I restyle our pillows more often than Trump applies his spray tan. I’m actually not kidding. I switch mine around or add some pillows at least once a week, and a spray tan lasts at most 6 days – I should know. The Donald and I could easily go orange-neck to orange-neck on how many spray-tans we’ve had. ALSO, to really hit the metaphor home, much like a spray tan for your body, a good pillow restyling can completely refresh and renew your space. It takes just a few minutes, but you (and your space) will instantly feel pulled together, prettier and feel five pounds lighter.
Here are our easy, tried and true steps to styling your pillows together – with a big old roundup of our some guaranteed-to-look-beautiful combinations at the end.
1. Pick a color palette, then purchase and style within that palette. Leave room for neutrals and deeper/lighter tones of your palette. If you do this you are already 15 steps closer to success. Don’t skip this step or you will fail.
2. Vary the sizes of pillows – Buy large square, medium and smaller rectangles (this is key) and layer it up. Like so:
This is a slightly more formal styling – Brady taught me this, and we use it when we want things to look less lived in, more polished.
3. If you are mixing solids then go for variety of textures or some pillows with interesting details – like above. I have suede, stitching, a raw hem, and denim all on one bench and they look simple and lovely together.
4. Balance out colors evenly on the sofa or bench – see how both greens flank the bench? If they were both on the same side it would feel unbalanced. So make sure your colors and pillows are peppered around evenly.
For my nursery I wanted it to be more tonal and quiet, like so:
But you see there is still a lot of variety in tone, texture and shape.
4. Vary the scale of the patterns – make sure that they are both large and small scale patterns, because if they get too close then they can be competing and create visual chaos.
Now that you know what to do you should be golden. Congrats you’ve finished our pillow styling course. Remember that video I made on that 4 years ago? It’s an oldie but a goodie.
BUT just in case you want to take all the thought/work out of your weekend, here are 18 pillow combinations that we think look pretty darn great together.
1. Embroidered Diamond Pillow, Indigo Ikat Pillow, Navy & Cream Lumbar Pillow | 2. Tasseled Camel Pillow, Velvet Lumbar Pillow, Jute Braid Pillow | 3. Pink Geometric Pillow, Pink Silk Lumbar Pillow, Printed Linen Pillow 4. | Blue Potato Print Pillow, Textured White Lumbar Pillow, Tribal Ikat Pillow | 5. Geometric Motif Pillow, Pompom Pillow, Tasseled Lumbar Pillow | 6. Deco Fan Pillow, Tasseled Lumbar Pillow, Leopard Velvet Pillow | 7. Watercolor Printed Pillow, Chunky Quilted Red Lumbar Pillow, Red & White Print Pillow | 8. Hand-spun Silk Lumbar Pillow, Pom Pom Embroidered Pillow, Beige Print Pillow | 9. Triangle Patterned Lumbar Pillow, Pom Pom Tasseled Pillow, Zapotec Woven Pillow | 10. Golden Velvet Pillow, Cobalt Pattern Pillow, Multi-Colored Lumbar Pillow | 11. Blu Dot Pillow, Blue Ikat Lumbar Pillow, Block Print Pillow | 12. Buffalo Plaid Pillow, Abstract Lumbar Pillow, Mongolian Lamb Pillow | 13. Patterned Pillow, Navy Leather Pillow, Dhurrie Striped Pillow | 14. Hand-Spun Gray Silk Pillow, Pom Pom Pillow, Painted Stripe Pillow | 15. Tasseled Corner Pillow, Golden Boucle Pillow, Textured Lumbar Pillow | 16. White Grid Pillow, Square Pattern Pillow, Kilim Pillow | 17. Lake Motif Pillow, Gray Rectangle Pillow, Silver Gray Lumbar Pillow | 18. Linen Stripe Pillow, Mini Triangles Lumbar Pillow, Floral Pillow
I honestly have so many favorites it’s like choosing children. In this case I have 9 children. Here they are listed in no particular order: #1, #4, #5, #8, #9, #12, #13, #18. But even pairing it back to that was really hard.
Which one is your favorite?? HURRY!!!!
Numero 3 is my favorite – if only for the explosion of fuchsia, which is my favorite color. I’m currently working on creating a design concept for our foyer and hoping to sneak in a few pops of hot pink without the husband noticing, so your roundup of pillows is quite timely. 🙂
They’re all gorgeous! Thanks for the tips!
