Customize Your Comfort: Tips for Styling Your One-of-a-Kind Sofa Like a Pro
Jun 08

Sofa Styling: Where Comfort Meets Creativity

I don’t know about you, but I think about my sofa a lot. It may be because my front door leads right into my living room, so it’s the first thing you see when entering my apartment. Or maybe it’s because I love my sofa too much and want it to shine bright like the beautiful star she is. In any case, sofa styling has been top of mind for me, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to break down sofa styling for both my and your sake. Grab your pens and notebooks because this is a living room rules post you won’t want to forget.

As Emily Henderson has taught us, there are a few golden rules to follow when it comes to sofa styling:

1. Keep a Cohesive Color Palette

This is an EHD rule of thumb. As you’ve likely heard here before, as long as you keep a consistent color palette (3-5 colors), you will have more success when mixing styles and patterns. Here’s a post on how to easily create one.

2. Vary Sizes and Shapes

For visual interest, you want your pillows to vary in shape and size – mix in round lumbar and square pillows in different sizes.

3. Add in Different Textures

If you are going to mix solids and neutrals, textures can bring in interesting details without being too loud.

4. Balance Out Colors Evenly

Each side of your sofa should have different colors sprinkled throughout – you shouldn’t have all of one color on one side.

5. Vary the Scale of Patterns

Patterned throws and pillows are a great way to add life and intrigue to your sofa, just make sure that you mix in both small and large scale patterns.

Now that you have your basic guidelines, let’s take a look at past EHD projects and dissect how to execute ‘how to style a sofa like a dang pro’.

If you remember this version of Emily’s LA living room, then you might already know she was experimenting with a new rug and new sofa, trying to find the perfect match – which is not an easy task, let me tell ya. While she wasn’t in love with this rug and sofa combo, the sofa itself is so GOOD and styled to perfection.

Why it Works

The large-scale patterns are layered evenly, so neither side of the sofa is too overwhelming. The two solid but textured color pillows on each side balance the patterns out, so the overall look isn’t too loud but still visually interesting.

Here, Velinda styled the same sofa for a Feel Good Flash Makeover, and went with a ‘more is more’ approach, proving that pillow combos are endless as long as those 5 golden rules are still applied.

Why it Works

The color palette is kept simple with 3 colors – gray, white, and muted blue – and while there are multiple striped pillows present, each is varied in scale and textured, so there is not too much of the same thing happening.

Moving on to another iteration of Emily’s LA living room, we have this gorgeous custom Lawson-Fenning sofa styled minimally with a few pillows and a throw. Emily wanted the sofa to feel clean, fresh, and purposeful, so she dialed back her styling so the curves and shape of the sofa would shine and speak for themselves.

Why it Works

The two pillows are different sizes and shapes that complement each other, while the throw blanket adds a large-scale pattern to bring in more visual interest.

Here in Jess’s small space living room, she has a simple but not at all boring sofa that allows for a myriad of styling options. Going off the color palette of her living room, she peppered in pillows and a throw that would complement both the room and the sofa.

Why it Works

She sticks to her color palette with the colorful pillows and added a large-scale patterned lumbar to create some dynamic to the space.

Brady’s living room is cool, eclectic, and neutral, which he so effortlessly exhibits in his sofa styling.

Why it Works

Brady kept his styling rather neutral, so he complemented his color palette by adding in A LOT of texture. His two main pillows are knitted and paired with a large-scale woven blanket and leather lumbar – there is enough texture going on to be interesting. Also, note how the leather pillow brings in both warmth and texture.

First of all, if you haven’t checked out this reveal, do so immediately. It is a tear-jerker, and the whole space is so special and personal. Sara designed it for her mom for Mother’s Day – it’s SO SWEET.

Why it Works

The pillows Sara used pull from the color scheme of the room, so the colors all speak well with each other. Since she uses more color, the patterns are small in scale, so they work well effortlessly.

What makes tight-back sofas different? Well, they are sturdier due to the lack of back cushions, usually have more of a structural shape, and let’s be honest – they are not always the most comfortable. And that’s where pillow styling comes in.

As Bowser says in her reveal post, the shape of this sofa is ‘cool and edgy’ – just like her. Seriously, she is the coolest. But what do you do with such a cool and edgy sofa? I am glad you asked.

Why it Works

The color palette is consistent, and you guessed it – she varies the patterns and textures among the pillows and throw while complementing the size and shape of her sofa.

This is one of my favorite versions of Emily’s LA living room because I just love how this sofa looks in her English Tudor home. It’s so simple and classic, which allows for more modern pillow and throw options.

Why it Works

The deep color of the sofa makes the room pop, so the pillows don’t have to be loud. Notice that while there is scale variation, the larger one is more medium. This helps to keep the style still feeling classic. Also, that burgundy pillow is SO good. A fun, unexpected, but appropriate color is always a good idea.

