Shopping
Advertiser Disclosure

Best Throw Pillows to Instantly Update Your Couch

women fluffing up throw pillows

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

BY SARAH GROSSBART

Like the whipped cream and cherry on top of a picture-perfect ice cream sundae, a comfy couch just doesn’t feel quite complete without a few extra toppings. “Throw pillows are one of my favorite layers to mix into my designs,” notes Becky Shea, founder of New York’s Becky Shea Design. Easily swapped in and out atop a loveseat, recliner, or bed, she adds, “they're a transitional element that allows you to inject cozy materials and colors you may not want to use for something like your sofa.”

With so many shades, shapes, materials, and designs to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to throw into the mix. No need to lose sleep, though. We asked Shea and other design pros to lay out the best options.

What to consider when buying throw pillows

Purpose

Mixing up various shapes “can add visual interest and depth to your décor,” notes L.A. designer Linette Dai, founder of Linette Dai Design, but they can also serve an important function. Consider, for example, “whether you need a smaller lumbar pillow for back support or want several large square ones for comfortable naps,” she poses, adding that extra-long lumbar pillows “can double as a beautiful accent as well as a body pillow for side support during sleep.”

Speaking of sleep, take into account if you plan to actually rest your head on these cushions or if they’re just there to look pretty on top of your bed sheets. As Dai puts it, “A throw pillow with a more intricate silk-detailed design may be suitable on a bed if it’s just for decorative purposes, or in a formal living room, but not for the family room where it would easily develop visible wear and tear.”

For the couch, she likes to choose a velvet piece or another smooth, yet, durable texture like wool, cotton, or linen. “This is an area where the pillows will typically get a lot of daily wear and use,” she explains, “so you want something that is comfortable to lean on or relax with and not have to worry about being fussy with it.”

Size

By all means, have fun here. “Couches often benefit from a mix of shapes, colors, and sizes that play with the room’s design,” notes Shea. Consider that your green light to mix it up with square shapes, round cushions, and extra-long lumbar pillows. Though, if you plan to change up your pillows on the regular, it might be smart to stick to more standard sizing (18, 20, and 22-inch versions) so that you can easily switch out covers without having to constantly purchase new inserts.

Fill

While a feather-and-down fill is a generally a softer, more luxurious option, Dai tends to gravitate toward a high-quality, down-alternative. “It holds its shape longer than feather down, and you don’t have to worry about feathers poking you or falling out over time,” she explains. “It’s also a safe option in case you have family members or guests who are allergic to down.”

Style

This is an anything-goes situation, but if you don’t know where to start, one fool-proof option is to follow the rule of three. Pull three different colors from your room and stick to those shades. Feel free to mix and match three different patterns (say, a solid, a geometric design, and a floral) as long as you keep to the color story.

Our top picks for the best throw pillows

Most versatile designer throw pillow: Jenni Kayne Home Alpaca Basketweave Pillow

Most versatile designer throw pillow
Jenni Kayne Home Alpaca Basketweave Pillow

Jenni Kayne Home Alpaca Basketweave Pillow

“Absolutely timeless,” is how Shea describes the subtle texture of this throw pillow, handwoven by artisans in the mountains of Peru. The super-fine, ultra-durable alpaca wool is meant to last a lifetime. Available in five, soft, coordinate-with-anything neutral shades, Shea says, “this is by far the most comfortable and beautifully designed pillow.”

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 24” x 24”
  • Colors: Ivory, Charcoal, Oatmeal, Light Grey, Cocoa
  • Fill: Feathers
  • Material: 81% superfine alpaca, 19% polyamide, 100% cotton lining

What we like:

What we don’t like:

  • Since the material is spot-clean only, the light-hued shades might not be ideal if you have pets or small children

The bottom line:

This classic, neutral-hued Jenni Kayne cushion is the epitome of timeless and woven to last a lifetime.