I absolutely love number 16, I’d buy them three!
Thank you Emily you made me laugh a lot this morning. Now I ‘ve a new rythm in my mind based on spray tan. One more reason to smile and nobody nows why… I love your blog, very beautiful , practical and positive. Thank you!
I love 1-2-7-11-18
Love 4 & 9.
Emily & Team –
What is your favorite source for pillow inserts? I’m always looking for those thick, fluffy inserts decorators always use that really hold shape and feel great when actually using them. Sources?
Hi Grace, I wanted to share a great resource for throw pillow inserts: pillowsxpress.com. They have a large variety of down and down-alternative fillings and custom sizes can be ordered easily/directly online. Their prices are very reasonable (for example, a custom 24×18 insert is $6.50 in my favorite “faux-down” option). It’s worth buying multiple inserts at a time because their shipping charges can end up costing more than the inserts (around $15). I’m not affiliated with them at all but I’ve been buying down-alternative inserts for years and they have the best I’ve found.
Wow, thanks for the resource! I can hardly believe they are that cheap and still made in the USA. (Not that it means there materials are made in the USA, but it is still impressive.)
This IS a great resource! Here’s my question though: When to karate chop and when to let it be filled and fluffy?
Thanks so much! I’ll check them out!
These are all so good, you know your pillows girl!
ahhh this is such a fun post! Mixing pillows is my favorite pastime! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my husband thinks I have a problem with the amount of pillows we store in our home. I have a navy blue velvet chesterfield that I have been toying with different ideas with, and lately I think I might go into the black/white/glam mode with your option 6. However I can’t stop looking at option 12 which is so fun and whimsical too.
It’s funny you posted this though because I did a similar pillow styling post for my couch a few months ago and I still haven’t been able to make a decision so now with even more ideas the purchasing is sure to be delayed even further.
The post is here:
Ok, but here’s my question: if you’re doing several pillows on each side of a couch, can you have a pillow with a big bold pattern on each side, that are different from each other?
No. You can’t.
I think it depends on what you mean by bold. The last inspiration photo has what I think are some pretty bold pillows on both sides, but they relate to each other because of the similar color palette and geometric patterns. But two wildly different florals might be a bit much. I think keeping them in the same color palette is going to be the key to making them look cohesive and not crazy.
The combos most likely to appear in my home are 5, 7, 9, & 11.
But more important- that guy in the portrait. Does he not totally look like he’s peeing after holding it for a long time? His tie is all off like he’s been partying and now breaking the seal. Just me?
I love these! Any advice for styling pillows on a corner sofa or corner banquette bench? I get tripped up with the corner and don’t know where the pillows should go. Thanks! Have learned so much from you, Emily.
Number one is my favorite. I love large scale, I love geometric, and I love blue.
My primary frustration with pillow shopping is that almost no pillow covers are machine washable. For my family (boys, dog, allergies, etc.), this is a deal-breaker, and I am constantly frustrated by how this narrows my choices by about 90 percent. Pillow cover manufacturers, hear my voice! I would buy your $50 pillows, but they must be machine-washable!!!
I love this post For so many reasons!
1. It’s hilarious .
2. It’s actually super informative .
3. The examples are killer.
I’m really feelin options 9 and 15 btws. Off to go to obsess about throw pillows now!
Emily, thank you so much for including our Inlay pillow in your roundup! My day has officially been made! I also like #1 : )…but gotta say that leather pillow in #13 makes it. I love the color combination there, too.
I love the green combo for number 18! SO pretty!
Cute! I am in the middle of restrategizing our pillows. #11 is my favorite – I love the different types of navy print. Shibori is so popular right now, but I’m hesitant to update my pillows with something very trendy that I will get tired of looking at quickly. I love the way #11 mixes prints with modernist paint swatches. It reminds me of Helen Frankenthaler.
I like 3 and 5 for pillows! What are your best recs for spray tans in the area for a fair skinned first timer?
I’ve used your tips, from the video, for awhile now as a guide when thrifting for new pillows. It has made me much more critical of my pillow purchases. I’m sure my husband also appreciates I no longer bring pillows home as if they were lost puppies.
Very helpful post!
