By now you know that one of my best decorating secrets is to have a lot of throw pillows and change out the covers often. In my ultimate guide to rental decorating, I discuss how important it is to have accessories in your home that tell a story about your style. Things like wall art, rugs, and throw pillows are essential for making a space feel complete.
Since there is a lot I can’t change about where I live, I love changing out my throw pillows seasonally. Decorative throw pillows are such a great way to elevate your decor. In this post I’m sharing where I buy my throw pillows, what sizes are best, how I style them, and what I look for when I’m buying throw pillows. This is a juicy one full of lots of great info!
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Tips for Buying Throw Pillows and How to Style Them
What to look for in a throw pillow
Typically, I buy pillow inserts separately from pillow covers and then just swap out the pillow covers whenever I’m ready for a change. I like doing this for several reasons, down filled pillows are much higher quality and give a more polished look than a polyfilled pillow, I can more easily store pillow covers than whole pillows, and there are many more options for pillow covers than sewn closure pillows. My favorite type of pillow cover is a zipper closure high quality fabric pillow.
Down Filled v. Poly Filled
There are pros and cons to both down and poly filled throw pillows. Down filled inserts are more expensive and occassional have feathers that poke through the pillow but they are also higher quality and look fuller and more inviting. On the other hand, poly filled inserts are more affordable but have a stiffer look and overtime can become lumpy or flat. I much prefer a down filled throw pillow insert and you can find some for a reasonable price like this set of two 22×22 pillows for under $35.
What size throw pillows should I buy?
That leads us into another important topic when buying throw pillows. All throw pillow sizes are not created equal. You’ll need a variety of sizes for different spaces. Also, your pillow inserts should be a size larger than the size of the pillow cover to create a look of fullness. Nobody likes a limp pillow.
What to look for in a pillow cover?
I like a variety of pillow covers. When searching for pillow covers I think about how the textiles will look in my home. What is the pattern? Is it a small scale or a large scale? Does it have enough texture? I’ll dive a bit deeper into this when I discuss styling but in general, I like to have pillow covers that have an upscale look. I like them to have some weight to them so made with good quality fabric, and I like them to be a decent size (no smaller than 18×18).
For a sofa, I like a 22×22 and a 20×20. That’s a finished size so the insert would be 24×24 and a 22×22. A good range for sofa pillow sizing would be 20×20 – 24×24. You could also do a 16×24 lumbar pillow to change it up.
For a queen sized bed, I like to use two euro shams, 26×26, two throw pillows, 22×22, and then a longer lumbar, 14×36, in front.
How to style throw pillows
Now that we’ve gotten the sizing down, how do you style throw pillows? My biggest tip for throw pillow styling is think about how they coordinate now how well they match. Matching throw pillows will not give you the thoughtfully layered look you’re going for. You want them to compliment each other but not match.
For example, here in my living room I have a bit of a monochrome look going on. These pillows compliment each other as they are all shades of blue but with different patterns and textures. That’s another really important element to selecting throw pillows: find ones with different textures as well as patterns.
This throw pillow mix is from summer. You can see that I, again, used different patterns and textures but they compliment each other. The back blue pillow has a larger scale design and it’s a rough velvetly material next to the woven beige pillow, and in front is the classic ticking striped pillow. If you imagine these same pillows only without pattern or texture, just color and size, this would be a rather boring mix. By adding in the slightest pattern and texture you get an interest collection of pillows.
Refraining from “matching” pillows doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when you can have a little moment with a pair of pillows. I have a pair of accent chairs in my living room and I like having a pair of pillows to compliment them. That being said, having a couple matching sets of pillows on either side of a sofa can look rather boring. Try mixing it up with three or more different pillows on a sofa. This post is a detailed guide on mixing patterns, which is helpful for pillows!
Another important element to styling throw pillows is getting the right number of throw pillows in place. As much as I love pillows, there is such a thing as too many. Nothing is inviting about a couch full of pillows and nowhere to sit. For my chaise sectional, I like no more than five pillows. Typically, I do two pillows on each end but sometimes I like to do three on one side and one on the other or three on one side and two on the other. I try to not have pillows going all the way across the sofa so I leave the middle section clear so that the couch still feels inviting.
Tips for purchasing throw pillows
The last part of this little throw pillow 101 education is purchasing. I’ve learned so much about purchasing throw pillows over the years. Now, I almost exclusively buy my throw pillows on Etsy and Pottery Barn.
Pottery Barn has high quality pillow covers. The zipper enclosures are well made and I never have a problem getting my pillow inserts in and out. They also have great neutral pillows that work well in my home. I go to Pottery Barn to find solid color pillows that have a tone on tone pattern or something with texture.
I head to Etsy when I want something more interesting in pattern or texture. There are hundred of wonderful Etsy shops that have quality throw pillows. Here are some keywords that I like to search: Hmong, mudcloth, Kilim, Indian Wool, Textured Linen, Block Print.
Ten places to buy throw pillows
You can find pillows pretty much all over the place but there are a couple handful of places that have become tried and true shops to buy from. I’ve already mentioned Etsy and Pottery Barn because those are my personal favorites but I’m going to list my top ten other favorites below.
Before I do, I want to share another tip when purchasing pillows/pillow covers. Some of the places I recommend will have pillows that aren’t zipper enclosures – don’t buy those. Some of the places I recommend will have pillows with zippered enclosures but poly filled inserts – buy those! You can change out the poly filled inserts with your own down inserts. Don’t overlook a poly filled pillow if the cover is just what you’re looking for. As long as it’s a zippered enclosure you’re golden!