The sofa is a retreat, a lair for relaxation. Make it seasonally stylish by adding throw pillows and blankets, which will boost comfort without a lot of cost. Below, interior designer Tineke Triggs of Artistic Designs for Living offers help for choosing the pieces that offer the comfort we all yearn for this time of year.
Pillows and blankets create both physical and visual comfort: Pillows add body support, blankets provide warmth, and each offers opportunities to layer warm colors and soft textures.
It’s hard to look at a sofa full of plush fabrics and not want to dive in. Even if you don’t have time to actually cuddle up, simply looking at such a scene can feel comforting.
There is no science in the selection of the right pillow and blanket combination. Each piece just has to feel and look good to you.
OK, let’s get real. The possibilities are endless, which can make this seemingly easy task a little daunting. “If you’re not sure where to start, go the retail route rather than custom,” Triggs says. “Retailers offer cheaper options that will ease you into the process and help you recognize where you might prefer investing in later on, be it better-quality fabrics or extra details like trim, tassels and buttons. Then at that point, you can move those original purchases into, say, the kids’ or guest rooms.”
Tip: Sofas often come with matching throw pillows, and they can be a great starting point. Keep the inserts and replace those unwanted pillow covers with your own store-bought, custom or DIY covers. Many retailers sell covers and inserts separately, so keeping that insert will help you save a few dollars. Just make sure you’re buying the right size cover for your inserts.
Layering the look harmoniously. Pillows can be used sparingly at a sofa’s ends or be piled on to up the cozy effect. If you’re adding multiple styles of pillows, Triggs suggests using a cohesive element, whether it’s size, texture or color palette, so they don’t look like a random mishmash.
“I like to match accent with accent,” says Triggs. “Look at your room’s base palette, then match the most minimal accent color and build upon that.”
For example, in this photo a red pillow picks up on the red woods used for the mirror and tables. Likewise, the various neutral pillows accent the chandelier and framed art.
That accent could come from the color of a side table, a stripe on a curtain, a picture frame or a detail from a painting. Find a solid or patterned pillow and throw that play off that chosen tone and make it a more prominent character in the room.
In this photo the oranges in the pillows play off those in the painting and rug.
Tip: You will get more impact from a couple of colorful pillows and throws than you would using a bunch that are all neutral.
A word about size. Beyond color, pattern and texture, you also have to navigate through endless sizes. Size will help convey the statement you’d like to make with your pillow selection. Twelve- and 16-inch square or round pillows, for example, will offer subtler touches over, say, 24-inch squares. For greater impact use a variety of sizes.
Opposing colors. Once you’ve hooked into that initial accent, add layers with colors from opposite sides of the color wheel. Purple accents, for example, work best with yellows, Blues will work great with oranges and so on.
“However,” notes Triggs, “there are no rules, so if you’d prefer to put your own spin on what seasonal colors mean to you, go ahead. Add pinks to oranges if you’d like.”
Regardless of the colors you layer, keep the heavier pillows (meaning larger size, darker tone, busier pattern or more texture) in the background and lighter ones in the front for an aesthetic that reads best to the eye.
Texture. Pillows and blankets are a good way to add supercozy textures you wouldn’t dare apply to other facets of the room. For instance, you probably wouldn’t upholster your sofa or love seat in that faux fur or shag fabric that you could die happily snuggling up to.
However, toss on a few pillows wrapped in such a decadent fabric and a blanket to match, and you’ve created a welcoming feeling that doesn’t overwhelm the space.
Tip: Once the warmer months roll around, you can switch out these heavier textures and darker colors for light, bright cottons.
How many pillows are enough? You’ll want to add enough color and texture to make the right statement, but don’t go overboard. If your guests can’t sit down, the cozy factor is lost. Triggs advises adding three to six pillows (depending on sizes) to a regular sofa and a few more to sectionals.
If you find yourself with too many pillows, use the larger ones as floor pillows pulled close to the fireplace so you can sip hot cocoa comfortably or around the coffee table for game night.
How many blankets are enough? One or two blankets draped over a sofa adds interest and creates a nice color separation. More than that and guests may be fighting for space to sit. “Every person in my family has his and her own dedicated throw,” says Triggs. “But we don’t hang them all on the sofa in between uses. Instead, we keep them folded up in our leather ottoman.”
Baskets next to the sofa or fireplace also provide convenient storage for throws no matter whether each blanket matches or not.
Your turn: Show us your cozied-up sofas ready to take on the season.