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How to use cushions on a couch

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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There is an old saying coined by Shakespeare that most of us are all too familiar with—’Too much of a good thing’. This applies to a myriad of life situations, not only in regards to consuming in excess, but it is also very easy to apply to interior decorating, too. In recent years, colour blocking and pattern clashing took centre stage in both the fashion and design worlds. Unfortunately, this trend isn't as easy as one would have you believe. No, it's not just a matter of choosing fabrics and patterns willy-nilly. In fact, unison, proportion and symmetry must be considered to ensure that one colour or texture doesn't overtake and dominate the entire space. There is also the risk of the room looking haphazard, instead of thought-out and balanced.

This statement applies very much to using pillows on couches in our living rooms, and often times it can be very confusing to pick such a small element. There are many factors to consider, and it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

- Are you trying to add texture or colour?

- Is the room bright and airy, or small and dark?

- What environment is the home located in? (Seaside, countryside, or city)

- Are there other colours, textures or patterns present in the space already that may clash?

- Do you want to create contrast or balance?

- What is the overall look, theme or style you are trying to achieve?  (Modern, classic, eclectic)

Once you have come to understand what you want, you can begin your mission to select the pillows for your couch. Today on homify, we have put together a small guide to help you successfully navigate this challenge. Take a look…

Warm & inviting

Pillows are an excellent way to add warmth to a couch, so if your sofas are delicately upholstered, like the pictured scene by David Churchill, you can instantly instill warmth by adding texture. These plush, almost velvet-like cushions bring another dimension to the living room. Despite the large presence of timber and the roaring fire, the space is, in effect, a single tone. Now, with the addition of those luxurious burgundy pillows, the room has taken on a completely new feel. There is an aura of cosiness and passion that wouldn't be there otherwise. Of course, the deep red and pale gold tones are in perfect unison. This is always something that needs to be kept in mind when attempting to add texture.


For some, a muted colour palette of pastel and refined colours makes for the perfect sitting or living room. In this space, designed by Roselind Wilson Design, we can see that all colours respect and complement each other—one does not stand out more than the other. Creating a room with a neutral palette is simple; you need to make sure you are selecting colours from the same family, and even better, if you choose those that are made up from the same base tone. This style is great for those who like to keep it simple and prefer to avoid the use of patterns and bold colours. This is great for formal settings, or rooms that you would rather stand up to the test of changing fashions and trends.

Balancing act

Cushions:  Living room by Sian Elin
Sian Elin


Sian Elin

This image by Sian Elin shows how easy it is to tie a multitude of different decorative elements together. If you have a fairly muted base, and wish to add more texture or pattern without going overboard, you can very easily tie two pieces of furniture together, as evidenced here in the lamp and pillow. There are three main colours here; pink, grey and white, and they have been repeated to great effect in soft, complementary patterns. This is a great example to show you that curtains do not need to match the pillows, as old fashioned advice would have you believe. In fact, it is possible to use two totally different patterns. But, as we mentioned in the introduction, don't go overboard. Keep it simple! 


A/W 14:   by Habitat

A/W 14


Art can be a great source of inspiration for a colour palette for your room, as evidenced in the Habitat A/W 14 range. As you can see here, the picture sitting above the mantle ties in perfectly with the duo of pillows on the couch. There is also a very faint hint of blue and green woven into that beautiful geometric rug. Furthermore, the trinkets housed in the shelves toward the rear, also repeat the theme of green and blue. This is indeed a room of balance—each colourful element is balanced and works in harmony with every other decorative feature in the space. 

Subtle contrasts

Dagat Collection:  Living room by bococo

Dagat Collection


If you are a minimalist at heart, adding pops of colour and texture may not be suitable for the effect you want to achieve. So, if you still want to have the comfort and warmth provided by cushions and pillows on your couch, you can do draw inspiration from this setting by Bococo, that is neat, minimal and modern. By not deviating too far from the dominant colour, which as you can see in this space is black, it is possible to create subtle contrasts without going overboard. The slight variation in patterns create interest, yet doesn't detract at all from the cool, calm and collected vibe of the space. Minimalism doesn't mean a room should feel sterile and banal—it is still a space to be lived in, after all! 

Curtain call

Stephanie Coutas's projects:  Living room by Stephanie Coutas
Stephanie Coutas

Stephanie Coutas's projects

Stephanie Coutas

If matching your curtains to your cushions is important to you, then you are lucky that this trend has stuck around for centuries. Never tiring, and always in fashion, just like Stephanie Coutas, you can create unity between the two most important soft furnishings of the space. In this room, which has a very muted colour palette, an extra bit of pizazz and interest is created by the marriage of the delicately patterned curtains and pillows. In a way, it creates an unbreakable bond between these two elements, and shows that indeed, they are meant to be.

We hope this guide has helped you better understand the relationship between pillows and your couches. Now you are ready to face your next decorating project head on!

To see more ideabook on this topic, might we suggest the following:

10 tips for decorating on a budget

Home decorating trends 2015

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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