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Throw Pillow Sizes and Arrangements

Bedding Resources
Read Time: 7 minutes

  • Insert Fill Matters: Choosing the right insert fill, be it polyester for shape retention, down blend for a luxurious look, or down alternative for allergen-free softness, sets the foundation for your throw pillow’s comfort and appearance.
  • Size It Right: Using a pillow sizing chart and following the 2-inch rule ensures your throw pillows look full and visually appealing. Whether it’s small squares for chairs or oversized pillows for large sofas, selecting the right size is key.
  • Winning Arrangement Formula: A winning formula for arranging throw pillows involves layering large, smaller, and lumbar pillows. This approach works for both regular sofas and sectionals, creating an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable seating arrangement.

Throw pillows are not just decorative elements but essential for adding color, texture, and personality to your living space. Whether you have a sofa or a sectional, arranging throw pillows in the correct sizes and styles can instantly change the look and feel of your room. This comprehensive guide will explore everything you need to know about choosing the right throw pillows, pillow sizes, and arrangements for a designer look. We’ve got you covered, from selecting the perfect inserts to putting them in a winning formula.

Selecting the Right Insert Fill

The first step in choosing the right throw pillow is selecting the appropriate insert fill size. There are three main types of fill to consider: polyester, down (including down/feather blends), and down alternative. Each type has its characteristics and benefits.

Polyester Inserts

Polyester inserts, also known as polyfil, are made from artificial materials. They are less expensive than down inserts and retain their shape well. However, they are not as malleable and may not be suitable for decorative throw pillows. Polyester inserts are great for providing back support on deep chairs or sofas. You can find them at stores like HomeGoods and Target.

Down Blend Inserts

Consider using down or down blend inserts for a luxurious and full look. Down blend pillow inserts mix down and feathers, providing a fluffy and natural appearance. They can be shaped easily for a more organic look. While down blend inserts are more expensive, they add a touch of elegance to your throw pillows.

Down Alternative Inserts

If you have allergies or prefer a synthetic option, down alternative inserts are great. Despite the name, down alternative inserts are made of clusters of polyester that mimic the feel of down. They are a practical option for those who want the softness of down without the allergens.

Choosing the Right Size

When throwing pillow sizes, choosing the right size is crucial for achieving a full and visually appealing look. The general rule of thumb is to select bed pillow sizes and an insert that is 2 inches larger than your pillow cover. However, the importance of sizing up varies depending on the pillow size.

Pillow Sizing Chart

Here is a handy pillow sizing chart to help you choose the correct insert for your size bed your pillow cover:

Pillow Cover SizeRecommended Insert Size
18" x 18"20" x 20"
20" x 20"22" x 22"
22" x 22"24" x 24"
24" x 24"26" x 26"

Keep in mind that if you choose a full insert, you may not need to size the bed pillow further up, as your pillow cover may not be able to accommodate the fullness. Additionally, some Etsy vendors create pillow covers that are exactly the right size, so it’s a good idea to check with the vendor for their recommended insert size.

Common Throw Pillow Sizes

Throw pillows come in various sizes, from small and dainty to large and oversized. The most common throw pillow sizes include:

  1. Small Square (16×16 inches): These pillows are best for adding a touch of color or pattern to a chair or small sofa. They can be used individually or in pairs to create a balanced and cohesive look.
  2. Medium Square (18×18 inches): This size is ideal for more giant chairs or small to medium-sized sofas. It provides enough support and comfort without overwhelming the furniture piece.
  3. Large Square (20×20 inches): Large square pillows are great for oversized sofas or sectionals. They offer ample back support and create a more substantial and luxurious look.
  4. Rectangle (12×20 inches or 14×24 inches): Rectangular throw pillows are perfect for adding visual interest to a bed or a long sofa. They can be placed horizontally or vertically for a different aesthetic effect.
  5. Oversized (24×24 inches or larger): These pillows make a bold statement and are best suited for large sofas or spacious seating areas. They are perfect for lounging and adding a touch of drama to your space.

Pillow Arrangement – The Winning Formula

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Arranging throw pillows on your couch or sectional requires a winning formula that combines both looks and practicality. Here, we will share our favorite arrangement of standard pillows that work well for both.

Layering Your Pillows

Regardless of the number and size of pillows you use, layering is key to achieving an interesting and visually appealing arrangement. For a regular sofa, aim for three sizes of pillows: large, smaller, and lumbar. If your sofa is shorter, you can skip the lumbar pillow.

Sofa Throw Pillow Arrangement

While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for arranging pillows on a sofa, we recommend the following arrangement as a starting point:

  1. Start with two 22″ pillows on each end of the sofa, using 24″ inserts for a complete look.
  2. Layer two 20″ pillows in front of the more giant pillows, using 22″ inserts.
  3. Place a lumbar pillow in the sofa’s center to add interest and support.

You can adjust this arrangement based on your bed or sofa size. For example, you can use a 20″ pillow with an 18″ insert in front if you have a smaller sofa. Avoid using 24″ pillows on the sides as they may overpower the arms of the sofa.

