Recipe For The Perfect Pillow Combination

If you’re bored with your living room and need a quick and affordable fix, ditch the throw pillows that match your sofa and get a new set of unique pillows that add a TON of personality and texture! We’re big believers that design rules were made to be broken, but sometimes, when you’re feeling stuck with a space, rules and formulas can be really helpful.

We get asked a lot about how we like to put pillows together on a sofa and while there are always exceptions, I’ve noticed my go-to arrangement is five pillows per sofa. Three on one side (usually a 24 or 22″ square, then a 22 or 20″ square, and finally a smaller accent lumbar layered in front). And then on the opposite side, I usually use two pillows layered in the square sizes. I leave off the lumbar on one side for some personality and wabi-sabi imbalance. I love symmetry in architecture and furniture arrangements, but I think accessories and pillows should be in odd numbers and feel a little more loose.

gray rug (similar)  //  cream sofa  //  white side table (similar)

caned sideboard  //  large black vase

We just got this super gorgeous and incredibly affordable sofa with DOWN CUSHIONS for the Evergreen living room and we couldn’t wait to style it! :) Here are four different examples of how we do what I call the pillow trifecta!

Recipe for The Juniper Pillow Trifecta:

1. Mostly neutral color and pattern on one of the square pillows (20″, 22″, 24″ square) – This pillow should have little to no pattern and the background should be higher contrast in the black or white family (not gray or mid-tone – you need the contrast!)

2. Patterned pillow that has a lot of movement and this is usually where I use my color. I like vintage kilim pillows or fabric pillows in block prints best! This pattern adds life and color and an artful touch to your grouping. I also like to have at least one of the pillows in my grouping be vintage.

3. Stripes (or similar linear graphic patterns) round out the trifecta and help give some structure and balance. I love ticking stripes and stripes that are usually less than a finger’s width for pillow textiles.

*Bonus points for balancing tones in the grouping and lots of varied textures!

**Double bonus points for the occasion tassel!

MONTAUK print  //  POPPIES print  //  WATER print  //  CATTAIL print

MONTAUK print  //  POPPIES print  //  WATER print  //  CATTAIL print

gray rug (similar)  //  cream sofa  //  white side table (similar)

caned sideboard  //  large black vase


gray rug (similar)  //  cream sofa  //  white side table (similar)

caned sideboard  //  large black vase

1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5  //  6

7  //  8  //  9  //  10  //  11  //  12

1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5  //  6  //  7

8  //  9  //  10  //  11  //  12  //  13  //  14  //  15


1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5  //  6  //  7  //  8  //  9  //  10

11  //  12  //  13  //  14  //  15  //  16  //  17  //  18  //  19  //  20

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13 thoughts on “Recipe For The Perfect Pillow Combination

  1. Love the advice in tactical, recipe form! And the visual examples. How would one apply this formula to a loveseat? There isn’t enough room on our two-cushion loveseat for five pillows, and even with three, I’ve noticed my husband and guests always move the pillows to the floor before they sit down!

    1. It’s common for pillows to move to the floor when sitting on the couch or loveseat. Consider it people making themselves at home. An odd # of pillows is always a good bet!

  2. Love this advice, but I can barely get my husband to keep 2 pillows on the sofa. They’re constantly moved over or on the floor! I just gave up and stuck with two. Oh well!

  3. Great tips! Pillows add so much depth, layers and texture to any room and instantly make it cozier and more inviting. My favorites are vintage pillows with gorgeous playful patterns that bring the cheerful mood to the room every time.

  4. This is going to help me SO much when my sofa arrives. I am dying over your console table in the back.. Where is that from?

  5. This is so helpful! Thanks!!! On the opposite side of the couch, do you use two of the same pillows or pick different ones? You mentioned what sizes but not whether or not you change the fabrics.

  6. Cheapo hack!:

    I have had great luck finding plain, usually cream colored, pillows at quality thrift stores. A quick trip to JoAnn’s (or any sewing store) for tassels! (I don’t sew, but even I managed to get them on ;))

  7. Thank you very much for this post… The information is very timely and helpful. One of my pandemic projects is to update the art on my walls… I was eager to do a bjorksta framed print In my house but the scale is just too big… What are the best alternatives if I don’t want glass in front of the print?

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