How to Arrange Throw Pillows on a Sofa Like a Pro (and Some Great Pillow Sets You Can Buy) is an Essential Design Tip.

Maybe you're the same way, but I spend a lot of time fantasizing about my couch. Seeing as how my apartment's entryway is also the doorway to my living room, this could be due to its prominence upon entering my home. Or maybe I'm just overly sentimental and want my sofa to be as bright and beautiful as she is. Since I've been thinking a lot about sofas lately (HELLO MOTO, HELLO DEADLINES), I figured now would be a good time to explain how to style a sofa, for both my own benefit and yours. Take notes, because this is one "house rules" post you won't soon forget.


First, as a general rule of thumb in EHD, stick to a limited color palette. You've heard it before: when combining different styles and patterns, it helps to stick to a limited color palette (about five). This article will show you how simple it is to make your own.
CHOOSE PILLOWS OF DIFFERENT SIZES AND SHAPE(S) To add visual interest, choose pillows of different sizes and shapes (i.e., not e Combining various sized round, square, and lumbar pillows
Third, incorporate a variety of textures if you plan on using a color palette that includes both solid and neutral hues.
4. SPREAD COLORS EQUALLY: Different hues (i.e. pillows, throws, throw blankets) should be used on both the left and right sides of your sofa. e (One side shouldn't be an ocean of a single hue.)
Throws and pillows with patterns are a great way to breathe new life into a drab sofa; just be sure to mix and match patterns of different sizes.

Now that you have your foundational principles in place, let's examine some completed EHD projects and dissect the steps necessary to style a sofa like a pro:

Vintage Couches

photo by sara ligorria-tramp from the series "trying to find the rug" in my living room

You may recall that Emily was trying out a new rug and sofa in this version of her LA living room, looking for the ideal pairing (not an easy task, believe me). Although she wasn't crazy about this particular rug and couch, the sofa is amazing and beautifully styled.

The success lies in the fact that the large scale patterns are layered evenly so that neither end of the sofa is too dominant. The two contrasting, solid-color pillows on either side keep things from getting too busy while still being visually interesting.

new reveal: a colorful, happy home makeover for an extremely deserving family | design by velinda hellen for ehd | photography by sara ligorria-tramp

Here, Velinda has styled the same sofa for a Feel Good Flash Makeover, but she has taken a "more is more" approach, demonstrating that the possibilities for pillow combinations are truly endless so long as those 5 rules are adhered to.

For one, the color scheme is limited to just three tones (gray, white, and a muted blue), and even though there are a lot of striped pillows, they are all different sizes and textures, so it doesn't feel like there's too much of one thing.

The color and material of your sofa should be taken into account when selecting throw pillows and decorative pillows. Your sofa is the anchor of the room, so it's important to choose complementary fabrics that don't clash. ”] picture by sara ligorria-tramp: our new sofa, my ideal floral chaise, and the splash of red I've always wanted.

The next version of Emily's Los Angeles living room features a beautiful custom Lawson-Fenning sofa dressed with nothing more than a few throw pillows and a leather ottoman. Emily aimed for the sofa to exude a sense of "clean, fresh, and purposeful" by toning down the styling so that the natural lines and curves of the piece could take center stage.

The throw blanket adds a large-scale pattern to the mix, which works well with the two pillows of contrasting shapes.

Makeover Takeover: Jess' Long-Awaited (Small-Space) Living Room Reveal, by Sara Ligorria-Tramp, Photographer

Even though Jess's living room is on the small side, she makes the most out of it with a simple (but not boring) sofa that can be arranged in a variety of ways. She based her couch's and room's color scheme off of each other, adding throw pillows and a blanket.

She uses patterned pillows and a large-scale lumbar to add visual interest and stay within her color scheme.

Brady Tolbert (of ehd) in his living room after a makeover by tessa Neustadt (of the Citizenry)

The sofa Brady has in his living room is a perfect example of the room's neutrality, eclecticism, and cool vibe.

