Decorative Pillows 101: Pillow Covers, Pillow Inserts, and Sizes

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Decorative pillows can add a little comfort and a whole lot of style to your home.  These can be used to accent sofas, kitchen banquettes, beds, chairs, and window seats.

But here’s the thing, decorative pillows (or throw pillows) can be a little tricky to navigate.  They come in several standard sizes and shapes.  Moreover, they can be a bit pricey.

In this post, we’ll take a look at why you should use decorative pillows, money-saving hacks, and how to maximize your purchase of this decorative accent.

decorative pillows
Photo Credit: Christa Nicholson

Why Use Decorative Pillows

Seasonal Decorating

Updating your decorative pillows each season is a great way to change up the look of your interior.

A quick pillow swap out in summer, winter, fall, and spring will keep your home looking fresh and current.

To read more about the benefits of seasonal decorating, check out the posts “3 Reasons Why You Should Redecorate Each Season” and “The Easy Eight Method for Seasonal Decorating“.

seasonal pillow covers
Phantoscope Set of 4 New Living Series Coffee Color Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover 18 x 18 inches

Added comfort

Sometimes when you’re decorating on a budget, you end up with a piece of furniture that’s a bit sub-par in terms of quality.

This is especially common if you’ve purchased something like a sofa or chair second hand.

The padding may have already experienced several years of wear and tear and no longer hold as firm as you might like.  This is where decorative pillows can really help in terms of adding more comfort.

Furniture quality is not the only reason, however.  People come in all different shapes and sizes.  This means the furniture depth that works for one person, may not work for the next.

Deep-set sofas are often a challenge for shorter people.  If this is you, you might notice your feet dangling off of the edge of a sofa if you slide all the way in to get some back support.

I’d venture to say, most adults like their feet to be firmly planted on the ground when in a sitting position.

To achieve this with a deep-set sofa and to ensure that you and your guests are comfortably seated, decorative pillows are a great solution.

Just be careful about using an overly ornate pillow for this purpose.  Things like sequins and beads could snag clothing.


Cohesive Design

If you’ve been to this site before you probably know I’m like a broken record when it comes to cohesive design.

Just for fun, I’ll mention it again.  Creating a cohesive design in your home is incredibly important.

And, decorative pillows can help you achieve that by creating repetition in color and texture throughout your home.

decorative pillows
Photo Credit: Kloe Arledge

Money Hacks: How to Save Money When Buying Decorative Pillows

Now, let’s talk money, honey.

Pre-assembled decorative pillows are at a premium cost.  These are pillows that you find on the shelves of Macy’s, Dillard’s, Home Goods, etc.

These are the types of decorative pillows most of us buy.

They’re, quick, easy, and ready to go.  Just select the one you like, pay for it, and bring it home.  Done and done!

And while there are some places where you can buy pre-assembled pillows inexpensively, they’ll always be more than simply using decorative pillow covers.

Why?  Because you’re buying pillows over and over again.  You’re paying for the filling and the labor to construct the pillow.

You can cut your costs in a major way by approaching the purchase of decorative pillows differently.

My favorite option is to buy zippered pillow covers.  We’ll dive more into this in the next section.

You can also make your own pillow covers by choosing fabric from Joann’s or another craft store, cutting, and sewing the pillow cover.

Personally, I can’t sew and have no desire to learn how to sew.

This hasn’t stopped me from creating my own curtains, pillow covers, and other odds and ends, however.

You can just as easily use a DIY no-sew method with stitch witchery tape and velcro adhesive tape.

More often than not, however, I buy my pillow covers from Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress, or Wish.

Decorative Pillow Covers

Pillow Covers vs. Pillowcases

When you’re looking to buy decorative pillow covers online, it’s important to use the right search term.

Although they can at times be mislabeled as cushion covers, you want to search for pillow covers.

Pillowcases are also a different thing, as they are traditionally the long, rectangular cases used to cover bed pillows.

Zippered Pillow Covers and Button Pillow Covers

Pillow covers with a zippered closure are the most common.  They’re easy to use, often have a hidden zipper, and are otherwise pretty self-explanatory.

Alternatively, there are also pillow covers with button closures.  You’ve likely seen a button closure before on things like duvet covers.

zippered velvet pillow covers
Source: Aliexpress

Standard Types and Sizes for Decorative Pillows

Now let’s talk about standard sizes.  The most common size for a decorative pillow is 20 x 20 inches.  These are perfect to sit upright on a standard sofa.

They can be layered with a smaller 16 x 16-inch decorative pillow or an oversized 25 x 25-inch Euro pillow.

The oversized pillows are usually more fluffy and give a more casual appearance.  Whereas the smaller pillows tend to be more firm.

Aside from the aforementioned sizes, there are also 18 x 18-inch square pillows available.  When selecting pillow covers online make sure you’ve measured your pillow and reviewed the dimensions of the cover.

Typically, if a pillow cover is advertised to fit a 16 x 16 pillow, the overall dimensions will be slightly larger to give you the ability to fit the pillow inside easily.

There are also decorative roll pillows and petite pillows as well.  You may have a harder time finding covers for these sizes, however, since they’re not as widely used.

decorative pillow sizes
Source: Pinterest

How to Fill a Decorative Pillow Cover

Pillow Filler

If you opt to buy a decorative pillow cover to save money, you’ll also need to buy a filler.  That’s the actual pillow part.

You can either buy loose filler and stuff it directly into the case.  This is inexpensive, but if you intend to switch out the pillows around your home each season, using this method is not ideal.

It’s very likely that you’ll end up with a storage problem with so many filled decorative pillows to save for other seasons.

Either that or you would need to transfer the stuffing from one pillow to the next.  That seems like a pain in the butt, in my opinion.

pillow filler
Poly-Fil Premium Polyester Fiberfill

Decorative Pillow Inserts and Pillow Forms

Instead of buying filler, consider buying pillow inserts.  This is what I do.  You can find these for cheap at a lot of different places.  WalmartAmazon, Joann, and Ikea just to name a few.

The only places I wouldn’t recommend buying them from is Michael’s Arts and Crafts or Kohl’s.  For some reason, their selection of pillow forms is obscenely overpriced, in my opinion.

Speaking of pillow forms, this term seems to be used interchangeably with pillow insert.  If you’re having a hard time finding what you want on a site, try typing “pillow form” instead of “pillow insert”.

pillow inserts
Fairfield Crafter’s Choice 4 Pack Pillow Insert – 18″ x 18″


I really hope you found this post helpful.  If you did, please share it with a friend and follow me on Bloglovin’ for more content.

You can also find me on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  Thanks for reading!


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