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How to Mix and Match Throw Pillows

The “magic formula” for mixing and matching throw pillows like an interior decorator + the best resources for buying them.

It’s been way too long since I shared a post for the Simplified Decorating series!

If you’re new around these parts, every so often, I like to dive into one little decorating topic to break down the “rules” and make the process as easy as possible.

I’m by no means a school-trained interior designer. I’m just a nerd who researches stuff and learns things from the real “pros” and the good ol’ school of hard knocks.

Last week, when I put up a poll on my Instagram Stories, so many of you asked to see a post about how to mix and match throw pillows. So ta da! Here we are.

throw pillows on a bed

Since I decorated our master bedroom for fall (that really could transition on into winter), now seemed like the perfect time to mention my 1 main “Magic Throw Pillow Mixing and Matching Formula”.

Can you tell what it is?

throw pillows on a bed with black walls and linen headboard

(Some affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)

The Magic Throw Pillow Mixing and Matching Formula:

1 complex pattern/print + 1 geometric print + 1 solid/textured fabric

It definitely isn’t a rule, but it’s a good place to start of if you ever feel stuck and have to ask yourself, “Do these pillows work together?”

And/or

1 main color + 1 accent color + 1 neutral

On our bed, I used:

  1. A complex antique jade print
  2. 1 geometric stitched olive lumbar pillow
  3. 1 faux leather pillow

coastal style living room sofa with throw pillows

What sizes?

  • For sofas: I prefer 20″-24″ throw pillows at the ends of a sofa with a smaller 18″-22″ pillow next to it. If your sofa is deep enough, add a small lumbar pillow in front.
  • For beds: I like using euro pillows 24″-26″ euro pillows on beds accented by 22″-24″ pillows on either side and a long lumbar in front.

cozy fall throw pillows on a sofa

On our sofa, I used:

My Preferences for Throw Pillows:

  1. Aim to buy pillow covers only so you don’t have to put entire pillows in storage.
  2. Get down or down alternative inserts (these are my favorites) that are 2″ larger than the pillow cover. Pillows look more full and feel more luxury that way, even if you’re just using a $5 pillow cover.
  3. If you have to buy entire pillows, get ones that have a zipper so you have the option to change the insert later.
  4. Buy ones that aren’t very seasonal-specific. Ex: Instead of buying a Santa pillow, I prefer to buy a cable knit pillow so it will last throughout the winter (and even the previous months for fall).

(Although, sometimes I completely throw all of those preferences out the window if I find a pillow I really really love. In a perfect world though…)

My Absolute Favorite Throw Pillow Sources:

Does that help at all? Maybe? All rules are meant to be broken in decorating, but they’re good if you ever find yourself with “decorators’ block”.

Got any other favorite throw pillow sources you’d add to the list? Or decorating rules you live by?

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How to Mix and Match Throw Pillows | The "magic formula" for mixing and matching throw pillows like an interior decorator + the best resources for buying them.

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for putting this together. And thanks for the source list! I’d never heard of Boutique Rugs. I found so many pretty pillows there and found one that’s perfect for my living room 🙂

  2. Two years ago I bought an 8 foot long sofa. It came with 5 pillows. There were four 20″ pillows in geometric prints and a 27″ long lumbar pillow. I bought the sofa in beige but it also came in gray and the pillows all had greige backgrounds so they would work with either color. I felt the greige background on the 3 geometric prints just didn’t work with the rest of my room. I bought curtain panels in the print chair fabric so I could make pillow covers for the lumbar pillow and two of the toss pillows The other two pillows were in a coordinating solid. I liked the look but when I started hosting a group in my home, I quickly discovered that 5 pillows were not a good fit when people actually sat on the sofa! During our summer break, I bought tone on tone surface embroidered pillow covers. I added more texture by making tassels for the corners of the oversize lumbar pillow. The other two inserts have been stored for future use. I have tone-on-tone embroidered pillows on my bed too. My bed has white hand-quilted Euro pillows, white diamond-pattered quilted pillow shams and the two surface-embroidered blue pillows. The surface embroidery adds more texture and the color ties into the drapes and the assortment of quilts I use at the foot of the bed. That’s a lot of pillows but they stack nicely so I can put them on the bench at the end of my bed every night and put them back in the morning. I love making my bed first thing every morning but the process has to be quick!

  3. My problem is I put the pillows on the couch all nice and neat and then people sit on the couch and the dogs lie on the pillows (instead of their perfectly comfortable dog beds) and then I’m constantly straightening them. I have a large sofa with a chaise at one end so I have two pillows at each end. Is this correct (a total of four – two at each end)? Sometimes I feel like I have too many pillows. On my love seat I usually have one lumbar pillow but I still feel like pillows get in the way of people sitting. So where do you put the pillows when you have guests???

  4. We’ve just gotten a store here in the Philadelphia area called At Home which has great seasonal and year round pillows, if you don’t mind storing pillows. I do and when we were there this weekend, my husband kept telling me to buy Christmas pillows. I told him no, I had plenty of pillow forms and fabric, I would just stitch some up when I got my sewing machine back from the spa! But they do have some wonderful pillows if you don’t mind storing them! 🙂

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