How to Arrange Pillows on a Bed

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I’m a New Yorker who lives with quite a few roommates, so my bedroom is one of the few places I have total decorative control. And as a big fan of all things sleep, I am obsessed with creating the perfect environment for catching Zs. So from headboards to duvets to (you guessed it) pillow arrangements, I have a lot of ideas about how to take your bedroom decor to the next level. Read on below to learn how to arrange pillows on king, queen, and twin beds! I’ll walk you through a minimalist arrangement, a decorative arrangement, and my personal favorite arrangement for each mattress size below.

Sleeping Pillows vs Decorative Pillows

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s briefly go over a few basics. You’ll want to include a mix of decorative and sleeping pillows in your bed arrangement. Sleeping pillows are the basic rectangular pillows everyone has. Normally you’ll see 20” x 26” standard pillows on twin beds, 20” x 30” queen pillows on queen beds, and 20” x 36” king pillows on king beds. I would recommend purchasing the right sized pillow for your bed so that your mattress looks proportional. If you’re on the hunt for new sleeping pillows check out our best pillows of 2024 roundup.

Decorative pillows, on the other hand, are generally smaller and not supportive enough to sleep on. They include square euro pillows (which are normally 26” x 26”), small throw pillows (which come in a variety of sizes), colorful accent pillows, and large bolster pillows (which are large round tubes that span the length of your mattress).

How to Arrange Pillows on a King Bed

Now that you know the basics, let’s get arranging! I’ll start with three king bed pillow arrangements.

Option 1: Minimalist

Let’s kick things off with a simple pillow arrangement that I think looks especially great if you prefer minimalist, all-white bedding. You’ll need two king size sleeping pillows, three 26” x 26” euro pillows (and accompanying euro shams), and one small square throw pillow.  Place the tall euro pillows behind your sleeping pillows, and then put the smaller square pillow in front. This is a classic look, but using three euro pillows balances out the length of the king size sleeping pillows to keep everything proportional.

If you want to vary this look a little, you can sub out the throw pillow for a bolster or lumbar pillow. If you like to sleep with a lot of pillows, you can also substitute two more sleeping pillows for the euro pillows.

Option 2: Decorative

If you’re looking for a fancier pillow combination to try, consider this option. You’ll need three euro pillows, two king size pillows, two standard size pillows, and one accent pillow for this. I recommend making sure each pillow of the same size is the same color, but use different colors for each different type of pillow in this arrangement.

To arrange, place all three euro pillows side by side against your headboard. Then, put the king size pillows in front of the euro pillows. The standard size pillows go in front of those, and the accent pillow goes at the very front. I prefer a round or rectangular, as opposed to square, accent pillow in this arrangement. You can also swap the two standard size pillows for two more king size pillows if that’s what you have on hand.

Option 3: Our Favorite

Personally, I prefer a little pizzazz when arranging pillows on a king size bed. This is my favorite king-sized arrangement, and I think it looks great in a master bedroom. For this look, you’ll want three euro pillows, two king size sleeping pillows, and three different sized throw pillows.

To arrange, place your king size pillows against your headboard. Then, put the three euro pillows in front of those. Place the throws in front of all five other pillows. I especially like this look if you arrange your throws in descending size order.

An image of three different pillow arrangement styles on a king bed

How to Arrange Pillows on a Queen Bed

Next up, let’s look at some queen bed pillow arrangements. Queen size pillows are less lengthy than king size pillows, which means you won’t need as many euro pillows to balance out your bed’s proportions. All the arrangements below can also be used on full sized mattresses.

Option 1: Minimalist

If you hate throwing pillows on the ground before you go to bed at night this is the option for you. All you’ll need is four queen size or standard pillows and one large bolster. Your bolster should be about one third of the width of your mattress. I recommend using white or neutral pillowcases and bedding but choose a bolster in an accent color.  I also recommend using standard pillowcases for two pillows and textured shams for another set.

To arrange this look, put two standard pillows against your headboard. Put the next two standard pillows directly in front of those. Then, center your bolster in front of all four pillows. To vary this look, you can sub out two of the sleeping pillows for two euro pillows in standard shams.

Option 2: Decorative

If you’re aiming for funky-but-practical bedroom design consider this arrangement. You’ll need four standard or queen size sleeping pillows and two accent pillows of different sizes.

