How to Choose the Right Pillow Insert

As anyone who reads my blog will know, I love a good throw pillow.  Throw pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to add a pop of color as well as texture, pattern and visual interest to a space. 

If you’re in the market for throw pillow covers and you’re buying the inserts separately, You might be wondering how big should a pillow insert be? I want to help you get the right size.  A pillow cover that is too loose will make your throw pillows look sloppy and flat.  A tighter fit gives the pillow a fuller look.  

The general rule of thumb for sizing pillows vs. the cover is to use an insert that is 2 inches larger than the cover.  For example, if you have a 16×16 inch pillow cover, your pillow insert should be 18×18.  This will give your pillow a nice, full look. 

choosing the right pillow insert

Pillow Insert Size Chart

Here’s a pillow insert size guide to help you choose the right size insert:

Pillow TypePillow Insert SizeRecommended Pillow Cover Size
Throw16 inch pillow insert (available at Joann)14 inch cover
Throw18 inch pillow insert (available at Joann)16 inch cover
Throw20 inch pillow insert (widely available)18 inch cover
Throw22 inch pillow insert (widely available)20 inch cover
Throw24 inch pillow insert (widely available)22 inch cover
Lumbar14 x 20 inch pillow insert12 x 18 inch cover
Lumbar14 x 24 inch pillow or 14 x 22 inch insert12 x 22 inch cover
Lumbar14 x 26 inch pillow or 12 x 26 inch insert12 x 24 inch cover
Lumbar16 x 26 inch pillow or 16 x 24 inch insert14 x 24 inch cover
Lumbar20 x 30 inch pillow or insert18 x 28 inch cover
Euro26 inch pillow24 inch cover

Different types of pillow fill materials

There are a dizzying number of pillow inserts on the market.  The type of pillow insert you use will depend on how you want your accent pillows to look, how you want them to function and where the pillows will be used. 

  • Standard Fill.  This is a polyester fill that is firmer so the pillow holds its shape making it a good choice if your throw pillows will get lots of use.  
  • Premium Fill.  This is a high end option made of siliconized micro denier fill that is softer and heavier than standard fill. 
  • Natural Fill.  Feather fills are usually made from duck feathers, down or a combination of both. This is a great option if you are aiming for a decorative pillow with a more relaxed look.  If allergies are an issue with feather pillows you can go with a down alternative. 
  • Indoor Foam.  This comes in varying densities with different levels of support .  Foam is an ideal choice if you are looking for an insert that holds its shape.
  • Outdoor Foam.  This comes in varying densities and is porous to allow for water drainage making it a great choice for outdoor furniture.
  • Outdoor Polyester.  These polyester inserts are made from conjugated polyester with great water drainage. 

Best place to buy pillow forms

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How Many Pillows to Use on a Couch?

Most designers recommend odd number groupings for home decor items (back to the rule of threes idea), but when it comes to throw pillow styling on a couch a symmetrical arrangements can work just as well.

There is definitely such a thing as too many pillows.  You don’t want so many throw pillows that you have to remove them just to sit comfortably on the couch.  

If you have a larger sofa you can add more throw pillows or use larger pillows.  If you have a smaller sofa you can use fewer pillow or smaller pillows. 

Generally speaking 4 decorative throw pillows is ideal with the larger pillows in the corners and the smaller pillows layered in front.  You can add visual interest by adding different pillow sizes or using pillows with different shapes or textures.

How Many Pillows on a Bed?

When it comes to your bed, the same idea holds true.  There is such a thing as too many bed pillows.

Whereas with the couch an even number of throw pillows might look best, the odd number rule applies to the bed.  

Generally speaking, 5 pillows on a bed is ideal.  In addition to the 2 pillows used for sleeping, adding an additional 3 throw pillows will give your bed a luxurious and elegant look without spending a half hour clearing pillows from the bed at night.  

The bottom line is, throw pillows are a great way to bring your personal style into any room, but a little restraint can go a long way. Rather than piling on, try choosing a few well sized, statement throw pillows to make your room feel cozy and inviting.

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