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Mixing pillows and patterns; 7 different ways

Today we are mixing a bunch of pillows (and patterns) and then you are going to vote for your favorite pillow combo (using our fancy voting poll widget at the bottom). The winning pillow combination will win a helicopter ride to Aruba, and then a chance at one-on-one hot tub date with Prince Farming. They are so excited and have been tanning and highlighting their hair for WEEKS, so please be sure to weigh each combo properly and vote with your heart.

Here’s how it went down: when I was MANIACALLY organizing and cleaning our house over the break I realized that I had approximately 47 decorative pillows, just hanging out in closets, on furniture, etc. That doesn’t even include what is at the studio. So, before I took them all over to the studio (some to keep for future projects, some for our EPIC garage sale that is coming soon) I figured I’d shoot a little pillow post.

We started with two solid 24″x24″ white linen pillows on both sides and just changed out all the smaller pillows. We didn’t have any big solid pillows to help anchor the corners (which is what you need on a bench like this) – but for most sofas you are fine with 20″x20″ or 16″x16″ even, as long as the other pillows vary in sizes.

Lets get into it:

This first one is the ‘Grey Gardens meets Steven Alan, with a side of subtle’. Hilariously enough, this might be the most masculine. And by masculine I mean, like Adam Levine, totally muscular but he would rock a floral shirt. And women across America would faint.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Blue Floral: vintage | Grey and Yellow Geometric (no longer available) | Teal Blue Yellow Striped | Grey and Yellow Cross | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Blue Neutrals Creams Whites

Blue, grey and white, with a bit of country. It has texture and pattern, but with that limited color palette it still feels really pulled back and clean.

Cream Ruffle: Vintage | Blue Stripe | Grey and White | Blue Half Circle | Floral: unknown (If you know where this is from please comment) | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Pinks Blush White Floral

She’s pink and feminine and with enough restraint to make me want to get to know her and not be annoyed by her.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Pink Woven | Floral: custom | Pink Silk: vintage | Pink Yellow Abstract (no longer available) | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Metallics Gold White Silver copy

Gold and glam and yet totally calm. We have three different metallic pillows, with three different patterns. Throw some rose golds or copper tones in there and you have a total metallic bonanza, suitable for New Years eve, or just every day if you are a party girl. Again, I love how calm and clean this is while still having a personality and a point of view. It’s not just all white, but it feels that calm.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Gold Chevron (no longer available) | Gold Woven | Gold Dots: vintage | Gold and White Squares (no longer available) | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Blue White Cream Striped Pattern

A never fail, always happy, gender neutral blue and white world with both pattern and texture. All different patterns with different scales (remember that if the scales are too similar then they compete and are confusing/chaotic for your eye). Do the blue tones match exactly? Nope. Which is why this person doesn’t look like they are super uptight and instead just looks a little more intentional. Less crazy, more sophisticated but still totally fun.

Cream Ruffle: Vintage | Blue and White Geometric | Blue Pinstripe | Blue Half Circle | Blue and White Woven Stripe | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Neutrals Creams Whites

This chick is bringing Shabby Chic back, and she is convincing me that I might indeed one day eliminate all color in my house. Its neutral and warm with some simple patterns and lots of washed linen. It might look boring here, but picture a whole room of just wood, worn leather, and lots of washed white, neutral and gray textures. I could get into it.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Circle Print | Tan and White Striped: vintage | Tan and White Striped: vintage | Cream Linen

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Blue Pink Floral Green White

This is the chick you date but don’t marry. Unless you want to marry the drunk, fun girl at the party who may or may not dance on the table. Its full on ‘Crazy lady; and its seriously wonderful. I wish my house could be like this all the time, I truly do. But if this was EVERYWHERE in my house I would go a bit more nuts than I already do. The thing is that visually I’m so attracted to this pillow combination, and I love all of the pillows individually a lot. There are 5 different patterns, and lots of tones of blues and pinks. It’s so exciting and fun, if not totally lunatic. Sign a prenup. This chick will take you for all your worth or publicly accuse you of something weird.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Blue and Green Floral: vintage | Multicolored Striped: vintage | Floral: custom | Blue and White Geometric | Pink Yellow Abstract (no longer available) | Cream Linen


We should take this game to Vegas and book bets – because I feel like I KNOW which one you guys will choose. I know that picking a  ‘favorite’ is tricky because maybe there is one you love instantly but another that you would ultimately like to be around the most.

