Cushions on a sofa

There are few items in an interiors scheme that can add so much impact for such little cost in the way that cushions do. Cushions are elegant, stylish and versatile, and they provide the finishing touch to a room with their almost limitless combinations. Cushions help you to add contrast, colour and interest, drawing together a design scheme in your home.  All this with just a few squares of fabric!

These limitless combinations are all well and good, but we need a more structured way of working out how to arrange the cushions so that we don’t end up with a disorganised mish-mash of fabrics and shapes. So let’s break this down a little. 

When creating cushion arrangements on a sofa, there are several things to consider before you decide how to lay them out:

  1. The shape of the cushions
  2. The sizes/ scale of the cushions
  3. The texture of the fabrics
  4. The colour of the cushions
  5. The patterns of the fabric

Let’s take a look at the available options:


Cushions come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common are shown above. Larger square cushions (1) tend to come in 24″ x 24″, or 22″ x 22″, and these larger cushions are best used at the back of an arrangement with smaller square cushions (2) layered in front of them. These smaller square cushions come in a range of sizes from 18″ x18″ right down to 12″ x 12″. The key is to have a noticeable contrast in size between the larger cushion at the back and the smaller cushion in front. 

You can add visual interest into your scheme by varying the shapes of the cushions that you use too.  So once you have included some square cushions, try adding in a circular cushion (3) at the front or to one side, or place a cylindrical bolster cushion (4) in the centre to break up the horizontal and vertical lines. Small rectangular shapes (5) are referred to as ‘bolster’, ‘boudoir’ or ‘lumbar’ cushions, and again, these look good placed at the front of an arrangement of other cushions. You can see all of this in action further down the page!


Once you have a variety of shapes, you should also ensure that you have a variety of different textures in your cushion arrangement. Examples of different textures you can choose include knitted or crocheted (6), lace or embroidered (7), faux fur (8), linen (9),  macrame style or smooth textures like silk or satin (11). 


Cushions are an amazing way to add colour to a room, relatively inexpensively, and as I said above, they are a great way to pull a scheme together. Make sure that your cushions pick up the accent and base colours in the rest of the room, so that they tie everything together. Use a mixture of plain and patterned fabrics to ensure that there is a balance of interest and balance. Cushion patterns usually fall into one of three categories, geometric (12), plain (13) or highly detailed (14). For more about how to mix fabric patterns, check out this blog post here. 

So with these rules in place, let’s take a look at a few ways that you can arrange those cushions on the sofa, starting with the simplest first, and building up. 


Source: See bottom of post: Blue Cushion 15

Just using two identical cushions either side of a sofa gives a pared down look, but don’t underestimate this: using a pair of identical cushions keeps the scheme simple and elegant, bringing in a modest splash of colour. If you don’t like lots of cushions, this one is for you. Keep your cushions horizontally aligned: tipping them like diamonds is so 1980s (and not in a retro good way).

Ingredients: 1 pair 22″ x 22′ plain.


Source: See bottom of post: Pink Bolster Cushion 16

Another pared down look is to use two matching plain cushions with the addition of a small bolster cushion in the middle. Choosing a highly patterned fabric (which should co-ordinate with something else in the room) allows another accent colour to be included. 

Ingredients: 1 pair 22″ x 22″ plain, 1 x patterned bolster. 

#3 Two Pairs Plus Bolster

Source: See bottom of post: Blue Patterned Cushions 17, Blue-grey bolster 18

This is quite a more formal arrangement, which gives a finished look to a sofa. You’ll need to move some cushions to sit down at this point, so they’re not for everyone. 

Ingredients: 1 pair 22 x22″ plain, 1 pair 20″x 20″ patterned, 1 x patterned bolster.


Source: See bottom of post: Yellow geometric 19, Blue textured 20, yellow round 21.

This arrangement works well because the two patterned cushions echo the geometric shape and mustard yellow colour of the pattern in the round accent cushion at the front. The round cushion adds visual interest, and breaks up the angular lines of the other cushions.

Ingredients: 1 pair 24″x 24′ geometric cushions, 1 pair 20″ x 20″ plain cushions, 1 round geometric patterned cushion.

#5 Asymmetric

Source: See bottom of post: Yellow plain 22, Yellow-grey 23, Grey geometric lumbar 24.

Unlike the other arrangements above, this is a non-symmetrical layout. The reason that this arrangement works is largely to do with the distribution of colour across both sides of the sofa. So there are similar amounts of yellow and similar amounts of grey on each side of the sofa. Although the arrangement is not symmetrical, the visual balance is right across the two sides which gives the same calming effect. This look is less “matchy- matchy” than the other looks, and so it gives a more relaxed and laid-back feel, but it still look well styled.

Ingredients: 1 x 24″ block colour, 1 x 24″ geometric, 1 x 20″ plain with a motif, 1 x rectangular bolster. 

Once you know the rules, have a play around and see what combinations you can come up with. When you’ve sorted your cushion arrangement, come and share a photo of your handiwork in the Facebook group. I can’t wait to see them!

Until next time x

Image Sources:

Sofa: Bluebell Three Seat Sofa in Shell,

Cushions: 1: Facet Fusion (Harvest), Safari Fusion 2: Velvet Cushion in Mustard, Idyll Home, 3: Concentric Chartreuse Cushion by Niki Jones, Rume, 4: Brocade and Rayon Velvet Bolster, Ian Snow, 5: Twig Finn Storm Bolster, Black By Design 6: Crocheted Cushion, Nutmeg & Sage, 7: Chantilly Embroidered Cushion, Artisanti 8: Larvik cushion, 9: Christmas Linen Cusion Cover by V Living, DaWanda, 10: Lebe Nierre Macramia Cusion Cement, Sweetpea & Willow 11: Black & Copper Silk Cushion, Penelope Hope, 12, Cushion Geometric Prints, by Anju Aweingandt, DaWanda, 13: See 20, 14: See 17, 15: Quilted Cushion cover, Ian Snow 16: Honeycomb Cushion Cover, Decorator’s notebook 17: Snowflake Cushion, In-Spaces 18: Beak Street in Blue Dove, Anna Jacobs London, 19: Facet Fusion (Harvest), Safari Fusion, 20: Cushion Navy Melange, At No 67 21: Concentric Chartreuse Cushion by Niki Jones, Rume, 22: See 2, 23: Linen Cushion with Hand crocheted star, Nutmeg & Sage 24: Harlequin Grey Cushion by Niki Jones at Rume

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