Pillows are a pretty straightforward piece of decor. Fluff them up, place them where you want, and rest your head on them. When it comes to home staging, though, it can get a little more complicated. If you’re wondering what is the proper way to place pillows on a bed or trying to figure out exactly how many pillows, you aren’t alone. How to arrange pillows on a bed depends on the size of the bed, the style of the room, and the type of pillows you’re using.
How Do You Stage a Bed With Pillows?
When staging a home for sale, I generally advise clients to keep the bedding neutral, light, and free of any distracting patterns. This helps visually calm the space and typically results in better listing photos. When it comes to decorative pillows, however, this is a great opportunity to spend a little money on something you want to take with you to your new home that reflects your personal style. You can use calming neutrals, incorporate luxurious textures, or add fun pops of color. Regardless of what you choose, what’s essential with a modern bed pillow arrangement is that you keep the look balanced. That may take a little experimentation to land on something you like and that works for your room.
Sleeping Pillows vs Decorative Pillows
Let’s start with a couple of basic definitions. Sleeping pillows, or bed pillows, are the basic standard pillows everybody uses for sleeping. A standard bed pillow is 20” x 26” and is the most common size you’ll find. At 20” x 30”, a queen pillow is a few inches longer, but it still can fit comfortably on a twin or full-size mattress with single occupancy. King pillows are 20” x 36” and two of them fit perfectly side-by-side on a king-sized bed. Note: If you use sleeping pillows with standard pillowcases on your bed, you may have to remove them to pull off some of these looks.
Decorative pillows, by comparison, are typically smaller and less supportive. These include small colorful throw pillows, hefty bolster pillows (large cylindrical pillows that run the width of your mattress), stylish accent pillows (both square and rectangular lumbar style), and large square Euro pillows (usually 26” x 26”).
Pro tip: When browsing throw pillows, you’ll see that many are sold as just covers. This means you’ll have to buy the inserts separately. A pillow insert should always be one to two inches larger than the cover. This helps create a fuller, more plush look.
How to Arrange Pillows on a King Bed
For a king-size bed, use either a pair of king-size pillows or four standard-size pillows. You’ll need three square Euro pillows for a king-size bed. Here’s how to stack pillows on the bed.
Option 1: Modern simplicity
This arrangement works especially well for homeowners who don’t want to deal with a complex pillow arrangement on top of the hassle of living in a staged home. It also looks great with the simple, all-white bedding that works well for home staging. You’ll need two king-size sleeping pillows in white pillowcases and two king-size pillows in shams that match a quilt or coverlet. To arrange, cover the bed with a white duvet or comforter. Next, stack the sleeping pillows against the headboard. Place the pillows in shams in front of those. Finally, spread the matching quilt or coverlet across the bottom part of the bed to tie the look together. Easy, peasy!
Option 2: Plush comfort
For this look, you’ll want four standard-size sleeping pillows (or two king-size sleeping pillows), three Euro pillows (in shams), and two 20” x 20” throw pillows. To arrange, stack four standard-size sleeping pillows neatly atop one another. (Alternatively, simply prop your sleeping pillows up against the headboard). Layer the three Euro pillows in front of the sleeping stack. Center the two throw pillows on the front row.
Option 3: Luscious layers
For this look, prop three European shams along the back of the bed. Next, add a pair of king-size pillows in king-size shams. Finish with a 20” x 20” decorative pillow centered in front of each of the king-size sham pillows.
Alternatively, you can simply substitute the throw pillows for a bolster or lumbar pillow.
How to Arrange Pillows on a Queen Bed
Next, let’s take a look at a few suggestions for queen-bed pillow arrangements. Queen-size pillows are shorter than king-size pillows. This means you won’t require as many Euro pillows to balance out the look. Bonus: You can also use these bed pillow arrangements on a full-sized bed!
