How to use decorative pillows:
• Don’t overdo it. Pillows add a big dose of style in a small package, but there is such a thing as too many. A general rule of thumb is to have three pillows per sofa. I like two square pillows, one on each far side of the sofa, and a horizontal lumbar pillow in the middle. It’s fine to have more than three pillows, but whatever you do, always have an odd number — it just looks better. Most square pillows range from 18 to 20 inches. I like the height of a lumbar to be about two-thirds the height of the sofa back, so if your sofa is 30 inches from the top of the seat cushion to the top of the back, your lumbar pillow will be 20 inches high. As for width, lumbars should be about the width of one seat cushion.
• Avoid round pillows. I learned this from Todd Klein, who had learned it from his previous boss and mentor, Albert Hadley. According to Klein, his boss detested round pillows because they reminded him of old-fashioned pin cushions. Plus round pillows can look sloppy, particularly if they are filled with down, because they don’t have a straight edge to sit on. One more problem with round pillows: It is hard to make them out of a patterned fabric because it’s difficult to figure out where to cut the circle in the pattern.
• Pillows do need fluffing, especially if they are down-filled, but please don’t over-puff them. You don’t want them to look perfect. I am also not a big fan of the “karate chop.” This is when you fluff the pillow, put it where you want, and then karate- chop the center of the top edge (you can see salespeople in furniture showrooms implementing this technique). It’s better to fluff the pillow, and then, while holding the top two corners, toss it where you want it to go. If it doesn’t dimple in the fall, gently push in the middle sides, so that the pillow has a natural, relaxed look.
• The bed is a different story — the number of pillows you have and how you arrange them can drastically change the style of your bed. For example, two standard pillows laid flat on a mattress have a much more modern and streamlined look than the more romantic pillow arrangement of my bed, with its two standard pillows standing behind two standard shams, and one decorative square pillow and one neckroll centered in front. If you want a bohemian look, loosely toss pillows of various shapes and sizes on your bed, making sure they are in different but coordinated designs. For a tailored look, start by propping two European shams up against your headboard, then add two standard pillows, then two boudoir pillows all centered in front of one another.