We shared our tips for styling pillows on a bed post a while back, and how to match patterns recently, but many people wonder why their efforts don’t look as good as the professional photos of top designers. When you get the pillow size right, your room can look polished and professional! We’ve got a few other pro tips too.

Follow these simple tips to get the pillow size right and up your styling game.

We said it just recently, when it comes to styling a sofa with pillows, most designers will agree more is more! But picking the right proportions and fill will make your pillows look great.

Size matters

There is no real rule here but use your own judgement about that size works best for your sofa. Generally I like to use 22″, 20” and 18” and then sometimes I add smaller lumbar pillows roughly 18″ x 26″, or if that is too large for you, 12” x 18”. Anything smaller than these sizes is just too insignificant. Either keep them all the same size for a more formal arrangement, graduate the sizes, or mix up the sizes and shapes to  relax the look. I have yet to see a case where under 18” works.


Why do the pillows in the pros photos look so big and fluffy? A trade secret is to use inserts one size larger than your pillow cover. So to fill an 18” pillow, I would order a 20” insert, for a 20″ pillow use a 22″ insert. This is what gives the pillows a plump professional appearance.


Allergies aside, feathers rule the pillow kingdom. Nothing looks as plush as a plump down/feather filled pillow. Down is a premium material so you might think 100 percent down would be best but they just don’t have the structure to hold the shape of the pillow. Feathers have more of a spine so they provide the structure but can seem “crunchy” for lack of a better word. A good mix is 80/20 where 80 percent of the mix is feathers to hold the shape, 20 percent is down to add extra softness.

The matching set you sometimes get with a sofa purchase, well, I would use them on another piece or not at all.

When it comes to creating your own “pillowscape” don’t feel bound by rules. These are just guidelines to get you started.

Winning Combos

For a sofa, I like to have two layered in each corner. I start with two 22″ x 22″ on the outside corners, and two 20″×20″ in front of those. If you want another accent, add a pillow in the middle. Either another square or a lumbar (rectangular) will do.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

white sofa with geometric and animal print pillows and a pink one in the centre
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On a love seat, I like to use three pillows: Two layered in one corner and then one in the other corner. I like a 22″×22″ and a 20″×20″ in one corner, and on the opposite side, you can do a large lumbar around 18″×26″.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

white  love seat with three pillows

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It’s always nice to have a pillow on a chair, for a little extra comfort, but that is also a great way to add a bit of pattern or colour. Typically I use a 20″x20″ or an 18″×18″ if the chair is smaller, but a rectangle works too!

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The pillows are what adds the layers that make a room look polished and pulled together. Much more than just the function they provide, they add layers of beauty to up your styling game!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

*** My standard disclaimer: Please note, some of these items may be offered through affiliate links which means I could get a small commission if you order. That will never influence what I find lovely and want to share with you. I always offer suggestions I would buy for my home or recommend to a client. Also, rest assured it won’t affect the price you would otherwise pay.