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The Leading Manufacturer & Distributor of Blank and Printed Flour Sack Towels in North America
The Leading Manufacturer & Distributor of Blank and Printed Flour Sack Towels in North America

Throw Pillows 101: Choosing the Right Size, Shape, and Design

Have you ever walked into someone's home and immediately felt the urge to cozy up on the couch? The secret to making living spaces feel more inviting is adding a throw pillow or two.1

Throw pillows can get a bad rap when there are too many of them, the patterns clash, or the sizes and shapes are too similar. Arranging decorative pillows to give the impression of ease instead of chaos is an art form.

Learn more about the art of choosing and arranging throw pillows in this guide.

Throw Pillow Shapes

Throw pillows come in all shapes, but square and rectangular ones are the most common. Meanwhile, round and irregularly shaped pillows can be an unexpected way to add flare to a decorative arrangement.


Square pillows are a must-have for any couch, loveseat, or sectional. They can also serve as the perfect backdrop for a throw pillow collection on a master or guest bed.

These pillows come in multiple sizes to suit various styles of couches and chairs. They range from smaller squares to the largest type of square pillow, the euro.

Also known as a sham, euros are large square pillows typically used in the bedroom. Place euro shams at the very back of a decorative throw pillow display.


Adding a few rectangular pillows into the mix will break up vertical lines, adding dynamics and creating a comfortable space for lounging. These pillows look great on couches, chairs, and beds.

The rectangular pillows you are likely most familiar with are standard and king-sized pillows for the bedroom. These are the pillows most people sleep on, though they can also be a part of a decorative pillow display.

Lumbar and boudoir pillows are also rectangular. Boudoir pillows are very small and ideal for chairs and smaller beds. Lumbar pillows are decorative and functional, offering support for the lower back.


Round pillows are a smart way to break up all those straight lines. They can also make a trendy, quiet luxury statement when lined up on a couch in a matching color.

Traditional round pillows come in various sizes to suit different couch styles. They are the perfect finishing touch to an arrangement of decorative square and rectangular pillows.

Other types of round pillows to consider are bolsters and neckrolls. These cylindrical pillows are designed to support the arms and legs (bolsters) or the neck (neckrolls) while someone is sleeping. They are also unexpected shapes ideal for spicing up a decorative pillow arrangement.

Other Shapes

Some types of specialty-shaped pillows include:

  • L-shaped
  • U-shaped
  • Triangle-shaped
  • Letter-shaped
  • Number-shaped

It's even possible to find pillows shaped like stars, hearts, and flowers for a pillow arrangement that's unique to your style.

Throw Pillow Sizes

A pillow's size should suit the scale of the furniture piece it sits on. With such a wide variety of chair, couch, and bed sizes, it should be no wonder there are plenty of common pillow sizes to match.

Square Pillow Sizes

Square pillows traditionally come in 16" x 16" and 18" x 18" sizes. You can also find them in larger sizes, though these are most common.

Euros are typically the largest square pillow you can find without creating custom pillows. Shams are traditionally 26" x 26", the same width as a standard pillow for the bed.

Rectangular Pillow Sizes

Standard-sized rectangular pillows are 20" x 26". Queen-sized pillows may come slightly larger at 20" x 28" or even 20" x 30". King-sized pillows are typically 20" x 36".

Lumbar pillows come in a few sizes to accommodate people of differing heights and body weights. The most common ones measure 12" x 24", 14" x 18", 14" x 36", 16" x 32", or 16" x 46'.

Last and smallest is the boudoir pillow, which measures a minuscule 12" x 16", or sometimes even smaller.

Round Pillow Sizes

Regular round pillows come in a wide variety of sizes. They may be smaller than 16" in diameter or up to 32". Some of the larger ones are big enough to sit on!

Bolster pillows come in fewer sizes. Larger ones may have 10" widths x 27" lengths. Anything smaller than 8" x 30" would be considered a neckroll, which traditionally measures at least 6" x 16".

Throw Pillow Designs

Nowadays, you can change out your decorative pillows with your mood, and you can do so affordably with pillow cases. Pillow cases come in an array of colors, patterns, and textures to suit your design preferences.


