Styling Cushions To Refresh Your Sofa (All Colours): A Simple Guide!

Are you staring at your sofa thinking it’s time for an upgrade? Maybe it just needs a good clean and a bit of clever styling!

Before you pull the wallet out and spend thousands on a brand new piece, you should definitely restyle it first and see how it shapes up!

One of the best ways to bring new life to your sofa and room arrangement, on the whole, is to mix up the aesthetic – and the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to dot his is with cushions.

The cushions you choose for your sofa hold the power to change (almost) everything about it: its style, look, and emotional impact. A sofa, lounge or couch can go from businesslike to homey, or from overly modern to classic, just by changing or rearranging its cushions.

Indeed, any interior designer will tell you that the cushions are as important as the furniture for creating the effect you want to see in your living space.

As simple as we’ve made it sound though, there is definitely an ‘art’ to getting it right. From colours, textures to shapes and patterns – we take you through exactly how to use cushions for sofa style upgrades like you’ve never seen!

styling cushions on a sofa

Before we get started – styling an individual piece of furniture has to happen in the context of the space it sits. You need to consider the wider colour palette of the room, the layout and any other textures.

The quick video below gives some great insights into the wider styling aspects you need to consider for your living room and other home spaces!

What is The Best Cushion For A Sofa?

A lot of people ask this question, however, the simple truth is that there’s no such thing as ‘the best cushion for a sofa‘.

Cushion styling is an art, not a science. (Side Note: cushions have been in human history since 7000 BC! Talk about lasting style)

It’s about elevating an already great piece of furniture or making a couch you aren’t crazy about into one you can love. The huge array of options means that there’s always another way the cushions on your sofa could represent you and your home.  

This guide will walk you through how to style cushions correctly for any sofa, regardless of its size, shape or colour!

What Does The Rest Of Your Living Room Look Like?

When starting to think about what sort of cushion arrangement you’d like to create, it’s important to look at the decor of the room it is in. To state the obvious – different interiors call for different cushion stylings.  

The room is the wider context for your sofa and its cushions. What colour are the walls? What is the artwork like? How do the other pieces of furniture fill in the interior? These answers will not limit you, but should actually inspire!  

A pillow, cushion or throw that looks great on a couch in company store showroom might clash with any number of aspects of your living room decor at home (e.g. not a good idea to buy bright red cushions for a living space with green wallpaper!)

However, that green wallpaper might be the complement that a mellow yellow cushion needs to shine. 

See where we are going here? 

cushions for sofa

Should Cushions On A Sofa Match?

The simple answer to this question is they definitely can match, but don’t have to, again – this is a personal style preference.

Matching cushions can be pleasing to the eye and can help the flow of an interior, but pillows that don’t match can provide a dramatic contrast that’s sorely needed in some rooms. It’s a decision that should represent your personality and taste.

Great arrangements of pillows usually match in some ways but contrast in others. Matching can not only refer to similar colours, but also textures, sizes and shapes. Being too matchy isn’t a good thing, but neither is too much contrast–it becomes overwhelming.

Like many other aspects of cushion styling, it’s the balance that we’re trying to achieve.  

Styling Different Textures

Using different textures or types of fabric on the same couch is a brilliant way to create an entirely new feel for a sofa you feel you are getting sick of.

Mixing velvet and silk pillows, for example, can be a striking combination, or, a knitted pillow can provide rustic charm to an arrangement that would be too cold without it. (Side note: Have you ever made your own knitted pillow with a knitting machine? It’s easier than you think!)

If you’re going for an arrangement with many different pillows it’s important to think about textural variation to create some variation and make sure you aren’t adding ‘too much of a good thing’.  

Styling Different Shapes

Mixing cushions of different shapes is a great way to add character to a sofa.

A round pillow in the centre of a square cushion grouping can really draw the eye, especially if it’s a colour that really pops.  

Another great shape concept to play with, in our opinion is the long, rectangular cushion. At the extreme end, it can stretch across more than half the length of the couch and act as a comfortable and eye-catching centrepiece for your sofa’s style.

Styling Different Patterns 

Cushions, of course, don’t just come in single-tone uniform colours – from plain block colors to tie dye patterns – there are more prints and patterns out there than you could ever imagine!

Patterns add an amazing effect to your sofa and wider room’s style, but throw out a bit more challenge when it comes to matching and finding the right combination.

