Decorating Ideas

How to Decorate with Pillows of Every Shape and Size

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Decorating with pillows is one of the easiest ways to refresh your home and work new patterns, textures, and colors into your decor. And though the standard square pillow will always be a classic, introducing other shapes such as bolsters and lumbars is the perfect way to add even more visual appeal to your pillow game. Below, discover our favorite ways to decorate with pillows of all shapes and sizes.

We love the layered look of this mismatched set of squares, which creates a pattern-rich backdrop for the bright lumbar style in the center. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

We love the layered look of this mismatched set of squares, which creates a pattern-rich backdrop for the bright lumbar style in the center. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

Two oversize square pillows are the perfect match for a petite sofa, serving as simple but statement-making bookends to the vignette. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Two oversize square pillows are the perfect match for a petite sofa, serving as simple but statement-making bookends to the vignette. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

The Basics: Standard Squares

They may be the most popular shape when it comes to throw pillows, but the standard square is anything but boring. Think of them as your reliable go-tos: versatile styles that work well in any type of space and on any piece of furniture.

How to use them: While square pillows work perfectly well on their own, whether sitting solo on a chair or piled in multiples on the sofa, the shape plays especially well with others. Try using them as a base for a pillow formation: Pair two squares with an eye-catching lumbar or bolster pillow for a chic, pulled-together vignette.

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Break away from standard squares on the sofa: A grouping of small lumbar styles feels modern and laid-back but still put-together. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

Break away from standard squares on the sofa: A grouping of small lumbar styles feels modern and laid-back but still put-together. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

The lumbar pillow’s long, lean shape makes it the perfect makeshift armrest for daybeds, love seats, benches, and anywhere else that needs a cozy touch. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

The lumbar pillow’s long, lean shape makes it the perfect makeshift armrest for daybeds, love seats, benches, and anywhere else that needs a cozy touch. Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

If simplicity is your style, a lone lumbar centered on a bed is an easy and stylish way to make a statement. Photo by Tony Vu.

If simplicity is your style, a lone lumbar centered on a bed is an easy and stylish way to make a statement. Photo by Tony Vu.

Long on Style: Lumbar Pillows

Lumbar pillows, defined by their long and lean rectangular shape, are named for the support they offer to the lower back—though they’re more often used to up the visual interest of a space. Lumbar pillows come in a wide variety of sizes, from standard (around 14” x 22”) to oversize (typically 60” in length.)

How to use them: Lumbar pillows are typically used as a centerpiece—the crowning glory at the forefront of a pillow formation. But these versatile styles can also go it alone: Try styling a pair as makeshift armrests at the ends of a daybed or in sets on the sofa for a more minimalist look.

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Just like its lumbar cousin, the bolster makes an excellent faux armrest. We love the way the rounded shape contrasts with the square pillows here—not to mention all the incredible pattern-mixing going on! Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

Just like its lumbar cousin, the bolster makes an excellent faux armrest. We love the way the rounded shape contrasts with the square pillows here—not to mention all the incredible pattern-mixing going on! Photo by Nicole LaMotte.

Bolsters shine in formal spaces; their rounded shape brings a sophisticated softness to tailored upholstery. Photo by Manuel Rodriguez.

Bolsters shine in formal spaces; their rounded shape brings a sophisticated softness to tailored upholstery. Photo by Manuel Rodriguez.

A pair of miniature bolsters on the bed adds unexpected polish and charm. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

A pair of miniature bolsters on the bed adds unexpected polish and charm. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

For a Chic Boost: Bolster Pillows

Bolsters are characterized by their long, cylindrical shape. They’re similar to the lumbar in that they vary in size and are used for both back support and decorative purposes—though they feel decidedly more formal thanks to their structured, traditional shape.

How to use them: The lumbar’s fancier cousin is often spotted as a top-of-bed centerpiece, but we also love it situated solo on a chair or adding extra cushioning to the ends of a daybed.

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With their unusual shape and striking print, these cube pillows were made to be put on display.

With their unusual shape and striking print, these cube pillows were made to be put on display.

This diminutive pillow may not be the most functional, but it certainly is charming. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

This diminutive pillow may not be the most functional, but it certainly is charming. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Atypical pillow shapes are especially fitting for kids’ rooms: Your little ones are sure to delight in the quirky sensibility they add. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Atypical pillow shapes are especially fitting for kids’ rooms: Your little ones are sure to delight in the quirky sensibility they add. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

The Wild Cards: Unconventional Shapes

From updated classics like cube and box pillows to quirkier designs such as spheres, stars, and animals, an offbeat pillow may be just the touch of whimsy your room needs.

How to use them: The living room sofa, the bed, a kids’ reading corner: Any spot you’d place a standard throw pillow is a candidate for an unexpected style. For maximum comfort and lounge-ability, just make sure to layer these pieces with cushy squares or lumbars.

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