What You Need to Know About Shopping For Perfect Throw Pillows

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One of my very best friends messaged me recently asking for advice on shopping for throw pillows. Well if I wasn’t as happy as a dog with a bone, because this is one of my absolute favorite home décor items to shop for, and I could annoying talk about them ALL DAY LONG. In fact, I just scored a recent pillow haul from Homegoods myself.

throw pillows
I may have scared a few people out of the pillow aisle at Homegoods

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My friend had recently moved and was looking to spruce up her new home quickly. She went on to ask me if I had ever bought pillows from a certain well known big-box retailer. And since I love this retailer dearly, I’ll spare them my brutal honesty as I recap why I swayed her away from this store and forbid her from ever asking me to help her find something “cheap” for her home again.

Now don’t get it twisted, I’m a budget diva myself, but let’s face it, you typically always get what ya pay for. Which brings me to the first thing you should consider when trying to shop for throw pillows.

Quality over Quantity

Cheap and inexpensive doesn’t always mean a great deal or a good buy. Here’s the thing…If you find yourself replacing “cheap” pillows every year because they show wear and tear, have you really saved yourself money when you could have splurged on slightly more expensive quality pillows that last for years?

Probably not.

And I know it’s so easy to fall for the great marketing gimmicks when you walk into a store and find those perfectly coordinated 2 packs of pillows. Trust me, I’ve learned from this mistake many times.

But, if you don’t want to buy pillows that are going to fall apart at the seams or worse, end up looking like saggy flattened pancakes on your sofa, then focus your efforts on finding good quality pillow inserts first. You can always change up the look and style of your pillows by using custom covers.

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Sad little deflated throw pillows – Nope!

Understanding Covers and Inserts for throw pillows

I am a self-proclaimed throw pillow hoarder. Seriously, I have seasonal pillows in boxes for holidays, plus at least half a dozen sitting on each open seat in my home at any given moment. It’s a slight problem, I know, I’m working through it.

But I had a lightbulb moment this past New Year’s when I was storing away seasonal decorations. Why did I continue to buy tons of seasonal pillows that took up a ton of storage and only saw the light of day a couple of months each year at the most?!

The solution? Just buy new covers.

They’re similar to changing out your pillowcase on your bed, and take up way less storage space since they can easily be folded or hung on hangers. This allows you to invest in some decent pillow inserts that will last a long time, while still being able to swap out your look for a new season or style.

And I’m all about reusing items in my home.  

I’ve also found it much easier to shop for new pillow covers when I’m looking to coordinate and style a room than it is to find THE perfect new throw pillow to match. Although, sometimes I do get lucky.

Down versus polyfill

Pillows are like pancakes.

Hear me out, I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

Everybody knows there are only two ways to make pancakes in this world. You either make them thick and oh so perfectly fluffy or they end up flat and thin.

Throw pillow filling is pretty much the same way.

You can have a nice fluffy and full look by using a high fill down insert, or you can opt for polyfill inserts where it ends up looking flat and thin after a little bit of use.

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Too Perfect Polyfill Throw Pillows – Still a no

What you commonly see labeled as down inserts are actually used interchangeably in place of feathers. Most of the time these pillow inserts are comprised of a majority of feathers and a small amount of down fibers. This is what provides the firm look and heavy weight of the pillow. And my go-to for use in my own home.

My reasoning?

I like the relaxed messy look that comes with a nice down pillow. It’s imperfect and has a lived-in feel to it.

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The right amount of fullness in these down throw pillows with a relaxed vibe – much better!

To me, polyfill looks too perfect. Well, until it doesn’t. This fluffy synthetic material is prone to deflating over time, which results in that dreaded flat pancake look and you’re left with nothing, but a sad droopy pillow on your sofa.  

They’re a hard no for me, and I try to sway people away from these inexpensive pillows, because they just don’t have a quality appearance to them, and they definitely don’t have a long life span.

A Note About Down

I recently came across a video on Facebook portraying live animals being plucked for their feathers for use in consumer products. After some thorough research, because you can’t believe everything on the internet, I’ve found that this is banned in the US, however, you’ll want to source your products responsibly to avoid animal cruelty.

An alternative, of course, is high quality down alternative products, which mimic the look and texture of down without any possible allergens.

