Let’s talk pillows!
Pillow styling can be one of the most subtly challenging parts of styling a room. Between mixing colors, patterns, and sizes, and searching for good quality pillows that won’t break the bank, styling and shopping for pillows can get a bit overwhelming. Then, just when you think you’ve found the perfect pairing at Target or TJ Maxx, you get them home and realize they look flat and lifeless, rather than full and effortlessly lived in like the ones you see on Pinterest and Instagram.
If you’re looking for easy styling tips, what to look for when shopping for pillows, the best places to shop, and some fun inspiration for pillow combinations, this blog post is here for you!
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PILLOW STYLING TIPS AND TRICKS
When it comes to styling pillows, there really are no hard and fast rules, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help you elevate your pillow game! Here are my top three tips for getting that designer, effortlessly lived in pillow look :
1. Mix and match your pillows
I know that mixing colors and patterns, and straying away from the “matchy matchy” can feel scary if you’ve always had pillows that match your sofa (and/or each other), but I promise it’s worth pushing yourself outside your throw pillow comfort zone! The trick to achieving that designer look all starts with adding in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures that work together to create a cohesive, yet visually interesting look.
Things to keep in mind when mixing and matching pillows are color, scale, and size.
When it comes to colors, you want keep things consistent and cohesive. This doesn’t mean that all your pillows need to be the same color, or even that they all have to have the same colors in them, but repeated elements here and there and keeping the color tones consistent or complementary between your pairings can help pull the room together and keep things feeling cohesive.
When it comes to mixing and matching patterns, you want to keep scale in mind. Scale essentially just refers to the size of the pattern, and you want to avoid mixing patterns of the same size. When you start mixing patterns with the same scale, things can start to get too busy and turn into visually exhausting blob. Instead, you want to vary patterns with different scales, and never be afraid to throw in a solid to give your eyes a place to rest! A lot of people say you can’t go wrong with a solid, a stripe, and a pattern, and I totally agree, but don’t let that statement limit you, because there are so many options when it comes to mixing patterns!
Finally, you need to consider the actual size of the pillow itself. If you’re shopping for pillows in person, it is easy to see how the sizes will pair together, but if you’re shopping online, sometimes this can be deceiving. You can absolutely pair pillows that are all the same size, but if you have it in your head (for example) that you want one larger solid pillow layered behind two smaller patterns, you need to make sure that the solid pillow is actually larger than the other two. The most common pillow sizes are 18″x18″, 20″x20″, and 22″x22″!
2. OVERFILL YOUR PILLOW COVERS
You mean I need to make a big square fit in a small square? YES. That’s exactly what I mean!
This tip really blew my mind the first time I heard it, and it seriously makes all the difference in how your pillows look and feel. You’ve probably at least subconsciously noticed how nice and full the pillows look in designer photos, but, if not, take a scroll through this pin board above and pay close attention to the pillows. Most of them look so full and plush, and it is all because those bad boys got stuffed with a pillow insert that was one size too big. I mean really, who knew that was all it took?
Most standard pillow inserts come in even sizes (18″, 20″, 22″, etc.), so (for example) if you get a 20″ pillow cover, you want to use a 22″ pillow insert to really give it that full and plush designer look. Not only will this make your pillows look nicer, but it will also make them way more comfortable and usable. Before I started overfilling my pillows, they always became a flat pancake as soon as I sat down on the couch or laid my head on them, but now they tend to hold their shape and are far more comfortable (and yes, we totally use our throw pillows)!
3. USE A “CHOPPABLE” INSERT
Okay, so lets talk about the “chop”. Some people love it, some people hate it, but it is a pretty common technique in the design world. The idea is that adding this soft chop at the top of your pillows gives you sort of of an effortlessly lived in look, like “hey, my pillow is full and plush, but I also used it an hour ago to take a nap and it woke up like this”. I mean, we all know that your pillows don’t actually look that nice after you take a nap on them, but it’s fun to pretend right?
In all seriousness though, I am a huge fan of the chop, karate chop, pillow chop, whatever you want to call it! I really do think it gives your pillows more of a designer look, especially when you overfill them!
