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20 VERY Affordable Pillow Combos & Our 5 No-Fail Combo Rules

photo by tessa neustadt | from: how we styled our living room to sell

I think that throw pillows get kind of a bad rep sometimes. Even we, proclaimed pillow lovers, fuel the disrespectful fire. When Emily talks about searching for her greater purpose she says, “Surely I’m here to do more than just play with pillows.” And when people used to ask me when I first started at EHD and I would respond, “I basically pick out pretty pillows and put them on the internet.” But what did pillows do to deserve such treatment? What, make our rooms prettier and our heads more cushioned??? Exactly. So I am here today to show you how crucial throw pillows are to your life (but mostly remind you of the rules for making a perfect pillow pairing and to show you my 20 new favorite very affordable combos).

Ok, so to clear we are pillow lovers. They make spaces look more layered, textured, and cozy. They are basically these magical plush objects that can add the perfect amount of personality to a room. Plus, as we are about to prove in this post, they can be really affordable and by simply switching out some pillows you can make your old space feel brand new (I know it sounds not possible but we promise it is).

Since this is my 3rd time writing about pillow combos I am going to bestow my EHD learned wisdom upon you… again. Practice makes perfect, right??


photo by tessa neustadt | from: girl’s bedroom makeover with stokke

1. Keep a cohesive color palette

Look, it’s our favorite rule again (because it’s important). If you don’t have a cohesive color palette then you are setting yourself up to fail (or at least make the job much harder full of second guesses). We get it, we love color, too, but choose some tones you want on your sofa or bed then buy within those colors. Just make sure to leave room for neutrals and deeper/lighter hues of your palette, meaning it doesn’t all have to be the same exact shade of blue or green. If your palette is teal, yellow and rust, feel free to pick a punchy yellow than maybe a pattern with a lighter shade…same goes for all the other colors. This will help give dimension right off the bat.

2. Vary sizes and shapes

Mix it up with size. Buy large square, medium and smaller rectangles/lumbars, circles, half circles… You get it. But remember, regardless of the shape, just make them different sizes (having three pillows in three different shapes and sizes is a good place to start/build upon). Again, it’s key to give you that sweet sweet visual dimension.

3. Add in different textures

If you are mixing solids or wanting to stay pretty neutral, go for a variety of textures or some pillows with interesting details. That could be anything from the material (like velvet, linen, canvas), interesting hems, tassels, pom poms, or weaving variation. FYI, a neutral color palette can be just as exciting as a bold color combo if the textures are varied.

4. Balance out colors evenly

Spread the love people. This rule applies mainly to sofas and benches. Don’t have all the blue pillows on one side and all the cream pillows on the other. Make sure to have the colors you have chosen balanced on both ends. Your eyes will be much happier.

5. Vary the scale of patterns

Don’t pick all large scale patters like bold stripes or all small scale like tiny flowers. Mix those up and maybe throw in a solid and you will look like a pillow pro.

Class dismissed. JUST KIDDING. Let’s now get into some examples for those who are visual learners (i.e. me)

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: reveal: arlyn’s bright & happy rental living room makeover

Arlyn really nailed her pillow combo on her blue sofa. Let’s see why

Color Palette: She kept the color palette simple with creams, dark muted blues, mustard, and dark copper which stood up beautifully to the rich velvet blue (but didn’t try and steal the show). Basically your eyes aren’t on color overload. It’s warm but sophisticated.

Vary Sizes and Shapes: Notice that with each side, she varied the pillow sizes and shapes that were next to each other. It makes it look layered and interesting.

Different Textures: Since the sofa is velvet, Arlyn chose to use only one velvet pillow very intentionally with that dark copper number. Since the colors contrast, it doesn’t just blend in. Then mixing linen, cotton, tassels, and pom-poms make this sofa look SO welcoming and very well designed.

Balance Out Colors Evenly: Arlyn made sure to spread out the colors evenly. Both sides have a dose of cream, blue, and a warm tone.

Vary The Scale Of Patterns: On the left side of the sofa, you have the slightly larger scaled triangle pattern on the mustard lumbar paired with the more delicate and smaller ticking stripes on the large pillow. Then on the right, you have a large scale floral print, a solid tone, and a smaller weaved pattern in the lumbar. No one is competing and it all looks balanced. You and your eye are very happy, right?

photo by tessa neustadt | from: staging my dream parisian hotel suite with sothebys

Living rooms are not the only room where these rules apply. Yep, same goes for the bedroom so let’s jump into this Parisian Suite we designed in Pasadena and pretend we are all in Paris right now.

Color Palette: Ginny was the main designer on this project and she chose to keep things very neutral with black, white, gray and a hint of red:) We always look a pop of color.

Vary Sizes and Shapes: As you can see, she only used lumbar pillows (even on the bench) but varied their heights and lengths. Because of this, you don’t even really notice at first glance that they are all rectangles. Very smooth, Ginny:)

Different Textures: She kept it simple with cotton, linen, and canvas. BUT those wonderful Rebecca Atwood pillows have a hand-stitched detail that really brings the whole combo to life.

Hot Tip

Having a pillow with a 3-D element like embroidery, poms or tassels will really amp up the style factor in your combo.

Balance Out Colors Evenly: Since you can see the bench in nearly the same sightline as the bed, Ginny made sure to give each moment a bold dark-toned pillow. Then let the rest be lighter toned as to not make it all look too visually heavy.

Vary The Scale Of Patterns: Both of those dark-toned pillows also have the bolder patterns to their pillow partners. Those pillows have smaller, very busy patterns to bring more life to the whole design. Otherwise, the room could have looked stuffy fast.

