18 Neutral (and Textured) Pillow Combos + 5 Rules for Guaranteed Combo-ing Success
Written by Jess Bunge
Pillow combos are an easy enough concept right? You go out to your favorite pillow retailer, choose a few pretty ones, then bing, bang, boom DONE. They all magically work together the first go ’round. HA! Well, my friends unless you are a pro pillow combo-er either by birth or have lots of practice (Emily qualifies for both), it’s usually not that simple. After months of thinking on it/hunting, only THIS WEEKEND did I myself find a pillow combination that I really love for my sofa, so I get it as a simple human. Now, I took my tiiiiimme with it and played with at least four different combos before I felt it was right. Lucky number five…that’s a thing right?? I promise it won’t take you as long if you put your mind to it….I’m just classically indecisive (not my favorite Libra trait). BUT enough about that.
We have actually written about this topic a couple of different times: One with rules and one budget combo post. We love to refresh everyone on our styling rules because who doesn’t need a helpful reminder from time to time, so we’re back without another iteration. As you all may know, Emily and the design team are finally in the decorating stage of the Mountain house (YES) and are currently eating, drinking and sleeping…throw pillows. That pinboard is FULL of neutral and textured beauties. We thought that since they were doing all that great pillow hunting, we could get double the reward and round up some awesome combos. Win-win. But before we get into the combos, I wanted to refresh you on our pillow combo-ing rules first. These guidelines apply to any time you go to put together a pillow combo (not just the neutral kind like we are focusing on today). Of course, feel free to go off-book if you’re feeling like a pro, but for those who need a more 101 rulebook, here we go:
1. Keep a cohesive color palette: This is the first rule for a reason. 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 or you could get real funky and try the trending pyramid. 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 visual dimension.
3. Add in textures: If you are mixing solids or wanting to stay pretty neutral (like we are in today’s post), go for a variety of textures or some pillows with interesting details. That could be anything from the material, interesting hems, tassels, pom poms, or weaving variation. 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 scale of patterns: Copy and paste from last week’s bed styling post because the pattern scale rule is the same in every room. Has anyone ever told you to either pick your eyes or your lips when it comes to doing your makeup? Well, the same goes for pattern scale. No one wants their pattern combo to look like it has a dark smokey eye with a bold red lip. It’s just too much to take in. So don’t have all your patterns be small-scale or all large-scale. Using both will create that visual tension that we are all striving for.
And yes, we’re all here for some shopping picks, but let’s do a quick “why these work” exercise to drive home the rules…
Why these combos work:
1. When Brady did his living refresh after his boyfriend moved in, he wanted to go from darker neutral to a lighter neutral feel….just not too light. As you can see, he choose three different sizes and two different shapes. The large cream pillow, although a solid color, has a ton of personality with the woven pattern. That pattern is also a larger scale than the medium sized dark pillow. The dark pillow balances perfectly with the art behind the sofa and adds in more texture with those fun tassels. Then to bring in a “bright” neutral he finished off the combo with that beautiful warm leather lumbar pillow. The leather adds another texture to the group and the shape adds that last bit of visual contrast and interest.
2. This combo was from the house tour we did of Amy Oppedisano of Salt Coastal Interiors. She kept the color palette on the lighter neutral side with again three different sized pillows in patterns with varying scales. Notice though how those tassels help to add texture just like it did with Brady’s. If they weren’t there it wouldn’t be as dynamic as a combo. We also love that she paired that larger more traditional patterned pillow with the two more boho patterns, but they all work together because they share a cohesive palette. It adds that hint of surprise that we are BIG fans of and makes for a more interesting combo.
3. Sometimes simple just works best. In Mel’s first living room reveal, she used two pillows of different sizes and textured materials on her bench and it looked great. The combo still pops because there is enough of a color contrast to spark your eye’s attention. Plus, the sheepskin throw brings in added texture to round it out.
Why this combo works:
When Emily styled her best friend’s living room, she kept to neutral but still colorful. What we really wanted to point out here is the perfect balance of color. You don’t need to have every color on both sides of your sofa but the majority should be. It’s more about having a balance of tone. Make sure to mix lights and darks on both sides. But for the purposes of the rule and this room, all the colors are all represented on both sides of the sofa.
Alright, now it’s time to shop. We know that beautiful pillows exist at all price points, but sometimes it feels like they’re all $300, and before you know it, you’re spending $1,000 (at least in your mind). To remedy this, we picked three price points that each include three pillows and a throw, starting at $150 for the whole package. Now, there are a few combos (particularly in the $300 category that go a smidge over budget, but not really by more than $10 or so).
1. Camel Faux Suede / Black and White Pillow / Woven Strip Lumbar / Wool Stripe Throw | 2. Sanela Pillow / Waffle Square Pillow / Velu White & Black Pillow / Emmafrida Throw | 3. Loom Pillow / Diamond Throw Pillow / Copper Velvet Lumbar Pillow / Waffled Throw | 4. Quilted Velvet Geo Pillow / Washed Linen Pillow / Cotton Stripe Lumbar Pillow / Vagmalla Throw | 5. Cozie Black and Natural Pillow / Natural Mudcloth and Faux Leather / Quilted Velvet Lumbar Pillow / Crinkled Cotton Throw | 6. Dorthe Pillow / Gray Velvet Pillow / Balla Sheepskin Pillow / Kaveldun Throw
1. Pleated Textured Pillow / Lucci Macrame Pillow / Maxen Lumbar Pillow / Taupe Throw | 2. Tillie Wool Pillow / Velvet Pillow / Jantar Lumbar Pillow / Wool Throw | 3. Stripe Pillow Cover / Chet Pillow / Toodle Pillow / Vårkage Throw | 4. Selma Pillow / Pamela Wiley Stripe Pillow / Wool Evie Pillow / Fleece Fringe Trim Throw | 5. Weave Ivory Pillow / Ripple Pillow / Sanela Pillow / Sycamore Wool Throw | 6. Jaynie Pillow / Navy Pillow / Sheepskin Pillow / Plaid Throw
1. Chunky Weave Pillow / Nigel Pillow / Velvet Cover / Fringe Throw | 2. Bias Natural Pillow / Wool Tweed Cover / Suma Pillow / Riley Oversized Throw | 3. Sunrise Black Pillow / Blue Moon Suede Cover / Velvet Oversized Lumbar / Nevin Throw | 4. Sherpa Pillow / Wool Plaid Cover / Cognac Leather Pillow / Sable Throw | 5. Weave Ivory Pillow / Darcy Pillow / Kentfield Pillow Cover / Stonewash Throw | 6. Moody Pillow / Beso Pillow / Textured Loop Cover / Contigo Throw
There you have it. 18 combos that are neutral, textured and downright cozy. We are all basically bursting to see the finished styled version of the Mountain House but until that glorious day, Emily and the team will keep sharing her inspiration. If you have any further questions about the pillow combo-ing world just comment below and we will do our best to help. Have a great day. xx