So make it a gut reaction, an impulse – a first impression rose.

Pillows_7 Ways_vote grid_revised

If you are wondering how to style pillows together watch this video I made YEARS ago. The tips and rules still apply, also I still wear that shirt every day. And if you are new to the blog check out my full living room tour and the story behind the blimp. 

So get your vote on, folks.

*All photos by Tessa Neustadt for EHD.


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153 thoughts on “Mixing pillows and patterns; 7 different ways

  1. 7. I can’t help myself. And our new house is turning out 7 all over and I am, surprisingly, loving it. I keep thinking I want to be more sophisticated, but it turns out I just want to be happy and layered. Who knew??

        1. Why oh why do I see #7 as the laid back, carefree, boho girl who loves to travel, sit and drink coffee while having real conversations and is a lover of all things real. She’s either city or country, and nothing in between.

          1. What Jessica said! Also, I am glad I wasn’t alone in voting for the crazy girl, and surprisingly, my second choices would be 1 or 4–opposite end of the spectrum.

  2. I say #1, Steven Alan masculine with a floral shirt. I’m obsessed with stripes and blue florals, so…this is me.

  3. #1 with #7 as a close second. And I definitely clicked on each numerous times looking for a vote button haha

  4. Number 7. In my own house it would be #6 or #4, so this gut reaction just taught me that I should try changing it up to see how more colour looks and feels! Thank you.

  5. Number 3 in the morning and afternoon…but all number 7 in the evening and late night! Sweet and feminine and yet wild and crazy at heart!!!!

  6. can i do a combo? 🙂

    From Left to right
    start with #1 – White, floral (love this one! and the blue one)
    gold chevron from #4

    Blue ½ moon or better, gold small same size (dots), #5 blue pinstripe, #7 blue &white geometric, Large Cream Linen.

    or # 5!

    1. Yes! I’d love to see the ochre/chartreuse/mustard colour that’s in the vintage floral pillow in 1 with some gold pillows – is that weird? Yellow and gold? I feel like its wrong but I like it!

  7. I DEFINITELY responded most to #2 when initially reading through the post, but looking at them all numbered next to eachother at the bottom, I love #1.

    1. I shrank everything down too and came up with the same result! #1 is interesting yet balanced. I love it without necessarily loving the individual pillows, which means our girl is magic.

  8. #2 for sure. It’s a great combo of pillows and I like this shade of blues better than the others. I’m a sucker for clean/class and minimal which is the vibe I get from this set.

  9. I vote for #1! The blue/green flower pillow reminds me of my grandmother. She had this as curtain fabric in her living room since the 1950s. After her passing I grabbed some leftovers and put it in a frame hanging in my bedroom.

  10. I’m a little surprised by this because I’ve been drawn to neutrals lately, but number 7! Maybe I’m just feeling a little unbalanced this morning.

  11. 2, because I like all the individual cushions and I love the blues, but someone suggested a blue/gold combo and I think that sounds gorgeous too, especially if you bring in the gold chevron cushion. I don’t like the big white one with the ruffled edges on the far left, I think it makes them all look a bit shabby chic.

  12. #7 just makes me feel happy. I would love coming home to a smiley little spot like this everyday!

  13. I’m drawn to 7. Yes, the color pulls me in, but I also think I like the balance of varied pillow sizes and shapes here. It’s the only arrangement with 7 pillows, I think. Who doesn’t like asymmetry?

  14. I think you’re all wrong about #7! I’m thinking about Jen Gotch, who looks like she’s drunk all the time, and she’s been married a long time. That pillow arrangement is like Jen, and everyone loves Bando!

  15. Hey Em! A pillow related issue/question but not for living rooms: I love styled beds with loads of pillows but WHERE DO ALL THOSE PRETTY PILLOWS GO when we’re sleeping? My bedroom isn’t huge and I have a manly man who isn’t going to carefully stack anything fussy… What’s a girl to do?! Maybe it’s worth a post? I know all my friends have the same issue. 🙂 Thank you! Rach

    1. I second this suggestion for a post! I’m obsessed with making my bed all inviting and pillow-rific…..would love you advice as how to style it. Maybe a “style your bed” contest like the “style your nightstand” one??