Best outdoor throw pillow: West Elm Faux Jute Indoor/Outdoor Pillow

Best outdoor throw pillow
West Elm Faux Jute Indoor/Outdoor Pillow

West Elm Faux Jute Indoor/Outdoor Pillow

Score a few of these West Elm pillows. Their mid-century modern style gets high marks from Dai for their textured jute-inspired look and water-resistant polypropylene material woven to withstand any bad weather. As a bonus, the recycled polyester filling is sourced from recycled plastic bottles.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 24” x 24”, 20” x 20”, 12” x 21”
  • Colors: Natural, Black
  • Fill: 50% polyester, 50% Repreve® recycled polyester
  • Material: 85% polypropylene, 15% polyethylene

What we like:

  • With square and rectangle options, you can easily mix and match
  • Polypropylene material is durable and water-resistant
  • Filling is partially made from recycled water bottles

What we don’t like:

  • The cover isn’t removable so the pillow can’t be machine-washed

The bottom line:

West Elm’s jute-inspired natural-hued cushion is made with woven polypropylene meant to withstand the elements.

Best round throw pillow: Lulu and Georgia Velvet Disc Pillow

Best round throw pillow
Lulu and Georgia Velvet Disc Pillow

Lulu and Georgia Velvet Disc Pillow

Take this playful Sarah Sherman Samuel design for a spin. While the tufted design is a bit retro, piped edges and ribbed siding make it feel fresh. Rich cotton velvet adds a bit of warmth, while the circular style means that it’s ideal for pairing with other shapes. (Shopping tip: Lulu and Georgia also make some of the best sectional sofas!)

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14” round x 4” high
  • Colors: Amber, Canyon Blue, Ivory, Juniper, Wine
  • Fill: Polyester
  • Material: Cotton velvet

What we like:

  • Playful retro design adds visual interest
  • Handcrafted using responsibly sourced cotton velvet

What we don’t like:

  • Reviewers noted it’s on the stiff side, so it may be more decorative than practical

The bottom line:

The retro feel and saturated colors of this Sarah Sherman Samuel design make it the perfect decorative piece.

Best leather throw pillow: Pottery Barn Pieced Leather Pillow

Best leather throw pillow
Pottery Barn Pieced Leather Pillow

Pottery Barn Pieced Leather Pillow

Decorative patchwork ups the ante on this natural leather piece. Boasting the sort of weathered look that only improves with age, “this pillow is structural and elevated,” says Shea. It plays well with others, so she recommends pairing it with a linen sofa and boucle or alpaca pillows.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 20” x 20”, 16” x 26”
  • Colors: Brown leather
  • Fill: Down/feather or down-alternative
  • Material: Leather

What we like:

  • Beautifully weathered natural leather
  • Easily pairs with other textures and patterns
  • Reverses to natural linen if you want to switch things up

What we don’t like:

  • Dry-clean or spot clean only
  • No indication that the feathers are RDS or ADFC certified

The bottom line:

Deliciously weathered natural leather makes a strong statement—especially when paired with softer textures.

Best tassel throw pillow: BR Home Fringe Linen Pillow Cover

Best tassel throw pillow
BR Home Fringe Linen Pillow Cover

BR Home Fringe Linen Pillow Cover

Luxurious linen feels even more decadent when it's artfully dip-dyed and topped with long fringe. With thoughtful details like an exposed brass zipper and a leather pull, says Shea, these handmade, textural cushions “scream quiet luxury with a splash of sass.”

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 24” x 24”, 16” x 36”
  • Colors: Natural, Aubergine Fade, Washed Indigo
  • Fill: Down-alternative
  • Material: Linen

What we like:

  • Textured linen and long fringe look luxe
  • The down-alternative inserts are designed to be slightly bigger than the cover for a fuller look.

What we don’t like:

  • With the sold-separately pillow insert, these are on the pricey side ($180+)

The bottom line:

Textured linen gets an upgrade with elegant long fringe on this BR Home pillow.