But how do you handle styling pillows on a leather couch. I have about 5 pillows (the symmetry of which would probably nauseate you) on a cream leather couch and due to the texture, keeping them in place is basically impossible. They are always sliding down and looking like hell. My pillow-hating husband and toddler aren’t helping matters and I’m considering just doing away with them all together. Gasp! Any ideas for decorative pillows on leather sofas?
Love me some #5! But I’m with you… It’s a stylist/blogger/designer curse. I have a Rubbermaid tub full of 20″ feather inserts “just in case,” and I changed 5 pillows out this weekend!
this is helpful! we have persian-ish rugs and it makes me hard to figure out how to match the pillows.
I share your pillow addiction and swap mine out constantly. But the big question is where the heck do you store all the ones not in rotation? Every closet I have and even an unused shower is full of pillows and throws (another addiction). I fell guilty every time I buy a new one, but that doesn’t stop me lol.
Emily, thanks so much for including the tasseled Camel pillow (#2) from our ethically sourced collection in your post! We also love to change our pillow styling with our mood and love playing with color, size, pattern, texture and embellishments.
They are all so beautifully combined together. I pick #15 and #18 out of my love for vidid colors.
This could not have come at a better time. I’m nesting like yo (baby any day) and all my old disgusting pillows that my other kids fart and wipe boogers on are getting replaced. Pronto. Thank you so much for this guide!!!
Great post, always love new pillows. They make things feel new again.
Okay, I am loving the reference to spray tans and Trump. Thanks for making me laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing! And you know, I also like hearing about how to arrange throw pillows!
Ooo pretty combos! I am especially feeling 2, 4, 8, and 18.
Love your blog, Emily, but who is this Trump you refer to, an L.A. decorator?
This made my day to see my Watercolor Printed Pillow (#7) included…thanks Emily! 😉
I love #1 but #4 is really pretty too!
I never comment but I had to come on to say THANK YOU for this post and for the “how to style shelves” post. These are so immensely helpful to me! You designers make it look so effortless and cool and when regular folks like myself try to do the same in our homes, it just never really looks that good. But just some helpful tips like you’ve listed make it so much more manageable. Thank you! Would love to see more posts like this, maybe like how to style vignettes for night stands/credenzas/etc
this is a great post Emily! My dilemma is where to get beautiful pillow covers. I have minimal storage for pillows in my house and I hate to waste so I’d really love to find covers I can switch off and on seasonally but am finding there is a gap in the market for that. I know Etsy is a good resource but sometimes the covers are as much as a nice throw pillow from Target. Maybe tell the Target big wigs to offer covers too? 🙂 Especially love the macrame pillows in your nursery. Heavenly.
I love a good pillow round up and this is the best I’ve ever seen! My favorites are 1, 5, 9 & 13. From one pillow addict to another, thanks from the bottom of my heart for this post – I’m bookmarking it and will be checking out some brands that you’ve linked that I’ve not yet seen! I’m linking to my site below in case anyone out there is also on the hunt for new pillow designers 🙂 I design and make everything in my Philadelphia studio http://www.nataliasaddi.com
I love the little examples you put together! I have finally started collecting some extra pillows so I can switch them out a little more often. Finding pillows to pair together is my favorite part whenever I start a style board, too – the first thing I choose is usually the largest piece of furniture, and then I start right away with pillows.
Oh maaan, great round-up! I love pillows & textiles…. unfortunately, my partner does not 🙁 and I often find them tossed halfway across the room in an exasperated “the pillows are taking over!”
ps- can you tell me about that AMAZING blimp art? I am looking for some large pieces for our new home and that one is KILLER!
Emily, how did you KNOW I have a beautiful but completely empty teal sofa at home and have been AGONIZING for months (literally) about pillows? I absolutely love combo #9, but it seems like the link only goes to the first pillow. Could you please post links to all of the pillows in a selection? Thank you!!http://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/no-fail-pillow-combos#commentAnchor
Must I choose only one combo? I’m really loving #13 and #16!
Hey Emily. Your blog is awesome.
Can we get a round up of cute outdoor pillows or how to make indoor pillows outdoor friendly? I hate to bring inside regular pillows every day but the outdoor pillow choices are not great.
Thank you SO much for including our Kitu pillow in #13! We’ve got one left. I love it with blues too. Well, blue makes pretty much everything better:) Great post and ideas, thanks!