Nearly all designers agree that the most important thing to avoid is ‘busyness‘, which occurs when there are too many colours, lines, and shapes interacting with one another.

Make sure that you don’t use two effusive patterns at the same time, but, a simple pattern like stripes, can go very well with a more complex one. You can also quite easily make your own DIY cushion covers to get the look you’re after.

As a final tip – it’s always a good idea to look for common elements across two patterns, perhaps a shared colour or shape.  

styling sofa cushions

How Many Cushions Should You Put On A Sofa?

Another popular style question without a definitive answer.

There are many possible arrangements that use many different numbers of cushions. It all depends on the size of your couch, the style you’re going for, and the cushions you’ve fallen in love with. 

Here are a few suggestions for different cushions arrangements, each of which puts your scatter pillows in a different place.

Paired Cushions 

The paired cushion arrangement is the most simple and creates a pleasingly symmetrical look.

It consists of two of the same pillows placed at different ends of the couch. These can either be right in the corners or leave space between the cushions and the armrests – play with it to find the look you like.  

This arrangement relies on a single pillow design, so make sure that it really looks great with your couch. You might want to consider an exciting pattern that can draw attention all on its own.

What’s lost in an expansive range of colours is made up for in simplicity and elegance.   

Balanced Cushions 

The balanced arrangement is the classic, the default, the one you probably remember from your grandmother’s couch. But it’s all these things for a reason.  

To create a balanced styling, three or five cushions need to be arranged symmetrically on the couch with one in the middle, and the remainder equally spaced on either side.

The cushions don’t all need to be the same colour, size, or pattern for this to work.

Multiple products can fit together quite well so long as they are complementary, but be sure not to interfere with the symmetry. If one yellow pillow is on the edge and in front of a blue pillow, make sure the other yellow pillow is exactly the same. 

Separated Trios of Cushions

This arrangement will lend your space the look of luxury. It involves six cushions in total, arranged in two groups. The cushions should be layered, with two at the back and one in the front. They should also be placed away from the sofa’s armrest.    

Such styling results in two groups of cushions that look like you put a lot of effort and care into choosing them.

There’s a lot of room for creativity with this arrangement, letting you play the role of the interior designer.

You need different patterns, shapes, and textures, or it will be all form and no content.  

The Central Pillow(s)  

This cushion styling is pure elegance and simplicity.

The central pillow arrangement can contain one, two, or even three cushions, but however many there are, they must be arranged as one unit and placed in the centre of the couch.  

Concentrating all the throw pillows in one area leaves a lot of the couch uncovered, but this can be desirable in certain situations. Perhaps the couch itself is beautiful and only needs a small patch of colour to really set the whole thing off.

Central cushions also work great with modern pieces of furniture, allowing an unconventional couch to really shine. 

Eclectic Cushion Arrangements

Eclectic cushion styling is all about the maximalist look.

In eclectic arrangements, there are no rules. The cushions can be large or small and in any arrangement whatsoever.

This plethora of pillows can provide a comfy and casual aesthetic, just use your own discretion and be aware of ‘busyness’.   

Shoot for a mix of sizes, shapes, and colours that will work in whatever positions they find themselves in. That way, you won’t constantly be moving, arranging, and rearranging them. Or, at least, you don’t have to be.  

cushion styling arrangements

Using Cushions For Sofa Styling: The Ultimate Colour Matching Guide:

With countless colours and patterns in all shapes and size to choose from – let’s run through what we think are the best cushion colours for your unique sofa!

What Cushions Go With A Grey Sofa?

Grey is a muted colour, so grey sofas call for cushions with similarly reserved tones. A darker or lighter grey can look good on top of a grey sofa, as well as reds, yellows, and greens that aren’t too bright. Keep in mind light coloured cushions will show dirt and stains more easily and will need frequent cleaning

A smaller, brightly-coloured cushion, when added to a few with muted colours, can add an arresting accent to an arrangement. 

What Cushions Go With A Black Sofa?

A black sofa can look imposing, so it’s essential to add some colour and whimsy (unless you’re going for that look!).

Because it’s such a strong colour, black sofas are a great canvas for a cushion arrangement that features equally strong colours. Some ideas for these would be cherry red or hot pinks. A more subtle style can be achieved with greys, light blues, and light peach.

what cushions go with a brown sofa

What Cushions Go With A Brown Sofa?

Brown sofas do well with cushions that are bright enough to draw attention. A dark brown couch is naturally classy, especially if it’s a leather sofa or leather lounge.

