How to decorate your living room with cushions

What a difference a few cushions can make!

Does your living room look a bit old and tired? Living rooms often become a dumping ground for 'stuff' and the continual wear and tear can make them look a little dowdy and run down. Often the task of redecorating your living room is considered too mammoth a project to consider so before you get stuck in re-painting, re-carpeting or re-placing your old couch, consider the idea of using a few cushions to spruce up your room.

Stack of cushions
Stack of cushions

If chosen correctly, cushions can pull together all the elements of a room and bring harmony to a once busy or mismatched room. Selecting the right cushions for your room can be very difficult and it's easy to get it wrong. This step by step process will guide you through the decision-making process and help you to find the ideal cushions for your living room.

Sofa with matching cushions
Sofa with matching cushions

Step 1: If your cushions match your sofa, throw them out!

Sometimes when you buy a couch it comes with matching cushions.

This is bad.

If your cushions match your couch then please do yourself a favour and donate them to charity immediately. Adding cushions to your living room is an excellent opportunity to add colour and texture to a room. Having cushions that match your couch is a massive waste as they will blend straight in to the couch and look like a lumpy bit of furniture. If you add some cushions that complement other colours in your room and contrast well with the colour of your couch, it can be as effective as adding a new piece of artwork to your walls.

Step 2: Select your colour palette

This is probably the most important step in your process, even more so than selecting the actual cushions themselves. The reason for this is because, if selected carefully, your cushions can pull together all the elements in your room and help to create a stylish and harmonious look.

Often living rooms are full of lots of colours and patterns. The colour of your walls, the patterns on your curtains, the artwork hanging on your wall, as well as any coffee tables, vases, china or any other trinkets... these all add colour and texture to your room. Quite often there is a whole lot going on in a living room and things can feel very busy and mis-matched. Selecting your cushions based on the colours that already exist in your living room can subtly pull together all the busyness in the room and help the existing colours to complement each other, rather than work against each other.

Use a colour palette to help you choose your cushions
Use a colour palette to help you choose your cushions | Source

So let's get down to selecting your colour palette. The best way to do this is to sit in the middle of your room with your laptop in hand. Have a good look around and try to identify 2 - 3 colours that meet this criteria:

  1. The colour should exist in some other element in your room - it could be your curtains, a painting on the wall or a vase on a coffee table; and

  2. They must complement each other - this is the most important criteria. Don't choose three really loud and bright cushions. They must look really good together, all on their own.

Take some time over your decision because these colours will inform your cushion selection and will ultimately be the glue that pulls your living room colours together.

To help you with your colour selection, and later your cushion selection, use an online colour swatch to help you identify your exact colours. The easiest way to do this is to use an online colour swatch (just do a quick google search). This way, when you are ready to shop for your cushions, you can have your colours handy. There are plenty of cushion stores online these days so you can browse for your cushions while referring back to your colour palette to ensure you get the right colour.

Step 3: Deciding how many cushions on a sofa

A stack of lovely cushions
A stack of lovely cushions | Source

The amount of cushions you should purchase depends on the style of room you prefer. If you like the more traditional style lounge room with deep colours then you should stick to an even number of cushions. If you want a more modern or eclectic look then go for an odd number. I know this might seem strange to you but it can really make a difference when it comes to the arrangement of the cushions on the sofa, but we'll get to that later. For now, decide what look you think your living room is: traditional or modern and let that inform whether or not you go for an odd or even number or cushions

In terms of the actual number of cushions you buy, it really depends on the size and number of sofas you have in your living room. In my opinion, 3 seaters can take up to 5 cushions, 2 seaters up to 4 cushions, and 1 seaters should probably stick to just one cushion.

The perfect number of cushions

How many is too many cushions?

  • 1 cushion is too many - I hate cushions!
  • 3 - 5
  • Up to 6 is ok but no more!
  • You can never have too many cushions!
See results without voting
Choose cushions that pick up other elements in your room
Choose cushions that pick up other elements in your room | Source

Step 4: Selecting your cushions

Ok! Now to the fun part... you know what your colour palette is, you know how many cushions you want to buy, so let's get shopping!

