A simple way to achieve a designer look on a budget is to style your sofa with decorative pillows. However, many people wonder how to arrange throw pillows on a couch and how many pillows to use. Today I’m going to share some easy ideas for styling couch pillows. In addition, check out these other posts about throw pillows for more living room inspiration!

Whether you just purchased a new couch, or you want to give your sofa a refresh with new pillows, starting from scratch can feel overwhelming. However, with the right guidelines and tips you can arrange pillows on a couch to fit your style and budget!

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How Many Throw Pillows on a Couch?

Generally, you will use one or two pillows per side of a couch. In other words, you will use two to four pillows total. However, if you have a very large sofa you could use as many as three pillows per side.

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For designs using a single pillow on each side of a couch: be sure to use a larger size such as a 22″ or 24″ pillow so that it does not look too small.

For designs using two or three pillows on each side of a couch: layer one larger pillow at the back and smaller pillows or lumbars in the front.

Remember, these are guidelines and of course you can “break the rules” by using more, or an asymmetrical number of pillows on each side of a couch! But if you are just starting out and want to begin with an easy design, I would recommend a maximum of two pillows per side.

How Many Throw Pillows on a Sectional?

While it may feel more difficult to arrange pillows on a sectional, it doesn’t have to be! For an easy sectional throw pillow arrangement, I would recommend two pillows per side and three pillows in the corner.

how to arrange throw pillows on a couch or sectional sofa for a designer look, how to style throw pillows, how many decorative pillows on a couch, sofa with pillows

For a large sectional, you could even use three pillows per side. Similar to the guidelines for arranging pillows on a couch, you should place larger pillows at the back and smaller pillows in the front.

Keep reading for pillow arrangement ideas for mixing and matching!

Standard Throw Pillow Sizes

how to arrange throw pillows on a couch or sectional sofa for a designer look, how to style throw pillows, how many decorative pillows on a couch, sofa with pillows

Before you purchase new throw pillows or begin working on a design for your couch, it is helpful to know the standard throw pillow sizes for a sofa:

  • 16″ square
  • 18″ square
  • 20″ square
  • 22″ square
  • 24″ square
  • 12″ x 18″ or similar lumbar
  • 12″ x 24″ or similar lumbar

Any lumbar pillow that is longer than 24 inches is probably too long for a couch, unless you plan to style one large pillow in the center to make a statement.

Arranging Pillows on a Couch or Sectional

Ready to learn how to arrange pillows on a couch or sectional? Many of the steps are the same for both, but I will include particular ideas for each as well.

Here are my tips for styling a sectional or sofa with pillows:

Choose a throw pillow color palette

When planning a couch pillow design, it is best to choose a color palette of three or four colors (including neutrals) to help the space feel cohesive. Here are some examples!

  • Rust, peach, brown, ivory
  • Sage green, gold, beige, black
  • Navy, powder blue, linen, white
  • Silver, charcoal, black, white

Related: Throw Pillow Combinations 2024 + Best Decorative Accent Pillows

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Choose a mixture of solid and pattern pillows

Mixing and matching throw pillow patterns is an important step that can feel like a challenge. But here are some easy guidelines to help you put together a design that you love!

First, solid pillow covers give your eyes a place to rest so that the look isn’t too busy. Solid colored pillows help set the stage for the fun pillows!

Secondly, you can mix patterns such as stripes, plaids, and florals. The key is to keep things balanced by considering the size and color of the pattern. Pair a solid pillow, a large pattern (such as wide stripes), and a small pattern (such as small flowers) to create a stylish and balanced look.

Related: The Best Amazon Curtains: Affordable Pinch Pleat Drapes

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Place larger pillows at the back

Once you have chosen your pillow color palette and patterns, it is time to choose sizes. As mentioned above, you will want to place larger decorative pillows (22″ or 24″) at the back, and smaller pillows in the front.

For example, I used 24″ pillows as a base at each end and in the center of my large sectional. This helps fill out the space and provides a foundation.

how to arrange throw pillows on a couch or sectional sofa for a designer look, how to style throw pillows, how many decorative pillows on a couch, sofa with pillows

Layer smaller pillows and lumbars in the front

Next, it is time to layer in smaller throw pillows. In these photos my pillows are 20″, but anywhere from 18″ to 22″ works. You can also use lumbar pillows at the front to add interest, but this isn’t necessary.

pillows on a sectional

Finish the look with a throw blanket

Finally, finish styling your couch or sectional with a cozy throw blanket (or two). You can either fold the blanket neatly like in the photo below, or drape the throw for a more casual look like the photo above!

Related: Best Round Coffee Table Styling Ideas

throw pillows on a sectional
living room with white sofa and wood frame accent chairs with pillows

We had a sectional in our living room for many years, and I always enjoyed swapping out the pillow covers for the seasons. Last year I sold our sectional and added a white sofa and accent chairs in its place. So, it has been fun to play around with pillow combos with a new layout!

A few more tips for arranging throw pillows…

Here are a few additional tips for styling a sectional or sofa with pillows.

  1. Pillow groupings can be symmetrical or unique. In the photos of our sectional, I used all different pillows. On the other hand, for our sofa I decided to use symmetrical pillows for a more traditional look.
  2. It’s okay to keep it simple. Since we currently have a sofa, four accent chairs, and a patterned rug in our living room, I kept our pillows simple with one solid and one stripe per side of the couch.
  3. Have fun and express yourself! It’s okay if you don’t achieve the look you want on the first try. I often take a break from styling and come back to it a few days later for a new perspective. Then, I usually find a better way to make the design look balanced.

Bonus: Throw Pillows for Accent Chairs

Now that we have two sets of accent chairs in our living room, I like to think of the entire space when deciding which throw pillows to use. Unless you have very large accent chairs, you will typically only use one pillow per chair.

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white sofa with pillows and slipcovered accent chairs

Related: Linen Accent Chairs Roundup for Any Budget

In the examples above, I made our slipcovered chairs feel extra cozy with matching patterned pillows! Our exact pillows are no longer available, but this floral pattern and this plaid are similar.

lumbar throw pillow on accent chair

Finally, here is the gray accent chair in my daughter’s room with a cream lumbar pillow. When it comes to a gray couch or chair, I generally prefer the look of lighter throw pillows to help balance the design.

I hope you found this post inspiring if you want to arrange pillows on a couch or sectional! If I didn’t answer one of your questions, please leave a comment below.

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