Lesson 1: Cushion Placement

The HEF School of Sofa Styling 

It’s the first day of sofa styling school, hope you’ve arrived bright eyed with bushy tails! Before we start off I’m going to caveat this by saying that interior design and interior tastes are subjective - what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. This lesson consists of some basic guidelines, a tried a tested method that will work every time. That said, once you’ve learned the rules feel free to run wild and break them. Interior design is supposed to be fun and not taken too seriously so experiment with it and find what works for YOU!

Okay let’s get to it… 

When it comes to the cardinal sins of cushion styling, there are really two main ones:

1. The 'Diamond' Arrangement.

Could I please request that any cushions that have been rotated 90 degrees into a diamond, kindly be returned to their rightful position with the zip at the bottom. I don’t want to go into the many reasons why this is wrong, it just is.


2. The 'Cushion Clones' Arrangement.

If you have multiple identically shaped and sized cushions plopped on the sofa, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to Make Your Sofa Great Again (MYSGA). Luckily you've come to the right place!


The golden rules of cushion placement...


Biggies at the back

In this case, size matters! A hard and fast rule to stick to is placing the bigger cushions at the back and smaller cushions at the front. As a minimum I tend to go for a 50x50cm for medium sized couches, 55x55cm / 60x60cm for larger couches.


Being odd is a good thing

Odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing - specifically the number three. Whilst even numbers create symmetry, odd numbers create interest. A quick look at any interior design magazine and you’ll start to spot groupings of three everywhere! Groupings of odd numbers tend to look more natural to the eye whereas groupings of even numbers can sometimes look too formal or ‘staged’. 


Variety is the spice of life

When we think about cushions we generally think about square cushions, but adding a rectangular bolster (or lumbar) in there is a great way to add a bit of spice to your sofa.


Read the space

Every space is different and it’s important to style the sofa to the vibe of the room and tastes of the owner. For example, if I was designing a drawing room in Buckingham Palace (imagine!) I would stick to a symmetrical cushion placement as this looks more formal. If I were picking cushions for my own living room, I would tend to go for an asymmetrical cushion placement as this looks and feels more laid back and casual. 


This asymmetrical arrangement looks laid-back and casual and is the one I tend to go for at home. Biggies at the back, smallies at the front. Zone 2 uses a grouping of three to add interest. 
You can see how this symmetrical arrangement looks more formal. Again keeping the biggies at the back and smallies at the front. Can you see how adding a 5th cushion created an odd grouping which adds more interest?

With corner sofas or extra large cloud couches, it looks so much more natural to 'zone' your cushions rather than have them evenly placed along the sofa. If you have a chaise sofa, keep 'Zone 2' at the corner where the chaise intersects the sofa, 'Zone 1' will then be at the opposite side. 

A few notes:

If you have a huge cloud couch (or if you like big cushions) feel free to size up. Likewise, size down for smaller two seater sofas.

Sizes are in CM. Conversions for any feet and inch-ers:

50x50cm = 20" x 20"

45x45cm = 18" x 18"

50x30cm = 20" x 12"


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