How to Arrange Pillows on Your Bed

Decorative toss pillows on the bed from Ballard Designs

How to Arrange Decorative Toss Pillows on Your Bed

Bedrooms can be a tough place to decorate — especially when it comes to making a beautiful bed. There are just so many options for bedding and so many ways to make your bed! One aspect of bed making that we’re ready to demystify is the bed pillows. There really aren’t many rules, but we do think certain arrangement work better than others. See our suggestions below for how to arrange your pillows:

There really aren’t many rules for tossing your pillows on the bed, but we do think certain arrangements work better than others. Here’s what we mean:

When picking out your pillow arrangement, the size of your headboard is important to consider. You never want your pillows to come up over your headboard, so a lower headboard requires arrangements with a shorter profile. Likewise, taller headboards most likely will need euro shams or at the very least standard shams with a thick flange.

We typically like for pillows to come up two-thirds of the headboard, leaving one-third of the headboard exposed at the top. You’ll also want the pillows to stretch the entire length of the bed.

Now, which one do you like best?

Sleek & Simple Pillow Settings

Let’s talk about the simplest option. If you’re the type that doesn’t like having a ton of toss pillows to arrange in the morning, go the hotel route, and stack four standard pillows horizontally for a sleek, simple arrangement.

We typically think this looks nicest when you have a lower headboard. Our beautiful  Isabella Bed has a pretty tall headboard, for instance, so we wouldn’t love this look on this bed. It would look great on our Camden Bed, though, which has a lower profile.

Classic & Minimal Bedding Designs

As we mentioned above, if you have a tall headboard, laying pillows horizontally will feel disproportionate. We like pillows stacked vertically on a bed with a tall headboard. The two outer pillows can have standard shams that match the duvet at the end of the bed, and the standard pillows in the back can be simple sheeted pillow cases.

Classic Pillow Décor With Style

For this arrangement, we’d choose standard shams in our Lucca Velvet Stitched Bedding with a matching  quilt. That sham makes more of a statement than the coordinating shams in the duvet collection, and the stitched flange at the edges means it stands up a bit taller. Use these for a tall bed. We’d also add a simple 12×20 decorative toss pillow for a touch of personality.

The Timeless Pillow Balance

This look works for nearly any bed. Choose two euro shams to create height in the back, then add two standard shams in the front. Try shams in different (but complementary) collections to balance and add dimension to the arrangement. When we’re mixing bedding collections on a bed, we like to use equal amounts of both collections. Balance is always an important part of mixing and matching, so it’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when you’re shopping!

The Tasteful Tall with Toss!

On a bed with a tall headboard like our Isabella, we like using extra tall shams like euros. Euros are also great for beds that don’t have an upholstered headboard because they’re great for reading and sitting up in bed. For this, we’d simply use two large euro shams and add a toss pillow in the front.

Simple & Symmetrical Decorative Pillows

When ordering bedding, it’s only natural to think in terms of pairs. For this kind of arrangement, use two large euro shams and one smaller standard sham and create a symmetrical arrangement. It won’t require a ton of pillows but fills your entire headboard and feels balanced with the size of the headboard.

 Two Euro and two standard shams with a decorative toss pillow on bed from Ballard Designs

The Timeless Style with Toss

As we mentioned above, two euros and two standards make for a timeless bed, but sometimes you just want to add a little more flair. In that case, simply add an accent pillow, and you’re done!

Euro shams, standard shams, and decorative toss pillows on a bed from Ballard Designs

Clean Max — Lots of Nice & Plump

Here’s where things start to get a little more involved. Say you’re game for lots of pillows on your bed, but you still want things to look polished . . . Consider a symmetrical arrangement that includes height, a variety of textures, and even some pattern. We’d choose euro shams, coordinating standard shams in our quilted velvet collection, and two accent pillows.

