Throw Pillows – A Decorative Guide

Everyone and their mother have the normal set of pillows in their bedroom. But let’s talk about throw pillows, and while most people think of them as purely decorative. I can vouch for their practical effectiveness as well, as a side sleeper myself, I find throw pillows to be a nice complement for my side sleeper pillow, I use them as a makeshift knee cushion or mini bolster. I’m also absolutely convinced that this is the best pillow if you’re a side sleeper. Well, at least it is in my case. That said, there is no doubt that for the majority of people, throw pillows are for purely aesthetic purposes, and hence poor selection and color coordination can leave your room looking less like the pages of an interior design magazine and more like something from an abstract art magazine. This is why we have created this simple decorative guide to using throw pillows to spice up the look of your home.

cute-shaped-pillowsThere are 5 important principles that you should generally adhere to in order to avoid being given the social standing killing label of ‘tacky’. They are:

  1. Cohesion – Stick with one color palette per room. When all your pillows are of the same shade or perhaps in a pair complementary shades, this will give the maximum visual impact.
  1. Symmetry – This creates the orderly look, which is aesthetically pleasing; think of how unappealing a cluttered room looks like.
  1. Simple, Busy, Solid – The rule of three when it comes to prints. One simple print, one busy print, and one solid print. The busy print should be for your largest pillows which you should place front and center. This linchpin pillow sets the tone for the room. For your smaller pillows, simple prints such as stripes and plaid would work.
  1. Descending Size – Just like your family photo, you need to arrange your throw pillows by size. Place the largest ones at the ends of your couch; they should get gradually smaller as they approach the middle. Visual appeal aside, this also maximizes convenience; otherwise you would have to keep moving your largest pillows when you sit on the couch!
  1. Modesty – Remember, while throw pillows are generally decorative, they are also meant to add comfort, not reduce it. So avoid over-cluttering your couch with a dozen throw pillows; less can be more in this case.

Now that we’ve got the main principles down, it’s time for fabric selection. This can often be confusing due to the numerous options available, so as a first step, you must first think about what style you or theme you are aiming for in your room.

Bold Solids

Matches well with a room that already has a lot of patterns such as a patterned sofa or rug. In this case the bold solids are a nice complement to the overall look and help take them down a notch. Don’t confuse bold solids with boring, however, it is entirely possible to use bold solids for the opposite effect, to really spice up the look of a room by simply choosing vibrant shades.

Three Patterns, One Color

Much more palatable than two girls and one cup, this combination is perfect for a grouping of throw pillows. Place the boldest patterns in the middle so that the other tamer patters give it a nice visual balance.

Freshen Up Those Simple Colors with Analogous Colors

What in God’s name are analogous colors, you ask? Well, simply put analogous colors are colors that are placed next to each other on the color wheel. These are colors that are as James Franco eloquently stated in The Interview “Same same, but different”. Neighbors, if you will. A good example would be pink and orange.

Another ‘Solid’ Option – Emphasis

A solid colored throw pillow stands out from other patterns, for example, a sapphire blue pillow is a perfect option for this and will naturally draw the eye.

Streamline Stripes

streamline-striped-pillowsWhile stripes do technically qualify as a pattern, their simplicity and streamlined patterns creates a very consistent look for the room. They are also a great option to surround a single bold solid (see above), and works well for the rule of three we mentioned previously as well.


Just like when choosing your bedroom pillow, choosing the right filling for you throw pillow is also important. After all, it is important to have both function as well as form. Besides, how else are you going to enjoy a comfortable afternoon nap on your couch? We recommend a feather or down filling for maximum comfort, or a blend of the two.

Thank you for reading this guide, and we hope you are now better informed of how you can use the simple throw pillow to really add that touch of flair to your abode.