest and simplest ways I like to add personality to a space is using throw pillows. In our living room, I have down/feather inserts in varying sizes and purchase or sew removable pillow covers to easily change up the look with the seasons. Since some of them are neutral, I usually only end up switching out a couple at a time to freshen up the look. That’s when I tend to play around with trends.

Quite often, I’m asked about mixing throw pillows, including the best sizes to use and how to combine patterns effectively. In many cases, it comes down to personal preference, but there are a few basic guidelines I like to follow.

How to Select Throw Pillows

Generally, I like to combine:

  • 1 or 2 large-scaled patterns
  • 2 or 3 small-scaled patterns
  • 1 or 2 neutral patterned or textured fabrics
  • 1 or 2 solid coloured fabrics

Of course this depends on the fabric choice for the upholstered furniture. Assuming it’s fairly neutral, this formula tends to work well.

Always consider other decorative items in the space, such as an area rug or artwork. Of course, decorative pillows don’t have to match other accessories exactly, but they should relate in some way.

Be sure to consider colours in adjoining rooms too. If green is a dominant colour in your kitchen and can be seen from the living room, you may want to select a green throw pillow (or one that has a touch of green) to create flow from room to room. In our house, blue is a common thread.

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Throw Pillow Options for Our Living Room

While shopping online, I came across several throw pillows that would work well with our living room. Blue and white tend to be staples for me, and I love throwing in a fun colour each season.

Tips for Mixing Throw Pillows in the Living Room - Styling a Sofa with Pillows

Beatrice Bouquet | Blue Check | Medallion | Cordoba Pink | Les Touches Blue | Fringe Appliqué | Sevilla Cornflower | Sosa Gray | Sanela Velvet

Of course, budget-friendly look-alikes can often be found at HomeSense or HomeGoods. I don’t mind splurging a bit on pillows for our living room since it’s not a hard-working space, so those pillows tend to last longer. For our family room, where some tend to squish them or spill stuff on them (you know who you are!), I go for cheaper options.

One more thing to consider is the size and placement of throw pillows.

Formula for an average sized sofa:

  • Place 2 large square pillows on either side of the sofa (about 22”)
  • Place one square (20”) pillow on one side and a smaller square (18”) pillow on the other
  • Add a smaller rectangular pillow to the side with the 18″ pillow

Adjust the sizes and quantity up for a sectional and down for an apartment-sized sofa.

What about chairs?

For larger chairs, I often add a square pillow. If they’re smaller or very tailored, I usually select a smaller rectangle pillow. Finally, if two chairs are the same, I use identical pillows on both.

If you prefer fewer pillows, that’s okay. Sometimes adding a bit of texture is all that is needed when decorating with throw pillows. Don’t overthink it! Throw in an oddball pillow if that’s your personality or stick with neutrals if that’s more your style.

Pillow Groupings on Sofas That Caught My Eye

Looking for throw pillow inspiration? These living rooms have lovely throw pillow combinations. Which are you drawn to? Be sure to pay attention to the mix of patterns, textures, sizes and colours.

Blue and White Living Room by Serena & Lily

Blue and White Living Room Throw Pillows by Serena & Lily

Living Room by Design Manifest | Photo by Courtney Apple Photography

Eclectic Pillows on White Sofa - Design Manifest

Living Room Makeover by Vintage Revivals

Pink Living Room Sofa with Mixed Throw Pillows by Vintage Revivals

Spring Living Room by Zevy Joy

White Slipcovered Sofa with Patterned Throw Pillows by Zevy Joy

Living Room by House of Jade Interiors

Living Room with Grey Sofa and Mixed Throw Pillows by House of Jade Interiors

Shop Throw Pillows

You can also check out the pillows I selected to style a bench near our entryway. Such an easy way to make a space look cozy!

What’s your favourite way to freshen up a space for a new season? Do you change out your throw pillows or add other accessories instead? Any tips for mixing throw pillows or do you wing it?

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Sending you sunny skies!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


    1. Yes, they can take a beating. The pillows in our family room are always squished. Good thing down inserts fluff back up. Go for less expensive covers where they’ll get used and abused!

  1. Great tips! That is some beautiful work. I got some great ideas from this article. Thanks and keep sharing.

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