How to Arrange Pillows On a Couch Like an Interior Designer: 12 Ideas

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on November 22, 2023

We know — arranging pillows on a couch looks and sounds simple. But once you start shopping for said throw pillows, you may be singing a different tune — the sheer amount of styles, sizes, and brands to sift through can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Factor in your personal design style (modern or traditional?) and your sofa configuration (sprawling corner sectional or petite loveseat?), and things get even more complicated — and we haven’t even touched on color palette yet.

If you’ve experienced this design dilemma yourself, never fear — we tapped our team of interior designers for their tried-and-true pillow combinations for sofas, loveseats, sectionals, and more. Keep scrolling for their 12 vetted and approved design ideas.

1. Dress up a corner

How to arrange pillows on a couch

If you have a corner sectional and your style leans more modern and minimal, consider focusing on a single corner. Layer two or three oversized throw pillows in the corner nook, and call it a day. We especially love this approach if your sofa upholstery already leans more bold (like this beautiful Winslow Sofa in Fawn Performance Velvet from Interior Define).

2. Think one-sided

How to arrange pillows on a couch

Styling a smaller three-seat sofa? Consider going asymmetrical in your pillow approach. Layer two mis-matched throw pillows on one side, and softly tousle a complementary throw blanket on the other for an eye-catching yet visually-balanced display.

3. Embrace tone on tone

How to arrange pillows on a couch

Sometimes, less is more when it comes to a more traditional-style sofa or sectional, like the English Roll Arm Sofa from The Inside. This ornate style already comes with two matching throw pillows, and in this instance, that’s all it needs (save for a cozy throw blanket). Consider order matching custom throw pillows for your sofa for a tonal, simplified look.

4. Go all-out

How to arrange pillows on a couch

Love throw pillows and want to create an ultra-cozy setup? Go all-out with five to six throw pillows in a cohesive color palette for a two or three-seater sofa. We recommend mixing patterns and solids for a dynamic arrangement — we love the above look with a floral, an animal print, a windowpane, and two solids (all from The Inside).

5. Embrace asymmetry

How to arrange pillows on a couch

If your style leans modern and a bit edgy, consider a cool, asymmetric arrangement with two layered square pillows on one side, and a petite lumbar on the other. This approach works especially well when the rest of the room leans symmetrical, like this living room (note the matching ottomans and accent chairs). It adds a little unexpected design flair.

6. Add a lumbar

How to arrange pillows on a couch

When in doubt, add a lumbar pillow! Instead of going with the standard one to two square throw pillows on either side of the sofa, mix in a lumbar for a brand-new shape. Thanks to the cohesive color palette in the above living room, the mis-matched throw pillows still look aesthetically-pleasing.

7. Alternate patterns

How to arrange pillows on a couch

One of the oldest tricks in the book when arranging pillows on a couch? Buy subtle variations of the same throw pillow pattern or style, and arrange them accordingly. On the above sectional, the aztec patterned pillows and the striped pillows are pretty much the same, but just different enough to feel interesting. This approach takes some of the guesswork out of styling throw pillows.

8. Keep a color palette

How to arrange pillows on a couch

One golden rule of thumb when selecting and styling throw pillows? Always stick to a tight color palette — especially if you’re going with mis-matched styles, sizes, and patterns. In the above living room, the overall look is unified in the soft orange, green, white, and blue color palette. Always keep this in mind when styling a large sectional with six-plus throw pillows!

9. Vary sizes

How to arrange pillows on a couch

If you’re looking for a simple, straightforward pillow approach, layer two 22-inch throw pillows behind two 20 or 18-inch throw pillows on either side of the sofa for some subtle size variation. Get matching sets if you’re going for a more traditional look, or vary the pillow styles altogether for something a little more modern and mis-matched.

10. Keep it minimalist

How to arrange pillows on a couch

This one’s for all the minimalists out there! You can always use throw pillows to add subtle texture and coziness instead of color and style. If you have a clean white sofa and want to keep it that way, layer on tonal white throw pillows and blankets for an ultra-serene, calming space.

11. Add a pop of color

How to arrange pillows on a couch

On the opposite side of the spectrum, throw pillows are a great vehicle for unexpected pops of color. If your space is lacking a little personality, consider a stand-alone colorful (but still complementary!) throw pillow for a little design flair. We love how the orange pillow in the above living space picks up on the gold picture frames — it’s thoughtful, but punchy.

12. Go oversized

How to arrange pillows on a couch

Styling a small loveseat or armless sofa? Sometimes going bigger is better. The oversized throw pillows in the above alcove make up for the lack of sofa arms, adding a much-needed cozy element for reading or lounging. As always, the color palette is cohesive and ties the space together.

Want expert advice on your own space, straight from an interior designer? Get started today with our style quiz.

Words by Kelsey Clark