The Designer-Approved Way to Arrange Pillows on a Bed

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on December 20, 2021

Of all the design elements in a bedroom, pillows arguably leave the most room for creativity. These comfy toppers are not only essential for high-quality sleep, they instantly add texture, pattern, and personality to any bedroom.

But of course, arranging pillows in an aesthetically-pleasing way is more complicated than what meets the eye. Not only are there roughly seven different pillow arrangements to choose from (more on that below), each look aligns with a different design style. For example, a layered and symmetrical combo of shams and lumbars says “luxury suite,” while ditching elaborate pillow cases for effortless linens can read more “warm minimalism.”

To clear the air once and for all, lead designer Heather Goerzen answers the age-old question: what’s the best way to arrange pillows on a bed?

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Luxe Layers

how to arrange pillows on a bed

If you’re looking for a grand look fit for a main bedroom suite, you can’t go wrong with this layered, symmetrical pillow combination. While it requires roughly nine pillows give or take, it’s timeless and allows for a lot of different color and pattern combinations.

How to get the look:

  • Stack four standard-sized sleeping pillows on top of one another
  • Layer two queen or king-sized shams to cover the width of the bed
  • Add two large 20-inch square pillows in front  
  • Finish with one long lumbar pillow in front 

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Relaxed Refinement

how to arrange pillows on a bed

There’s something so relaxed and refined about a double or triple sham situation. It’s clean and easy, but still visually appealing. You can play with solids or patterns, but we like something with a little bit of texture — bonus points for tassels or subtle fringe. 

How to get the look:

  • Stack four standard-sized sleeping pillows on top of one another
  • Layer two queen-sized or three king-sized Euro shams in front

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Effortless Minimalism

bedroom design | minimalist bedroom

If you’re looking for no-fuss, pared back elegance, skip the shams and lean into well-crafted linens for your pillowcases. This look is minimal and even a bit utilitarian, giving off an effortlessly beautiful Wabi-Sabi feel. 

How to get the look:

  • Rest four standard-sized sleeping pillows vertically against your headboard
  • Layer two smaller lumbar pillows in front

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Hotel-Inspired

Rachel Zoe bedroom

This look is inspired by the beautifully polished bedding at your favorite boutique hotel. These “bedscapes” almost always feature white Euro shams layered with a more playful pattern or luxe velvet pillow. The look is crisp, luxurious, and undeniably classic — especially when you give each pillow a clean chop. 

How to get the look:

  • Rest two king-sized sleeping pillows vertically against the headboard
  • Layer three crisp white Euro shams in front 
  • Add two large 20-inch square pillows spaced evenly in front

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Pattern Play

how to arrange pillows on a bed

If you love a more layered vibe that embraces color and pattern, this look is for you. It’s a traditional layered look, but with a hint of warmth, character, and whimsy. Work within a cohesive color palette, but feel free to mix and match textures, prints, and colors.

How to get the look:

  • Rest two standard-sized sleeping pillows vertically against the headboard
  • Layer two queen-sized or king-sized Euro shams to cover the width of the bed
  • Add another layer of two queen-sized or king-sized shams in a contrasting pattern
  • Bring in two or three 18-inch square pillows in front, in yet another hue and texture

How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed: Asymmetric Elegance

how to arrange pillows on a bed

For those who truly embrace eclectic and carefree design, forget symmetry altogether and mix an assortment of pillows in varying sizes, colors, and prints. Just make sure that there’s some sort of cohesive palette or style to bring the look to life. 

How to get the look:

  • Stack two or four standard-sized bed pillows on top of one another
  • Mix and match four to five different pillows in a variety of sizes with complementary colors and patterns. Try mixing one 26-inch square pillow with two 22 to 24-inch squares, one 20-inch square, and a lumbar in front 

Need an expert eye when decorating your bedroom? Take our Style Quiz and get paired up with your dream interior designer.

Words by Kelsey Clark