Cat’s Pro Tips: Throw Pillow Throwdown

It’s time for a throw pillow throwdown! When it comes to design versatility, it’s pretty hard to beat the classic throw pillow. It’s a design staple that’s been around so long it can sometimes be taken for granted, but a great throw pillow is such a workhorse for bringing together a space. There’s every option under the sun for shape, color, texture, pattern, and more. It’s also one of the most budget and time-friendly ways to dress up nearly any seating area. It seems like it would be super simple to just grab a few and literally throw them around (it’s right there in the name!) But, like so many aspects of design, getting the combination and arrangement just right can be a little trickier than we may first assume. Often clients are surprised how in-depth the selection process can be, especially when we’re looking at complete rooms or full house designs. Bringing in pillows and changing them up is one of our favorite ways to bring life, color, and flow to custom rooms, and today we’re dropping some of Cat’s favorite pillow strategies to know-before-you-throw.

Cat adding throw pillows to sofa - Catherine French Design Chapel Hill

The (Pillow) Basics

First things first. When you’re ordering pillow covers and inserts, you want to order an insert that is 2 inches larger than the cover. That insert is going to shift and naturally lose some volume over time (trust us), and a deflated throw pillow is just not what you want laying around. To get the best look as well as longevity and bang for your design buck, you want those pillows to be over-stuffed. This is one of the best tips we can offer you because it will give your pillows a lot more life, shape, and presence in any place that you put them. Anticipate that you will need 2 pillows in each sofa corner (so for a sectional, that’s both ends AND 2 or 3 for the corner spot where the two sides meet) and 1-2 pillows for chairs. Yes, that may seem like a lot! But you’d be surprised what a difference it makes- throw pillows are one of the key components that make a space feel finished and complete.

Color accent pillows - Catherine French Design Chapel Hill

In The Mix

One of the main questions we get about pillows is HOW to mix them. With so many options, it can get overwhelming fast. Firstly, keep in mind that not all of your pillows have to be super high-end. You can get a fantastic look from combining one or two custom pillows with off the rack or other mainstream options. The next thing to think about is varying size. Something we see all the time is folks have a variety of pillows, but they’re all the exact same size. To really make an impact, you want to play up the visual component by using pillows of different sizes in the same shape and then add an accent. This can be a pillow with a bolder fabric pattern, a different texture, or even a funky shape. Layering in fabrics is one of the ways that we create depth and dimension in a space. When pillows are chosen and placed with intention, they become one of the building blocks of great design.

Breaking it Up

We love gray as much as the next gal (we really do- gray is beautiful!). But, once you get started down the gray rabbit hole it’s easy to get lost. Before you know it, your space can accidentally start looking pretty drab. We’ve got all the appreciation for neutrals over here- BUT, one of the great things about throw pillows is how they can be used to embrace pattern and color without a huge commitment. This comes into play often when we are looking at large seating areas. When we’re thinking strategically about a long sofa or sectional, you want to create visual impact by breaking up that big hunk of solid color with different patterns, texture, and tones. We love combining a more nappy sofa fabric texture like tweed with some luxe velvet pillows to give lots of depth and create an inviting, appealing space that draws your eye into the room. When you’ve got pillows that not only look great but make you WANT to go over and sit down, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

custom throw pillows - Catherine French Design Chapel Hill

Bringing it Together

In addition to breaking up larger blocks of color, pillows can also bring together different pieces, parts, and elements in the room. This sweet spot from the Lakehouse Redesign was one of our favorite examples of using throw pillows to create color flow and balance. One of the important elements of this design was bringing in blue tones throughout the house, and part of that meant creatively pairing this rich blue rug with the bold red sectional. Along with a carefully chosen piece of wall art, throw pillows were the key players for bringing these two large components together in a way that made good design sense, as well as tying in all of the other colorful accents in this beautiful space. Giving those pillows a purpose in the big picture of your design can go a long way toward making it all work.

colorful custom throw pillows - Catherine French Design Chapel Hill

Throw ’em, fluff them, or change ’em up- some well-chosen throw pillows give you so many ways to bring in dimension, style, and finish to your room. We’re so glad you joined us for our Throw Pillow Throwdown, and we’re hoping it gives you some extra inspiration to get creative in your own space with this great design stand-by.

Want to see more? Check out our recent post on CFD Custom Styling Services for more great images of our custom design creations. Have questions about your space? We’re always here to help. Give us a shout at or reach us in the studio at 919.537.8148. For more up to date happenings and goings-on of this busy team, follow us on Facebook or Instagram @Catfrenchdesign!