Considering the size of the sofa and its firm structure, Sara implemented four oversized pillows to create a warm and inviting look. And PS, she says this sofa is actually VERY comfy despite it being a more sculptural shape.

Why it Works

Her color palette is neutral, each pillow is varied in size and pattern, and she implemented texture with the round faux fur pillow.

Ahh, this sofa is like the effortless cool girl who can pull off anything. There are tons of styling options that would make sense here because of its classic shape and black finish.

Why it Works

Again, the color palette here is neutral and simple, so the pattern mixing is where the real action comes in. Patterns and textures can allow for the colors to be tame while still creating an exciting moment. Also, since this isn’t a big sofa, only having 3 pillows looks sophisticated and appropriate.

Sectionals are obviously larger sofas, so you can play even more with pillows and throws, OR keep it simple and let your sofa shine. Allow me to demonstrate.

The traditional gray sectional pictured here in Emily’s old Glendale home leaves so much room to play with colors and pattern.

Why it Works

The color palette is spread out evenly, so the pillows do not seem too heavy or overwhelming. In the same vein, Emily mixed patterns that did not complicate the styling but instead complement each other.

Arlyn’s living room reveal is so special, and one of my favorite living rooms because of how personal it is to her. This sofa is obviously a show-stopper, but that didn’t stop her from bringing in even more excitement with her pillow styling.

Why it Works

Since the rest of the room is kept quite neutral, there is more space to play with pattern and color with pillow styling. Arlyn sticks to the 5 golden rules by varying patterns, implementing different size and shape pillows, and spreading them evenly across her sectional. Also, the throw draped on the end of the chaise is perfection.

This basement is one of my favorite reveals we’ve published on the blog, designed by the wonderfully talented Lea Johnson. It’s a hardworking, multi-functional space, but I must say this sofa and styling steals the show.

Why it Works

Since the sectional is bold and colorful on its own, Lea kept her pillows neutral in color but added more visual interest by mixing bigger, varied patterns.

This sectional in the mountain house is VERY cool and VERY sculptural, which is not always the easiest to style. Emily has talked about the pros and cons of this sectional before, but the one great thing about it is styling can be kept minimal and intentional.

Why it Works

Like I said, the sofa is sculptural and interesting to look at on its own, but the 5 golden rules still apply. The pillows and the throw are cohesive with the color palette and are spread out so as to not crowd the sofa.

And now, because it’s so fun, I pulled together some pillow and throw blanket combos to shop from:

Look Items
1 Ticking Pillows, Dijon Cotton Pom Throw, Oversized Ivory Angled Stripe Lumbar Pillow, District Loom Vintage Pillow Cover No 70, Harlee Ivory Round Pillow, Oversized Cotton Textured Striped Throw Pillow with Fringe
2 Clique White Pillow, Chunky Stripe Fringe Throw Blanket, Hearth & Hand Persimmon Mohair Pillows, Recycled Cotton Blend Pillow with Tassels, Pico 18 Black Round Pom Pom Pillow, Ray Pillow
3 Gigi Pillow, Boucle Faux Mohair Throw Blanket, Taupe Diamond Cotton Chenille Lumbar Pillow, Woven Washed Windowpane Pillow, Square Woven Cotton Pillow with Fringe
4 20×20 Bradford Two-Tone Tassel Pillow, Pico 18 Black Round Pom Pom Pillow, Ticking Pillows, Oversized Ivory Angled Stripe Lumbar Pillow, Buffalo Check Plaid Design Cotton Down Filled Throw Pillow, Modern Threads Acrylic Knit Throw
5 Park Designs In The Meadow Plaid Throw, Daios Pillows, Leilani French Knot Design Throw Pillow Natural, Square Woven Cotton Pillow with Fringe, Round Throw Pillow Natural, Vintage Hemp Pillows
6 Oversized Cotton Textured Striped Throw Pillow with Fringe, Maize Sqaure Throw Pillow Black, Oversized Ivory Angled Stripe Lumbar Pillow, Oversize Chenille Shiny Waffle Knit Square Throw Pillow, Rayas Throw
7 Daios Pillows, Rayas Throw, Textured Solid Square Throw Pillow Neutral, Harlee Ivory Round Pillow, Caitlin Wilson Black Gingham Pillow, Clique White Pillow
8 Maize Sqaure Throw Pillow Black, Olive Shag Pillow, Ticking Pillows, Black & Beige Woven Lumbar Pillow, Oversized Cotton Textured Striped Throw Pillow with Fringe, Grid Throw Blanket

And finally, our handy guide to help you with all your sofa styling needs:

As a mathematician, I gotta love any approach to styling based on formulas and variables. Might I suggest that one additional dimension be considered? The number of pillows/throws used should be inversely proportional to how often a sofa is used and by how many people. One or two grown-ups who

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