Shea McGee just revealed her ultimate pillow sizing guide – these are the tips we're picking up

Throw pillows are a must, but knowing how many to pick and where to put them can be quite tricky. Here, Shea shares her tried-and-true advice

(Image credit: McGee & Co.)

A living room isn't truly complete without a healthy selection of throw pillows. Whether they add comfort, color, or a little bit of both, you can't do without these decorative accents. But how many should you choose for the sofa? What about for your sprawling sectional? And with so many shapes and sizes on the market, which would suit your specific home the best?

To answer all your burning accent pillow questions, interior designer (and founder of homeware brand McGee & Co.) Shea McGee just shared the ultimate pillow-sizing guide. With helpful guidance on pillow sizes, shapes, and placement on five key furniture items, Shea's handbook is the only tool you'll need when adding those plush finishing touches to your living room or bedroom design scheme. Here are the best pillow sizes, explained by Shea McGee.

How to pick the right-sized throw pillow, according to Shea McGee

According to the Studio McGee team, 'switching out your accent pillows is one of the simplest ways to bring personality, pattern, and dimension to a design, giving it a whole new life with the addition of a single print.'

With so much experience styling (and designing) throw pillows for stunning interiors over the years, Shea's accrued some wisdom on accent pillow strategy. And though many factors go into successful pillow styling, the interior designer says one factor matters the most: size. Choosing the right-sized pillow can make or break your design scheme.

'In general, you should start with the largest pillows in the back of your assortment, and build a triangle with smaller pillows from there. Typically, two-to-four-inch size increments work best for layering pillow combinations,' Shea shares in a tell-all blog post.

1. Chairs

A pink armchair in front of a window

(Image credit: Future)

Armchairs tend to look a bit empty without any additional throw pillows or blankets, so using the right size combination of cushions is paramount. According to Shea, getting the accent pillow sizing scheme down is quite simple.

Armchairs aren't very big, so a single cushion here will do. She suggests 'a single lumbar pillow, or a single 20-22-inch pillow, to accompany each armchair throughout your space and 'add an extra layer of dimension.'

2. Sofas

McGee & Co. Winter Collection, pillows and throws

(Image credit: McGee & Co.)

When it comes to mixing and matching pillows on the sofa, you have a bit more area to work with, so Shea suggests scattering four or five accent pillows across. This trick also works for a bench or nook, she adds, and while pillow symmetry will contribute to a put-together, traditional look, asymmetry works best in a casual living space.

For the best results, Shea says to place a pillow between 22 and 24 inches at the back of the sofa, and to 'layer a smaller pillow, 20-22" in the front.' In the corner of the sofa, opt for something a bit larger – between 22 and 24 inches will do and add a lumbar pillow in for good measure.

3. Sectionals

small living room with sectional and console table behind, large retro pendant, artwork, table lamps, round ottoman

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

If you have space for a sectional, the throw pillow process gets a bit trickier. Shea and the Studio McGee team recommend between seven and 10 pillows, depending on the size. Two pillows should be layered at each end of the piece of furniture, and three should be placed in the middle corner.

The team recommends that the larger pillow on each end works best when between 22 and 24 inches, while the smaller should be between 20 and 22 proportionally. Meanwhile, Shea suggests a large pillow between 22 and 24 inches, a medium pillow between 20 and 22 inches, and a lumbar pillow for the corner.

4. Twin beds

yellow bedroom with twin beds, bedside in the middle, artwork, upholstered headboards, blue throws at end

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

Twin beds break some tried-and-true bed styling rules, simply because of their small size. But Shea says they still deserve some accent pillow love.

For each twin bed, she opts to 'keep it simple with one to two decorative pillows in addition to the sleeping pillow and sham.' One 'simple' lumbar pillow and a 22-inch pillow in the front will do, says the Studio McGee team.

5. King or queen beds

McGee & Co. bedding

(Image credit: McGee & Co.)

King or queen bed pillow styling is an art form in itself, offering so many opportunities for a stylish scheme. But Shea and her team break it down into three to five simple steps – 'in addition to the sleeping pillows and shams,' that is.

A handful of pillows between 24 and 26 inches and an extra-long lumbar pillow make this look sing, but so does the combination of two pillows between 24 and 26 inches, one 20-22" pillow, and a lumbar pillow. 'If you're going for a minimalist aesthetic, use one long lumbar across the bed,' Shea adds.

Styling throw pillows is personal, so there's no need to stick to Shea's rules to a tee. But with years of experience under her belt, she's learned some lessons and knows her way around sizing accent pillows. Whether you're looking to level up your armchair or sectional, kid's room or main bedroom, Shea's tips are sure to come in handy, if only for some start-of-process inspiration.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.