3 Rules For Decorative Pillows

A list of 3 rules that are helpful to use when decorating with throw pillows. Follow these simple tips as you design spaces with decorative pillows!

These 3 rules will help keep your decorative pillows looking their best and help you know how to use a decorative pillow in your home.

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Rule #1: Your Pillow Insert Needs To Be Bigger Than Your Cover!

Pillow Rules

This rule is the most important in my opinion. It really makes a pillow fill out nicely and helps the cover from looking poor fitting. Your pillow inserts should be 2 inches bigger than your pillow cover. That seems a little strange but the truth is, by doing this you are making your pillow nice and full. For example, if you pillow cover is 20×20 then you would buy an insert that was 22×22. Here is a simple guide for the most popular pillow sizes:

  • Cover is 18×18 and insert is 20×20
  • Cover is 20×20 and insert is 22×22
  • Cover is 26×26 (Euro Sham) and insert is 28×28

Here is a look below at an example of a pillow cover that is too big for the insert:

3 pillow decorating rules

I just followed my own advice and ordered a larger insert for this pillow. I measured my cover and got something larger to fill it up. This pillow just looks less full and a little more messy as you can see.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Here are Amazon links to some possible pillow inserts:

It is important that you get an insert that is bigger, but also that it can easily be squished in the insert itself. Which leads me to rule #2….

Rule #2: Use Down Feather or Alternative Down Inserts!

Rules for decorative pillows

In order to be able to get a bigger insert into a smaller pillow cover, it is helpful to have a down feather or alternative down pillow insert. Not only will things fit better, they will be so much more comfortable! These inserts make a pillow nice and squishy and they fluff back up every time. Fiber filled pillows can get lumpy or squish down into a funny shape over time. I have have used down feather/alternative down for years and they truly last a very long time.

3. Give Your Pillow A Chop!

3 rules when decorating with pillows

This one is funny because I think that there are actually people who do NOT like the pillow chop. I am here to stand behind it and let me tell you exactly why! By giving the pillow a little chop motion in the center, you are helping form the pillow out and fluff up. Otherwise, pillows can feel a little flat. If you don’t want a pronounced chop you can give it a soft one and it will still do the trick. Now I am not saying you need to go around and chop your pillows constantly. We don’t do that either… But when I am going around and freshening or tidying up the house, I definitely give them a little fluff this way. To me it like draping or folding a blanket. It feels clean, tidy and just looks good.

rules for pillows

The above are my 3 biggest pillow rules, but here are a few more tips to consider.

  • Pattern Play: If you are using patterns, mix them up! Switch up the types of stripes (think smaller stripes on one pillow and then wider stripes on another). Use a variety of stripes, solids and florals/geometric shapes. You can keep these in the same color tones or mix it all up while keeping one color the same to unify the look. If you want to keep solid pillows only: vary the shades. Have some pillows be lighter in color and then some that can contrast. This gives depth to your decor and keeps things from getting washed out.
  • Vary the size of pillows: This time I’m not talking about inserts/covers. I am referring to the total shape and height/width of a pillow. I typically like to have a the bigger pillows on the outside of a line of pillows. Things always go from bigger to smaller. I will typically finish off with a smaller lumbar pillow if I am decorating a larger sofa/sectional. Decorative pillows follow the same idea of bigger going in the back and getting smaller and you layer towards the front.
  • Keep things spaced appropriately: This is true for sofas. I do not fill up an entire sofa with pillows. I will put 2 or 3 pillows layers on the end corners (near the arms of a sofa). For chairs, I will either put a pillow on a corner near an arm or in the center of the chair. For beds everything in the center out out.
pillow rules
pillow rules

And there you have the list of 3 rules that are helpful to use when decorating with throw pillows. You can keep these tips in mind when making your decorative pillows look their best!

I look forward to visiting with you again next week!

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  1. Do you have a source for that rusty brown striped lumbar pillow with some blue in the stripes, the third picture up from here? Love your stripe/pattern mixing.

    1. Thank you so much! That was a vintage cover I purchased from Etsy, but let me see if I can find it again. They carry similar options a lot of times. Thanks!

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