  16. Fiddling around with pillow arrangements seems fussy and old fashioned to me. Like Cam on Mod Fam knifing the pillows just so on the house flip. Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy your blog. 🙂

    1. It’s not fussing if it’s a creative outlet for you…and if you get it right, it looks effortless and inviting rather than like you try too hard. But everyone has a different idea of what “right” is, so I can understand what you mean.

  17. I love the photo of #7, so that’s what I voted for, although, I would probably prefer #4 in real life- the metallic pillows are very posh.

  18. Fun! LUV that vintage turquoise floral, but I went with #2. This leads me to a question, though: when you are buying things for a room, like pillows, (or anything) do you have a checklist of sorts that you use to help you decide on what purchases to make to insure everything works and has a point of view? Or is this more of an intuitive process for you? I’m getting better at it, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something with a particular use/space in mind and once I’ve got it home and in the space, realize it doesn’t work at all like I thought it would and either have to return it, or use it differently than I imagined. Pillows and other accessories are a great example of this….. How do you edit to a particular point of view? Would love some tips from the master….. 🙂

  19. 5 if you want to look like you have your act together.

    7 if you don’t.

    I’d likely buy 5 but secretly REALLY WANT 7.

  20. Hi em!

    Thanks for the link for the pillow styling. I have an L shaped sectional and always have trouble figuring how many pillows to have and where to out them. Any tips?
    (In my head I always call you em hendo. Sorry if that’s weird.)


    1. Second this! I also have an L shaped couch and have trouble with pillow styling.

      I’m confused about something though… you mentioned that you anchored all the pillows with 24″ white linen pillows on each side but that white pillow on the right from Ikea is 20 inches.

  21. #2 for my reserved side
    #7 for my wild side

    More subdue will have longevity. The bolder will be noticed more therefore you may get tired of looking at them quicker.

  22. Voted for #1, love the neutral pallet balanced with pops of teal and mustard. I will say though- I’m obsessed with the pink and yellow geometric pillow in #3…

  23. I love the blue pillows in #5, but was wondering about the blue & white woven stripe from Target. That blue looks a lot more vibrant in your pic than it does on the Target website and my local Target store doesn’t have that pillow in stock, so is it more of an aqua/teal than a dull blue like it appears on Target’s website?

  24. Oh my, seven gives me a headache (maybe a hangover!) just looking at it.
    Could not have that in my house..

  25. Number 7 speaks to me the most. Mostly because I LOVE that vintage striped pillow and crazy Anthropologie pillow together. I think it’s nice to have a little nuttiness in my house. I like to call them “kooky vignettes”.

  26. I think #7 just photographs so well! It seems photos need more punch to translate online. The others might be more livable although I don’t like blue so I’m probably reacting to the color. I like the mix of patterns all together in the pillows, just in a different color.

  27. #1 but I really do like 7 and 5. I think any description with Adam Levine would have had me though!

  28. It’s a toss up between #1 and #7. I actually have the grey/yellow Steven Alan pillow cover from #1 and I love it. #7 is so fun, I kind of want to take it behind the bleachers and get it pregnant. Kidding! 30 Rock anyone?

  29. number 7 for sure! I think it is funny that #7 is the crazy one, but the poll shows it is the favorite. Love it! My house is definitely crazy lady, but not in a bad way!

  30. 5 is the best! But if I vote for it, then those lovely pillows won’t show up at the garage sale, right? So… 3!

  31. #7! my new year’s resolutions have me trying to be minimal but this choice shows i’m not, obviously. i think that the rest of your living room is so bright and light that you could stand to have this super-colorful corner!

  32. I love this post, as I’m on the hunt for pillows for my couch and this post inspired me. QUESTION: do you always use down filled pillows, or the regular soft filled pillows? Is it right to still do the karate chop? Or do you do a mixture of both? I notice none of your pillows have the karate chop, is that a thing of the past now?

    Thanks Emily! And I picked 7 (5 would be my runner up).

