How to Decorate and Style a Sectional or Sofa
(Partner post to How to Style the BACK of a Sofa or Sectional)
Gone are the days where you’d buy a sofa and keep the patterned toss cushions that come with it – you know, the ones with a pattern on one side and the couch fabric on the other so that you could ‘switch things around’. LORD HAVE MERCY – those are some of the UGLIEST toss cushions ever created! Hard, stiff (now don’t get excited) and undoubtedly in a fabric that is also featured on the hideabed at the local Motel.
Luckily, aside from Paint, toss cushions are one of the most affordable ways to update a space without breaking the kids piggy bank.
(Comfort Sectional from Pottery Barn)
But before you rush out and buy new toss cushions, you might want to read these tips and ideas for styling a sectional, so you know what you’re shopping for (or be totally impulsive like me and come home with 14 toss cushions, a box of wine and a funnel).
But first of all…
#1 What type are you: ‘Reality TV’ or ‘Reality Based’?
Reality TV: When you see the photo above you look at the coordinating fabrics and styling and say, ‘Yes, that’s what I want MY sectional to look like – straight out of a magazine baby!’
Reality: When you see the photo above you actually count how many cushions are on it (which is 7 btw) and think to yourself, ‘Man, that is WAY to much fussin’ around for my style!’
And while I do have a mild toss cushion fetish – especially feather-filled ones and I love the ‘look’ of the above photo, it doesn’t mean I’m going to dress my couch like a fully loaded pizza.
Idea 1 Keepin’ it Real
Whether you have a sectional or a sofa, you can get a lot of visual impact out of pattern and texture.
With regard to the above example, your colour palette should consist of the sofa colour plus 1 other colour (neutral is usually easiest). If you have a leather sectional your palette should be 1 lighter neutral and 1 darker neutral (brown suits brown, black suits grays)
Step 1: Buy 2 matching patterned cushions that are standard size or slightly larger
Step 2: Buy a textured cushion that is the ‘other’ colour in your patterned toss cushions (not the sofa colour)
Step 3: Buy a throw blanket that matches your textured cushion and toss it over the end
- If your sectional does not have a chaise end, you would repeat what is happening on the left side, keep the center the same and place the throw blanket wherever your lil’ heart desires!
- If you want to live on the wild side, buy 1 rectangular shaped cushion in a fabulous accent colour and place it in the inside corner in front of the other one
- If you have a sofa, you will take the throw blanket and place it under the toss cushion on the right hand side – BAM – done
Using the above photo as an example, your colour palette should consist of the couch colour plus 1 other colour (neutral is usually easiest). If you have a brown or black leather sectional your colour palette should be 1 colour and 1 lighter neutral.
Step 1: Buy 3 matching LG or MD size patterned cushions
Step 2: Buy 3 matching LG or MD size patterned cushions that have the same colours as Step 1, but in a different pattern
- To add some spazip (a highly technical term), choose a throw blanket in a fabulous accent colour. This accent colour can then tie into other pieces in your room like accent chairs/accessories.
- If you have a couch, just take away 1 pair.
Idea 2 The Full Meal Deal
This one is actually the easiest to do as you are repeating the same 3 cushions in 3 spots.
Via House Seven
Notice that the cushions are all different patterns, but the same colours are repeated.
Whether you have a neutral or coloured sectional/sofa, your colour palette should consist of your couch colour plus 1 neutral (you can vary the intensity of the colour from light to dark)
And just like with general decorating and accessorizing, use the Rule of 3 when placing the cushions.
Step 1: Buy 3 matching LG size cushions – these ones should have the largest pattern
Step 2: Buy 3 matching MD or LG size cushions with a smallish or more subtle pattern than the other ones
Step 3: Buy 3 matching MD or rectangle cushions with a pattern that is as strong as Step 1, but in a different pattern
- Even though you are only using 2 colours, you are adding variety and interest via the change in pattern.
- If you have a brown or black leather sectional, your colour palette should consist of 1 lighter neutral and 1 darker neutral (brown suits brown or grays, black suits grays).
This one is taking the Full Meal Deal to a slightly larger level…
If you have a coloured sectional or sofa, your colour palette should consist of: 2 neutrals and your couch colour (all of these colours can be used in varying degrees of depth)
If you have a neutral or leather sectional or sofa, your colour palette should consist of: 2 neutrals (1 being your couch colour) and 1 colour (all of these colours can be used in varying degrees of depth)
- All of your cushions should be the same size (standard or slightly bigger)
- You should have 5 sets of 2 matching cushions (10 cushions total – I am a decorator AND a Math whiz)
- 1 of the pairs can have a ‘varied mix’ of the colour palette, so it’s a bit busier than the rest. The 4 other pairs should be simple 2 colour patterns (as shown above).
Idea 3 The Ole Mix n’ Match
No, this isn’t like swimsuits where you get to buy an XS bikini top and LRG bottoms (oh wait, that’s just me). It’s where you get to have some SERIOUS fun with colours and patterns!
In this idea, you aren’t just mixing and matching fabrics, but also sizes to create an eclectic and layered look.
Your colour palette should be a FREE FOR ALL of the accent colours you love the most and a mix of patterns and solids. This photo shows only the 2 corners of the sectional, but you would repeat these thoughts in the 3rd corner as well (unless it’s a chaise end in which case you’d just place a throw across the end).
- You will need 3 cushions in the same size as the ‘backdrop’ cushions. They can be totally different patterns/colours from each other.
- The cushions in front can be the same shape as each other or different shapes as long as they are a smaller size than the back ones.
- Mix and match the fabrics! And on that note….
Just a Girl and Her Blog has a FANTASTIC Article on how to mix and match fabrics – she makes it look easy, because it is!
I hope you enjoyed these ideas on Couch Couture – chat soon!
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