Ooook! Now that you have the rules and examples you can throw them out the window because I did all the work for you with these 20 combos UNDER $100 (Disclaimer: Some of these are cushion covers so you might need to buy an affordable insert). Ok check out what I’ve cooked up for you…

1. Cushion Cover with Tassels / Lumbar Textured Pillow / Cotton Canvas Round Pillow | 2. Green Velvet Cushion Cover / Vintage Satin Floral Throw Pillow / Embroidered Floral Pillow | 3. Global Pillow / Woven Textured Stripe Pillow / Natural Linen Pillow Cover | 4. Purple Velvet Throw Pillow / Gray Striped Lumbar Pillow / Raised Wool Throw Pillow | 5. Solid Pillow with Fringe / Dark Grey Throw Pillow Cover / Dorado Pillow | 6. Wool-blend Cushion Cover / Elizabeth Pillow / Rustic Woven Stripe Linen Throw Pillow | 7. Linon Cabernet Pillow / Geema Copper Woven Pillow / Faux Suede Pillow | 8. Linen Pillow / Floral Lumbar Pillow / Buffalo Check Cushion Cover | 9. Macramé Cushion Cover / Pink Tweed Lumbar Pillow / Center Stripes Pillow | 10. Split Circle Pillow Cover / Mezzaluna Pillow / Navy Blue Velvet Pillow

11. Quilted Solid Pillow / Gray Lumbar Pillow / Embroidered Grid Square Pillow | 12. Canvas Cushion Cover / SNÖFRID / Off White & Grey Check Pillow Cover | 13. Fringe Pillow / Navy Blue Velvet Lumbar Pillow / Velvet Round Cushion | 14. Printed Leaf Pillow Gray / Beaded Gaze Pillow Cover / Colorblock Pillow | 15. Liano Almond Pillow Cover / Stripe Pillow / Cushion Cover with Fringe | 16. Faux Leather Pillow / Cotton Velvet Cushion Cover / Crescente Indigo Block Print Pillow | 17. Woven Textured Stripe Pillow / Snap Closure Pillow / Gray And Orange Kuba Applique Pillow | 18. Floral Pillow / Woven Plaid Pillow / Pillow With Tassel | 19. Ivory Ogee Jacquard Pillow / Half-Round Cushion / Mustard Velvet Lumbar Pillow | 20. Snap Closure Pillow / Corded Basketweave Lumbar Pillow Cover / Striped Pillow With Tassels

Any now pumped to start freshening up their home with a pillow or two..or three? Do you have the rules memorized yet? Kidding. Well, if you are ready for some new pillows I hope this helped. BUT if you have any more questions let’s chat in the comments:)

Love you, mean it.

Want more pillow combo magic? Check out these posts too: 18 Neutral (and Textured) Pillow Combos + 5 Rules for Guaranteed Combo-ing Success | 14 Rules for How We Style the Perfect Bedroom (+ 3 New Reveals) | 18 No Fail Pillow Combos | 22 Pillow and Throw Combinations for Any Style | Mixing Pillows and Patterns; 7 Different Ways | 18 Fun and Affordable Pillow Combos | How to Mix Decorative Pillows (+ 20 Guaranteed-To-Look-Good Combinations)

Opening Photo Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: How We Styled Our Living Room To Sell

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1 year ago

These are lovely and I can’t wait to get far along enough in my room design to get to worry about pillows 🙂 I would have loved some outdoor options too, maybe next time!

1 year ago
Reply to  Jessica

Yes! I need outdoor combinations. I’ve been looking for round outdoor pillows, hoping to vary shapes a bit.

1 year ago

I, too, am a pillow lover and think these combinations are beautiful. I struggle with using pillows on loveseats. I have two loveseats (and two chairs) in my main living space. How do I make use of some of your suggestions without overwhelming the diminished size of a loveseat?
Thank you!

1 year ago

This is the post I needed!! Do you have any advice for pairing pillow inserts with cushion covers? Should the size of the insert match the size of the cushion? What’s the ideal ratio? AND, do you have any inserts you recommend? It seems like the fullness of inserts from various companies can vary, and I don’t know how to choooooose! Thanks for any help! 🙂

1 year ago
Reply to  Meredith

Oops, I meant: Should the size of the insert match the size of the cushion COVER? I got too excited about all of this pillow talk (lolol) and didn’t see that mistake!

Molly H
1 year ago

Great posting. Never too many pillow tips. 2 questions:

— Where is good place to get not too expensive, good quality inserts for all the covers I’ve bought?

— How in the world do you get pillows to stay upright on a slippery leather sofa? Have a consignment store “new” (my last pre-covid purchase) absolutely yummy, warm caramel brown, curvy leather sofa that just screams “give me yellow and cream pillows”. Then the pillows slide down and lie flat when no one is looking or the earth spinned too fast for a moment there or something–it’s a mystery to me.

Thinking those schlumpy large pillows I see in photoshoots would work better at staying place, but I’ve never seen square inserts that aren’t the standard pointy-sided ones. Have looked at feather pillow inserts that might stay in place better, but yowza….$$$.

1 year ago
Reply to  Molly H

I think I saw somewhere that you’re supposed to size up for the insert in order to make it nice and full, eg if it’s a 20″ square pillow you should get the 22″ insert, but TBH I think off the shelf inserts are harder to find over 20″… But if you’re even mildly crafty you could order the stuffing from a craft store

1 year ago
Reply to  Molly H

You can get inserts at most fabric stores. There’s also a chance that Crate & Barrel sells them separately. They don’t list their covers and inserts separately on the website, but I’ve talked to an in store salesperson before.

1 year ago
Reply to  Molly H

I just double checked on Crate&Barrel and depending on the size and fill, the inserts range from about $7-$22.

Alice Sievert
1 year ago

I have to confess that I am a pillow hoarder! Every time that I see a pillow that I love I buy it. My biggest challenge is trying to find a place to keep them all.

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