Best modern throw pillow: Urban Renewal Remnants Sari Silk Throw Pillow

Best modern throw pillow
Urban Renewal Remnants Sari Silk Throw Pillow

Urban Renewal Remnants Sari Silk Throw Pillow

Whether you want to spice up a neutral palette or add to the fun in a more maximalist space, this statement piece is just the bold type you’re looking for. Made from recycled silk saris, this throw pillow pairs well with solids or other prints.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 18”
  • Colors: Pink plaid
  • Fill: Polyester
  • Material: Silk front, 60% polyester and 40% cotton back

What we like:

  • Bold design is a fun addition to any space
  • Sari silk makes the pillow feel luxurious
  • Can be mixed and matched with other pillows

What we don’t like:

  • The bright look may not be for minimalist types

The bottom line:

This recycled sari silk beauty brings fun to any space.

Best splurge throw pillow: Design Within Reach Maharam Passel Pillow

Best splurge throw pillow
Design Within Reach Maharam Passel Pillow

Design Within Reach Maharam Passel Pillow

Equal parts pillow and art piece, this Maharam Design Studio pick gets the nod from Dai. Crafted by the design team at the award-winning textile studio, the wool-blend cushion features a multicolor grid pattern that will add visual interest to any sofa, recliner, or bench.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 17” x 17”
  • Colors: Multicolor
  • Fill: Feathers
  • Material: 54% wool, 24% acrylic, 17% mohair, 3% polyester, 2% nylon

What we like:

  • Unique, multicolor design will coordinate with many styles
  • Luxurious-feeling wool blend

What we don’t like:

  • Definitely more of a splurge piece
  • No indication that the feathers are RDS or ADFC certified

The bottom line:

Add texture and visual interest to your space with this multicolor wool-blend throw pillow.

Best fur throw pillow: CB2 Shorn Camel Brown Sheepskin Fur Throw Pillow

Best fur throw pillow
CB2 Shorn Camel Brown Sheepskin Fur Throw Pillow

CB2 Shorn Camel Brown Sheepskin Fur Throw Pillow

Not unlike snuggling with a teddy bear, the Icelandic sheepskin “is such a yummy texture,” raves Shea! Shorn for a close, nubby feel, it makes for an ideal nap companion, while the flip side features cool cotton. It’s available in classic black or white, but Shea is partial to the camel hue, noting, “the warm, earthy tonality fits in really well with light and airy as well as dark and moody interiors.”

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18” x 18”
  • Colors: Camel
  • Fill: 95% duck feathers, 5% down or down-alternative (polyester)
  • Material: Sheepskin front, cotton back

What we like:

  • The cozy texture makes it perfect for lounging or napping
  • Made from authentic sheepskin, each pillow is one-of-a-kind piece

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers noted the white shade is closer to a cream hue
  • No indication that the feathers are RDS or ADFC certified

The bottom line:

Up the cozy quotient on your couch with this textured authentic sheepskin piece.

Best value throw pillow: Crate and Barrel Washed Organic Cotton Velvet Pillow Cover

Best value throw pillow
Crate and Barrel Washed Organic Cotton Velvet Pillow Cover

Crate and Barrel Washed Organic Cotton Velvet Pillow Cover

An impressively vast selection makes Crate and Barrel one of the best places to buy pillows for your couch. It’s also Shea’s go-to brand for affordable picks. “They are constantly cycling their inventory with decent quality,” she explains, “and you can't beat their price-point.” Available in 19 saturated hues, this plush organic pillow made with cozy velvet can easily be mixed with other patterns.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 20” x 20”
  • Colors: Ivory, Light Grey, Quarry, Frost, Grey, Black, Indigo, Deep Sea, Teal, Green, Dark Green, Moss, Ochre, Cognac, Brick, Red, Moody Mauve, Peach, Cream
  • Fill: Feather (95% duck feathers, 5% down) or down-alternative (polyester)
  • Material: Organic cotton

What we like:

  • Washed organic cotton velvet feels luxurious to the touch
  • Classic mid-century modern style
  • Available in a slew of shades
  • Pillow cover is machine washable

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviewers complained that the velvet began shedding after awhile
  • No indication that the feathers are RDS or ADFC certified

The bottom line:

Available in a wide range of colors, this budget-friendly mid-century modern Crate and Barrel pick will fit in with any décor.

