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The Science of Choosing Toss Pillows

The Science of Choosing Toss Pillows

Posted by Leader's Casual Furniture on 4th Jan 2019

One simple – and inexpensive – way to update your outdoors is to incorporate toss pillows into your deck’s décor. Easier than a new coat of paint and cheaper than a complete overhaul, the addition of throw pillows can instantly update your overall patio pallor. Below we outline some steps to help you get a grasp on the simple science of using pillows to spruce up your outdoor space!

1. Choose a Color Scheme

When choosing new throw pillows for your outdoor furniture, considering color first can help you narrow down the rest of the décor decisions. Focus on what colors you like, and how you want to complement your existing furniture. Ask yourself: Do I want the pillow to blend in with its surroundings, or stand out? Depending on your preference, you can either choose a nice complementary neutral (like tan on brown), go for a bolder pop of color (like a coral or vibrant green), and even explore patterns (as long as the colors are complementary). When incorporating patterns, make sure you mix in big AND small prints with your solids. Additionally, keep your large prints to your large pillows!

If you find yourself stuck, take a look around your patio; what stands out? Do you have a piece of art hanging with some color you’d like to highlight? Or is there a favorite color you’d like to incorporate into the mix? Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and just give something a go; you can always buy and try, just make sure to keep the receipts!

2. Choose a Style

Next, you’ll want to decide on the pillow style. Typically, most styles fall into one of three categories:


A clean, modern look best executed with an odd number of pillows and a limited, complementary color palette.


Classic colors and patterns that provide a warm lived-in feel, best executed by using pairs of pillows to create symmetry.


Typically, a mixture of an odd number of pillows in a non-symmetrical arrangement but based on a common color throughout.

3. Decide on Shapes

Now that your color scheme and style are sorted, look at what specific pillow shapes you’d like to play with. There are many to choose from, so don’t tie yourself to just one; try out two or three and see what works together!

  • Square - The most common shape, these are incredibly versatile and look good on most pieces of furniture on their own or grouped together in various sizes.
  • Rectangle – Also versatile, these tend to look nice when placed on chair seats or centered on sofas or beds.
  • Bolster – Long, round pillows usually found at the ends of sofas acting as armrests, or occasionally on beds. Their popularity has waned in the last decade, so only use them if needed for comfort, as they can be a dated look.

4. Play with Sizes and Arrangement

With size and arrangement, you’ll find one complements the other: a mix of sizes provides more room to play with arrangement. There’s no “this-is-the-only-right-way” arrangement, so have fun! Always work to add pillows that complement and enhance the piece of furniture; in general, they should run from largest (on the ends or in the back) to smallest (in the middle or front) to maintain a balanced look. And keep in mind, if you do have multiple pillows sitting on one piece of furniture, think of them as a single unit to make sure you maintain proportion; a tiny pillow placed in the middle of a sectional gets lost, while an oversize pillow on a side chair is overwhelming.

5. Textures and Extras
For a more contemporary space, a simple pillow with a knife edge will do. But, if you’re aiming for a style with more visual interest you can always play with textures and embellishments.


Texture is an important element in every room, so always consider the texture of your throw pillows and how they work with the rest of the surrounding materials or upholstery. Ideally, you combine different textures to create depth; something soft can be layered on something hard, or something shiny can be placed with something matte. However, if you're using a lot of patterns, colors or embellishments this becomes less important. Trust yourself to know when it becomes too much.


Trim is a great way to add interest to an otherwise plain pillow, and comes in a variety of forms:

  • Welting – Also known as ‘piping’, this is a common trim that provides a simple finishing detail and works in all styles of rooms with all styles of furniture. For a classic look, keep the piping fabric the same as the rest of the pillow; for a more modern look, try contrast piping.
  • Rope – Rope trim is similar to plain piping but has just a little more depth and lends a more traditional look.
  • Tassels, pompoms, and fringe – Generally, these types of trim are best suited to traditional, country, and bohemian rooms, and aren’t typically found in modern or contemporary spaces.

Finally, remember: pillows are meant make your patio pieces inviting, so don’t go overboard! Too many pillows could have guests feeling less than welcome. A good rule of thumb is: if you have to ask if there are too many, you need to pare down. But armed with these toss pillow pro tips, you’ll be throwing pillows like it’s a patio pillow party in no time! Stop by Leader’s and check out our wide selection of throw pillows; with 19 showroom locations, we’re bound to have one close by!

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