Colorful pillows create a cheerful seating area.

How to Decorate an Upholstered Bench With Pillows

by Nancy Raynaud

Throw pillows add color, texture and shape to a room without the expense or commitment of architectural elements or even new paint. To narrow down family-friendly choices for your upholstered bench, first consider the room's function, then the size of the bench, and finally, the existing decor. Pillows come ready-made in a range of sizes that can be mixed up, layered or combined in groups of two, three and five.

1. Pillows

Aim to fill the bench comfortably but stop short of stuffing it so pillows constantly fall onto the floor. For example, a 65-inch long bench against a wall allows for three standard 20-inch pillows across the back, with 5 inches to spare. A clean, modern look would use identical pillows to fill the space. Alternatively, you can mix and match sizes and shapes of pillows, with a couple of large squares to anchor the look connected by an oblong pillow in a complementary pattern, for example.

2. Inspiration

Pillows should complement your room's function, plus the wall color, artwork and furnishings. For example, a storage bench at the end of a child's bed can pick up the room's theme with pillows covered in cases made from an identical set of sheets. This also makes it easy to change the look as your child transitions from a favorite character to a pre-teen decor scheme. For a kitchen nook, you can treat fabrics to repel spilled drinks and kid's sticky finger prints. In your foyer, use prints and textures to camouflage marks from shoes.

3. Customize

For the ultimate custom look on a bench, shop for washable fabrics and trims, and have easy-care pillows made to order. If you are worried about stains, choose outdoor fabrics that repel water. In an especially sunny nook, use fabric treated with sunscreen to minimize fading. You can also re-purpose pillow forms you already own, and buy new washable covers to liven up a bench. Fabrics from an extra sheet, duvet or shower curtain can be cut to cover pillows for a coordinated look on a bedroom or bath bench.

4. Experiment

The addition of pillows ties a bench into your space and creates a comfortable family-friendly atmosphere. Find the best combinations by experimenting with pillow forms, draped fabrics or mock ups made with painter's tape, duct tape, paper and cardboard. Take the dimensions, photos, swatches and paint sample cards with you when you shop for pillows. Never be afraid to decorate with pillows because you can easily add or subtract to freshen the look. You can mix and match colors and patterns, or use varying textures in a monochromatic scheme. Just enjoy creating a space where you can read stories, relax or help children put shoes on before school.

About the Author

Nancy Raynaud enjoys writing about the inspired spaces of Silicon Valley. Her recent design work is covered in "Gentry Home.” She is an American Society of Interior Designers Professional and LEED Green Associate. She has lived in London, and can't go without a cup of coffee when writing.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images