Of all the elements that go into completing a space, it seems like decorative throw pillows should be the easiest to perfect. After all, how could anything that small be difficult to implement correctly? In reality, though, throw pillow mistakes are rampant — just ask designers, who’ve seen every faux pas in the book.
Yet while these mistakes are easy to make, they’re actually just as easy to avoid — you simply have to take the time to learn how to use throw pillows well in your own space. According to experts, it’s definitely worth the effort. “When done right, throw pillows make for the perfect finishing touch and truly pull together a space,” Kathy Kuo, the CEO and founder of Kathy Kuo Home, tells TZR in an email. “Though they may seem like a minor addition, it’s key that they are selected to complement and complete the overall design.”
To ensure you maximize your throw pillows’ powers and choose the right pieces for your own home, TZR has laid out some of the most common blunders — and how to fix them — with the help of a few industry experts. Their advice, ahead.
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The Mistake: Using The Wrong Insert
It’s tempting to buy the cheapest filler for your pillows and be done with it, but Kim Armstrong of Kim Armstrong Interior Design says using the “stiff poly inserts” is one of the biggest mistakes she sees people make. “You want your pillows to have a plushness to them that poly-fill inserts just don’t provide,” she says. Instead, she recommends using a down insert or faux down to give that luxe look.
That’s not the only mistake you can make with your pillow inserts, though. Not only should you make sure the filling inside is high quality, you should also pay special attention to the size and make sure you’re not veering too small. “If in doubt, size up and overstuff your pillows,” says Kuo. “If you’re using a 90/10 fill, size up two inches. For size, I generally like to do at least a 20-inch pillow for a sofa, but since I love a deep luxe look, I do a 24-inch and stuff with a 26-inch insert.”
The Mistake: Too Much Matching
Resist that urge to buy a set of four matching pillows — according to multiple designers TZR spoke to, that’s a major no-no. “[A] mistake I see people make is when there is too much similarity in the textiles,” says Kuo. “Whether it’s the size, shape, color, or texture — having too much continuity can create visual clutter and cause the design to fall flat.”
Tiffany Smith, an interior designer at JL Design, takes this even further, explaining that you should also avoid matching your pillows perfectly to your room. “Throw pillows should complement your room, not match it,” she shares.
Rather, opt for a mix. When it comes to shapes, Lindye Galloway, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Lindye Galloway Studio, says “square pillows tucked nicely on the corners with rectangle pillows closer to the middle makes for an approachable and comfortable look.” As for color and texture, Kuo notes that “adding a faux fur, hyde, or leather pillow alongside standard cotton selects is a fun way to create contrast. Similarly, making a statement with a rich color among a sea of neutrals can create a chic pop.”
The Mistake: Skimping On Quality
There are places to save money when decorating, but your throw pillows is not one of them, says Armstrong. “Throw pillows make such an impact in a room’s designs,” she stresses. “I do not think pillows are where you skimp on budget in a project. They are small and they don’t use that much fabric, so I always like to splurge on my textiles in this area.” Low-quality material and poor construction can stick out like a sore thumb, so find other areas to save in order to invest in the products that really matter in the room.
The Mistake: Ignoring The Details
So you’ve picked the right filler and chosen a quality fabric. What else could there be? According to Kuo, it’s important to get even more granular with the details of your pillows. “Displaying a pillow with an incorrect color zipper or an exposed zipper can cause an eye sore,” she explains. So, before you buy, take a closer look. “Inspect the seams of the pillows to ensure that they are well constructed with hidden zippers and the right color for the fabric,” she recommends.
Don’t stop there, though. As Armstrong notes, you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to add details to your pillows as well. “[Another] mistake I see people make is not dressing the pillows up,” she explains. “You can do something as simple as a half-inch flat flange with a fan detail around the corners, or contrast piping; adding trim is also a great way to up-level your pillow game!”