I have had so many clients tell me they have no idea how to pick pillows for their home. They even go so far as to say they HATE their pillows. And it’s usually the same story - they went into the store, got overwhelmed, bought 4 pillows in the same size and similar colors, and left feeling empty inside. Or, GASP, they gave up and just kept the pillows that CAME WITH THE COUCH. Don’t go there, people. I’m begging you. You’re better than that.
Design should be fun, but with the vastness of the interwebs and the sheer inventory at places like Home Goods, a simple accessory run for pillows can leave you twitching in the aisle and screaming for mom. Well my friends, today, we are here for you. We’ll get through this together.
Pillows and accessories are the sprinkles on your sundae - they really work best when they go on at the END of the process. So, in the words of Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.
TIP #1: START WITH THE ART (OR RUG).
Start by looking around your room. What piece of art is going to be the focal point, or which rug is going to ground the space? Once you have decided on that, look at the colors in the item and pull out THREE of them – a main color (the color that is most dominant or appears the most), a secondary color (the second-most dominant one), and a tertiary one (you guessed it! The 3rd most dominant). Accenting your room with the less-dominant colors will make your space feel more interesting and dynamic.
ADVANCED TIP: Keep in mind the color of the surfaces the pillows are going on, and the vibe of your room. If your sofa is brown leather and your rug has a lot of brown in it, you may want to choose a neutral (cream, light gray, white) as your dominant color to lighten it up a bit.
And don’t forget to take a photo of the 3 colors, as well as the furniture/items the pillows are going to be on – they’ll be helpful to reference later on.
TIP #2: BE ODD, USE SCALE, AND HAVE AT LEAST ONE SET OF TWINS
Now that you have your colors figured out, it's time to find your pillows. Items arranged in odd numbers (1 is an odd number for all your minimalists out there!) tend to look more balanced.
Next, your pillows should vary in scale (some oversized, some small, some in-between) and orientation (you should definitely have at least one lumbar pillow in the mix). And don’t forget about texture! A variety of textures makes everything more interesting and can differentiate objects of the same color.
That brings us to the "twins". Symmetry gives the eye a place to rest and creates a sense of balance, so having two of the same pillows (or at least two in the same or very similar colors) on either end of the sofa will help create balance and cohesion.
TIP #3: NAVIGATING THE STORE! GAH!
Now that you have a pillow-plan in place, you are armed and ready to hit the streets! Once you enter the store and see the 7 aisles of pillows, take a deep breath and reference your color photos. Hone-in on ONLY the aisles that have the colors you are looking for. And then? Just start pulling! Do you love tassels? Subtle stripes? Pull out the pillows in the aforementioned colorways that speak to you and put them in your cart. Don’t be shy! Then, what I like to do, is walk over to one of the floor-model sofas and start styling. Pull out your twins, flank the sofa, and start to play. Pretty soon you’ll see what works and what doesn’t, and before you know it you are a straight-up pillow PRO and you’ve knocked your living room accessory game right out of the park.
ADVANCED TIP: Just like in a play, there can really only be one “star” (most of the time). That “star” can be a bold color or have lux detailing or a cool print. Make sure all the other pillows are being good supporting “actors” and not competing with each other.
TIP #4: DON’T CHUCK - COVER UP!
Changing out your pillows is a great way to freshen up a space, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to toss all the old pillows to the curb! Sites like ETSY and Society6 have tons of fun pillow-cover options at affordable prices. This is also obviously a much greener move, which my hippie-self loves.
I hope you feel ready and able to wipe your pillow-woes away! Pillows are like jewelry to a room and can really add a dose of warmth and personality. They’re also a great way to make a statement about who you are, which is obviously nothing other than awesome.
Had any other struggles sourcing throw pillows? Leave a message in the comments!