These cushy accessories are less of a splurge than, say, a new rug or sofa. But they can still spiff up your family’s spaces with a little color and texture—and a whole lot of comfiness. And that’s no fluff.
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living room sofa with throw pillows
Credit: Cameron Sadeghpour

Make a Sofa Statement

The most obvious landing spot for a passel of pillows is the family couch. Think about having enough so that every member can create their own plush nest on movie nights. "Deeper sofas demand more pillows," says Megan Hersch, founder and CEO of the digitally based design firm RoomLift, in Los Angeles, and a mom of two. "But if you pile on too many, then there's no room to sit." Some combos to try:

All neutrals

Even the least design-savvy of us can pull off pairing these soothing shades, whether creams, camels, khakis, grays, or taupes. If you don't want the combo to feel too snoozy, "the trick is to mix textures," says Lauren Meichtry, founder of the Manhattan Beach, California, home-accessory line Elsie Home and a mom of two. So bring on the velvet, cable knit, and faux fur—or even fringe, tassels, and embroidery—and work a variety of shapes and sizes.

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Wild prints

Start with whatever bold pattern makes your heart happy. Then search out a coordinating pillow that features at least one shared color. The basic rule of thumb is to mix large and small prints, like the oversize diamonds and the leafy botanical, below. "That balance of scale feels symmetrical," Hersch says. Finally, offset all that drama with a solid-colored accent in a similar shade.

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What goes where?

Anchor each end of the sofa with one or two of the largest pillows, and line up the rest in size order so the smallest sits toward the middle. For a sectional, layer two or three cushions of various sizes in the center corner in addition to the ends for balance.

white bed throw pillows with assorted blue and gray accent designs
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Glam Up the Grown-up Bed

Once you've covered your bed in the basics (sheets, sleeping pillows, duvet or comforter), add a cushion or three for extra visual oomph. Just beware the temptation to clog up the bed with too many fussy pillows. (The two options here deliberately keep the formula simple.)

One and done

If making the bed is the least of your priorities on the day's to-do list, you'll love this hack. Just lay a single, extra-long lumbar pillow in front of your sleeping pillows—that's all. It shows effort without actually requiring much. "If you have a king-size bed, you can fit two of the same lumbar pillows side by side," Hersch says.

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Trio trick

Here's a hotel-worthy formula that's as easy as 1-2-3. Start with your sleeping pillows in their usual places. Then prop up two large, identical cushions in front, side by side, Meichtry says. Finally, front and center, sit a smaller accent pillow that shares a common color. The look says orderly and calm without your having to do hospital corners.

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Why is there such a huge range of prices?

It's true: Pillows can be $10 or $300, or anywhere in between. Factory-made pillows stuffed with polyester work just fine and are the ones most of us buy. Luxury pillows may be made of richer fabric, hand stitched, and stuffed with down or a high-quality alternative.

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Add Some Pop to Their Playspace

Cushions lend themselves to forts, pillow fights, and cozy reading nooks. So let's face it: Thinking they'll stay perfectly arranged in a kid's bedroom or playroom is a pipe dream. But if you try one of these strategies, you may at least offer some sort of coordinated chaos.

Two shades only

Going with a bicolor palette will keep your kids' stuff from looking too much like a random jumble. This tactic could be particularly useful if, say, you're dedicating a corner of your living room to the kids' toys. "It will impose order and help define the space," Meichtry says.

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Mismatch magic

Differences in shape, scale, textures, and prints are what make a quirky combo sing. Still, you'll need a common thread so the mix looks cohesive, not sloppy. It could be a similar tone (for instance, all pastels or all brights). Or you could even commit to a theme (nautical, for instance, with pillows featuring waves, anchors, and sharks). Either way, the end result is just plain fun.

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Can you wash them?

Our editors have tossed inexpensive pillow covers into the washer set to delicate, with cold water. Cotton, linen, and polyester are generally fine, says Brian Sansoni, spokesperson for the American Cleaning Institute. Otherwise, you can always try to spot-clean using mild detergent and water.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's December 2021 issue as "Pillow Power." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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