Design 101: Lesson 3- Sectional Styling

We’ve been thinking about the dos and don’ts of styling a sofa lately, particularly styling sectionals. Sectionals are a great option because they offer a little more seating and add an element of comfort to a room. But styling all those corners can sometimes be difficult. So to help you out, we’ve created a few fool-proof ways to style your sectional that will leave it looking chic while still allowing it to be functional.

edited sectional

Step 1: PREP

It is very important to measure your space before ordering a sectional to be sure you are getting the right fit for the space you are putting it in. Make sure to know the exact measurements for all of the walls. Sectionals are typically great in a corner of the room, up against two walls.

Create a basic floor plan with a sectional. This will help you with measurements and visualization, as well as create a organized way to style the rest of your room around the sectional.

If the sectional is going in a family room or a place where a TV will be, consider where the TV will be when you are choosing the size and type of sectional you want.


There are a variety of ways to style your pillows on a sectional but not all ways keep it looking clean, chic, and inviting. We recommend using 6-7 pillows to create a full look without going overboard. Here are our top two favorite ways to style:


  • Choose 2 sets of 3 pillows that are the same size and pattern (We recommend 3 20x20s and 3 24x24s). Place one on both ends and one in the middle.
  • Choose 1 14×20 that complements the other two patterns and place it in the middle cluster of pillows.
  • Keep it symmetrical on the ends and go for something a little different in the middle.

Sectional Drawing Sizes 1


  • Choose 3 24×24 pillows in the same pattern. Find 2 20×20 pillows that coordinate. Place one on both ends and one in the middle.
  • Choose 1 16×26 that complements the other two patterns and place to the left of the middle on the sectional.
  • Once again, keep it symmetrical on the ends and go for something a little different in the middle.

Sectional Drawing Sizes 2

We’ve compiled a few examples of different pillow styles and patterns that work well together. Have a look and pick a favorite!

Sectional Drawing Tribeca Sectional Drawing- British Bouquet (1) Sectional Drawing Portland Sectional Drawing Navy Fleur Sectional Drawing Gold


  • Add a colorful throw. Place it on the chaise section of the sofa.
  • Add a great rug. Choose a rug that fits under the front legs of the sofa and extends at least 3 feet beyond the coffee table (if using a coffee table).
  • A coffee table used with a sectional should fit the boundary edges of the sofa
    • Make sure the coffee table is proportionate to the sectional. A large sectional should have a large coffee table.

Different kinds of sectionals to consider

  • Double chaise
  • U-shaped-Three sided
  •  L-shape
  • Semi-circle

Stationary vs. Modular

Stationary Sectional: the most common kind of sectional. Designed for one shape that locks in place.

Modular Sectional: typically comes in 3-5 pieces that can be arranged in a variety of different ways. Make sure your pieces are secured together before using.


14 Responses to “Design 101: Lesson 3- Sectional Styling”

  1. Jamie

    How would the pillows be arranged if one of the sectional’s corner ended as a chaise?

    • cwd_admin

      Hi Jamie! If that is the case, you can just focus on the other two corners and use a throw on the chaise side to add a little something extra. Good luck!

  2. Elizabeth

    Although I do not have the wall space for a sectional (built in bookcases, fireplace, radiators, etc). I find this post very informative. The pillow styling and the guidance on rug placement and sizing, and coffee table sizing is very helpful.

  3. Melinda

    If a sectional is a U shape what do you recommend as far as pillow placement? One of the sides extends into a chaise. Thank you!

    • cwd_admin

      Hi Melinda! You could treat it similarly and do a collection of pillows in each corner and a larger 16×26 on the straight portion of the sectional in between. I would consider a throw on the chaise side if that interests you. Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. Jeanine Friend

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appearance. I must say you’ve done a superb job with this. In addition, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Internet explorer. Outstanding Blog!

  5. Pw

    I have a new red leather sectional with recliners on both ends. What type of coffee table or ottoman should I use? Thanks.

    • Pw

      I habe a new red leather sectional with recliners on both ends. What kind of coffeee table should i use? How far away from the sectiinal?

  6. couchandsofa

    Thank you so much for doing such great research. All of your hard work has helped me make my case to the husband for a new sofa- one that is durable and checking account friendly. You’re great!

  7. Liam

    Caitlin I absolutely love your blog design, this is the first post I’ve come across on the blog and it looks fantastic, great work!

    I agree pillow placement is essential to the overall design of the room, and using summer/winter color distinctions are paramount to creating the space style. I have a post on my favorite sectionals on my website that you can see here:

    Keep up the great work!

  8. Nia

    This is JUST the guidance I was searching for! Thank you for sharing your expertise and saving me so much lost time and $$$$.

  9. Joanne

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been fighting with my sectional pillows for awhile, trying to make them work. This was so clear and simple. It was exactly what I was looking for!


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