Pillows to Match Your Style

One sofa, three takes: Whether your sofa is plain or fancy, solid or patterned, change its look in minutes. It's all in the mix of pillows.

Symmetry and classic shapes are key to traditional style. Identical silk squares next to the sofa arms anchor the arrangement, with a mix between. Small squares are the same size, color, and material, but one is quilted and the other has stripes of gold embroidery, proving symmetry doesn't require perfectly matched pairs. The focal point is a richly detailed velvet pillow in the center. Collect pillows the same hue and change them out to refresh the room.

More Traditional Decorating


  • For a patterned sofa, pick a subtle color from the pattern and gather pillows in that hue.
  • For a traditional sofa, avoid using the same fabric for the pillows as on the sofa. Instead, pull together fabrics from the room, tying in all the colors and completing the design picture.

This look is all about rumpled comfort and a pleasing jumble. Drape a sturdy quilt or bedspread over the back and seat for an instant facelift, then start the layering. Mix pillow patterns, colors, and sizes for a mismatched effect. Here, shades of cream and linen are perked up with accents in shades of red and pink plus just enough brown to tie the group back to the quilt. The cross-stitch pattern helps blend the variety of designs.

More Cottage Style


  • Don't overcrowd. Go for overlapping layers, but you should be able to sit without moving all the pillows first.
  • Vary the size and shape of pillows.
  • Use trims, contrast welts, and bold fabrics to add character.

Want a playful, modern scene? Gravitate toward pillows with graphic patterns and interesting shapes, and leave some space around to show them off. This mix of shapes creates a skyline of sorts, adding interest to the plain sofa with a dramatic brown-and-white floral pattern, a skinny lumbar pillow covered in orange dots, and a sweet round cushion embroidered with a sketch of a bird.


  • Match a paint chip to your pillows or sofa fabric, and carry it with you when shopping for fabrics and ready-made pillows.
  • For a modern sofa, use contrasting shapes and fewer embellishments.
  • Pillows are a great way to have fun on a budget. You can buy 1 yard of amazing fabric and create an individual look.


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