How to choose the best throw pillows for your couch

Written by Seamus McKale

Updated June 20, 2024 | Published March 1, 2021

Choosing the right couch cushions and arranging them thoughtfully is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to make your living room look even nicer.

Here’s our guide to choosing and styling throw pillows for your favourite couch.


Thumbnail of the How to choose throw pillows video

How to choose and arrange couch cushions

Arranging your couch cushions is more than just tossing them wherever they happen to fit. But, it’s also not complicated to create an attractive look.

You should use small groupings of 2-3 cushions in each corner of your couch.

Three pillows arranged on a dark sofa

For a straight couch, that means an arrangement of cushions on each end.

For an L-shaped sectional sofa, that means one arrangement on each end and one in the middle.

Several cushions arranged on an L-shaped sectional sofa

To improve the look of your cushion arrangements, vary your cushion sizes.

Most couch cushions come in sizes from 18 inches to 24 inches. One of the easiest cushion arrangements is to place a large 24-inch cushion behind, then a 20-inch cushion, followed by a smaller 18-inch or lumbar support cushion in front.

Three different size throw pillows arranged on a sofa

Remember to keep your sofa’s look visually balanced. When you step back and look at your cushions, generally both sides should hold similar visual weight. Each cushion arrangement doesn’t have to be identical, but you’ll want to avoid a totally unbalanced look.

Another way to can achieve that attractive-but-balanced look is to vary textures and patterns.

Light and dark pillows arranged on a white couch

By using different colours and contrasting patterns, you can create a more interesting look even if you don’t have cushions of multiple sizes.

Colourful silk pillows on a couch in an upscale living room

When you buy a couch that comes with throw pillows, they usually match the couch’s upholstery—not particularly interesting from a design perspective. In that case you can either buy new covers or entirely new cushions, which brings us to our next topic.

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How to pick the right couch cushions

There are two parts to a good throw pillow: the cover and the insert. Fortunately, you can buy them separately, which means you can buy covers based on their appearance and inserts based on their comfort.

Teal pillows arranged on a grey sofa

Source: Brad Javernick of Home Oomph

When it comes to couch cushion inserts, nothing beats feather (if you can afford it).

Feather cushions are softer and more comfortable than synthetic inserts like polyester. Most couches that come with throw pillows feature poly inserts, which leave something to be desired in the comfort department.

Usually, it’s easiest to look for inserts and covers separately. That way, you can choose the right couch cushions for both comfort and style.

Just make sure to buy cushion covers that feature a zipper so it’s easy to swap them out.

Animated gif of opening the zipper on a throw pillow

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