Sofa cushion ideas to style, refresh and update living rooms

Love buying cushions but need help with the arrangement? These top 10 ideas will soon have you creating your desired look

Looking to give your living room an update without blowing the budget?  You could reach for the paintbrush or rearrange the furniture, but if that sounds like a lot of effort, fear not. We have the solution in the form of some simple but effective sofa cushion ideas.

Rethinking cushion ideas ensures you elevate what is already a great piece of furniture – and create a finished look to be proud of. Because let's face it, our living room sofa ideas get a lot of use, so they totally deserve a bit of help when it comes to keeping them looking their best.

We're not ashamed to say we're huge cushion fans here at Ideal Home. After all, when it comes to even the best sofas, it's the cushions that are the icing on the cake… the piece de resistance… the finishing touch that will set your sofa apart from someone else's.

Sofa cushion ideas

Cushions aren't just there for the decoration. Far from it, they'll also ramp up the comfort levels, whether it's by tucking one behind your back or for resting your head against for a little nap now and again. So whether you're a cushion addict that just can't get enough and fills their sofa so their's no visible seat left, or someone who prefers an orderly look with a few matching designs, we've got you covered.

Ready to dive into ways to dress your sofa, whatever it's size, shape or colour? Take a look at our best cushion ideas to update living rooms with ease.

1. Add colour and pattern

living room with grey sofa and patterned cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Whether you want to go big and bold, or just inject a small accent of colour into your interior, cushions are an easy way to do so. Look for patterns and colours that will coordinate with your decor. Worried it may all look too busy? Go for patterned cushions in neutrals or monochromes to pair with brightly coloured designs, or vice versa, and add in some neutrals to balance it out.

Here, a grey living room sofa idea uses bright accent colours to lift the look. A cushion in bright orange sits next to a design where the orange has been continued in its piping. Geo patterns in mono colours add extra interest (without clashing with the orange), creating a well-balanced, yet attractive arrangement.

2. Play with texture

living room with sofa and textured cushions

Tufted cushion, £16; Tassel & Pompom cushion, £12

(Image credit: Matalan)

Varying the textures of your cushions creates a visual treat and a beautifully tactile display. From silk and velvet to chunky knits, cotton and fur, go for a mix of materials to get the best results. If you'd like something really touchy-feely, look for cushions with tassels, tufted weaves, suede or velvet – you'll be hard pressed to stop yourself stroking them every time you sit down!

3. Update old sofa cushions

living room with grey sofa and cushions

(Image credit: Bemz)

Aside from keeping your sofa clean and plump, you can revive existing cushions. If your sofa cushions are still in good shape, but you're tired of the design or colour, why not have a go at updating them yourself? Remove the cover, then sew on beads, a patch or even a fabric design to give it a new look. Alternatively, you could try giving it a colour makeover with a fabric dye.

For a total overhaul, why not cover not your scatter cushions and your sofa too? There are companies such as Bemz, (opens in new tab) which provide made-to-order fabric covers for a range of sofas. That way, you can update your living room by choosing a completely new fabric and match your cushions to it, too, should you wish.

4. Experiment with shape

living room with l shaped sofa has square sofa cushions and coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Layer an L-shape or chaise

living room with l shaped or corner sofa and cushions

(Image credit: Dunelm)

If you're unsure how to arrange cushions on a L-shaped or corner sofa, begin by getting your base cushions in place (these are your larger, back cushions), and then layering others on top. Work from the outside in, and at the corner where your sofa turns, arrange the cushions at a slight angle so that they're turned to follow the shape of the sofa.

6. Choose decorative trims

living room with upholstered window seat with storage drawers and white painted wood floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Want your cushions to work hard for their money? Then go for designs with trims and embellishments, from fringing and tassels to pompoms and bows. It's also an easy way to update existing cushions, so do think about visiting your local haberdashery to give old designs a new lease of life.

7. Arrange cushions individually

living room shelving ideas with wooden shelves and cream sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

For a more formal look, use singular cushions to add a neat appearance to your sofa. Make sure they're the same size, shape and colour for a matching set and see how by having space in-between them it lets them – and the sofa – breathe, with plenty of room to sit down.