Option 1: No fuss classic
If you don’t have time to arrange lots of pillows every day, try this simple arrangement. Prop two queen-size bed pillows against the headboard. Next, lean two standard-size pillows in front of those. Center an accent pillow in front.
Option 2: Lovely layers
For a look that’s a bit more plush, stack four standard-size sleeping pillows neatly atop one another. Layer a pair of Euro pillows (in shams) in front of the sleeping stack. Use a pattern or color that matches your bedding to tie the look together. Finally, add a couple of decorative pillows, preferably 20” x 20” in size, centered in front of the propped-up Euros.
Option 3: Perfect pyramid
If you love lots of pillows, this is the look for you. You’ll need four standard-size or queen-size sleeping pillows, two large Euro pillows, a long bolster pillow or lumbar pillow, and one accent pillow. The result is a beautiful pyramid design you’ll see in interior design magazines.
Stack your sleeping pillows two by two against your headboard. Next, center the two Euro pillows in front of those, then place the long pillow. Finally, place your accent pillow centered in the front.
How to Arrange Pillows on a Twin Bed
When it comes to twin bed pillow arrangements, your options are a bit more limited. Play around with a variety of colors and textures to liven up a twin bedroom.
Option 1: Basic
This option is perfect for staging a child’s room because it’s simple and doesn’t involve too many extra pillows (which can just be more of a hassle than anything). Simply place a standard-size sleeping pillow flat on the bed, then prop a large accent pillow against it. This understated bed pillow arrangement works especially well on a twin with white or neutral bedding. Be sure to use an especially plush accent pillow with a lot of loft that’s easy to fluff and can stand up well. Try using an accent pillow cover that features a bright color or pattern and tie it in with a blanket draped across the foot of the bed.
Option 2: Elegant
If you’ve got a twin bed in a barely used guest room and want a more elegant presentation, consider this arrangement. For this look, you’ll need two standard-size sleeping pillows (one in a sham) and one accent pillow. To arrange, lean one sleeping pillow against the headboard. Prop the sham sleeping pillow in front of it. Then lean your accent pillow in the middle.
Option 3: Elevated
For a more elevated, luxurious twin bed, try this look. You’ll need one standard-size sleeping pillow (in a sham), one Euro pillow, and one smaller accent pillow. Prop the sleeping pillow against your headboard. Place the Euro pillow in front of the sleeping pillow, then put the smallest accent pillow in front of that. Experiment with colors, textures, and patterns to find a look you love.
Bonus Tips for How to Arrange Pillows
Here are a few other pointers to keep in mind when styling throw pillows for the bed.
- Tall headboards work better with lofty, full pillow arrangements. Short headboards (or no headboards) show better with simpler arrangements.
- When making your pillow selections, start your arrangement from the outside and work your way toward the center. Place your largest pillows on the outside and scale down to your smallest pillows in the middle. This makes the arrangement more usable for seating and helps prevent bigger pillows from covering patterns and designs on the smaller pillows.
- Avoid using pillows smaller than 18″ on your beds.
- Experiment with mixing prints. Select a unifying feature that ties the varying pillow covers together, like a similar color or pattern. If you combine two or three different prints together, add a few solid-colored pillows in a neutral or complimentary hue for a more polished design statement.
- Don’t forget about texture! Incorporating different textures not only adds visual appeal, but it feels nice, too! Have fun mixing velvet or chenille with a few other fabrics. Include a coordinating or contrasting throw blanket for even more color, texture, and comfort.
Need Help? Get In Touch!
Book an Online Consultation
We specialize in positive and empowering virtual home staging consultations! Our practical, no-nonsense advice helps homeowners sell more quickly and for more money.
Enroll in Our Online Courses
Our online courses are designed with you, the DIY homeowner, in mind. From home staging to paint color selection, we break down the process for you from start to finish!
Read Our Book
In this brand new third edition of her popular book, Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging, professional home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the step-by-step process of staging your home for a faster, more profitable sale. Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions!