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What is the difference between a throw pillow and an accent pillow?

What is the difference between a throw pillow and an accent pillow?

Throw pillows and accent pillows are both decorative pillows used to add visual interest, color, and comfort to a room. However, there are some key differences between the two types of pillows in terms of their size, shape, fabric, purpose and placement in home decor.

Definitions of Throw Pillows vs. Accent Pillows

A throw pillow, also sometimes called a toss pillow, is a soft, medium to large decorative pillow that is meant to be casually tossed onto sofas, chairs, beds, ottomans, etc. Throw pillows are designed to make seating more comfortable while complementing your decor.

An accent pillow is a smaller decorative pillow, usually measuring 12″ to 20″ square, that provides a pop of color, pattern, and visual interest to sofas, chairs, beds and other furniture. Accent pillows are primarily decorative rather than functional.

Size Differences

The main difference between throw pillows and accent pillows is their size:

  • Throw pillows are medium to large in size, usually measuring 18″x18″ up to 36″x36″. Some rectangular throw pillows may be 18″x30″ or larger.
  • Accent pillows are small, typically ranging from 12″x12″ to 20″x20″ square.

This major size difference means throw pillows can take up a substantial area of a sofa or bed, while accent pillows occupy just a small space.

Shape Variations

In addition to the size difference, throw pillows and accent pillows tend to come in varying shapes:

  • Throw pillows are commonly square, rectangular or round.
  • Accent pillows are usually square but may also be round, rectangular, triangular, diamond, bolster-shaped and more.

The wider variety of shapes for accent pillows allows for more interesting arrangements and visual appeal.

Fabric Differences

These two pillow varieties also tend to differ in their fabric content and construction:

  • Throw pillows often have a soft, plush fill to optimize comfort. Common materials include polyester, down, feathers, and cotton.
  • Accent pillows usually have a firmer fill since their purpose is decorative. Typical materials include poly-fill, foam, feathers, and down alternatives.

In addition:

  • Throw pillow covers are removable for easy washing. They are made from durable fabrics like cotton, linen, velvet, wool and polyester.
  • Accent pillow covers are sometimes removable but usually not designed for laundering. Accent pillows feature more delicate fabrics like silk, velvet, embroidered cotton, etc.

Purpose and Placement

Finally, throw and accent pillows serve different purposes:

  • Throw pillows add comfort, support the body and fill space on sofas, chairs, ottomans and beds.
  • Accent pillows provide decorative visual interest through color, pattern and texture. They polish off the look.

As a result, they are placed differently:

  • Throw pillows are arranged at both ends and in the middle of sofas. They can also be stacked or scattered across chairs and ottomans.
  • Accent pillows are centered or clustered in pairs and threes on sofas, chairs and beds. They are layered on top of throw pillows.

Home Decor Uses

Here are some specific ways to use throw and accent pillows in home decor:

Throw Pillow Uses

  • Casually tossed on sofas, sectionals and chairs for comfort
  • Placed against headboards and stacked at the end of beds
  • Scattered across ottomans and benches to fill space
  • Used on floor cushions and poufs to prop up the body
  • Added to daybeds and reading nooks for back support
  • Tossed on top of outdoor seating cushions

Accent Pillow Uses

  • Centered or paired on sofas, loveseats and chairs
  • Layered on beds, often against the headboard
  • Placed on console tables and dressers
  • Used to introduce colors and patterns
  • Added in multiples to create coordinated collections
  • Changed out seasonally to refresh decor

Decorating Tips

To use throw and accent pillows effectively in home decor:

  • Vary textures and patterns – Combine different fabric textures like velvet, linen, wool, etc. and mix in solid, patterned and embroidered pillows for visual interest.
  • Follow the color scheme – Choose pillow colors that complement your room’s existing color palette for a pulled together look.
  • Scale pillows appropriately – Make sure throw and accent pillows are well-proportioned to the size of your sofa, bed and other furniture.
  • Play with shape – Incorporate square, rectangular, round and uniquely shaped accent pillows to create dimension.
  • Layer colors and patterns – Start with larger solid throw pillows as a base, then layer smaller printed and textured accent pillows on top.

Also consider the style of your room. For traditional spaces, select classic damask, ikat or floral patterned pillows in muted shades. For modern rooms, go for solid colors, bold prints and unconventional materials like faux fur. The options are endless!

Throw Pillow vs. Accent Pillow Comparison Chart

This comparison chart summarizes the key differences between throw and accent pillows:

Features Throw Pillow Accent Pillow
Size Medium to large, often 18″x18″ up to 36″x36″ Small, usually 12″x12″ to 20″x20″
Shape Square, rectangular, round Square, round, rectangular, novel shapes
Fabric Soft, durable like cotton, linen, polyester Delicate like silk, velvet, embroidered
Fill Plush polyester, down, feathers, cotton Poly-fill, foam, down alternatives
Purpose Provide comfort and support Decorative accent
Placement Grouped on sofas, beds, chairs Centered or clustered atop other pillows


In summary, the main differences between throw and accent pillows are:

  • Throw pillows are medium to large in size while accent pillows are small.
  • Throw pillows provide comfort and support. Accent pillows are decorative.
  • Throw pillows feature soft, durable fabric. Accent pillows are delicate and decorative.
  • Throw pillows are casually grouped on furniture. Accent pillows are purposefully placed.

By understanding the distinction between these two pillow varieties, you can expertly decorate your home with throw pillows for function and accent pillows for fashion.

Use an abundant mix of shapes, colors, patterns and textures in your throw and accent pillows. Layer them effectively on sofas, chairs, beds and other furniture. Vary your pillows seasonally for an easy decor update. With the right combination of throw and accent pillows, you can stylishly enhance any space.