Decorating 101: The Basics of Pillow Styling

 How To Style Pillows

Pillows can transform your decor in so many ways. They can define a space and really take your room from drab to fab. They are the touch of elegance that you need on your bed, couch, or chair. They are great for emphasizing key features and adding a splash of color to your design scheme.

In this blog, we are going to break down the basics of pillow styling and helps you choose where and how to display them in a way that suits your home, and the mood or feeling you want to create - be it a fun vibe, a sophisticated ambiance, or romantic space.


Select your color scheme for a cohesive look

How To Style Pillows

We know pillows are a great and cost-effective way to introduce pops of colors into a neutral space or create a new vibe or palette for changing seasons, however, sometimes due to all the many pretty options we have, it can be hard to find a great combo.

If that's the case and you feel like your current 'pillowscape' looks a bit off or is looking like a hodge-podge of pillows, you might want to rethink your color story. Most of the time your pillow woes can be solved by creating a more cohesive color palette.

To do this, start by choosing your base color which will be your foundation for the rest of your design. The base color should be versatile so you easily mix and match them with other elements (and pillows) in the space—it might be helpful to opt for neutral tones. Next, pick two accent colors that you want to bring into the room—take inspiration from the hues you already have in the surrounding room like your area rug, wall color, other upholstery, etc.

Once you have your color palette, remember to stick to that when shopping for pillows.


Mix & match textures, and patterns to create visual interest

How To Style Pillows

Mixing patterns can be intimidating at first, but remember, your home is a place where you can really show your personality, so don't be afraid! If you need some tips for mixing and matching textures and patterns, here are three ways to combine patterns and textures:


Add solid textural pillows

How To Style Pillows

Textures are a great way to add depth and dimension to a space. Plus, this can be particularly helpful for those who are not fond of adding patterns and prints in their spaces. Even if you go for pillows with solid, plain colors, the textures will surely speak for themselves. Look for subtle fringe, knit details, velvet, fur and other textures to create a more elevated pillow combination and add warmth to the space.


Mix pillows with medium, large, small scale pattern

How To Style Pillows

Now, this is your time to get extra creative. Play around with different patterns to create a statement in your living room or bedroom.
You can try combining patterns with definitive lines stripes such as geometric and plaid, patterns with curvy lines such as florals, and pillows with organic prints. You can pair a busy pattern with a simple pattern but make sure you're still following your color story. You can also mix modern designs with more traditional ones, or maybe seasonal prints—there's no right or wrong here as long as you are keeping the look balanced! So take note, that too much of the same pattern, scale, and color will make for a less interesting design.

To add contrast, throw in some pillows with small-scale patterns into your pillow ensemble to make the look feel more curated and interesting.


Layer pillows of different sizes for depth and dimension

How To Style Pillows

Aside from patterns and texture, another way to add interest, depth, and dimension to a space is by having multiple sizes of pillows in your sofa, sectional, or bed. And while the scale of patterns should be considered in the arrangement of your pillow group, the arrangement of the different sizes of pillows also matters. Here's the basic of layering pillows of different sizes:

  • The larger pillows should be on the outer side. Place your 20" to 24" pillows at the back of the arrangement.
  • The smallest pillows and the lumbar pillows fit best on the very inside of the arrangement (or at the front). Layer your 12" to 16" inches pillows in front so they aren't hidden by the larger pillows.
  • The medium pillows should be placed in between back (large pillows) and front (small / lumbar pillows) layers.


These sizes are not set in stone, it can vary depending on the scale of your furniture. And remember that you can always play around with the medium-sized and small-sized pillows if you want to create a more dynamic, and personalized look.


Identify how many pillows you need/want to create a balanced look

I know a lot of you will agree when I say "you can never have too many pillows," but really, even just a few is enough to give a space a whole new look! Plus, determining how many pillows you will want earlier in your styling process will help you decide the overall look and can make your entire pillow styling process easier and faster.


Here are two ways you can style your pillowscape:

  • Symmetrical pillow arrangement 

How To Style Pillows

If you have an even number of pillows, you can style them symmetrically in your bed or sectionals, or sofa. This pillow design style can help you create a uniform and balanced look in the room. This is also usually common in interiors with classic, formal, and traditional designs. 


  • Asymmetrical pillow arrangement 

How To Style Pillows

This is my personal favorite! Most people usually opt for this one especially those who love casual, boho, modern interior styles. This can be achieved by using an odd number of pillows, for example, putting two large throw pillows on each side of your sofa, and then layering three smaller ones in the middle or maybe just two at the side, then one on the other end. This gives a more natural, warm, and inviting arrangement while still maintaining visual balance.



    Again, you are free to design however you want, and you don't always need to follow the rules! These are just some guides that work for other people, including myself! If you think you only need a single statement piece pillow for your living room, then go ahead—home decorating is all about personal preferences and styling that makes you feel comfortable at home!


    Shop Pillows 

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    Alfie & Gem's Boho Cushion Covers

    Boho Cushion Boho Pillow


    Our favorite finds:

    Shop neutral pillows


    Shopping tip:
    We know pillows come in all shapes and sizes, and with nearly endless potential combinations of colors, textures, patterns, etc. it can be hard to know where to start. Before buying anything, consider not only the style and design of the pillows but also the material it's made out of. There are all sorts of materials imaginable — from the simplest cotton covers to elaborate weaves, so be sure to do your research first and identify if that material suits the way you use the pillows (i.e. for aesthetics, or functionality, or both).



    And there you have it, my friends - the basics of pillow styling. We hope we're able to help you with pillow styling and arrangement. Next time you want to do a simple and quick home refresh, feel free to refer back to this guide so you can whip your pillow game easily.


    This post may contain affiliate links. At Alfie & Gem, we’re here to help you make your house a home - whether it's finding decor choices for your space or care tips for your plants. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by our team. If you buy something we link to on our site, your cost for the products will be no higher but we may receive a small commission. Thank you - we're honored to be part of your home decorating and plant growing journey!

    How To Style Pillows

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