How Many Pillows to Put on a Sofa

How many pillows should one put on a sofa?

That is like asking how many pieces of chocolate should a normal person eat.  It all depends on how hungry she is and what kind of day she has had at the design studio!
Answer to all of the above: it all depends.

Trellis Applique Pillow
manufactured by Baker

Pillow rules – like those that govern chocolate (!) are often best broken. Here are some fun ideas that break you out of the two to four “square pillow rut” on your sofa.

One Pillow

Design by IDH/Photograph by Casual Candids

There is a trick using a single pillow and using it well. One gorgeous pillow can work powerfully on a sofa…all by itself…dead center, just like we did here in this cool ladies’ office. But it has to be something striking either in color, shape or relevance to the room in total. This awning stripe plum and vanilla pillow works because the color is central to the room and the pattern is mirrored on a piece of custom painted furniture next to the sofa (but not seen in the photo). The great thing about a single pillow…it costs less than multiple pillows – and you don’t have to move it to sit down on either side of the sofa.

Two Pillows on a Sofa

Design by IDH/David Van Scott Photography

Two pillows are passe UNLESS you meet the bolster. These stuffed cylindrical pillows are always chic. The idea behind the power of the bolster is that is is architectural. Its striking shape makes a confident statement in any room and can also truly transform or update an older or more dated sofa.

Three Pillows on a Sofa

What I sometimes do is a marvelous oversized oblong pillow at the back of the sofa…long and narrow…and in a favorite client fabric, and then we “frame it” by flanking it with a nice plump square pillow on either side. The shapes together are eye-catching, as is the oversized oblong – and on a deep sofa, this trio adds real comfort.

Five is Better Than Four

Design by IDH/David Van Scott Photography

For that certain client who loves fabric or craves the cozy come hither look of a sofa dripping in pillows, I’ll take the arrangment noted above and simply add  two pillows on either side of my center oversized oblong. By varying the size of those two sets of side pillows the look is rich, striking and inviting.

The power of the pillow cannot be overstated. Done well, it is a true gem in any interior design.