One of my design pet peeves is when a homeowner buys a sofa, and it sits in their living room with the matching pillows that it came with. But I can sympathize, you take time selecting the perfect piece at the right price, and you have been convinced that that is how it is "supposed to look." It is hard fore many of my clients to see that it is okay to replace those pillows with some new ones that coordinate with their sofa and the decor in the room. In fact, many times you can just take off the cover that came with the pillow and purchase/make a new one. So here are a few tips on how to style your sofa.

Select a matching pair of pillows that are either 24 or 22 inches square to place on the far right and left of the sofa, I like to call these the "anchor" pillows.  Work your way to the center with a set of slightly smaller square pillows.

Mix and match your fabrics, sofa upholstery and pillow fabrics should never be the same. If you have a solid fabric on your sofa use a print on your anchor pillows to ground other pillows, and vice versa. Limit patterned fabrics to one set of pillows per sofa.

I don't like to have more than 5 pillows on a sofa, I think it just gets too cluttered after that. If you want to add an odd shaped pillow to the mix to keep the look from feeling too symmetrical, include a smaller, rectangular pillow made from a third fabric that's different but coordinates.

I like to use down inserts rather than polyester inserts. They are more comfortable and better looking. If allergies are a problem, try high-quality, hypoallergenic down.When you fluff the pillows give the top a gentle karate chop, just to get the slight "v" shape. (its hard to do this with polyester filled pillows)

If you stick to those simple rules you will be headed in the right direction, and take it from me- as long as your sofa doesn't have built in cup holders, you'll be miles ahead of the curve. 

Here are a few of the rule breakers and why its okay:

In this sofa they stacked the tallest pillows in the middle and the shortest on the edge. Its okay because the pillows on the ends are the same size and they alternated the color and patterned pillows.
In this room they left matching pillows on the sofa. In this example they placed a matching pillow next to a solid pillow to vary the layers. If you want to keep your matching pillows, try layering them on the inside and using a contrasting pillow as the anchor. If your matching sofa pillows coordinate with other upholstered pieces in the room try putting them on those pieces.

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