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How Many Pillows Should You Put On a Couch?

A collage of couch with pillow.

When I walk into the living room, I see a couch buried somewhere below a pile of pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, and other squishables. My partner has a deep and abiding love for comfort, and I have accepted that I will stare into the eyes of Squishmallows everywhere that I go.

The sea of softness did make me consider what the ideal number of pillows is for couch comfort, since my partner does not believe that a limit actually exists.

Related: How Big are Standard Pillows Can You Wash Couch Pillows | How Many Pillows Should You Put on a Bed

Types of Couch Pillows

Couch pillows can be divided according to their size and purpose. Categorizing your current pillow collection can help you divide them up as best as possible.

Doing so also gives an opportunity to inspect the pillows for discoloration, lost fluffiness, and other damage. Old pillows don’t always need to be tossed, but I know I don’t want to put my head on a soft surface that hasn’t been cleaned in years.

Sizes of Couch Pillows

A variety of pillows on a couch.

Large pillows are longer or wider than one person’s seat on the couch, spreading the comfort around but potentially being a bother with no place to shove them out of the way. 

Medium pillows are roughly the size of a bed pillow, but their shape may be different than the usual rectangle.

Small pillows are anything smaller than medium pillows. They are easy to move around, but their comfort usually suffers.

Purposes of Couch Pillows

Woman sitting on a couch.

Comfort is the primary reason anyone uses pillows. There’s usually at least one pain point on a couch that mars its comfort, so extra pillows are commonly kept on hand to let people remove the pain point with a targeted, pillowy-soft attack.

Decorative pillows can be comfortable, but many feature additional stitching or other surface features that can dig into anyone using them. They also tend to be small, and the softness might barely rate it as a pillow.

Small decorative pillows are usually called throw pillows, though the term may be applied to small pillows in general. Some pillows can also offer utility benefits. A cup cozy pillow provides a soft place to keep snacks, drinks, and remotes.

Liquids with secured lids are a good idea, especially if there are kids or animals in the house. Larger cup cozies may also provide additional comfort by adding an arm rest, since they’re sturdier than most normal pillows.

Pillow Suggestions for Couches and Similar Furniture

1. Recliners and Armchairs

Pillow suggestion: 0 to 4 small or medium comfort pillows; at most 1 decorative pillow

Relaxzen Longstreet Rocker Recliner with Massage, Heat and Dual USB Ports, Beige

There’s not much room in armchairs, so any decorative pillows on them are likely to be moved every time someone sits in them. If you absolutely have to have a decorative pillow, stick to just one.

Some armchairs don’t need pillows at all, while others benefit from some extra softness squishing between the occupant and the chair. A handful of small pillows or a couple of medium pillows could both work, so try a few different pillow arrangements to see what works best.

2. Loveseats

Pillow suggestion: 2 to 5 small comfort pillows; at most 2 small decorative pillows

Classic Gray Sofa with Silver Decor Pillows

 

If you want to add comfort to a loveseat, start with a pair of small comfort pillows. Medium pillows might work, but a loveseat with fluffy cushions can already be a trap of softness for more than one person.  

A single large pillow can take up most of the seating area. Stick to one or two small decorative pillows, at most. Cup cozy pillows don’t work as well as a good end table, and at least one end of a loveseat should be able to access to one.

3. Couches

Pillow suggestion: 2 to 8 small to medium comfort pillows; at most 2 small decorative pillows

Signature Design by Ashley Tibbee Tufted Modern Sofa with 2 Accent Pillows, Dark Taupe

 

The typical three-seater family couch has a bit more room than a loveseat, which gives more flexibility in the pillow arrangement. A small or medium comfort pillow at both ends is always a good idea to reduce the stiffness at the armrests.

At least one extra pillow will provide one for a middle occupant. Deeper couches can benefit from a full row of pillows in the back to help support proper seating positions.

A couch is the smallest seating furniture that can really benefit from a cup cozy pillow. It’ll work best if the couch typically seats two and there’s a table to place the cozy on when the third spot is needed.

4. Chaise Lounges

Pillow suggestion: 2 small comfort pillows plus 1 medium comfort pillow, or 1 large (long) comfort pillow; at most 1 small decorative pillow.

SEI Furniture AMZ6093CB Chaise Lounge w/Storage, Khaki

Chaise lounges, whether on their own or as part of a couch, allow someone to spread out and enjoy a calm break. The number of necessary pillows varies a bit, but adding one medium and two small pillows allows for an arrangement that supports spine alignment while lounging.

A single long pillow can also work on a chaise lounge, but it’ll be harder to find a spot to put it if it becomes a discomfort.

5. Sectionals

Pillow suggestions: 1 to 2 small or medium pillows per 2 seats; 1 small or medium comfort pillow per corner; 1 or 2 small comfort pillows per chaise lounge; at most 2 decorative pillows per three seats.

A collage of couch with pillow.

A sectional couch’s size is only limited by the space of the room and the furniture budget.  It’s more likely to have corner seats. One or both ends might have a chaise lounge, as well. A firm number of suggested pillows is harder to provide, but combining the guidelines for other furniture types can give a guideline.

Count the total number of seats, the number of chaise lounges, and the number of corner seats in the sectional. For example, the sectional in the image has seating for four with a chaise lounge.

Add one to two small or medium comfort pillows for every two seats. Consider adding small to medium comfort pillows in the corners if the angle is sharp.

Put one to two extra small comfort pillows near each chaise lounge. Large, long pillows are also an option, but a bigger number of smaller pillows is still more versatile and easier to get out of the way.

Sectionals with long straights may also benefit from the cup cozy utility pillows mentioned earlier. A table in front of the sectional can hold stuff, but the cozies will make it easier to avoid moving once you finally find that comfortable spot.

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