Cushion Styling 101

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Cushion Styling 101

How to Select and Style the Perfect Cushions for Your Bedroom or Living Space

Sofas, armchairs, beds...where would they be without cushions? They’d look and feel naked that’s for sure! The right cushions can bring even the saddest, most tired of sofas back to life, drastically improve an otherwise uninteresting armchair, and make a bed all the more inviting. A stylish cushion arrangement doesn’t just look good either - it will add an element of warmth, comfort, security, and coziness. Picking the right cushions can be overwhelming, so we’ve shared Brian’s top tips for getting it just right. While keeping these ideas and concepts in mind will come in handy when you’re decorating your bedroom or living space, don’t forget that the best thing about cushions is that they’re not permanent, and you can switch them up as and when you like - seasonal, even! Great for those amongst us who tend to get bored easily...

Hague blue painted walls in a seating area with bright red art.
Eclectic living room with bold pattern wallpaper.

Cushion Styling Tip 1: Colour

Cushions are a great way to bring a pop of colour to an otherwise bland or neutral room. When selecting your cushions, the best place to start is colour. Pick your preferred colour palette and try not to veer too far from this. Have fun choosing a range of shades, textures and patterns that fit into that palette and then pick a good variety of textures and patterns within that. If you want to ensure that your cushion arrangement feels light, be sure to add in a few neutral colours that will pair well with the bolder tones.

Cushion Styling Tip 2: Shape & Size

Like us, cushions come in different shapes and sizes, and having a combination keeps life exciting. Having different-sized cushions will make your interior design scheme more exciting and dynamic. When your arrangement includes different shapes and sizes - say, a rectangle, a large square and a smaller square - there’ll always be the perfect cushion for whatever the need, from naps on the sofa to cuddling up with your little ones to watch a film. For square shapes, a trusted 'karate chop' in the middle of the cushion will create that lovely dip that can add uniformity to a selection of varying colours, patterns, sizes, and fabrics.

Blue fluffy cushion stacked in front of white and blue patterned cushion.

Cushion Styling Tip 3: Pattern

Balancing big, strong patterns with more subdued or smaller-scale designs will avoid overpowering a room. Do this by combining plain cushions in block colours with a few patterned designs - you usually want more plain cushions so that the patterned ones really stand out. Cushions with trims such as pom poms, fringing, tassels, frills, and contrast piping will also spruce up your cushion arrangement and make a visual statement. If you have patterns in other parts of the room, such as a rug, wallpaper, or curtains and drapes, factor those into your decision making too.

Cushion Styling Tip 4: Textures and Fabrics

Texture is a hugely important design element. Our sense of touch has the power to evoke certain feelings, emotions, and moods - from comfort to confidence - and therefore shouldn’t be overlooked when choosing your cushions. There are many fabrics to choose from that can add tactility to your arrangements, such as plush velvet, cosy boucle, sophisticated leather, woven fabrics that also incorporate pattern, and grounding, natural fibres such as linen. Lighting can also influence how certain textures are perceived. For example, bumpy, high-pile fabrics will seem even more textured under bright lights, perhaps even casting shadows, and shiny or shimmery surfaces such as metallic fabrics will reflect light.


Cushion Styling Tip 5: Quantity

Odd numbers tend to be more aesthetically pleasing and are great for achieving a multi-layered look on your bed or sofa. Consider how big your bed is; five cushions for a king-size is great, but on a small double, this arrangement may shrink the size of your bed, so you’d be better off with three. If you want to style with an even number of cushions, 2 placed in the middle of a small sofa creates a chic, pared-back aesthetic that won’t take up too much seating space.

Cushion Styling Tip 6: Arrangement

A house is to be lived in, and cushions will obviously be moved around as they’re used, but for styling purposes, thinking about how you will want to arrange them can help you make decisions on size and shape. Just like when you would line up for school photos, bigger cushions at the back, smaller at the front. This is where having varying sizes will come in handy - arrange them in a way that allows all of them to be visible, so that the cushions can really complement each other and come together for one overall look and feel. Rather than spreading them all out evenly across the length of a sofa, try putting three to one side. For beds, a symmetrical arrangement is preferred, so you could try 2 large cushions at the back, followed by two smaller ones and one bolster or lumbar cushion centered at the front.

Scatter cushions from Sophie Paterson range at Andrew Martin.
Layered cushions on a bed.

Cushion Styling Tip 7: Filling

The inside counts just as much as the outside with cushions, so you really don’t want to skimp on a good quality filling. Cushions should be plump but comfortable, so you want to avoid over or under-stuffing them. A general rule of thumb is to go 2 inches up in size with the filler. So, if you have a square cushion that’s 18” go for a filler that measures 20”, this will prevent your cushions from having limp, empty corners. Foam and synthetic fillers are the most common and are a great option if you want to avoid animal-derived materials or suffer from allergies. Natural fillings like feather and down are much squishier - think of that head into the pillow sinking feeling - ahh. These will need more frequent plumping, though!

Brian Woulfe Designed by Woulfe

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At Designed by Woulfe, we tailor our interior design services to the individual requirements of each project. To discuss a property or for further information on our luxury interior design or property procurement services, please contact us at [email protected]. No matter the scope or scale of a project, the initial step in our process is to arrange a complimentary consultation with Managing Director & Founder, Brian Woulfe.