  33. Emily, ypu are awesome! I love everything you do, hopefully some day you will head up to Seattle. We have lotsbofbgreat have a question for you.nthe amazing post of the spanish home,nin the LR there is an industrial style bookcase.non the shelf a brown vase with green, what appears to be pods. What kind of pods are they.nibhave a brown vase similar and would love to do that. Where would you purchase something like that? Thanks so much! Gina T

  34. Oh my! Your mind must just explode with creativity! Your blog has spoiled me – home decorating magazines have nothing on you. They give you just eye candy, but you give the entire recipe, the ingredients, where to buy the ingredients, and at the best price – all in down to earth and witty repartee.

    I’d love to know what you would do with a modern black sofa – no loose cushions. It just seems like I don’t want to see pillows on it, it’s such a tight design, but they would feel so comfortable.

    Oh, and I vote for #2.

  35. I really think we need to be able to rank our top 3 choices. Because mine are very close. I voted 7, because it truly made me happy. (And your description is HILARIOUS) but 1 and 5 are very close in there. I am very close to actually hating #6.

  36. Numba Seven please! Love all the colours!!! Exudes J O Y, light, fluffy and fresh!!! Like YOU & your blog~~nothing is too serio!!!!!

  37. All were nice and ok, until I got to #7. Yes! This is what I want. And then I remembered, this is what I have…against a red couch! It’s crazy, but I love it. And for the record, I have been happily married for ten years and have three children. I’m not THAT crazy of a chick! 😉

  38. #7! I love it. And #1 would be my next favorite, mostly because I covet that vintage floral pillow of yours.

  39. This was SO HARD!!! What an enviable pillow arsenal! I could stare at these pillow combos for days and days! It was a close call between #2 and #5, but #2 felt more true to my heart. The famous blue floral in #1 is definitely one of my all time favorites, I love the calmness of #6, and sometimes wish I was wild enough to choose #7! They’re all amazing!

  40. I join the majority thinking that colorful pillows are the most fun!

    x Lily on my

  41. 7!!!!! I’m in LUST with 7!!!

    But like you, I’d probably get overwhelmed if everything was like this! But on a nice white/off-white/cream couch in an otherwise calm yet cozy room! Wowza! My heart is racing 🙂

  42. Ultimately, I chose number 2, but number 4 is such a close runner up! I think 2 is most my style while 4 is what I wish my style was lol.

  43. Whoa! Number 7 all the way… All crazy, all the time! But then again, I am the drunk fun girl. Luckily I’ve been married for 13 years so far!

  44. Well…aren’t I predictable…My top three just happened to be the top three on the poll…same order even. Ha. I think though, I really am ready for colour in my life, so 7 wins!

  45. No. 1 without a doubt…. a hint of floral wins all the time…coming in a close 2nd is no. 7….mad lady but guess what I’ve been married 26 years….so he’s coping pretty well!

  46. No. 4 the beautiful, textured metallics. Though the serene blue and heavier fabrics of No. 2 are a strong contender.

  47. Definitely number 4. It’s unexpected, not too busy, not too matchy-matchy, and it looks cozy and relaxing, but the metallics add some fun and a touch of glam = the perfect balance!

  48. I voted for 5 because I liked the tone on tone texture and it seemed the most balanced. But then I got the idea to cover the blue bench and the art on my screen, and I was able to appreciate the other combos as well, without the distraction of those large color shapes. Except for 6 which I hate and 7 which just looks too busy to me.

  49. I love how the vintage floral pillow is pictured from 2005 in the story about your blimp and now it has been reunited with the blimp!

  50. This is a version of Material girl I can get into! One element several different ways is a really “done” thing but you make it a really fun read when you narrate the personality of the combinations. I like the voting aspect too, I always wonder which combo is most mainstream vs unpopular. Thanks for shaking it up!

  51. The perfect pillow combo in my world would be #5 plus the pillow with the black stripe from #2 and the multi colored striped pillow from #7. That combo would surely win me some sort of prestigious pillow award.

  52. As I scrolled thru all the fabulous choicesI fell in love with each one, therefore take a pillow from each combination to create # 8. As I started to select a pillow from each of the combinations, starting with the floral one in #1, I got to # 6 and realized that #7almost included a pillow from each pattern. The only change I would make is to replace the small pink floral with the gold small metallic in #4. Fun challenge for a cold winters day.

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