The Secret to Perfect Throw Pillows

Using the right pillow inserts for throw pillows, decorative pillow covers in living room.I recently bought a new throw pillow cover online. When I received it I realized it was larger than I expected. Which led me to a Google search for a  pillow insert of that size. One thing led to another and I remembered there is a lot more to throw pillows than just popping the insert into the cover and calling it a day.

First, what the pillow insert is stuffed with makes a big difference in how it will look. Ideally, it should be down and feather filled. A mix of 50/50 or 30/70 is ideal. Pillows filled with polyester inserts will be obvious, I have a few of those myself and they just don’t compare. However, being an animal-loving family over here I do hesitate to buy the feather- filled inserts.

Considering Pottery Barn is a high-quality retailer, I decided to order my pillow insert from them. I ordered one feather filled and one filled with an alternative filler (with the intent to return one or the other) to see for myself if maybe a higher quality retailer would have a higher quality synthetic insert.

Feather Down Vs Synthetic Filled Pillow Inserts

Once I received both inserts, I tested them each out with my new throw pillow cover. This is how my pillow cover looked with the synthetic pillow insert*.



Here is how this same cover* looked with the feather insert.



I was really hoping the down filled insert would be the one being sent back but after comparing the two, the down really does look and feel better. I’ll be returning the synthetic cover.

Sizing Your Throw Pillow Inserts

You also want to keep in mind is the size of your pillow inserts in relation to your pillow cover. Honestly, I didn’t know this for a long time. Your pillow inserts should be larger than your pillow cover! It makes perfect sense because you want your pillows to look plush and never limp. How large should you go? I thought it would be easiest to make you a visual cheat sheet for reference.

What size pillow insert you need for your pillow cover, decorative pillows



As for lumbar pillows you want to size up about 1″ on your inserts for those.

When buying your pillow covers keep in mind that sharp pillow corners look more expensive than pleated.

decorative throw pillows look more expensive with sharp corvers


Arranging Throw Pillows

Using an odd number of pillows for decorating is more visually appealing than even numbers. This is the case for many things in decorating.

Use different sizes and shapes with your larger pillows on the ends, and getting smaller as you work your way in.

The secret to perfect throw pillows, decorative throw pillows on grey couch in living room

Keep it symmetrical especially if using patterns so it doesn’t get too busy. Try two or four pillows on the ends of the sofa with a lumbar pillow in the center.

Try mixing patterns,  but keep a common element like color or fabric or trim. You guys should know by now I’m all about the texture, so I like textured throw pillows.



Go for quality over quantity when it comes to your throw pillows. The down inserts are a bit more money but they’re worth it.

Whew, that was a lot of information! Who knew there was so much that goes in to perfect throw pillows?


You can find the fringe pillow here and the pillow with the floral leaf pillow on the couch here, the floral pillow is no longer available.

This post may contain affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure here.


  1. This is a great guide for those pillow covers. I love pottery barn!

  2. Great tips, Roxanne! The cover/insert guide will come in handy. Thanks for joining us and sharing over at Homestyle Gathering.

    1. Who knew so much goes into stuffing pillows. Grateful for the information. I tried stuffing my pillows with poly-fil and ended scratching out the pillows on my sofa, as it was not visually appealing. Thanks to your information, I will try the down inserts. Wish me luck.

  3. Thank you for all the tips and tricks! I can definitely use these while I am redecorating our new “to us” home.

  4. Great post! I love the look and feel of down filled pillow also. And I love your idea of sizing up for the insert –I am sure this makes a huge difference! Thanks for sharing!

  5. The only problem with down filled is if you are allergic to it..then what.

  6. When you say size up one inch for lumbar pillows, are you referring to the insert? For example: a 19x 26 would need an insert of 18×25.

    1. Hi Maureen, the insert should be one size larger than the pillow cover. This way, it fills it out fully!

  7. Beside appearance, which insert is best for soft comfort in a cotton pillow? I have feather down inserts 2 sizes larger in house couch throw pillows that are just too stiff and firm.

    I’m all for comfort, please advise. The inserts I want are for an 18″ pillow for inside a small VW Westfalia Vanagon.

  8. I think the alternative insert looks much better in your photo. I copies both photos and pasted them side by side, asked four people and they all agreed with me. All a matter of taste …
    By the way, karate chops in the center top of the pillow have been declared “out.” Another trend I always considered absurd. But, as Crocs have shown us, people can be easily led.

    1. No. The chops show how luxurious the pillows are. Roxanne is correct. Trust me those pillows that are not stiff as baloons are obviously higher quality. And I am an interior designer. I found this blog because I just wanted to see what’s being said out there by the way of pillow styling. Go Roxane all your info is spot on.

      1. I agree the karate chop is much more aesthetically appealing.

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