Throw Pillow Styling Rules from Studio McGee


Summer 2024

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Studio McGee was born out of Shea McGee’s love for design. Even though she had completed a degree in communications, she knew that design was her passion and true calling. Starting out on Instagram initially, McGee’s first remodelling of a home in 2013 with her signature style resulted in valuable clientele. Along with her husband Syd, McGee decided to launch an interior design firm with the mission of making beautiful design accessible to everyone. A few years down the line, the couple published a bestselling book Make Life Beautiful and currently have their own show called Dream Home Makeover on Netflix, with a highly engaged and loyal audience.

McGee’s love for throw pillows is no secret to her followers, as she likes to layer up her designs. For her, these pillows create a warm and welcoming touch when added to a couch, a window nook, or even beds. Design-wise, they add pattern, texture, and colour. Here, we will look at some of McGee’s rules for styling throw pillows.

Some Throw Pillow Essentials

It is necessary to get the right size of pillows on the right furniture. Here is the pillow sizing guide from Studio McGee.

Sizing Guide

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For chairs, one 20- to 22-inch lumbar pillow would do.

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For a bench or a sofa, the larger 22- to 24-inch pillow is placed at the back with a smaller pillow in the front. For corners, a lumbar is added to the two pillows.

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For a sectional, the inner corner has a 22- to 24-inch throw pillow at the back with two 20- to 22-inch pillows at the front. The outside corners follow the two pillows and the lumbar rule.

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Courtesy Studio McGee from the Cove Remodel

For a twin bed, a 22-inch pillow is placed at the back next to the bed pillows with a lumbar at the front. For a full bed, two 24-inch pillows are placed at the back with an extra-long lumbar. For a queen or king-size bed, two 24-inch pillows with a lumbar can work. The pillow size can be increased to 26 inches instead of 24 inches, with an extra-long lumbar. For an extra layer, one 20- to 22-inch pillow can be added at the front. A completely different direction can be taken by opting for one headboard pillow instead.

As per the inserts of the cushions, McGee recommends opting for a size large than the cover to ensure the throw pillow does not appear to be sagging and shoddy.

Once the sizes are determined, the next thing is to look at the colour schemes, patterns, and textures.

Colours, Patterns, and Textures

The colour of the furniture is the first thing to consider when deciding on the coordinating colour of the throw pillows. Usually darker sofas, couches, or sectionals can be complimented by light-coloured pillows. Pillows can be used to liven up a neutral space and reflect the colours of the artwork or other pieces of décor scattered around the room. If you are unable to decide on a colour scheme, start off by selecting the colours from a pillow that carries your favourite pattern.

A rule that McGee follows when adding dimension to a piece of furniture is to use three different kinds of design elements for the pillows: organic patterns, geometric patterns, and solid textures. It is best to start with the selection of the organic-patterned pillow since choosing one afterward to coordinate with the other pillows can be challenging. Organic patterns are inspired by nature and feature floral or plant motifs in multiple colours.

Once the organic pattern is selected, the next thing is to choose the geometric-patterned pillow, which features at least one colour from the organic pillow to create synthesis. Remember to vary the scale of the patterns. Create contrast by combining small-scale patterns with large-scale ones.

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When it comes to the solid-coloured throw pillow, they present a great opportunity to incorporate texture — anything from muted to very busy textures can bring a lot of excitement and contrast to the overall aesthetic. Linens, crinkle fabrics, plain-woven, and some types of hand-woven textiles can do the trick.

While traditionally, you would want to balance out the look on both sides of a sofa by using the same set of pillows with the same patterns, colours, or textures, McGee doesn’t believe in playing it safe. Rather, she opts for different cushions on each side of the sofa, but she creates visual synthesis by choosing a colour palette that is consistent throughout.

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