There are a few strategies when it comes to choosing accent pillow colors. They may be complementary or analogous to the couch, chair, or bed.

Analogous colors offer a calming, minimalistic aesthetic. Complementary colors are contrasting and make a bold statement.

Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel: purple and yellow, red and green, or blue and orange. Imagine how turquoise-blue pillows would pop against a rust-brown leather couch!

On the other hand, analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. Purple and blue, red and orange, and yellow and green are analogous colors. Think about how relaxing pale yellow pillows would look against a sage green bedspread backdrop!


Using patterns in the home can be tricky. Choose the wrong design, and you may wind up dating your décor. But on-trend patterns are constantly changing, making it difficult to keep up.

Currently, designers tell us to ditch tropical prints, polka dots, nature-inspired designs, and nautical patterns for animal prints, geometric patterns, and local floral designs.

If you want to avoid having to switch out your throw pillows every time a new trend rolls around, go for timeless patterns instead. Plaid, stripes, and herringbone patterns have been in vogue for centuries and will be stylish for years to come.


Texture adds depth and richness to any decorative pillow arrangement. If you choose pillows in contrasting colors and bold prints, texture may not be as crucial. But the opposite is true if you want a laid-back neutral color scheme.

Pillows and pillowcases come in many different textures, from winter-worthy faux fur, cable knit, and velvet to summery pom-pom and Nantucket linen. Fringed, tufted, and embroidered pillows are also a great way to add texture.

When considering texture, don't just think about tactile feel. You can also create a dynamic display using light-reflecting textiles like silk and satin or natural-looking materials like leather or suede.

How to Arrange Throw Pillows

There are countless ways to arrange pillows depending on your preferences. Just make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Go for multiple textures, especially with a muted color palette
  • If you go for color, stick to around three
  • Don't place all the patterned pillows together
  • If you must place printed pillows together, mix large- and small-scale patterns
  • Don't place pillows of the same color together
  • Place pillows in groups of three
  • Group a solid-colored, patterned, and textured pillow together

Last but most importantly, if there is not enough room to relax on the couch, chair, or bed because there are too many pillows, remove one or two. Consider replacing them with a throw blanket, which will take up little to no space.

Arranging Sofa Pillows

How to style sofa pillows depends on the size of the couch. Smaller-scale couches should only have up to four pillows. Larger couches, but not sectionals, can have up to five throw pillows.

One of the best formulas for arranging sofa pillows is to include two matching square pillows on either side and then layer in two to three additional smaller pillows. Mix up the shapes with smaller squares, lumbar pillows, and rounds.

Arranging Sectional Pillows

Sectionals offer a ton of room to play with throw pillows. Compact L-shaped sectionals have room for up to six throw pillows. Larger L-shaped and U-shaped sectionals may accommodate seven or even more.

Our favorite formula for styling sectional throw pillows is to start with matching square pillows again. Place three matching square pillows in each corner of larger sectionals or two on each end for smaller L-shaped couches. Alternatively, replace one large square pillow with a long lumbar or bolster for larger sectionals.

Next, sprinkle in four or so more accent pillows. Vary the shapes, colors, patterns, and textures to create interest.

Arranging Chair Pillows

Chairs, chaise longues, and small loveseats only have room for one or two pillows. A rectangular boudoir pillow is sufficient for a small chair, while a lumbar or bolster plus a 16" square pillow can be enough for a loveseat or chaise longue.

If you absolutely must add more pillows, only include up to three. Vary the sizes to ensure there's enough room for you, your family, or guests to sit comfortably.

Create Your Own Custom Pillow Cases

No room is complete without a few throw pillows. Decorative throw pillows come in many shapes, sizes, and designs, which can be mixed and matched to create the perfect pillow scheme on your couch, sectional, or chair.

Are you struggling to find the perfect throw pillow to complete your space? Mary's Kitchen doesn't just sell flour sack towels. We also offer wholesale throw pillows you can customize to your size, shape, and design preferences.

Order our high-quality blank twill pillow cases to create your own bespoke design for your home, business, or both!

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