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Throw pillows are easy to love. They come in all shapes and sizes and make any seat in the house infinitely more comfortable and inviting. But for all their versatility and practicality, these plush accent items often fade into the background while other showier pieces—your sofa, artwork, cool lamps—get most of the attention. If you want a living room or bedroom that looks effortlessly stylish, though, you should try a bolder approach, say the experts. Cast aside those snoozy, neutral-toned throw pillows and opt for bright, playful designs that pack some vibrant personality.
The fastest way to change the energy and vibe of any room? Bold pillows bring the right mix of … [+]
“Mixing and matching a few different decorative pillows adds layer and texture into rooms,” says Melison St. Claire, a senior designer at New York-based Interior Marketing Group. Yet, even the pros acknowledge, people can get pillow paralysis and not know what patterns and colors to group together on a sofa or settee, a bench or neatly-made bed. Sarah Storms Greenwald, an interiors stylist and partner at SGBMade, says the key is provide contrast within similar color palettes. “Try mixing a pillow that has a tight print with one that has a looser design and another that’s geometric but relatively minimal.” Finish with a solid pop of color to ground everything, she recommends.
Interior designer Kate Gelfand follows her fashion instincts in matters of pillow selection. “When decorating people are attracted to colors they would wear or have in their wardrobe,” she says. “Personally, I like modern abstract patterns that are tonal with only two or three colors.” Also vary the amount you place in a room—go for odd groupings of three or five rather than two or four (which can look flat)—as well as sizes and shapes to add visual appeal, says St. Claire. Above all? Don’t overthink it. Unlike other decorating decisions—like, say, painting your walls or reupholstery a slipper couch—pillows can (and should!) be refreshed every so often to create a new look.
Here, 18 options you can easily mix and match in a variety of striking prints, zippy patterns and bold colors to instantly elevate the appeal of any room.
This mod, velvet pillow has a Pop Art vibe with its blue and purple loops accented with thin ribbons of mustard yellow, which creates an eye-catching effect.
This plush pick features a vibrant block graphic print done in textural boucle embroidery for a soft and cozy pillow that looks great against solid shades.
You can never go wrong with a Missoni print to punch up your pillowscape. This one features the Italian fashion house’s signature zigzag motif and comes with a feather down insert for a cushy place to rest your head.
This pillow is like an art canvas on your couch—each one is individually cut and sewn by hand and features a double-sided abstract print and faux down insert.
These geometrically outlined pillow covers are crafted with crewel embroidery on the front and a solid color on reverse. Also nice: they’re made from 100% sustainably sourced cotton, so they feel soft and cozy to lean against.
Textile artist Leah Singh’s Blah Blah pillow covers add a touch of whimsy and fun to any interior. This design is handwoven from wool and linen by artisans in India.
Toss this rectangular pillow anywhere you need an electric pop of color—the vivid abstract-shape design has a cool Memphis Art Movement vibe about it.
Interior designer Kate Gelfand is a fan of this Kelly Wearstler-designed pillow cover, which is made from linen and rich tones of contrasting apricot, blue, rust and teal.
Designed by graphic artist Marcello Velho, these pillows are made from colorful cutouts and collages to depict folktale-like animals that liven up your space.
This classic, 1940s-era print, designed by Josef Frank and produced by Swedish interior design house Svenskt Tenn, features a lively, bird-strewn nature scene that’s captivating and charming whether seen in large or small scale.
This is one of British textile designer William Morris’s most stunning prints, first designed in 1883. Its appeal hasn’t faded with time and the motif looks particularly charming against other solid pillows that pick up on similar blue and green tones.
This Zebra pattern pillow is made from dyed cow hair hide for a smooth, textured surface that really stands out against plainer pillows in a grouping.
These 18-inch square pillows put a modern twist on traditional plaids and stripes and are made from fuzzy-textured fabric that just begs to be noticed in a room.
Stylist Sarah Storms Greenwald recommends these plaid rectangular pillows handwoven by Brooklyn-based textile company Archive New York on traditional footlooms. This design has hints of ochre and burgundy woven into a classic plaid.
Design Within Reach
These beautiful 100% merino lambswool covers are woven at a family-fun mill in England into vivid patterns and filled with down feathers for a beyond-cozy effect.
These well-priced velvet pillows come in a rainbow of colors and are wrinkle-resistant, which ensures they can be comfortably squished and still look great.
Having pillows in a variety of textures adds depth and dimension to any grouping. These supersoft, flocking striped corduroy pillows come in a multitude of shades to match any color scheme you have in mind.
Lulu and Georgia
Unique pillow shapes stand out in a sea of squares and rectangles. This pleated round stunner is made from plush velvet and puts a chic, boudoir-like accent on your living room sofa, kitchen bench or bedroom style.
I’m a lifestyle writer reporting on the worlds of fashion, beauty and wellness. My work often explores the unique details, people and cultural trends that bring products
I’m a lifestyle writer reporting on the worlds of fashion, beauty and wellness. My work often explores the unique details, people and cultural trends that bring products to life and make them worthy of obsession. I grew up in New England and studied art history and architecture at Brown University. My work has appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Vogue and the Wall Street Journal, and I’m the author of two books on beauty, including Be Well: New Spa and Bath Culture and The New Beauty: A Modern Look at Beauty, Culture and Fashion. Follow me @Kari_Molvar