To arrange, place two standard pillows facedown on the bed (like you would to sleep on them). Stack the next two standard pillows directly on top of them. Next, lean your largest accent pillow against them. Lean a smaller accent pillow off-center or at an angle against the larger accent pillow.

Pro tip: this combo looks especially cool if your pillowcases and shams feature different textures!

Option 3: Our Favorite

If you love pillows as much as I do, this is the option for you. You’ll need two large euro pillows, four standard or queen size sleeping pillows, and two accent pillows. The result is a beautiful pile of fluff that should make you want to crawl back into bed right after making it.

To arrange, you’ll prop two of the sleeping pillows against your headboard. Then, you’ll center two euro pillows in front of those, and place the remaining sleeping pillows in front of the euro pillows. Finally, you’ll put your accent pillows off center in the front.

If you prefer a more classic look, swap out the two accent pillows for one rectangular or square throw pillow. That will give you the more classic pyramid look you can find in most interior design magazines.

An image of the three different pillow arrangement styles on a queen bed

How to Arrange Pillows on a Twin Bed

Finally, let’s wrap things up with some twin bed pillow arrangements. There are only so many ways to arrange pillows on twin beds, so play around with your color palette to really spruce up a twin bedroom.

Option 1: Minimalist

If you’re arranging a twin bed in a kid’s room, too many extra pillows floating around is more of a hassle than anything. Stick to something simple with just one standard size sleeping pillow and one large rectangular accent pillow.

Lean the sleeping pillow against the headboard and lean the accent pillow against that. This arrangement works best if your accent pillow cover features a bright color or pattern.

Option 2: Decorative

If you want the twin bed in your guest room (or your studio apartment) to look grown-up and inviting, consider this arrangement. You’ll need two standard sleeping pillows, one accent featuring a bright color, and one small, neutral colored bolster.

To arrange, lay the sleeping pillow flat on the mattress (like you’d use it at night). Stack your second sleeping pillow on top. Prop your colorful accent pillow off-center against this stack. Place the bolster in front of the accent pillow.

Pro tip: Swap the second standard sleeping pillow for a lofty throw pillow with a neutral sham if you want more height.

Option 3: Our Favorite

For a classic look with a little twist, consider this arrangement. You’ll need one standard sleeping pillow, one medium-sized rectangular accent pillow, and one small square throw pillow. Prop the sleeping pillow against your headboard, put the larger accent pillow in front, and put the smallest accent pillow in front of that. Play with colors and patterns to make this arrangement bold and fun.

An image of the three different styles of pillow arrangement on twin beds

Tips for How to Arrange Pillows

Now that you have some arrangements to choose from, I’ll leave you with a few final tips:

  • Match your pillow arrangement to your room decor. If you have a low-profile bed frame and a minimalist style, keeping tons of different throws on your bed will look out of place. On the other hand, if your king bed is the focal point of your master bedroom, an elaborate pillow arrangement could be just what you need.
  • Consider your color scheme. Throw pillows can be a great way to introduce bold patterns or pops of color to your room. Plus, it’s easy to swap out pillowcases when you get tired of a certain style.
  • Keep your headboard in mind. Tall headboards (over two feet) work well with voluminous pillow arrangements. Short headboards (or beds without headboards) tend to look better with more minimal arrangements. Similarly, a basic solid headboard is a great base for a colorful, decorative pillow arrangement, but your ornate metal headboard is probably best showcased without too much bedding in the way.


How many pillows should be on a bed?

The number of pillows on your bed is totally up to personal preference. As a frame of reference, most queen size pillow arrangements tend to use about six pillows.

How many pillows should I sleep with?

It depends! You should use at least one supportive pillow under your head. If you sleep on your side, it is also a good idea to sleep with a pillow between your knees for optimal spine alignment. Certain back sleepers like to sleep with a pillow at their lower back for extra lumbar support. In the end, it’s all about what feels comfortable to you.

Where should I put pillows when I sleep?

A lot of people put their throw pillows in a decorative chest, storage bench, or basket at the end of the bed. But there’s no shame in just tossing them on the carpet for the night either!

Madison Schaper

Madison is an ex-mattress tester and current law student. When she's not studying, she puts her accumulated mattress and bedding knowledge to good use writing articles for Mattress Clarity. A few of her favorite non-work activities include trying new restaurants, reading short stories, and watching too much reality TV.