How to Decorate Your Sofa with Throw Pillows

Brosa Elementary Cushion Putty Beige styled in traditional living room

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With a practically unlimited range of sofas on the market, finding something that’s gorgeous and suits your style has become an easy task – the only complication is that it becomes much harder to make a decision! Once you’ve got that beautiful sofa at home in your living room, though, there are additional steps you can take to tie it into your aesthetic and to add a little more colour and flair. We’re talking about throw pillows!

Throw pillows and decorative cushions are the icing on the proverbial cake, and not only give you another creative outlet, but present an easy way to switch things up when elements in your room change, or when you decide it’s time to try a different style. So, how do you select the right cushions to go on your sofa? What should you take into consideration? We’re here to give you the goss, and take you through the must-knows when picking out throw pillows.

Keep reading to discover our tips for decorating your sofa and living room with cushions and throw pillows.

Our top tips for selecting throw pillows or cushions 

Selecting your style

Brosa Parla Cushion selecting the right throw pillow cushion guide

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Throw pillows do have a function – ensuring you’re super comfortable when sitting or lying down on the sofa – but above all, your choice will be driven by aesthetics. So, it’s only natural that we start the selection process by considering style. As quite a small and simple object, you might find there’s more similarities between cushion styles, but the more you browse what’s on offer, the more certain trends and features will stand out.

For instance, a coastal-style throw pillow might feature beachy tassels, use neutral tones or have a textured, hessian look. Just like when you’re shopping for any other objects, each style has its tenets, so it’s up to you to identify those and find ways to reflect them in your choice of cushion. Don’t put pressure on yourself to explicitly define your style, either – it’s more about picking out those key design elements that are already prominent in your space, and finding ways to emphasise throughlines or play with similar features in your new purchase.

Deciding on your number

Filt Rectangular Cushion styled in modern contemporary living room

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It might seem inconsequential, but how many pillows you decide to put on your sofa can actually play a big role in its overall feel! This can be a game of trial and error, as you might not know what feels right until you see it in your home every day, but here are a few hints that might assist the process.

Traditionally, a 2 or 3-seater sofa will have two groups of cushions, one at either end. An extra-long sofa might add a third cluster in the centre, and each of these little ‘cushion nests’ will be made up of one or more pieces. If you like a pared-back, simple style, you might like to just have the one cushion at each end, whereas if you’re big into throw pillows (who isn’t!) then a cluster of two or three will suit better. Once you’ve collected a few, you can spend a little time grouping them in different ways and playing with positioning. But, before you even go into the buying process, it’s helpful to know roughly how many you’d like to utilise in the space.

Playing with shape and size

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Something that will directly impact how many pillows get to chill out on your couch is size. It’s a simple concept – if you’re working with bigger cushions, you’ll want to opt for fewer pieces, whereas smaller cushions might encourage you to go a little wild in terms of numbers. So, when shopping, be sure to keep size at the back of your mind. A great combination is one larger pillow with one or two smaller cushions to offset it. Here are a few common sizes for throw cushions:

  • 40cm x 40cm: This small and subtle cushion makes a great accent or a pillow for a small armchair.
  • 45cm x 45cm: Slightly bigger, use this as an ‘anchor’ pillow on a smaller couch or chair, or as a feature cushion on a bigger sofa.
  • 50cm x 50cm: This medium size is quite commonly used as an anchor piece or standalone.
  • 60cm x 60cm: A bigger choice, this size is perfect to start with before you begin to layer smaller cushions.
  • 70cm x 70cm: This oversized throw pillow suits a large sofa and can be offset with smaller accent pieces in different sizes.
  • 35cm x 60cm: This long and skinny cushion is very commonly used, and makes for a very visually interesting addition to the front of your cushion stack.

These cushions can even be of varying shapes, which will add excitement and depth. Shape is an important element if you’re purchasing new throw pillows, as there are so many designs out there, creating an opportunity to give your style some edge – or equally, to reinforce your existing choices – through this element. Circular pillows are fun and whimsical, whereas a rectangular piece has a slightly more formal edge, and can be a great complement to a square cushion.

When it comes time to place your new throw pillows in their place of pride on the sofa, try to instil a sense of balance by toeing the line between too rigid and too random. You’re looking for a varied yet expertly styled kind of look – avoid total symmetry, adding in unique shapes or an array of sizes, but don’t go too far over the edge with a collection that screams ‘mismatched’. Ultimately, if you understand the basic principles of design, you’re sure to smash this task and come up with a configuration that looks incredible and visually arresting.

Picking perfect fabrics

Brosa Filt Small Cushion how to choose cushions and throw pillows

Filt Small Cushion 45 x 45cm | Shop all cushions

Fabric is where the fun starts – mixing it up in this arena provides you with a way to introduce a little texture and really give the sofa and room dimension. Luckily, throw pillows and cushions come in an array of beautiful fabrics, each with their own pros, cons and unique looks.

For a sleek look, opt for a leather cushion to complement a modern room and sofa. Leather wears super well, as long as you keep it out of the sun, and wipe down with leather-safe cleaning products occasionally. If your style is more retro-inspired, or borders on mid century modern, velvet is a top choice, with a soft and visually appealing texture. Velvet is a little harder to clean thoroughly, but darker colours can hide any marks or scuffs with ease.

If you’re after a pillow style that’s a little more on the relaxed side, you might want to opt for a natural cotton or linen. Both of these cushion fabrics are machine washable (linen on a cold setting) and give that simple, laid-back look in a way that’s still polished. There are also fabrics with more texture that can create a unique pop of fun on your sofa – think boucle, shearling or even a rough yet comfortable jute.

Finally, don’t forget to consider trim, tassels and other embellishments that’ll give your throw pillow a bit of flair. These elements can work on any cushion in a variety of styles, but look best on a larger piece offset with simpler small cushions.

Using colour and pattern

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Korsa Rectangular Cushion 60 x 40cm | Shop all cushions

The final things to keep in mind as you’re selecting throw pillows are colour and pattern. This is where your creativity can really shine, and it also provides an excellent opportunity to tie everything in the room together through common elements.

Let’s chat plain colours first. If you’re not all about patterns, and prefer something strong and simple, cushions come in a massive range of hues. A great rule of thumb when selecting a colour scheme for your throw pillows is the 80/20 principle – keep 80% (or 70%, if you’re really into colour) of your choices in a neutral tone such as black, white, brown, grey, tan, oatmeal or beige. Then, use the remaining 20-30% – likely one cushion on either side for an average-sized sofa – to incorporate a bolder colour.

Look at the hues that are already in your space and start your process here. It’s likely that certain shades will stand out. If your room uses cool-toned neutrals, take the same approach for your subtler couch cushions. Use the concept of light and shade, with cushions in similar tones that play with both sides of the light spectrum. Then, figure out which colours you use as accents, and incorporate these into your ‘bundle’ of cushions sparingly. Voila – a few easy steps to creating the perfect colour palette, one that’ll look beautiful when splashed across your sofa!

Although it might seem like a small task in the grand scheme of house decorating, adding throw pillows and cushions to your couch is a simple yet effective way to create a throughline in your living room, and reflect those bigger design choices in a complementary way. Use these guiding principles to inform your buying journey as you source and style the perfect cushions. Of course, throw pillows aren’t just used to adorn sofas. Add them to your bed, onto armchairs, sofa beds and more using a variety of configurations, colours and styles to keep things fresh.

Shop throw pillows, cushions and more homewares with Brosa. We’re one of Australia’s most beloved online furniture retailers for a reason – as a Brosa customer, you’ll unlock Australia-wide shipping, virtual styling services, flexible payment options and so much more.