In my mind, the best party would be one where I was invited to a city loft filled with a dozen sofas and hundreds of pillows stacked up on shelves and someone hands you a glass of champagne and says “go style some sofas with some of these killer pillows”. Add of course there would be some design loving friends and bloggers present – call me crazy but that’s my idea of a really good time.
Nancy from Minnesota wrote to me the other day asking about pillow styling on her neutral sofa and how to go about picking accent pillows that look modern and fresh. Every sofa needs a few toss pillows for comfort but also to give it a finishing touch. I believe in mixing them up so they’re coordinated but not too matchy matchy.
For any sofas anchored on a rug, that rug should be the first thing you pay attention to – the pillows should complement and not compete. The simplest way to do it is to use a color that’s already present in the rug. Below is a neutral ‘goes with everything’ gray striped rug and a basic white sofa.
Mixed Neutral Palette. There are four patterns on this sofa and they all work together because they all carry a varying shade of the color in the rug from light gray to charcoal. Include a classic stripe, a geometric or two (notice one is large and one is smaller in scale) and then add a contemporary floral or paisley or block print motif with a pop of color.
Monochromatic Palette. Use a similar formula to combine any number of toss pillows in a single color. Below a large scale geometric is paired with a smaller scale floral and combined with a navy border pillow and an embroidered medallion pillow in indigo. Use one or two more of the same patterns on chairs that sit adjacent.
Complementary Color Palette. Complementary colors are ones that are opposite each other on the color wheel, the blue and orange, purple and yellow, red and green and their varying shades. Coral and teal are also complements since coral is a version of orange and teal is a blue hue – below you see a combination of the two using a larger scale and medium scale botanical, two solids, and a small scale geometric.
Cool Analogous Palette. Analogous colors are ones that are neighbors on the color wheel. If you want to be a little bolder, try playing with analogous colors in larger scale prints and taking color cues from your rug. On one side, pair a suzani with a modern giraffe print and on the opposite side use a solid with another large scale motif that carries the same cool greens and blues.
Warm Analogous Palette. Here’s an example of an earthy and warm analogous palette combining rust and butterscotch tones in stripe and geometrics plus a bonus additional layer of touchable texture in the form of a mongolian lamb’s wool accent pillow. Cozy!
Personality. I think more than anything your decorative choices should be fun and showcase your style and personality, so never be afraid to throw in something quirky or unpredictable because it’s great for conversation but also is a reflection of you, whatever that is.
Great question Nancy, I had fun “styling” all of these neutral sofas in different patterns and palettes! Want to make your own layered sofa + rug + pillow combo like the ones seen above? I use Photoshop Elements but if you follow this tutorial you can do the same thing with the free online Pixlr program to see how combinations might look in your home with your preferred patterns and colors of choice.
Happy pillow styling!