As a result of his relatively neutral aesthetic, Brady was able to pull off a successful color palette pairing thanks to his liberal use of texture. With a knitted throw blanket and two decorative pillows and a woven throw blanket on a grand scale and a leather lumbar for warmth and texture, his bed is well-appointed.

Warning: sara gives her mom's living room a refresh for Mother's Day with a design by sara ligorria-tramp for ehd and a photograph by sara ligorria-tramp from the film "ugly cry."

To begin, please don't delay in viewing this reveal. It'll make you cry because it's so touching and unique (Sara made it for her mother on Mother's Day; it's SO SWEET).

The pillows Sara used complement the room's color scheme, which is why the whole thing works. Since she employs a wider range of hues, her patterns tend to be miniature and therefore very easy to implement.

Settees With Very Limited Back Movement

What sets apart the tight-back sofas The lack of back cushions makes them more sturdy; the increased structural shape and (let's be honest) less padding means they aren't always the most comfortable.

Emily Bowser's "refreshed for function" small living room makeover, as designed for ehd and photographed by sara ligorria-tramp, is featured in the latest issue of Moto.
Emily Bowser's "refreshed for function" tiny living room redesign for ehd, as designed by her and photographed by sara ligorria-tramp for the new moto reveal.

Indeed, as Bowser herself proclaims in her reveal post, this sofa's form is hip and trendy, just like she is (seriously, she is the coolest). But what do you do with a sofa that is both hip and trendy? The fact that you questioned me about this makes my day...

The sofa's size and shape are complemented by the accessories, and the color scheme is maintained through the pillows and throw.

My updated living room, featuring a photo by sara ligorria-tramp

I think this is one of my favorite iterations of Emily's English Tudor-style LA living room because of how great this sofa looks there. Its understated elegance frees you to experiment with a wide variety of contemporary pillow and throw options.

Because of the sofa's rich color, the room stands out, and the muted tones of the throw pillows complement it perfectly. In spite of this apparent size difference, the "larger one" is actually of a medium size. Because of this, the look is kept classically fresh. That burgundy pillow is also amazing. It's always a good idea to throw in an unexpected (but still suitable) pop of color.

Living and dining area reveal by designer and photographer Sara L. ligorria-Tramp for ehd

Sara used four enormous pillows to soften the look of the large, firm sofa (and to provide extra seating). s Despite its more sculptural appearance, she assures me that this sofa is just as comfortable as any other.

She used a mostly muted color palette, added visual interest with a round faux fur pillow, and varied the sizes and patterns of her other pillows.

the living room reveal from the portland project, photo by sara ligorria-tramp
Photographed by Sara L. Tramp and taken from "Portland Project - Living Room Reveal,"

This couch is like the cool girl who never tries too hard. Its timeless form and sleek black finish make it a versatile addition to any decor.

For the same reason that the previous palette was simple and neutral, the success of this one lies in the clever use of contrasting patterns. Even when using muted tones, patterns and textures can make for an enticing visual experience. This sofa isn't very large, so the limited number of decorative pillows is an elegant touch.


Since a sectional sofa is larger, you'll have more room to experiment with different sofa arrangements and accent pieces, or you can keep things minimal and let the sofa itself take center stage. Please allow me to show you...

How to Put Personality into a Monochromatic Living Space (Get the Look) by Tessa Neustadt.

Emily's old Glendale living room featured a traditional gray sectional like the one shown here, providing ample opportunity to add vibrant pops of color and pattern.

The pillows look great because the color scheme is dispersed evenly across them. In a similar vein, Emily combined patterns that work together rather than clash.

From: reveal: arlyn's bright & happy rental living room makeover; design by Arlyn Hernandez for ehd; photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Because of how unique it is to Arlyn, her newly revealed living room is one of my favorites. Even though this sofa is already quite the eye-catcher, she managed to add even more drama by strategically placing throw pillows on it.

