How to style a sofa like a professional for a picture-perfect finish

Give your living room the professional treatment with our top sofa styling tips

White living room with white sofa
(Image credit: Future PLC)

For many of us, the best sofa is the heart of the home. It's the ultimate relaxation spot, where we come to cosy up with our loved ones and settle in after a long day, and not to mention it's the natural focal point in the living room, so it is important to know how to style a sofa properly. 

It pays to make the most out of your living room sofa ideas and be sure that your sofa both looks and feels great. Dressing a sofa or your best sofa bed can transform them into the ultimate cosy haven, and don't forget that what goes into the surrounding area is equally as important too.

'Whether it's minimal, neat, and cohesive, or a daring maximalist approach, your sofa style should feel like an extension of your personality in big or small doses,' says Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor, Furniture and Choice.

living room with wooden flooring white wooden wall and printed sofa set with cushions

(Image credit: TBC)

How to style a sofa like a pro

'When it comes to refreshing your sofa and living room, there are a few simple ways that you can style your couch and make it the statement piece in your room,' says Gisela Lancaster, Buying Manager, Sofology

We've asked the interior experts how to style a sofa and compiled their advice into ten helpful ideas. You may be looking to style up a corner, a two-seater, or one of the best sofa beds, but whatever type of sofa you have, you'll be able to find plenty of styling inspiration here. 

Most of the ideas are simple solutions too and will transform your couch with minimal effort and cost.

1. Create a balanced arrangement of cushions

Blue living room with blue sofa and patterned cushions

(Image credit:

Arranging cushions is essential for learning how to style a sofa like a pro. Cushions have the power to inject personality into any sofa, and can completely transform the way it looks. Combine different colours, textures and shapes to really cosy the sofa up and cater it to your own taste. 

Interior Style Advisor Rebecca recommends layering the largest size cushions at the back and testing different shapes and sizes of cushions in front. 'Balancing the arrangement like this will bring together the mixture of elements in your soft furnishings,' she explains. 'This layout works particularly well on spacious, corner sofa designs, and will maximise comfort and enhance your décor at the same time.'

2. Don't overlook the power of a throw

Neutral sofa with green throw and cushions

(Image credit: Sofology)

'Don't forget that cushions aren't the only accessory in your arsenal,' says Francesca Hadland, Interiors Manager, Bridgman. 'By adding a throw to your sofa, you can instantly inject a pop of colour, pattern or texture that doubles as a cosy blanket on chilly evenings.'

Layering textures is essential for making the sofa the ultimate cosy spot, especially in cosy living room ideas. Incorporating a throw is the easy yet effective way to do this. Fold up your throw for a more refined look, or drape over the back or arms of the sofa to keep things casual.

3. Mix materials

White living room with white sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC / Joanna Henderson)

Focus on incorporating as many textures as you can through cushions, blankets and rugs, especially if you're sticking to a neutral colour scheme. Boucle, faux-fur, and natural linens can complement each other, and will make sure the sofa feels cosy and relaxing. 

'Choose throw pillows in a variety of materials and textures, from fluffy finishes to a smoother cotton or satin, to add extra interest and warmth,' suggests Joshua Hammonds, Marketing Manager, Hammonds Furniture. 'Natural fibres can add a Scandi vibe. Opt for soft cottons, linens and wool to immediately increase your snuggle factor.' 

4. Light it up

sofa in a living room with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Give your sofa the attention it deserves by framing it with a bold lighting fixture. The latest lighting trends will give you plenty of inspiration, but you could just add a floor lamp next to the sofa to naturally draw the eye to the space. 

Choose warm bulbs to create a cosy ambience, and pick a style and colour which matches your chosen scheme. Visual variety around the sofa is key, so if you have a coffee table, try adding a lamp with an interesting shade or colour. 

5. Create a gallery wall

sofa in a living room with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When thinking about how to style a sofa, it's equally important to think about decorating the wall behind the sofa. Style this so that it complements your sofa as the natural focal point in the room, for example by creating a gallery wall of prints. 

Have fun playing around with different living room picture wall ideas, for example, you could hang an assortment of prints in mix-matched frames that coordinate with the overall scheme of the space. Group in odd numbers to create harmony and visual interest or go for a symmetrical arrangement to balance the look.

6. Complement with a pouffe

Rust coloured sofa and deep green blue poufee in living room with candles

(Image credit: Sofology)

Pouffes, footstools and ottomans are a great way to complement your sofa, plus they provide an extra seat if your home often plays host to large groups of people. You can place a pouffe next to the sofa or in front of it if you don't have a coffee table. 

Choose a fabric and colour that matches your sofa completely, or mix things up with a vibrant shade, and cement this as an accent colour through other furnishings and decor.

7. Sometimes, less is more

White love seat in white living room

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Jane Watson)

Sometimes, learning how to style a sofa is just a case of letting the sofa speak for itself. Smaller sofas may not require much styling up, and too many additions can make the area feel cluttered.

'As two-seater sofas offer less space, a less-is-more approach to styling will be the biggest benefit,' says Vicki Foster, Interior Stylist, ScS. 'Focus the styling to the middle of the sofa, for example with a big cushion framed by two smaller ones, which will help to define the two seating spaces.'

How do I dress my sofa?

Yellow sofa in blue and red living room

(Image credit: Sofology)

The easy way to dress your sofa is by adding cushions. 'Large or small, tasselled or straight-edged, cushions are the ultimate sofa accessory at the very heart of stylish sofa dressing,' says Vicki, ScS. 'The best thing about them is that you can go as adventurous or paired back as you want.'

If you prefer cushions that match the colour of your sofa, consider ones that are just one or two shades darker or lighter, a small contrast that will have a dramatic effect. Or you may prefer to use louder cushions to inject some vibrancy into the couch, in which case you can choose ones in bright colours or geometric patterns.

The other easy way to dress a sofa is by adding a throw. 'Throws can be draped over the arms of your sofa, folded across the back, or used to cover the whole sofa for a retro look,' says Gisela, Sofology. 'Patterned throws draped softly across your sofa will create a look that is warm and welcoming, or you can go for a block colour in your favourite hue.'

How do you style a 3 seater sofa?

'If your sofa is three seater, make sure to style it with as many cushions as possible,' says Karl Mok, Founder, Friends Studio. 'The arms of the couch give these pillows a frame in which they can sit comfortably without looking too big or too small on their own.'

Start with large cushions at the back and work your way inwards until everything looks balanced but still comfortable enough for someone to sit on. You can mix and match cushions on a three-seater sofa, though it's best to create a symmetrical, cohesive look. 

'Choose a plain, muted tone for the main cushion, add a smaller or oblong cushion in fashionable bouclé and complete the look with a sumptuous, wool throw,' suggests Rebecca, Furniture and Choice. 'Layering the two cushions in front of each other and balancing the look with the throw on the opposite side gives a smart-casual feel.'

Amy Hodge

Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.

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