How to Select Living Room Pillows

One of the interior design questions that I get most often is, “How do I choose pillows for my living room?” You may recall that a few weeks ago I went over how to style pillows for your bedroom, but the living room is a whole different animal. When we’re talking about the living room, we’re talking about print mixing, textures, and accent pillow sizes. It’s all about the aesthetics.


As I mentioned in my bedroom pillows post, I’m all about pillows within reason. I love the look of accent pillows, but I still want the space to be functional. For that reason, I’ve chosen to have just three pillows organized in an orderly fashion, none of
which get in the way of sitting, but also that can be easily moved out of the way if need be.

I’m all about symmetry, but oftentimes on a sofa, you actually want to consider odd numbers. Two pillows on each end, plus one in the middle, is a great option. Or two on one end, one on the other for an eclectic look. Of course, if you just can’t give up the symmetry, then two on each end is a classic look.




There’s so much room for flexibility in the size of pillows you choose for your living room, but the standard accent pillows are 16” x 16”, 18” x 18”, or 20” x 20”. I did larger in my old apartment where I had a super straight lined modern sofa that needed a bit of softness, but in our current place, I chose to ere on the smaller end. Want to mix it up a bit? Throw in an oblong pillow in the center of your sofa.

Using multiple pillows that will be layered across the sofa? Go for larger pillows on the ends of the sofa and get smaller as you move towards the middle.




When you’re choosing living room accent pillows, you’ll absolutely want to dive into print mixing. It’s what adds visual interest to the room. Nobody wants to look at a sofa full of solid color pillows.

You have to be intentional about what prints you mix, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go a little crazy. My living room isn’t a great example, but the main things you want to keep in mind are scale and pattern. Mix a large print with a smaller one. An organic floral with a crisp stripe. Also consider texture and accent. Layer a nubby linen with a smooth cotton. A sumptuous velvet with a rich brocade and a faux fur. Have a fabric that you want to use for large pillow, but that needs a little more oomph? Add a tassel fringe!

Here, I mixed a leopard print, with its rounded edges, with a straight lined chevron, and a graphic pillow. Typically I would say you should stick within a color scheme and work from there, but in our living room I felt like the prints and colors were so different that they created an eclectic vibe. Each also pulls in a color from the room, whether it’s the coral from the end table, the gold from the coffee table, or the dark gray from the sofa.

It’s cohesive without matching and that’s the key. You want a look that works together without looking like you bought everything in a set. You want a rich, collected look that comes together effortlessly.


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