Bedding arrangement on bed from Ballard DesignsAsymmetrical Bedding Lineup

Precision is so overrated. For the very most decorated bed, we’ll go a little over the top. After all, when you’re talking about pillows, is there such a thing as too much comfort? Use three euros and three standard shams and arranged them to create dimension and texture. Now this will be a bed you can seriously relax in!

If you can’t decide where to start, we suggest getting two shams of each size (euro and standard) in coordinating collections and start playing around. Figure out what looks best and you can even try a new arrangement each day. After all, it’s just a bedroom! Pillows should be fun and not scary.

If you can’t decide where to start, we suggest getting two shams of each size (euro and standard) in coordinating collections and start playing around. Figure out what looks best and you can even try a new arrangement each day. After all, it’s just a bedroom! Pillows should be fun and not scary.

Find tons more bedding ideas here, or browse bedrooms from our catalog in our Photo Gallery.

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

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  1. Reply

    Hollie @ Stuck on Hue Pillows

    October 30, 2018

    Pillow customers are always asking me for size and layout recommendations, so I will add this post to my list to send them for bed examples. Aside from beds, I get asked about pillow styling for sectional sofas most of all. You include some regular sofa examples on your “Guide to Choosing Throw Pillows” post, with just one sectional sofa photo at the end, so that may be an idea for a future post.

  2. Reply

    megan

    February 22, 2018

    Wow that is a really good article! Thank you so much for the wonderful article. I will go with Classic with Style for my Master Bedroom 🙂

  3. Reply

    Fay Penfold

    January 20, 2018

    I only like to use one euro placed against head of bed ,then to the left ,twosleeping pillows lying flat on top of each other ,then in front of the euro on the right one standard pillow standing up .then one large pillow directly in front in the middle ,then one pretty cushion square then one rectangular cushion in front .Does that sound ok ?

  4. Reply

    Anita

    October 10, 2016

    where can I find this bedding? I have an ocean front house with my bedroom facing the beach and 3 big windows looking out. – I need some ideas for decorating

  5. Reply

    Anjali Garg

    September 16, 2016

    Beautiful Blog!!! Today, i just decorate pillow on my bed look like this and it is used to sleep on and support the head/neck or other parts of the body while sleeping, lying down or sitting as well as pillows have decorative uses and are used on bed and couches.

    Thanks to share blogs like this.

  6. Reply

    jne

    September 14, 2016

    Great article: apparently I am doing it just fine! It is all about beauty/balance in the eye of the beholder for those of us who are gifted. Great article for those who are not!!! txs!!!

  7. Reply

    Alison

    August 7, 2016

    These are great for a queen size bed but not so easy for a king or super king.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 8, 2016

      Allison,
      True, these aren’t showing on a King Sized bed, but we typically suggest just adding one more row of pillows or swapping the standard sham with a king sham size. So for example, in the spaces where you’re using Euro, use three on a king where you’d use two on a queen. And for the standard shams, either use three standards instead of two or use two king sizes pillows.
      Does that help?

  8. Reply

    Paula

    August 4, 2016

    how do I submit a decorating question

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 5, 2016

      Paula,
      Here’s the form.

    • Reply

      Kimberly Landry

      July 15, 2018

      Those king shams are hard to find though! Any suggestions for a king bed with standard shams? Put three…what else?

      • Caroline McDonald

        Caroline McDonald

        August 21, 2018

        Kimberly,
        Three standard shams would work best. In front of the standard shams, I would add two more Euro shams in between the three, then maybe a throw pillow in front of the Euros. It’s a lot of pillows, but the Euros will add height and symmetry.
        Good luck!

  1. Reply

    How to use your bed as an interior decorating tool - The How To Do Stuff Blog

    September 18, 2018

    […] Using pillows and cushions to layer and create texture on your bed is another of the bed’s interior decorating abilities, and it’s highly effective. Be careful not to make the making of your bed too daunting of a task, otherwise you’ll defeat the purpose of decorating it in the first place. It should still be relatively simple to remove and replace pillows as you get in and out of your bed every day. […]

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