Shapes and Sizing

When shopping for pillow inserts you need to understand the impact that sizing can have on the overall look of the pillow once it’s inside your cover. A good rule of thumb is to always slightly overfill your pillow so that it has a full and smooth appearance.

If you opt for an insert that’s too small for the cover, you’ll likely end up with a wrinkly pillow that just looks a bit floppy on your furniture since it won’t have the weight to hold itself up.

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Size up your insert at least 2 inches larger than your pillow

For most square pillows you’ll want to size up on your insert at least 2 inches, and for bolster or lumbar pillows which tend to be smaller in size, you can get away with sizing up about an inch. Below is a handy chart I created to give you a guide on sizing.

Where to Buy throw pillows?

I’ve had a pretty tough time finding the perfect throw pillow cover and insert combination ready to go in stores. Occasionally I come across a really great find at Homegoods, but most of the time the insert isn’t quite full or fluffy enough.

If I really love the cover though I may still buy it and swap out the insert with a better quality one like I did for these pillows below.

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Gorgeous pillows, but the fill was too thin

I loved the patterns so much that I couldn’t pass up the bargain. Even if I was going to be swapping out the inserts it was still a great buy for the covers alone.

More often than not, I rely on some quality online small business that create their own unique custom pillow covers. I may not get the instant gratification of running out and buying something right now, but the quality in these covers and the unique patterns are well worth the wait, I promise.

Below are a few of my favorite places to score some amazingly beautiful pillow covers:

*Click the shop name to go directly to their website

Jolie Marche

Price: $$$

This online pillow boutique features stunning pillow covers in soft neutral color palettes with unique patterns that you won’t find anywhere else. That’s because they work directly with local artisan partners to create the finest fabric designs and textures.

I recently ordered from Jolie Marche when I completed our Mudroom makeover and I was blown away by the quality. Most recently they began adding gorgeous gold detailed zippers to their pillows.

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Beautiful Jolie Marche Pillows used in our Mudroom Makeover

They also offer pillow sets in beautiful combinations which takes all the guesswork out of trying to shop and coordinate.

Laurel + Blush

PRICE: $$

This Etsy shop has been featured in HGTV Magazine and is based out of Waco, Texas. Hello Fixer Upper fans! Angela does a fabulous job of creating designs that make your house feel more like a home featuring soft neutrals and farmhouse style patterns to make your home feel cozy.

I haven’t gotten around to ordering from her Etsy shop just yet, but when I discovered she created pillows in the same pattern I used in my son’s bedroom I quickly added it to my list.

Pottery Barn

PRICE: $$$

The timeless and classic pottery barn style we know and love is carried out in their gorgeous throw pillow shop. Attention to detail and the most stylish fabrics and textures show throughout their washed natural looks.

My absolute favorite part of shopping Pottery Barn online is how they automatically recommend coordinating pillows to go with the one you’ve just viewed. It’s almost like they’re reading your mind and it takes the hassle out of shopping if you have trouble coordinating the perfect throw pillow combination.

Hobby Lobby

PRICE: $

Surprised to see this one on my list? Hobby Lobby is the goldmine of unique home décor finds and pillow covers are no exception. They may not have a large assortment, but they do seem to have interesting statement covers that you can incorporate into your home.

What makes them irresistible though is the inexpensive price tag. I’ve bought quite a few covers from Hobby Lobby and haven’t really run into an issue with them falling apart, but you should be wary of the thickness and softness of the material. Still, they’re a great deal with high style.

how to style throw pillows

mix Textures, colors, patterns, and sizes

My biggest piece of advice when shopping for throw pillows is to always mix and match your fabrics and patterns. Having different textures within the same color palette really pops and looks so much more refined and avoids the dreaded matchy-matchy look.

You can take it a step further and stagger your pillows by using different sizes together too.

Mix it up

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Avoid matching
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Mix it up

There you have it. My complete guide to shopping for throw pillows brought to you by my dear friend’s random text request for help. Drop me a comment below to let me know how you liked this post and thank you for letting me help you create a beautiful space.  

Now try going through a room in your own home and swapping out your pillows for a fuller look. Try mixing them up a bit while you’re at it and see how much of a difference it makes in the overall look of the room.

pin this helpful sizing guide for help shopping

You might also find my post on tips for decorating with area rugs helpful

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