Don’t underestimate the power of decorating with pillows. “It’s something really simple you can do, just adding two or three elements, that can change the entire look of a space,” says Joe Human, a Thumbtack pro and top-rated interior designer.
The owner of Designs by Human has had work featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful and This Old House. Here are his favorite tricks for using pillows for a mini-makeover.
Ditch the Pillows That Came with Your Couch
“I don’t like those matchy-matchy pillows that come with the sofa or that directly match the sofa material. Get rid of those.”
Create Groupings of Odd Numbers
Joe uses a “rule of three” when placing pillows, vases and accessories.
In some cases it’ll depend on your furniture. “On the couch in this living room, I tried three pillows and it looked out of scale, so on the main sofa I did groupings of two and three, but then incorporated the throw as the third element,” says Joe.
Think Big… And Small
Big fluffy pillows look more casual and comfortable, while small, tailored ones look more formal. Put the large pillows at the back of your couch, sofa, or other area to add height. The smaller pillows in the front will bring visual interest.
Don’t go too big in the living room, though. “For the average homeowner-sized couch, I’d stick to one tall pillow and use the rest to downplay that scale,” says Joe.
Combine Different Colors and Textures
Many people tend toward neutral colors and solids when decorating. Pillows are a low-stakes way to add color and playfulness to the space. Plus you might discover that you are a glitter-pillow person in addition to being a velvet-pillow person.
“Don’t be scared to mix and match,” says Joe. “Start by coordinating the biggest pillow with your sofa. Then the rest of the pillows can be neutrals or smaller elements of that one color for contrast.”
Grow Up the Bedroom with Throw Pillows
“The bedroom is fun for pillows because you can play up scale quite a bit,” says Joe. Though he admits, “It’s not the most practical thing at night.”
For a beginner styling a bed, start with two Euro pillows that are big 28” x 28” squares and then two to four king of standard pillows. Then, from there, add another grouping of at least three pillows. “Maybe there’s a fuzzy pillow, a smaller rectangular pillow with texture, and a smaller square pillow all grouped at the front,” he suggests.
Play Around Before Making Any Decisions
“When I did this room, I brought 30 different pillows and then went around to see what worked with what,” says Joe. “A pillow I brought for the bedroom turned out to look better in the living room.”
Look for a store with a big selection of pillows. “Play with different combinations in the store, take photos of those arrangements, and visualize them in your space once you get home,” suggests Joe. Then make your decision.