When you are selecting you cushions, you need to have your colour palette close by. You want to select a range of cushions that use these colours. Your cushions don't need to have all of your colours in them. Most of your cushions will only have one of your colours but you want this to be the dominant colour. The difficult part is to find one or two cushions that have two or three of your colours in it. By doing this, you tie your three main colours in together. This is very hard to articulate so I've included an image to show you.

See how the cushions on the sofa pick up the cream from the other couch, the blue from the coffee table (or ottoman) and the grey from the bottom half of the walls? Most of these cushions only have one, or at most two of these three colours in them, however the combination of the three colours really pulls the whole room together.

Experiment with different size and shaped cushions
Experiment with different size and shaped cushions | Source

Step 5: Choosing the size and shape of your cushions

Most people choose the standard 18in x 18in or 20in x 20in square cushions and they purchase all of their cushions with in the exact same shape. Once again, if you do this, you are missing an opportunity to add some depth to your selection. If all your cushions are the exact same size, it can start to look a but clinical and boring.

Think about mixing up the size and shape of your cushions. You might buy two different sized cushions in the same patterned material and then add in some solid colours. Alternatively, if you are really good at identifying and sticking to your colour palette, you could buy 4-5 different cushions and make them fit together really well. The image I've included is an excellent example of this.

Step 6: How to arrange cushions on a sofa

There is no hard and fast rule about how to display cushions on your sofa but there are a few things that you can do to maximise their effect. Firstly, if you are trying to achieve a very traditional looking room, then you want to go for the classic one:one (matching cushions at each end) or two:two (same thing). This can be an excellent way to achieve a classic or traditional looking living room.

If you want a more modern look, then you have some freedom to mix things up a bit. There really isn't any rules when it comes to the arrangement of cushions on a sofa for a modern or eclectic look. I've seen settings with one large cushion on a two seater and it looked fabulous! I've also seen a sofa stacked so full with cushions that there was barely anywhere to sit, but, it looked amazing too. However, unless you are confident about your styling, it might be safe to stick with an average number of cushions 3-5 and have fun with your arrangement. If you have 4 squares and a rectangle try putting the squares at either end and the rectangle in the middle. If you have 5 squares then maybe try the 3:2 arrangement with two down one end and three down the other.

Keep in mind the colours of the cushions when you are placing them on your sofa. If you have one cushion with 2 or 3 or your colour palette in it then try to surround that with the other colours as this will help to pull them all together. The most important thing to remember through all this is to have fun! Try a new arrangement and leave it there for a few days while you see if you like it and then mix it up again until you find one that you love.

How to scatter cushions on a sofa
How to scatter cushions on a sofa | Source

Step 7: Find your perfect cushion collection

So now that I've give you all the info you need to help you decorate your living room with cushions, it's time to get shopping! There are so many websites that offer a huge range of cushions and it can be a lot of fun browsing for your perfect collection.

If you use an online colour palette then the easiest way to shop is from the comfort of your own home. You can sit in the room the cushions are destined for while you browse online stores to come up with the perfect collection for your room. This is SO much easier than physically going into a store and trying to conjure up a vision of the colours in your room at home.


melbel profile image

melbel 2 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Wow! What a fun hub! You make me want to get a ton of pillows for my couch. I also love how colorful and beautifully formatted your hub is. Keep up the awesome work! Well, I'm going to take a look at my couch now and see what I can do! :P

Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Fantastic hub - I couldn't agree more on making your couch cushions look different to your couch!

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

Really great hub! can't wait to read more. shared with others

Judy 2 years ago

Thank you so much for this hub. I have been searching forever for this sort of information. Much appreciated!

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 2 years ago from Malaysia

Hi Sophie, I found this hub through the Google search, which rank quite high. Enjoyed reading this great article and I also visited your online store. I wrote something similar and took photos of various cushion design and ideas at my favorite shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, for the article.

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hi, lilybet,

Great piece and intelligently-presented. Voted up and away on this timely-piece.

I love cushions myself. I love to nap and I love napping on a cushion sometimes instead of a bed.

I said what I needed to say to you in your fan mail.

I will see you soon.

Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Al.

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