How to Layer With Pillows
When thinking about adding throw pillows to your sofa in a living room, there is a simple formula to follow for creating a comfortable yet sophisticated effect. With a little planning, a few decorative pillows can turn a drab living space into an inviting one.
Survey your surroundings:
Begin by listening to your surroundings. Survey the colors you have on the wall, on the floors, the window treatments, the furnishings. Stand back, and observe the macro color elements that make up your living room. Then start with the sofa, couch, loveseat, ottoman, or whichever piece of furniture you will be adding throw pillows to. Note the color and texture of this piece of furniture. It's important to start here because all of the pillows will be placed on this piece of furniture, and it will likely be the foundation for your layer of pillows. With this furniture color in mind, we can begin to think about color.
The fun aspect of interior design is that you have so much freedom in choice. When choosing what color palette to layer on your sofa with pillows, consider again your surroundings. You have noted the base foundation color, which is the sofa. Now look around the room to find inspiration for a color that can be brought back to the sofa and revitalize the space. This is an opportunity to choose a color that resonates with you, whether it is a color that you love, or a color that works well with the space, or a stylish color that is simply in season. Choose one color palette that you appreciate, and focus on this color palette when selecting your layer of pillows.
The question of how many pillow to place on a sofa will vary depending on the effect you want to achieve. For a more understated effect in a simple and minimalistic room, stay with one to two decorative pillows at each corner side of a sofa. For larger sofas with room for more pillows, then there is more freedom to layer more dramatically with a number of pillows.
Before selecting your pillows, some planning would help in figuring out what shapes would compliment each other to create a layered effect. Let's begin by thinking of the placement of pillows on a sofa by layers, specifically, background, foreground and accents. The background layer of pillows show offer grounding for the rest of the pillows. A larger, square sized pillows would be prudent here. As an example, start with a larger square sized pillow, at least 20 inches by 20 inches as a layer that sits on a sofa. Consider this larger sized pillow to be a part of your "background' layer of pillows. Contrast this larger background pillow with the color you have chosen. This pillow can range in size and shape. But the goal here is contrast. The size of the foreground pillow should be smaller than the background pillow. Sizes from 16" X 16" or even 18" X18" can work to bring the perspective of layering into effect. Beyond the background and foreground layers, accent the layers with a pop of color or texture with the accent pillow. Typically, the accent pillow will sit in front of the background and foreground pillows. The color that you have chosen as the main driver of your look can be reflected here. Consider interesting textiles or patterns that can give an element of character for the accent pillow.
Let's review. Start by surveying your surroundings. Take inspiration from an old piece of furniture, window treatments, a lamp; it can be anything here, but find a colorful object that speaks to you, and let that inspire you to design a layer of decorative pillows. With a color palette in mind, choose a range of pillows that vary in size and compliment each other with the rest of the space within your living room. When done with careful consideration to one's surroundings, perspective in size, and attention to pattern and textile, the effect can dramatically update a space.
In this first example of a living room designed by Niki Papadopoulus, note the overal feeling of this space. It's simply calming with all its muted neutral tones. The beige, whites, browns all restfully bring the space light. The decorative pillows really work well here because they bring in a spark of focus. While not a lot of color can be seen in this space, we do see a Phaleanopsis orchid as the center of attention on the coffee table. The chosen color palette for the decorative pillows are a seafoam green and reminds us of nature in a soothing hue. The simplicity of the room, and the proportion of the sofa calls for a few pillows that sit but doesn't overpower the sofa seats. With color and proportion down, the choice of patterned pillows in contrast to solid pillows give an layer of character for room.
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Fiorella Design has done a masterful job at creating meaningful space. When observing the room from afar, the tangarine orange color can be found throughout the room. A picture on the mantle, a vase in the book shelf, and sitting chairs in the sun room all reflect shades of a light hearted orange. The decorative pillows simply gather this theme and cohesively ties the room by reiterating the palette on the sofa.
Below is a great example of how layering pillows on a sofa can update a room and enliven the space. The background of colors is muted in shades of white, grey and beige. The pop of canary yellow with accessories and accents such as a vase, flowers and pillows give spirit to the room. Note the layering of pillows here where a variety of sizes and shapes give dimension to an otherwise unassuming room.
Contextually, the choice of turquoise gives this room life. The painting on the far left hand wall, the lamp base on the end table and the vase at the coffee table all have elements of turquoise. Pillows here in bright rich turquoise ground the space tying the theme of turquoise throughout the room.
This is a great example of how even in simple design, a well chosen pillow can have great impact. This minimally furnished space is characterized by sleek lines, scandinavian flair, and simplicity. The designer here has chosen to limit the number of throw pillows to match the tone of the space. While some may counter that the color of the pillow is random, the tones actually match well within the space. The warm red hues of the pillow bring just amount of pop of color to humanize the space from its potential sterility.
There is skill in creating a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also exudes warmth and comfort. Here is a mustard yellow pillow cover is layered atop larger sized decorative pillows in varying patterns. The placement and selection is well considered as the room is rich in complexity and personality. A wall endowed with meaningful portraits and paintings, and items with meaning, the pillows simply compliment the space effortlessly.