Throw pillows are a great way to add color and personality to your living room. They’re one of those finishing touches that takes your space from strictly utilitarian to more lived in and considered.

But you can’t just buy some throw pillows and move on. Once you have them, it’s necessary to thoughtfully arrange them on your sofa. You might be thinking, “How hard can pillow decorating be?? It’s just a couple of pillows!” However, the proper arrangement for throw pillows on a sofa is actually one of the design dilemmas most frequently brought up by customers. So many people feel uncertain about how to combine colors and patterns, not to mention how to arrange them on their sofa!

Well, today we’re breaking it down for you. We’ll walk you through everything you ever wanted to know about how to arrange throw pillows on a sofa—and give you a few living room design ideas along the way!

Picking Your Pillows

First, let’s talk about picking your pillows. You don’t want a random hodge-podge of throw pillows—you want to create a curated collection that has a cohesive color palette, a mix of patterns for visual interest, and varied sizes for depth.

Choosing a Cohesive Color Palette

When choosing a color palette for your sofa’s throw pillows, you can really choose any color family that goes with the rest of your living room’s decor. Just make sure you keep all of the throw pillows in a similar color tone, whichever color you choose. When choosing throw pillows, start by grounding the color palette with a dark hue, and work toward lighter shades in the color palette while mixing in patterns that echo similar colors.

We love the idea of using blues as an “active” neutral. While blues add nice pops of color to your space, they’re flexible enough to be a neutral on the color spectrum while also allowing you to mix different shades of blues together in one arrangement.

Vary the Scale of the Patterns

Once you’ve landed on a color palette, make sure you don’t just go with a bunch of solid-colored throw pillows. Rather, add some patterns to the mix. And not just one! You can mix multiple patterns within the same throw pillow arrangement. Just make sure you vary the scale so that they aren’t competing with each other. Large patterns mixed with smaller scale patterns create a balance within the composition.

You can also explore mixing organic patterns with more geometric patterns for an interesting and eclectic mix.

But, in all this, remember to use color to help ground your scene. That’s why it’s so important to first land on your color palette, as this will help guide what patterns you consider! Color helps enhance the patterns—so choose darker, deeper patterns for the throw pillows on the outside of the arrangement and lighter, more decorative patterns for the inward pillows.

Arrange Pillows By Size

This, of course, leads us to the next step: actually arranging the throw pillows. While the scale of patterns should be considered in the arrangement, so should the size of the pillows themselves. This may seem obvious, but as you arrange pillows, put larger pillows in the back and smaller or lumbar pillows in the front.

The largest pillows should always be on the outside, but you can play around with medium and small interchangeably on the inside for a more personalized look. However, the smallest throw pillows generally fit best on the very inside of the arrangement. You can also explore using lumbar pillows to help create a solid “middle” in your sofa’s composition.

Finally, consider working with an odd number of pillows, which will help with visual balance. For example, putting two throw pillows on each side of the sofa, and then layering three in the middle will help the composition feel effectively balanced.

Types of Throw Pillow Arrangements for Different Styles

While there are those high-level rules for arranging throw pillows, how it comes to life can depend upon your preferred interior design style. That’s right: your preferred design style can help dictate how you arrange throw pillows! Below, we have a few different arrangement approaches that suit different design styles—and sofa styles.

For Traditionalists

If you favor traditional interior design, you’ll definitely want to go with a symmetrical arrangement. We love using the coordinating pillows that came with your sofa as a base when you arrange pillows. From there, work from the outside, in. Incorporate a mix of traditional patterns and colors—like the floral and geometric prints, above.

When choosing the colors and patterns of your throw pillows, consider the other pieces of furniture and decor in your space, and try to pull in some of the same colors. Above, we used the orange of the accent chairs and pulled in some orange in the center throw pillow on the sofa. And, while different floral patterns, the blues in both the throw pillows on the chairs and the sofa tie in with the wall color, helping create a sense of cohesiveness in the space. These patterns also tie in with the botanical prints on the wall and the floral motif of the rug—proof that you can mix and match floral patterns without a space feeling too granny or too eclectic!