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How many cushions should you have on your sofa? Turns out there is an expert guide on styling cushions to avoid overcrowding your seating area – and the recommended number might surprise you.
No sofa is suitably dressed without a carefully curated collection of scatter cushions to add accent colour and pattern however, according to interior designers and furniture experts there is such a thing as too many.
"If we were left to our own devices, most of our sofas would be piled high with cushions,” says Jemma Jaques, visual design lead at The Lounge Co. “But take a step back and ask yourself what job your scatter cushions are doing."
"They might be great for adding extra comfort or breaking up the solid block of colour that a sofa creates, but too many are just impractical. Remember that you need to sit there too."
So, what is the ideal number of cushions you should have on your sofa according to the style rules? “We’d recommend two or three for a smaller sofa,” advises Jemma, suggesting: “Two square cushions and a rectangular one in front will give you a relaxed feel."
"Especially if you've opted for a statement or patterned sofa, sticking to just two cushions in complementary shades really lets the sofa do the talking,' says Lou Petersen, head of design innovation at DFS.
“For a simple rule of thumb we always say one or two cushions on either arm, then add extras if your sofa has more than two back cushions," Jemma explains.
"Whilst a smaller sofa may need only two or three the larger the sofa, the more cushions it'll accommodate without looking overcrowded," says interior designer Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs. "I'd always advise using a mix of shapes and sizes as this will add visual interest to your sofa, placing larger cushions at the back and smaller ones at the front.
Lou adds: "In terms of styling going for different sizes creates depth and interest. For example, mixing square and bolster cushions, or a square with a round cushion.”
Can you ever have too many scatter cushions on a sofa?
Yes, you can, according to our experts. "You can absolutely overdo it," says Kelly Collins, lead interior designer at sofa designers Swyft. "But, it does depend on the size of your sofa."
"For example, with a two-seater sofa, there is no need for more than two or three cushions. To make it not symmetrical, have two cushions on one corner and one cushion at the other," Kelly advises. This manner of styling works on the interior design principle that odd numbers work better than exact symmetry.
How many cushions on a 3 seater sofa?
If a smaller 2-seater sofa ideally only has three scatter cushions, how many cushions should a 3-seater sofa have?
"If it’s a three seater sofa, you could get away with four, but ideally you wouldn’t want to match," says Kelly. "Obviously, on a corner sofa, you might be able to have a few more, but the key thing trend for cushions is that less is more."
"Five to seven years ago, the trend was to fill the sofa with matching cushions and have a chop in the middle. That is no more," says Kelly of the outdated interior design trend.
Speaking of the new sofa trend Kelly adds: "Nowadays we want to be able to sit on a sofa without needing to move cushions around and put them on the floor. So, less is now more."
Should all your scatter cushions match?
There are no rules, it's a matter of personal taste depending on the interior design trends throughout your home - for example, the maximalist trend would never welcome strict rules around coordinated scatter cushions whereas the 'quiet luxury' look would. Generally speaking a variation of sizes with a cohesive colour palette makes for a pleasing aesthetic.
Traditionally sofa scatter cushions used to be uniformly the same size and colour to create symmetry but modern-day styling is much more fluid and less restrictive.
"You can have a mismatch, different patterns and sizes, as long as it's capturing the trend you’re looking to follow," advises Kelly. "So, if you want to create a Boho look, you might want to mix patterns. If you want to go a bit more neutral, mix the textures, but they absolutely do not have to be the same colour, not anymore. In fact, the trend now is to have one-offs instead of matching."
"Cushions are a great way to play with pattern and colour in your interiors, as they're very easy to add, take away, or change up to suit your mood and your preferred look," says Lou.
"Reflect colours from elsewhere in the room in plain cushions, or layer clashing patterns to create depth and a sense of playfulness - a good tip is to make sure that one hero colour runs through them all to ensure the look feels curated."
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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