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How to Perfect the Art of Cushion and Sofa Arrangements

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  • How to
  • Sofa buying guide
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Ed Hawes
sofa arrangements

There are many common mistakes we make when it comes to arranging our sofas – from placing them against the walls to putting them in direct sunlight. The same goes for arranging scatter cushions on our sofas – with trends coming and going faster than you can say ‘interior design’, it’s no wonder we can sometimes feel lost arranging furniture and accessories in our living rooms.

That’s why, we’ve come up with a quick guide on how to perfect the art of cushion and sofa arrangements. In this article, we answer two questions: 

  1. What are common sofa arrangement mistakes?
  2. How to arrange and style scatter cushions?

What are common sofa arrangement mistakes?

We sat down with our interior designer Kelly Collins to hear her thoughts on sofa arrangement mistakes. Kelly came up with five things you should consider doing with your sofa.  

1. Placing furniture against the walls 

The number one mistake people make when it comes to arranging sofas is pushing the sofa against the walls. If you've got a relatively small living room, then not doing this could prove difficult. A quick workaround that utilizes storage space is to place a side console table behind the sofa. It will bring the sofa into the room without wasting space.  

You could also think about other furniture items as well. Place ottomans or stools around the coffee or side tables, and angle armchairs to face inwards. Think about the flow of your room and measure your furniture and see whether you can bring them further into the room. 

sofa placement

2. People don't think about the flow of the room.

Think about how you walk around the room. And, how you want people to move around the room. The last thing you want is to block off half a conservatory door, the back door or make it difficult to enter and leave the living room. Is it a walk-through room? Does the door swing towards storage? Understanding traffic flow is really important when arranging the sofa. 

When it comes to whether the sofa should face the door, it really depends on how you walk and use the flow around your room. When it comes to sofa arrangement, also think about what you want the focal point of the room to be. Think about where you put the sofa and coffee table, and how you walk around the furniture. There's not any set rules and it depends on the room layout and your preferences. 

3. Access to your home 

When ordering a sofa, people tend to forget about access. They measure whether the sofa fits in its intended room, but forget about measuring whether the sofa will fit through the front door, or up a staircase. Make sure you whether access to your home before ordering a new sofa

4. Don’t match your furniture items

A common mistake when ordering a new sofa arrangement is ordering a sofa and armchair, or multiple sofas, that match. Don’t match your sofas and armchairs. Make sure they complement each other with similar colours, tones, patterns, but don’t match them.

mustard and charcoal armchair

5. Putting sofas in direct sunlight

Always ensure the fabric on your sofa is out of direct sunlight. Over time, direct sunlight will affect the colour of the fabric.

However, when selecting a sofa, each fabric is given something called a colour fastness. The fastness is a colour rating – a good rating means the colour takes longer to fade. The details of colour fastness might not be on the retailer’s website, but you can ask them. 

How to arrange and style scatter cushions? 

Not only is it common to make small sofa arrangement mistakes, but mistakes when placing scatter cushions is equally as common. Again, we spoke to our interior designer to understand the perfect number of cushions per sofa, how to arrange cushions on a sofa, and whether matching is a good or bad thing.

cushions arrangement

Is there a set rule to the number of cushions you can have on a sofa? 

Let’s be honest, you can overdo it. It’s easily done. The number of cushions you can put on a sofa really depends on the size of your sofa. For example, with a two seater, there is no need for more than two or three cushions. To make it not symmetrical, have two cushions on one corner and one cushion at the other. If it’s a three seater, you could get away with four, but ideally you wouldn’t want to match. On a corner sofa you might be able to have a few more, but the key thing trend for cushions is that less is more.

Five to seven years ago, the trend was to fill the sofa with matching cushions and have a chop in the middle. That is no more. Nowadays we want to be able to sit on a sofa without needing to move cushions around and put them on the floor. Less is now more.

Can scatter cushions be the same colour?

To create a nice symmetrical aesthetic, cushions used to be the same colour and size. That is no longer the case. You can mismatch different patterns and sizes, as long as it's capturing the trend you’re looking to follow. If you want to create a Boho look, for example, you might want to mix patterns. If you want to go more neutral, then mix the textures, but they shouldn’t be the same colour. In fact, the more one-off designs instead of matching, the better. 

How do you best arrange cushions on a sofa? 

There's no exact rule for arrangements, but here’s an example of how you could arrange the cushions.

Arranging cushions used to be strictly either side of the sofa, nice and symmetrical. Now, you can have a bit more fun. It’s nice, for example, if you have a 50 x 50, a 45 x 45 and then a nice lumbar cushion in front. That would look smart and is a nice simple arrangement.

If you have a selection of four cushions either side, having a 50 x 50 and a 45 x 45 is also a  nice arrangement. For those with a smaller back sofa, you’d want a slightly smaller cushion; a 45 x 45 and then a lumbar cushion to go with it.

To make sure your living room has a Feng Shui flow with impeccable sofa arrangement and a collection of cushions to reflect a ‘less is more’ approach, remember the tips above. 

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