So what’s the trick for getting that perfect chop? Well I’m glad you asked, because it is super simple: use a down, feather, or down alternative pillow insert. Those cheap poly fill inserts that come inside the pillows at places like Target and other affordable home stores just won’t do the trick. By removing the cheap poly fill insert and inserting an oversized, choppable one, you can give an affordable pillow cover a plush, designer look.
You can find down/feather filled pillows in lots of places, but Amazon is always my go to if I need something affordable and fast! I’ll link some affordable Amazon options at the end of this blog post for you, but I want to give you some other tips for sourcing choppable inserts:
- Check Facebook Marketplace. I recently got 4, feather filled pillow inserts for $5 each on Facebook Marketplace. They came from a smoke free home and looked like they had never even been used before, so don’t let the “used pillow” insert turn you away from finding a good deal! That being said, I would always check that any fabrics or upholstery you buy used come from a smoke free home, and a pet free home if you have pet allergies! I also love Febreeze Fabric Refresher. It is the perfect way to keep your upholstery and clothes smelling fresh, and to freshen up used fabrics and upholstery.
- Check Thrift Stores. I’ve seen feather pillow inserts at thrift stores all day long. Just as with Facebook Marketplace, you want to make sure the inserts seem relatively clean and odor free, but thrift stores are the perfect place to find super affordable pillow inserts!
- Check the pillows at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods! I’ll get into shopping for pillows at these stores later on, but A LOT of pillows at these stores come with down or feather inserts. They usually are not over filled, so you still need to replace the insert with a larger one if you want the plush, overfilled look, but you can always take the smaller insert out of one pillow cover and use it in another smaller cover! Always check the clearance section too. Even if the cover is ugly, the insert is still totally usable!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR PILLOWS
When shopping for pillows both in store and online, my number one recommendation is to look for pillows that have removable covers. A lot of times, affordable pillows that come pre-filled don’t have a removable cover, and certainly don’t come overfilled with a choppable insert. At that point, unless you’re planning on removing the poly and sewing in a zipper, there really isn’t much you can do to make the pillow look better, you kind of just get what you get. If you buy pillows with removable covers, however, you can make an affordable cover look much more high end just by replacing the insert like we talked about in the previous section.
The other recommendation I have for shopping for pillows is to look for quality fabric! A cheap insert we can fix, but cheap looking or feeling fabric is not. Quality fabric doesn’t always mean expensive either! I can say with confidence that the pillows from the Studio McGee line at Target are some of the nicest ones we own, all they needed was a new insert and BAM, they looked like they came straight off the McGee & Co. website.
THE BEST PLACES TO SHOP FOR PILLOWS AND PILLOW COVERS
There are so many good places to shop when it comes to pillows and pillow covers but here are my favorites:
- TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods – My number one place to shop for pillows! Probably 75% of all of our pillows came from one of these places. They have great quality pillows at amazing prices, and so many of their pillows come with choppable inserts that can be used in smaller pillows covers if it is not big enough to overfill the one it came in. Plus, they usually only have a few of one pattern or style, so it’s easy to add some variety and uniqueness to your home with a pillow that not very many other people may have.
- Target – I mean, what can’t Target do? Target is another one of my go to places for pillows! What I love about Target is the quality, prices, and variety. You can pretty much find any style of pillow your looking for at Target these days, and more and more of their pillows are starting to have removable covers! My favorite pillows from Target are hands down the ones from the Studio McGee line. Obviously they are super stylish and high end looking because the queen her self designed them (and by queen I mean Shea McGee because she is a QUEEN), but another reason they are so great is because of the quality! All of the pillows we have from the Studio McGee x Threshold line are thick and double lined, meaning that no feathers escape out of the cover from the feather filled insert. I can’t say the same is true for all of the other pillows in our home, so I think this a testament to the quality of this product line.
- Amazon -Does Amazon really need an introduction? The options are endless, the prices are great, and the shipping is fast. What more do you need? I feel like finding good quality pillow covers on Amazon can be a little more challenging than shopping at Target or TJ Maxx, but there are definitely some good quality, affordable options to be found! I’ve got some Amazon favorites linked towards the end of this post in the pillow combinations section, so be sure to check them out!
