How to Know Which Standard Decorative Pillow Sizes You Need to Get

standard decorative pillow sizes

D. Palmacci

There are multiple standard decorative pillow sizes to let you get creative with your comfort.

These days, a bewildered would-be decorator might well ask, “What are the standard decorative pillow sizes, and how the heck am I supposed to use them?” A TV dueling design duo used to argue about it regularly. Him: “There’s too much pillowing going on in here!” Her: “What’s your point?”

But seriously, decorative pillows serve many purposes. In the family room or den, they make sofas and chairs more comfortable, and they allow casual lounging on the floor to watch TV or play board games.

In the living room, they provide decorative accents.

In the bedroom, they supply support for reading in bed or watching TV.

Wherever you are, decorative pillows add comfort, allow you to showcase your style, pull your room colors together and add flair to your décor.

standard decorative pillow sizes

Standard decorative pillow sizes

Yes, there are some standard decorative pillow sizes.  The 18” square is the best-selling size. But toss pillows come in square, rectangular, round and cylindrical. Here are the sizes you will come across most frequently:

Square: 

  • Even-numbered sizes from 12” to 24”
  • 26” (known as floor pillows for living spaces, or Euro pillows for bedrooms)

Rectangular:standard decorative pillow sizes

  • 12” x 20”, 12” x 24”, 16” x 26”, 16” x 36”
  • 12” x 16” (known as a boudoir pillow for the bed)
  • 12” x 18”, 14” x 22” or 11” x 22” (lumbar pillows for lower back support in any setting)
  • 20” x 26” (called standard shams for the bed)

The important thing to remember when you’re deciding on which and how many square or rectangular pillows to buy to fill space on a bench, chair, sofa or bed, is that square or rectangular pillow covers are measured without any inserts, and once these inserts are stuffed inside, the actual pillow measurement becomes an inch or so less because of the filling pulling the fabric in toward the center.

Round:

  • 12” and 14” diameter

Cylindrical:

  • 7” x 20”, 8” x 30”, 10” x 27” (bolster pillow for sofa, chair or bed)
  • 6” x 16” (neck roll)

Using standard decorative pillow sizes in your home

Advice for decorating with pillows depends on whether you’re embellishing a family room, living room or den, or a bedroom.standard decorative pillow sizes

Using pillows in public rooms:

The size and shape of pillows you choose for sofas and chairs depends on the size of the piece where they’ll live. Large pieces, such as sectional sofas or overstuffed sofas, call for large pillows, such as 16” or 20” square. To vary the look, you can add a 16” x 26” rectangular pillow or a 14” round pillow or two.

Smaller pillows work best on smaller pieces, because otherwise they’ll look lost. At the same time, some designers like to use larger solid pillows as a background for smaller pillows in fun prints.

Another thing to keep in mind: Contemporary furniture or tailored pieces will be overwhelmed by oversized throw pillows, so stick with 18” or smaller for square pillows, or a standard 12” x 18” lumbar pillow.

For sofas, a good rule of thumb is to use two pillows in each corner, with one slightly larger than the other to create a balanced look. For example, on a small sofa, pair an 18″ inch square pillow with a coordinated 20″ version, or a standard lumbar pillow.

For larger pieces, use a 22″ throw pillow with one that’s 24″ square.

And yes, you can mix prints, as long as you keep the scale and color scheme the same.

Some designers believe it’s preferable to use an odd number of pillows – three instead of two, or five instead of four. If the couch seats three people comfortably, three to five pillows would be ideal.

If mixing prints isn’t your style, try this trick for using three pillows: Choose a bold pattern, and match it with a coordinated solid and a neutral color in an interesting texture.

Of course, the burning question is: How many pillows become “too much pillowstandard decorative pillow sizesing?” The consensus is that if you have to move pillows to sit, it’s too many.

Using pillows in bedrooms

This is where you’ll want to use those oversized, 26” square Euro pillows against the headboard – three for queen or king-sized beds, two for a full bed and one for a twin.

A standard design practice is to then add 20” square pillows in front of the Euro pillows for the three largest size beds, or 18” for a twin. A rectangular lumbar pillow or a large bolster can be used in front of all of these to finish off the look.

Because there are so many different standard decorative pillow sizes, it’s easy to get a look that’s entirely your own. Go with your instincts on what looks good! Just remember, there was once a time when hat, shoes, and purse all had to match, but that time is long gone, and so is the old rule that pillows have to match.

So go with a variety of shapes and consider comfort – lumbar pillows for your back, small square pillows to tuck under an elbow … whatever works for you is the right way to use decorative pillows! And as always, Curtainandbathoutlet.com has a great selection of decorative pillows in many sizes – and also as always, the prices are discounted, not the quality.

Some of our favorite mix and match pillows are:

The Winslow Silver Toss Pillow for a pop of color and comfort.

We also love the luxurious feel of this Crown Chenille Toss Pillow.

And for a funky feel, try the Tie Dye Toss Pillow.

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