8. Go for a theme

living room with neutral sofa with green cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

9. Keep them symmetrical

living room with two to three cushions on each side of your sofa and photo frame on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're someone who likes things in their place and balanced perfectly, then a symmetrical arrangement will work best for you. Opt for two to three cushions on each side of your sofa (depending on how large it is), and echo the patterns, colours and styling for a mirror image.

Like a dent in the top of your cushions? That dent can actually help show off your cushion fabric if it has a sheen, and makes your cushions look plumper and more comfortable.

10. Be inspired by unlikely places

living room with mustard yellow walls and green velvet sofa

(Image credit: DFS)

Take inspiration for your cushions from other elements of your room scheme and you'll create a unique finish. For example, the cushions above echo the bold shapes and graphics on the wall art, with similar colours helping to bring the scheme together.

It's not only wall art you could be inspired by, however. Perhaps you have a patterned rug, curtains or even a brightly coloured piece of furniture?

Buy now: Rene 4-seater sofa in Teal Swoon Velvet, £999, DFS (opens in new tab)

Which cushions are best for a sofa?

Unsure of the best cushions to buy? Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf (opens in new tab), recommends opting for varying designs. 'Scatter cushions are a great way to add texture and layering to a sofa,' he says.

'My top tip would be to mix stretch and classic square sizes. If you’re unsure of what colours to choose then selecting cushions in the same or similar hue to your sofa will give a contemporary, tonal look. Alternatively, clash colours by adding brighter shades from the opposite end of the colour spectrum for a bold statement look.'

Emma Henderson, stylist at Scion (opens in new tab), says that cushions are an opportunity to really have fun with your scheme. 'They bring in colour and joy to a space without feeling overwhelming' Emma says. 'A great way to dip your toe into print and pattern without going for a full overhaul.'

'It’s key to match your cushions to the more investment pieces in your space, so bring in the blue from your sofa or a yellow from your curtains to create a cohesive look. Consider layering a few different sizes of cushions and mix and match scale of prints to create a look that’s completely you.'

When it comes to the inner part of a cushion, you'll find that they come with different fillings. The more inexpensive cushions usually contain fibre and foam, which are dense but not always the most inviting, whereas a feather or down filling is usually softer and squishier, although they may require regular plumping to disperse the feathers and keep them from looking flat.

How do you style couch cushions?

The way in which you style your sofa cushions is very much dependent on the type of look you're after and there are no hard and fast rules. Think about how you want your sofa to look – would you prefer a formal feel or something more relaxed?

Once you know that, look at the cushions you are about to display. Are there some that are larger? If so, a good rule of thumb is to have these at the back with smaller in front. For a laidback feel, group cushions together in odd numbers and break up the 'square' box-like lines with a circular design. Experiment with overlapping your cushions, too, rather than having them sitting formerly next to each other.

For a more sophisticated approach, arrange your cushions in even numbers (or singularly) at either end of your sofa, creating a more symmetrical look – then finish by giving them a good karate-chop dent in the centre for effect! Work from the outside in and stand back to look at your sofa and cushions in context, tweaking until you're happy with the overall look.

cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

How do I add more padding to my sofa?

When your sofa becomes worn, often the cushions that come with it will start to feel saggy and flat. By refilling them, not only will you create a more comfortable seat, but it can also bring your sofa back to life. It's surprising how much difference it can make.

Upholstery and loose cover experts Plumbs (opens in new tab) recommend starting by removing your sofa cushions from the frame and taking the sofa cushion out of its lining. Take a piece of foam and measure it to the size of your old cushion, then and wrap it in layers of wadding before inserting it back into your cushion cover. If you have a fixed cover or need more help adding more padding to your sofa.

Should sofa cushions match?

Whether your cushions match is really a personal preference – in some cases they can create a pleasing visual that exudes a calm, orderly feel, while at other times, by choosing cushions that don't match you can add extra interest.

Remember that it's not only the colour and pattern that can match either, but also the size and shape, so it may be that you choose a selection of square cushions in different fabrics, or designs that vary in size and shape but feature the same pattern.

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk