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How to Match Throw Pillows and Area Rugs

How to Match Throw Pillows and Area Rugs

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In the majority of cases, the design of an interior space is left to professionals. It is the architects, interior designers and decorators that decide where every single piece of furniture goes, how they should all be assembled together and what kind of materials, colors and patterns are to be blended within the room.

This is usually done in close collaboration with the client in order to get an insight into their preferences, character, and identity. Sometimes however people decide to take care of those final details themselves, including area rugs and pillows.

Getting your hands dirty and picking your own throw pillow and area rugs can be a fun yet challenging affair. Some people find themselves in doubt and always a little bit timid when having to combine colors, patterns, and textures.

Coordinating the throw pillows and the area rug in a room however is simple if you just learn a few tips and tricks. Whether you have a keen eye for design or not, you will be able to pull together a charming interior by matching the cushions with the area rug.

Should Throw Pillows Match a Rug?


The area rug is the main piece of decor used in the design of a space. It covers the floor, the largest surface of the room and also the most difficult to adorn.

The rug creates an intriguing pattern story within the room which is then spread throughout the rest of the furniture, including sofa covers, throws, drapes, tablecloths, pillows, and cushions.

There is a lot of debate in the interior design realms whether throw pillows should match the area rug or not. What experience has shown is that area rugs and pillows are always side by side. Sometimes they are even referred to as the perfect pair.

In fact, decorating your home with cushions that perfectly match your rug is the quickest way to infuse style to your living spaces. Matching the characteristics of the rug and the throw pillows can create a cohesive decor, that will accentuate the entire space and bring more charm and warmth to the interior, whether it is a living room or bedroom.

Throw pillows are indeed the perfect smaller design items to accentuate your decor, in addition to making your sitting area more comfortable and your area rug more prominent.

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How do you Match a Pillow to a Rug?

There are a few ways to match a cushion or pillow to the area rug like a professional interior designer.

All you have to do is take into consideration all dimensions of both items including color, texture, motifs, material, and characteristics. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Color scheme


The first thing that comes to mind when discussing matching techniques is color. Color is a strong force in the design of a space and can be used to determine a palette to be spread throughout the room.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when working with color combinations:

  1. The color of the pillows should complement the color of the area rug instead of antagonizing it. Therefore if your rug is red with blue and navy motifs, go for blue and navy cushions instead of shades of red.
  2. Do not overwhelm the room with the same color. Try to create a balance and make the color scheme look cohesive.
  3. Create a color story by picking shades from the rug and make that story come across your pillow selection.
  4. Settle for three colors you can pick from the rug. Aim for a color scheme instead of a rainbow.
  5. Mix and match some color formulas that have proven to work: Dark blue – burgundy – gray, dark red – dark green-black, olive green – gold – brown.



The texture is a 3-dimensional characteristic that determines the rug as a trend-setter in the room. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, if the area rug has a rougher texture, the throw pillows should have a rougher feeling to them.

If the rug is soft and plush, the cushions should be softer to the touch as well. If the rug is very thin, thin pillowcases will do the trick.

There are some formulas that seem to be very popular in the interior design world.

  1. Plush rugs with a velvety sheen combined with suede cushions and soft fabrics.
  2. Herringbone rug with a rough feel to it combined with herringbone pillow covers.
  3. Shag area rugs with a vintage look combined with ruffle covered cushions.

These combinations will accentuate the texture of the rug and add another dimension to the decor.



Patterns will anchor together with the texture and color of both the area rug as well as the throw pillows. They are used to create a visual landscape that will balance the entire decor of the space.

As with colors, the aim is to create a cohesive pattern story through the cushions, without cluttering the room and competing with the rug. Therefore the first step in creating a sensible pattern story is to determine the lead pattern from the rug and then go from there.

Here are some tips on how to work with different patterns:

  1. Oriental rugs go well with Asian prints.
  2. If the rug has a frame, that pattern can be replicated on a smaller scale on the cushions.
  3. Rugs with tribe motifs can be combined with broadleaf printed cushions.
  4. Balance the prints on the pillows by separating them.
  5. Keep an eye out for scale and symmetry by mixing patterns of different scales to avoid having them competing with one another or the rug.
  6. Do not clutter the room with patterns, usually playing around with 3 patterns is enough.
  7. Some popular pattern formulas include: block color – floral – geometric, striped – check – toile, dots – knit – chevron.



Contrary to the previous elements, this one is more abstract as well as more involving. You can create a theme that you want to implement in your living room by combining the different colors, patterns, and textures of the rug and pillows, with the materials and their features.

The careful coordination of all these components will define whether the space you have created is casual, care-free, cutting-edge, elegant, vintage or any other character you can think of.

You can choose between Persian rugs in dark red sheen and dark green velvet cushions for an elegant and chic interior. Or you can opt for a colorful rag rug combined with banana-leaf print cushions for a more care-free interior.

General Tips

Lastly, here are some general tips to keep in mind regarding the whole process of matching throw pillows with area rugs:

  • Follow the hierarchy: Rug first, pillows next.
  • Opt for rugs with large-scale patterns and mix and match cushions featuring smaller patterns.
  • Allow the rug to stand out and complement it with bright pillow shades to create contrast and a more interesting visual effect for a bolder look.
  • Avoid cluttering the room with patterns, colors and even numerous items. Create a balance throughout the decor of the space.
  • Always allow one pattern from the rug to dominate and add smaller scale patterns to the mix through the cushions.
  • Boost the energy in your living area with a bold pattern scheme that sprouts from the patterns of the rug.

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Matching Pillows and Area Rugs Ideas

Are you looking for some ideas on how to match throw pillows and area rugs? Here are a few options you could try.

Contemporary Living Room


This contemporary living room design displays beautiful shades of blue combined with earthly colors. The story it tells is a story of peace and proximity to nature, despite being confined within the mandatory walls of an apartment.

The rug displays a block color shade of pale blue, hinting to a grey, which is then enhanced by the surrounding furniture and artwork.

The throw pillows on the other hand complement the rug through block colors and simple geometric patterns in brown and beige. It is almost as the rug is the sea and the cushions the sand that brings warmth to this contemporary living room.

This is the perfect combination if you prefer a classy interior that does not overwhelm you with lots of patterns, textures of colors. It is calming yet modern and attractive.

Mid Century Modern


This mid-century modern design features brown colors and a rustic theme. The entire palette brings warmth and comfort to mind. The area rug for this interior is a very interesting selection, or two to be exact. The first rug is a rough waived material that accentuates the Oriental rug placed on top.

The color scheme of the rug has been replicated in some of the throw pillows to create a consistent design across the room. The materials of the rugs have also been complemented by the rough materials of the pillow covers, such as hard weaves and leather. The patterns of the pillows are simple as to not overwhelm the complex design of the rug.

All in all, a perfect combination for anyone looking to bring back the charm of a vintage interior.

Glam And Gloss Design Idea


Most glam living rooms feature an area rug that brightens up the space not just by its color but also through its material and sheen finish, such as in this image.

The pillow selection displays similar characteristics: soft, plush and glossy materials, to accentuate the entire space. The color scheme, in this case, is a warm palette featuring grey, peach, and white. These three colors are enough to provide an attractive and elegant decor to the living room design.

A bonus feature of this design idea? Multiple sizes of pillows are used to complement the large size of the rug. The takeaway? The bigger the rug, the more pillows you can use!

Oriental Chic Living


This Oriental chic living room is perfect for a more free spirited character. It includes a variety of colors, textures and throw pillows, making the entire combination quite cozy, fun and enjoyable.

The cushions on the couch pull colors from the motifs of the rug, while still maintaining a white background to match the couch. The patterns used on the pillows are also a reflection of the patterns of the rug but on a smaller scale.

This design contains rich materials and motifs making the whole living room seem like a very comfortable and warm environment to be in.

Oriental Twist interior


This Oriental-themed interior features an interesting twist when it comes to the throw pillows.

The area rug used in this space is a large Oriental rug with shades of blue and brown. The throw pillows, on the other hand, pull the colors from the rug but ignore its patterns. The cushions have checked and block colors on them, creating a link between the past and the present.

This is a great design move for anyone looking to upgrade their interior design in a quick way and make it look more contemporary. The rug, however, remains the center of attention!

Rhonda Brown

Sunday 26th of February 2023

Couch and love seat are rust leather in color. Area rug is Persian. Main colors are rust, gold, teal, espresso! I have one large cushion on each sofa in a light teal. I thought a darker teal in corduroy fabric would look good. Your thoughts?

Diane Lewis

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

I have a gold sectional. The area rug has Brown, cream and light blue. I have purchased pillows 12 times and can’t figure out what pillows work.

Leslie Spriggs

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

I need help finding a matching floor area rug 8 x 10 with pillows