As long as the rest of the room is kept fairly neutral, you have a lot more leeway to experiment with pattern and color when styling your pillows. In keeping with the 5 S's, Arlyn mixes patterns, uses pillows of varying sizes and shapes, and distributes them symmetrically across her sectional. What really seals the deal, though, is the perfect throw that adorns the final stretch of the chaise.

from: lea johnson's basement reveal: workspace by day and family-friendly living room by night; design by lea johnson of creekwood hill; photography by sage e imagery

One of my personal favorites is Lea Johnson's (incredible) basement design, which we revealed on the blog. This sofa and its design really make the most of the room's versatility.

The sectional is already bright and cheery, so Lea kept the pillows simple by sticking to solid colors in a variety of sizes and patterns.

image by sara ligorria-tramp, sourced from: the big reveal: our mountain home's neutral and textured living room

Not every room in the house can accommodate a sectional as cool and sculptural as the one in the mountain retreat. Emily has previously discussed the benefits and drawbacks of this sectional, but one of its best features is that it requires very little in the way of extra decoration.

The sofa is sculptural and interesting to look at on its own, which is why it works, but the 5 golden rules still apply. The throw and pillows match the color scheme and are spaced out sufficiently to prevent the couch from looking squished.

Now, because it's so much fun, I've compiled a selection of throw blanket and pillow sets for you to peruse:

Throw Pillows - Ticking Pillows - Dijon Cotton Pom Throw - Oversized Ivory Angled Stripe Lumbar Pillow - District Loom Vintage Pillow Cover No. 70 - Harlee Ivory Round Pillow - Oversized Cotton Textured Stripe Throw Pillow with Fringe -
Throw Blanket - Chunky Stripe Fringe - Hearth & Hand Pillows - Persimmon Mohair Pillows - Recycled Cotton Blend Pillow with Tassels - Pico 18" Black Round Pom Pom Pillow - Ray Pillow - Clique White Pillow
The Gigi Pillow, the Boucle Faux Mohair Throw Blanket, the Taupe Diamond Cotton Chenille Lumbar Pillow, the Woven Washed Windowpane Pillow, and the Square Woven Cotton Pillow with Fringe
Pillows: 20"x20" Bradford Two-Tone Tassel Pillow; 18" Round Black Pom Pom Pillow; Ticking Pillows; 20" x 20" Oversized Ivory Angled Stripe Lumbar Pillow; 18" Square Buffalo Check Plaid Design Cotton Down Filled Throw Pillow; 24" x 24" Modern Threads Acrylic Knit Throw
Pillows by Park Designs: the In the Meadow Plaid Throw, the Daios Pillows, the Leilani French Knot Design Throw Pillow in Natural, the Square Woven Cotton Pillow with Fringe, the Natural Round Throw Pillow, and the Vintage Hemp Pillows
Oversized cotton textured striped throw pillow with fringe; maize square black throw pillow; oversized ivory angled striped lumbar pillow; oversized chenille shiny waffle knit square throw pillow; oversized rayas throw pillow;
Seven: Daios Pillows, Rayas Throw, Textured Solid Square Throw Pillow, Neutral; Harlee Ivory Round Pillow, Caitlin Wilson Black Gingham Pillow, Clique White Pillow.
Grid Throw Blanket; Oversized Cotton Textured Striped Throw Pillow with Fringe; Black Maize Sqaure Throw Pillow; Olive Shag Pillow; Ticking Pillows; Black Beige Woven Lumbar Pillow;

Finally, here is our comprehensive guide to furnishing your living room with the perfect sofa:

Well, if you've read this far, congratulations, I appreciate your dedication. As I'm sure you'll agree, we've just covered a lot of couch-and-loveseat combinations. If you have any further inquiries or concerns, please let me know in the comments section below xx

Design by Brady Tolbert for EHD; photo by Tessa Neustadt; from: Brady's Living Room Refresh with the Citizenry; opening image credit

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