Throw Pillow Arrangement for a Sectional

For more oversized sofas like a sectional, the same basic arrangement can be applied with a slight variation for the corner. Here’s a suggested arrangement for a sectional sofa:

  1. Place a large 24″ pillow as a backrest at the corner of the sectional.
  2. Layer a 22″ pillow in front of the giant pillow in the corner.
  3. Add a smaller lumbar pillow to complete the arrangement.

Feel free to customize this arrangement based on your preferences and the size of your sectional couch. You can use a 24″ pillow for the back or replace the smaller front pillow with a short lumbar pillow.

Creating Perfect Pillow Combinations

Once you have chosen the correct sizes and arranged your throw pillows, it’s time to create perfect pillow combinations. Whether you prefer a neutral color palette or bold patterns, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Pairing Prints: If you are comfortable mixing patterns, pair two prints for an exciting and dynamic look.
  • Print with Textured Solid: If you prefer a more subtle approach, pair a printed pillow with a textured solid pillow for a balanced combination.
  • Two Solids with Different Textures: If you choose two solid-colored pillows, ensure they have significantly different textures to add visual interest.

Remember, there are no strict rules regarding sofa pillows and pillow combinations. It’s all about finding a balance that reflects your style and complements your decor.

DIY throw pillow size customization

If you can’t find the perfect throw pillow size or want to add personal touch-size pillows, consider customizing them yourself. Here’s a simple DIY guide to customizing throw pillow sizes:

  1. Choose the fabric: Select a fabric that complements your decor and desired pillow size. Ensure you have enough fabric to cover the pillow form and allow seam allowances.
  2. Cut the fabric: Using a measuring tape and fabric scissors, measure and cut the fabric according to your desired pillow size. Remember to add extra inches for seam allowances.
  3. Sew the fabric: Place the pieces on the right sides together and sew around three sides, leaving one side open to stuff the pillow form. Utilize a sewing machine or hand-sew for a secure seam.
  4. Stuff the pillow: Insert the pillow form into the fabric cover through the open side. Ensure the pillow is evenly distributed, and adjust the stuffing if necessary.
  5. Close the pillow: Use a needle and thread or a sewing machine to close the open side of the pillow cover. Ensure the stitches are secure and hidden for a polished finish.

See Also: 7 Most Comfortable Pillows of 2024 

Cleaning and maintenance tips for throw pillows in different sizes

Proper cleaning and maintenance of king pillows are essential to keep your throw pillows looking fresh and inviting. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining throw pillows in different sizes:

  1. Read the care instructions: Before cleaning your throw pillows, make sure to review the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Different fabrics and fillings may require specific cleaning methods.
  2. Spot cleaning: Spot cleaning is often sufficient for minor stains or spills. Use a mild detergent, upholstery cleaner, and a clean cloth to blot the affected area gently. Refrain from rubbing, as it may cause the stain to spread.
  3. Machine washing: If your throw pillows are machine washable, remove the pillow form and place the cover in a mesh laundry bag. Clean using a gentle cycle with mild detergent, and either air dry or tumble dry on low heat.
  4. Fluffing and reshaping: Regularly fluff and reshape your throw pillows to maintain their appearance and prevent them from becoming flat or misshapen. Please give them a gentle shake and pat to restore their fullness.


Can I mix different pillow sizes and shapes?

Absolutely! Mixing different pillow sizes and bed shapes can create a visually exciting and dynamic look. Just make sure to maintain a sense of balance and cohesion by using complementary colors and patterns.

How many throw pillows should I use on my sofa?

The number of throw pillows you use on your sofa depends on personal preference and the size of couch pillows on your sofa. A good rule of thumb is to use an odd no. of pillows (3, 5, or 7) for a more balanced look.

How often should I replace my throw pillows?

Throw pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years or as needed. Over time, they can lose their shape and become less comfortable. Regularly fluffing and rotating your pillows can help extend their lifespan.

Can I wash my throw pillows?

The ability to wash throw pillows depends on the material and filling. Some smaller throw pillows may come with removable, machine-washed covers, while others may need to be spot-cleaned or dry-cleaned. Always check the care instructions before washing.

What are some popular pillow sizes for outdoor furniture?

For outdoor furniture, oversized pillows (24×24 inches or larger) bed pillows are a popular choice. They provide both comfort and a decorative element to your outdoor seating area.


Throw pillows come in various sizes, each serving a specific purpose in terms of both comfort and aesthetics. Choosing the right size throw or pillow size for your space can make a significant difference in your room’s overall look and feel. Consider the size of your furniture, the level of comfort desired, and the visual impact you want to achieve. Mix and match different throw pillow sizes to create a visually appealing and dynamic arrangement. Don’t be afraid to add your personal touch by customizing or DIY-ing your throw pillows. With proper cleaning and maintenance, your throw pillows will continue to enhance your living space for years.

Christine Lapp is a full-time graduate student and part-time freelancer for Sleep Junkie. Since she was a little girl on the soccer field, Christine has had a love for sports, and she believes everybody should get up and get moving once a day. Now, she incorporates her love for exercise into her studies, pursuing a degree in exercise physiology. Christine understands that what you do during your waking hours has a direct impact on your night’s sleep. In our better sleep guides, she offers advice for developing healthy daytime habits to nurture a more peaceful slumber.

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