Is There a Such Thing As Too Many Throw Pillows? AT Investigates (Sort of)

published Oct 12, 2016
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(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Pillows, aka those comfy things on your bed that you spend eight hours a night drooling onto, were first used around 7,000 BC in Mesopotamia. Originally only owned by the rich or upper echelons, with multiple pillows meaning that the owner was wealthy, important, and probably well-rested.

In Ancient China, pillows were made of not just fabric, but also porcelain, stone, wood, and bronze (between the 10th and 14th century), and were thought to be able to transfer knowledge or cure maladies by sleeping on them. Meanwhile, Tudor England believed that pillows were meant only for weak men or women in childbirth, which would really suck if you were just someone who had a bad back or a sore neck. By the time we get to early European societies, pillows were now found in basically everyone’s house.

Fast-forward to today and we are in some sort of pillow renaissance. You can get memory foam, goose down, that weird stuff that stays mostly cool except not really, boyfriend pillows, ones with spooky horror movie faces, blood pools, and a Godfather-inspired horse head, but the best pillow—at least for me—is the decorative throw pillow. I mean, I love my bed pillow, it has served me well, but I love useless throw pillows. They covered large swaths of my house. But on a bed, how many throw pillows is too many? I decided to take an incredibly unscientific look at this not very pressing question.

A tasteful throw pillow can say a lot about you, from “I enjoy the finer and also mildly useless things in life,” to “I’M WITH STUPID [ARROW POINTING TO PARTNER’S PILLOW].” On my personal bed, I have five throw pillows most of the time, several of which were gifts from family (hence why the person with a poster in their office that reads “HANG IN THERE, DUMBASS” owns a pillow that says “Always kiss me goodnight”).

So, without further ado, I present to you my rather (un)studied, collegiate-level survey of throw pillows (with pictures!), and how many is truly too many.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

No pillows

Why even sleep in this bed? What’s the point? I feel empty inside just looking at it. It looks lost, like a child’s toy abandoned in a forest.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Two pillows

For some reason, the symmetry here makes me angry. There’s no pizzazz. Throw pillows should have pizzazz, or at the very least zazz.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Three pillows

Tasteful, yet dull, like getting lost in an IKEA showroom filled entirely with BILLY bookcases.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Four pillows

If they are of varying size, this can work. There’s some visual interest, and I still have enough space on the bed for napping and reading about whether I should buy cotton or synthetic fill pillows.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Six pillows

This is actually how the bed looks normally, leading most people who walk into my bedroom to exclaim, “Wow, you guys have a lot of pillows.” Whatever, I don’t judge your bedroom! You don’t know me! Actually, they do, and what they know is that I love pillows.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Seven pillows

Decadent, like a sexy Roman bedroom, albeit one decorated by Maximus Pier One-icus.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Nine pillows

Uh oh.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Eleven pillows

This has officially gotten out of hand. I love pillows, but now this is entirely pillows and no bed. There is a delicate art to how many pillows should be on a bed, and when you’ve run out of bed then you should probably stop. Also, I believe my husband is somewhere under there, so I should probably go save him from a soft, smother-y death.

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Twelve pillows

I might as well just ditch the bed and sleep on the pile of pillows instead.

Anyway, what I have learned from this experiment is that the optimal number of throw pillows is three or less, unless you’re feeling real radical, then it’s six or less. Any more than that and you’re probably just better off sleeping in a giant pillow nest, which quite frankly, doesn’t sound half bad…actually, that sounds pretty great, so if you excuse me, I’m going to go write my pitch for 8 Reasons Why You Should Get a Pillow Nest.