Style Lesson: Decorating With Pillows & Throws
Senior design editor Joel Bray shares textile styling tips.
Layering on finishing touches like throw pillows and blankets is an important element in any space. But just how you layer can depend on the style of your room, the look you’re going for, the piece of furniture you’re working with, and even how you live. Here’s my best advice for styling with soft accents.
If you’d love a mountain of pillows, go for it! Using a number of different patterns, colors and pillow sizes is an easy way to add energy to a space, and it’s a great option for those who don’t mind rearranging their setup from time to time. In senior editor Sally Armstrong’s living room, the overall look is playful, but still sophisticated, since all the textiles work well together.
Tour Sally Armstrong’s family home here.
Not into excess? Add a single statement pillow. Adding one great throw pillow lets the shape of this sofa sing, while adding just a dash of decoration. Its long, lumbar-style shape also offers welcome back support, and is a great option for those that don’t naturally gravitate toward cushions (be honest with yourself if the idea of styling them everyday seems like work!).
Embrace matching pairs for a balanced look. This is a foolproof way of styling pillows on a sofa or settee. The piece is left mostly bare for an understated effect, while a simple pair of cushions on either end creates a calming sense of symmetry. This approach is ideal for rooms that already have a lot of other visual interest, like eye-catching drapery or statement art.
… or go unmatched for a laid-back feel. Bringing in two different styles of throw pillows keeps things varied, but still cohesive. Another version of the off-kilter approach is arranging two or three pillows on just one side of your sofa (draping a throw over the arm on the no-pillow side will add a little balance).
Take a pared-back approach in cleaner rooms. When decorating contemporary, sparely decorated rooms — or ones that are filled with iconic furniture — be careful not to over-embellish with pillows and throws. Taking a lighter hand will let the beautiful lines of these spaces shine, as this deliberately undecorated room demonstrates.
Neatly fold your fancier throws. Just like pillow styling, choosing how to style throws really depends on the look of your room. In my mind, a handsome formal space, like this one, deserves an elegant throw, and an elegant throw looks best displayed neatly. Here, a crisp fold highlights the refined beauty of Hermes’ Avalon blanket.
…and casually toss everyday ones. I personally love the laissez-faire feel of a perfectly “unstyled” bed or sofa, with a natural pillow arrangement and casually tossed throw. It’s the perfect way to lend an easygoing vibe to a more formal room. (That being said, I also appreciate fluffed pillows and a perfectly folded throw! Let the feel of your space be your guide.)