Cushion Styling Made Easy


Everywhere we look these days there’re cushions! And so many types! Sometimes we just want a simple, comfy cushion but with so many options, where do you even begin? We’ve got a few ideas…

European cushions, breakfast cushions, bolster cushions, throw cushions, outdoor cushions. If you’re not a cushion expert, things can start to seem a little overwhelming rather quickly. Sometimes a little of everything is the answer, if that’s what your space requires. Catherine from The Stables, for example, demonstrates her love of plenty of cushions in plenty of shapes below:

But for those of us that don’t crave a mountain of cushions, it can be hard to choose the right ones. So let’s break it down a bit, cushion by cushion.

The European Cushion

Often just called ‘square cushions’ or even just ‘cushions,’ European cushions are the standard, default cushion shape you’ll find on sofas and armchairs. (Not to be confused with European pillows which can be much larger.) They’re what we often call ‘throw cushions,’ mostly because they’re so easy to throw. The defining aspect of European cushions is their shape: they’re all square. Their size can vary but the most common dimensions are between 40x40cm and 50x50cm. This means that a lot of the time they don’t really have a ‘correct’ orientation. Hence, why we’re so likely to just throw them on the sofa.

These cosy décor accents are one of the most versatile pieces you can have in your home. Like Catherine from The Stables said, they can be perfect for creating a layered, Instagram-perfect bed. But they work well in any space in the home, sitting pretty wherever you place them for extra style and support.

You can use these cushions to create a soft space to relax on your bed or even on your sofa or armchair in any space of your home. (Who knew armchairs were so versatile?) But one of our favourite ways to use these cushions is as easy casual seating. If you’ve got large square cushions in your home and butts that need seats why not use the cushions? This is especially convenient if you have younger family members in the home or have guests around.

The Breakfast Cushion

This shape is a little less standard. Less square and more rectangular. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love it too! Breakfast cushions aren’t designed for all-around comfort that way the European cushions and even pillows might be. They are however, perfect for a plush, layered arrangement. This laying might be for style, but it could also be for comfort. Breakfast cushions are petite enough that you can make yourself a cosy, relaxing space easily.

Image features the Tilda Breakfast Cushion

Image features the Tilda Breakfast Cushion.

This cushion falls in between the Europeans and the bolsters (more on them in a bit).  Breakfast cushions aren’t as universal as their European cousins. You probably won’t want to use them as a floor cushion, for example. But they can be just right when you’re looking for a little concentrated support. These little beauties are perfect for lower back support while leaning back and reading in bed, while sitting on the sofa or armchair and watching TV, or as a soft, squishy teddy-stand-in when the movie on TV makes us cry.

The Bolster Cushion

It’s all in the name. These cushions are designed to bolster you up. The most common use for these firm, round wonders is on the sofa. A lot of contemporary, relaxed sofas don’t even have armrests (which we’re not saying we don’t like) so if you’re looking to add a little support to your living room seating, bolster cushions are often the way to go.

maison by rapee

Roma Velvet Bolster Cushion (far right) and other cushions, all from Maison by Rapee.

Bolster cushions are also often used as décor pieces on more vintage-inspired sofas. But all this sofa talk doesn’t mean that they can’t be used in other spaces in your home! While it’s slightly unconventional, a bolster cushion on the bed could be a game changer. We said that breakfast cushions could give you lumbar support when laying back in bed, but bolster cushions could offer the same, perhaps even more support. Their round shape is commonly more uncompromising than the flat design of other cushions which could be perfect for those wanting firmness.

Experimenting with a bolster cushion or two in your bedroom décor could also open up whole new styling options. Layered bed styling will always be popular, but branching out with new shapes could be a fun way to unleash a little creativity in your interior styling.

The Outdoor Cushion

This is probably the least confusing cushion on this list (we hope). The primary defining aspect of outdoor cushions is that they can be used outdoors! Not all cushions can be used outdoors, of course, but all the cushion styles we’ve already mentioned will have outdoor variations.

Sometimes we overlook outdoor styling because the indoors can be so captivating. But that’s why we love outdoor cushions so much. It only takes a few little touches to create the outdoor space of your dreams and outdoor cushions are a great starting point. And the great thing is there’s no more things to learn. You can apply everything above to the outdoors. Bed can become day bed, sofa becomes outdoor sofa, and the rest is easy. You got this.


Do you have any amazing cushion tips? Let us know!

Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking cakes, playing video games, or binging whatever's new on Netflix.