How to style a sofa

Home styling is one of the most talked about topics in the interior design world.
Everyone wants that perfectly styled and curated home but not everyone knows how to get there.
I’ve created my Styling Guides to help as many people as possible live in a home they love and create spaces that feel like home.
There’s a secret to how to style a sofa  and it’s so simple it’ll blow your mind!

What you’ll find here

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How to style a sofa

Hi, I’m Nadine

Interior design expert, globetrotter and the creative mind behind this blog and NH.DESIGN.

I’m originally from Germany but have been living abroad for over 10 years, from Canada and the UK to Sweden.

So I ask myself the question what “home” means every day.
I have made it my mission to help as many people as possible to find their own answer to this.

Join my creative world on Instagram @nhdotdesign or find out more about me

The 3 + 1 Rule

I told you there was a secret to how to style a sofa and it’s the 3 + 1 rule.
3 cushions + 1 throw and voila, you have the base for a perfectly styled sofa!

Now of course the question is what kind of cushions, what size, colour, material and so on. The rule of thumb here is to mix sizes, patterns and textures to create depth and a look that’s not too bland.

A similar approach to the 3 + 1 rule applies to sectionals or very large sofas.
While 3 cushions and 1 throw may look lost on those just double up on this combination to make it look proportionate.

Standard cushion sizes for any sofa are around 40×40 cm to 65×65 cm (16-25″) for squared ones,
40×60 cm (16″x25″) for smaller rectangular ones and various sizes for lumbar cushions.

The perfectly styled sofa

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    Step-by-step sofa styling

    Once you know the 3 + 1 rule it becomes a lot easier to style a sofa.

    Step 1 - Colour palette

    Start by choosing a colour palette for your cushions.
    The easiest way is to take your sofa colour as a base and play off of that. The rule of thumb for a cohesive and harmonious colour palette is sticking to 3 colours:
    1 main colour (60%), 1 secondary colour (30%) and 1 accent colour (10%). This rule also applies to a colour palette for the whole room.
    To make the sofa look more interesting and create depth you can play with different shades of those 3 colours.

    Step 2 - Start with the larger cushions

    When placing the cushions to style a sofa, always start with the 2 larger ones.
    Place them at each end (and if you have a sectional, also 1 in the corner).

    Step 3 - Layer in smaller cushions

    Now layer in the 1 smaller cushion in front of one of the bigger ones.
    The placement depends on the patterns and colours you chose for the larger cushions. Generally, try to mix a solid coloured cushion with a patterned one.

    Step 4 - Add a throw

    For the throw placement you can get creative, there is no rule or guideline where it should be.
    You could drape it over one of the armrests, fold it nicely and lay it across one side or, for a more organic and natural look, grab it in the middle and gently throw it across one armrest.

    Step 5 - Final touches

    The final touch is optional and depends on your personal preference.
    It’s simply giving each larger cushion a “karate chop” down the middle to create a crease. Some people love this look, others think it’s overkill (I’ll leave it up to you to guess which team I’m on).

    Congratulations, you just successfully styled a sofa!

    Styling Secrets guide by NH.DESIGN

    Styling Secrets

    Learn how to style any room in your home like a pro with my Styling Secrets guide.

    With these design tips it’s easy to style your sofa like a pro.

    Thanks for reading!
    If you enjoyed this post, follow along for more interior design tips and inspiration on my Instagram @nhdotdesign and sign up for my Welcome Home Letter.

    Take care, Nadine

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