You can complement the shade with teals, deep reds, and even gold cushions. On a brown couch with a lighter shade, colours like turquoise, navy blue, and copper look great.  

What Cushions Go With A Beige Sofa?

Beige sofas are a canvas for all sorts of bold cushion arrangements.

Its light tone tolerates much darker, contrasting colours such as navy blue, burgundy, or forest green.

These dark colours can, in turn, playoff a lighter, brighter pillow that’s blue, orange, or green.  

What Cushions Go With A Navy Sofa?

Navy sofas are among the easiest to find complementary colours for.

The neutral navy blue will always go with other neutral colours like whites, creams, tans, and greys—there’s a reason these pairings are so often seen in both luxury and street fashion.  

A bolder choice can be to forgo the familiar and opt for more vivid oranges, pinks, and even golds.  

What Cushions Go With A Red Sofa?

Owners of red couches require a little more care when they’re selecting their cushions. There are quite a few colours that will clash with red fabrics, like greens and browns, which should be avoided.  

Blacks, greys, and whites all work well on red sofas, as do canary yellow, orange, gold, and silver.

A darker red sofa will work well with navy blue, charcoal grey, and purple.  

What Cushions Go With A Teal Sofa?

You can do a lot with the cushion arrangement on a teal couch.

Most colours will look good on it, but particularly strong pairings, like teal and hot pink or coral, can easily overpower the rest of the room. It’s a good idea to consider more muted tones like grey, beige, and taupe.

What Cushions Go With A Pink Sofa?

A pink sofa is strong enough to stand up to the other strong colours you might throw at it (or onto it, rather).

Black, teal, and red are all options for cushions, as are gold, silver, and sunshine yellow. However, you don’t have to go for everything: grey, white, camel, and cream are all more calming colours for a pink couch.   

What Cushions Go With A Green Sofa?

Green sofas can be gorgeous but difficult to find cushions for.

The classic combinations are green and white, tan, beige. It’s also possible to develop a more colourful palette by using pink or lavender. And, unless it’s a festive Christmas pillow brought out for a week or two, putting a red cushion in a green sofa will clash most unpleasantly.  

what cushions go with a green sofa

Frequently Asked Questions:

Still have questions? We’ve got answers below!

What Is The “Pillow Chop”?

The pillow chop is an easy and simple way to make your scatter cushions look like they’ve been used and enjoyed.

Nobody wants their living space to resemble a cold department store, with cushions that just arrived from the factory. It should look like someone uses and enjoys your living space. 

By simply using your hand to ‘chop’ the top of your scatter cushions, you’ll push the filling inside out of the corner. This creates an indent in the middle of the pillow, keeping them from looking too boxy.

Don’t go overboard, though, or you’ll be let with cushions that look like rabbits, adding an unwelcome comedic touch to a well thought out décor.

It’s important to note that this technique only works on cushions whose fillers involve feathers or other loose fillings. Foam cushion inserts will just pop back into place.

What Is a Throw? Can Cushions Be Paired With Them?

Confusingly, throw pillows and throws are not the same things.

Throw cushions are decorative cushions, like scatter cushions, but are usually seen on beds rather than on couches.

Throws are small blankets you can use on the couch for both comfort and looks.  

Throws are on the couch along with your cushions and become an integral part of the overall colour palette and feel of your sofa.

Many interior designers will recommend placing throws underneath your cushions, creating a sort of double background effect. It’ll work incredibly well if there’s variation in texture between the throw and the scatter cushion, which is a way to add another dimension of variation to your interior.   

What Is The Best Filling For Sofa Cushions?

In truth, there’s nothing better than the age-old classic feathers.

Feathers (also termed ‘down’) provide the perfect balance of softness and rigour that gives pillows the ability to look great and be comfortable at the same time.

Foam cushion fillers aren’t as comfortable, and they give pillows a boxy appearance, often stretching the fabric in unattractive ways. 

what is pillow chop

Final Thoughts

As you’ve hopefully seen from the tips in this guide, the simple practice of styling a sofa with cushions is a cheap, effective and comfortable way to bring new life to your living room, bedroom or almost any other space in your home.

Using cushions for sofa style enhancements gives endless potential for fun and creativity – arrange, rearrange, and change it up as you see fit!

If you like what we’ve put together here, please give it a share 🙂

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About Darcy O

Loves good coffee, good design and a good nap on a good couch!

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