- Hobby Lobby – I know what you’re thinking… Hobby Lobby pillows are cheesy and look cheap… okay TRUE for a lot of them… but did you know they have a special section just for pillow covers? It’s in the back near the fabrics and, honestly, it’s a gold mine. I promise these pillow covers are not like the cheesy ones you see at the front of the store! These are much better quality, a lot more neutral, and A LOT less cheesy! The pillow covers are pretty much always on sale 40%-50% off, so most are in the $5-$10 range on any given day, which is a STEAL.
- Etsy – I feel like Etsy could fall into both the affordable and the splurge category, but there are definitely affordable pillow options to be found! One of my favorite affordable pillow shops on Etsy is The Pillow Cover Store! They have such great prices and a wide variety of colors, patterns, and sizes!
I know that splurging on a pillow cover doesn’t fit into every budget, and there’s no way I would spend $50-$100 on every pillow for our home, but I can totally get behind investing in a “splurge pillow” every now and then. I currently have one splurge pillow that I got from Xasmin Interiors and I absolutely ADORE it. It is handmade, unique, flawed, vintage, and overall just a beautiful pillow cover that adds so much life and texture to our space. I’ve linked this pillow at the end in the pillow combinations section, but you can also click on the image below to view the listing on her website. Please note, this is a handmade item and there are only a few of them available, so once it is sold out it will no longer be available.
- Xasmin Interiors – All time favorite pillow shop. I love scrolling through her website and looking at all the beautiful patterns, colors, and handmade textiles. I also love supporting small businesses, and this is one of my favs! If you love pillows and following good quality people, you will also LOVE her Instagram. She does DIYs and home decor things here and there too, and obviously posts lots of pictures of her amazing pillows, so its really a win win situation.
- Pottery Barn – I feel like Pottery Barn could fall on both sides of the fence here. There are definitely some pillow covers that are on the pricey side, but there are also quite a few that lean more towards that affordable price range. I think this goes without saying for Pottery Barn, but I’ll say it anyways, their pillow covers (and literally everything else) are GOOD. QUALITY. They have tons of options from solids and stripes to textures and patterns. I actually have one Pottery Barn pillow cover that I love, but I’m not considering it a splurge because I actually found it on eBay for less! So if you’re looking at a specific pillow cover from a big name brand like Pottery Barn or Anthropologie, I would definitely check eBay or Mercari to see if you can find it for less!
- Ruffled Thread – Y’all. As I sit and write this post, I am seriously so upset because I didn’t order a pillow I had my eye on from this shop, and it SOLD OUT. I’m on the notify me when available list, so hoping it comes back in stock, soon, but moral of the story is, if you fall in love with a “splurge pillow”, can’t stop thinking about it, and can squeeze it into your budget, ORDER. THAT. PILLOW. Moving on… this shop is one I only found recently, but I have fallen in love their pillows! They have so many unique, vintage textiles that would bring so much life to your space.
- McGee & Co – I mean McGee & Co is great for obvious reasons, but some of their pillow covers are on a whole other level of the word splurge! But they really do have so many beautiful pillow covers that are timeless and classic, yet could blend with any style. You really can’t go wrong with anything Shea McGee had a hand in designing.
- Hackner Home – I’ve never ordered from Hackner Home, but I’ve heard so many good things about them! They have SO many options to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that matches your style and space.
FINALLY. I feel like I keep talking about the pillow combinations, and we are finally here. In this section I’ve put together 13 different pillow combinations consisting of 37 different pillows to give you some inspiration and options for mixing, matching, and shopping for pillows! There are pillow covers ranging from $4 to $84 in this set of pillow combinations, so there is something for every budget! Please note, some of these pillow are from places like TJ Maxx and Etsy, where quantities are limited and may not be restocked once sold out.
Below each image, there is a line that reads one // two //…
Click on the number in this line corresponding to any pillow in the image to view the product listing.
Check out my other pillow posts for more pillow combinations:
SHOP PILLOW INSERTS FROM AMAZON
This concludes our Pillow Talk. This is everything I think you need to know about styling and shopping for pillows! I hope this post helps you elevate your pillow game, and that it inspires you to step outside your throw pillow comfort zone and try something new! If you have some favorite pillow tips, tricks, or shops, I would love to hear them in the comments below!
Thank you for reading, and happy pillow hunting!