Best rectangular throw pillow: Valentina Hoyos Woven Cotton Pillow

Valentina Hoyos Woven Cotton Pillow

Valentina Hoyos Woven Cotton Pillow

Handwoven with organic, responsibly sourced cotton and boasting an attractive nubby texture, this large scale piece “works so well on benches and accent chairs,” raves Shea. For her, the elegance is in the simplicity. At nearly three feet by one foot, she adds, “its narrow profile, but beautiful fabrication, is simple and elevated.”

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 32” x 12”
  • Colors: Natural
  • Fill: 90% duck feathers, 10% down
  • Material: Cotton

What we like:

  • Handwoven using natural, chemical-free materials
  • Beautiful textured fabric
  • Elegant, timeless design

What we don’t like:

  • The $185 price makes this piece more of a splurge
  • No indication that the feathers are RDS or ADFC certified

The bottom line:

The perfect shape for a bench or large chair, this handwoven cotton piece is elegant and timeless.

How I selected the best pillows

Along with a thorough internet scour of throw pillows from the most popular brands, I spoke with interior designers Dai and Shea, who provided their expertise on how to shop for the best pillows while sharing some of their favorites. Since individual style preferences differ, I focused the majority of my search on the most common throw pillow sizes (18”, 20”, 22”), and inserts that were durable (looking for materials like feather, polyester, and down alternatives) to help the pillow hold its shape best.

What type of throw pillows are available?

Basically, the limit does not exist. Between square, round, rectangular, sham, and bolster pillows, “throw pillows come in many shapes and sizes,” says Dai. Choosing which ones you want in your home “comes down to the look you’re going for as well as function,” she continues. “Some people may want to stack their bed with layers for an eclectic maximalist style, while others may prefer to accessorize with just one or two.”

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Which throw pillows hold their shape?

The ones that use this designer trick: “The secret to getting your throw pillow to hold its shape is to fill the pillow cover with an insert that’s two-inches larger,” says Dai (i.e. a 20-inch by 20-inch insert inside an 18-inch square cover). “This will keep it full and fluffy.”

Another piece of industry know-how is the fluff and puff. Gently drop them on your sofa or chair, making sure to rotate sides, instructs Shea. “A final hand ‘chop’ in the center of your pillow once it's in place is how you achieve that photo-shoot ready look.”

What is the best material for couch throw pillows?

One that feels decadently cozy, says Shea. “Throw pillows are the ones that you're going to be snuggling up with, so I tend to gravitate towards alpaca, wools, or cashmere,” she adds. “There's nothing wrong with cotton or linen, especially if you have children running around!”

What is the best fill for throw pillows?

For the most comfortable experience, says Shea you’ll want to choose either down or a high-quality down-alternative. “Make sure to invest in a high-quality synthetic and test out the fill before committing,” she suggests. While a down-alternative is smart for anyone with allergies or other sensitivities, “there are some really uncomfortable options out there!”

Are expensive throw pillows worth it?

Yes, and no. If you’re someone who likes to switch up their style on the regular, it’s probably best to stick with more wallet-friendly options. Same for any cushions that are there mostly as decorative pieces. However, Shea notes that “pillows you'll actually snuggle up with and enjoy on a regular basis are worth investing in. You'll realize the investment every time you curl up and feel the quality.” And if you’ve already added the best couches to your home, quality throw pillows can add to the look.

How many throw pillows are appropriate for a couch?

That depends on how many your roommate or partner will tolerate. As with most pillow-related purchases, “this comes down to personal preference,” says Dai. “For a laid-back vibe, going with an odd number is recommended, with one to two pillows on one side, and two to three on the other. However, if you are going for a formal look, then you can opt for a symmetrical look.”

1.1311.0+1.68.6