Choosing the best pillow insert


Any interior designer will tell you that there’s no such thing as too many pillows in your home. Whether used for scattering on a sofa, dressing up a bed or adding an accent to a dining chair, they’re an accessorising staple in every room. When choosing a pillow, we usually focus on the aesthetics first, such as design, shape, size, color and fabric, rather than thinking about the pillow insert itself. And let’s face it, this is the fun part – so much so, we made a pillow arranging tool for creating your ideal pillow arrangement.

However, this often means that the comfort of your pillow is an afterthought, but what’s on the inside is just as important. Many pillow covers are sold without pads to give you the opportunity to choose the softness of your filling, but how do you know which type is the right one? We talk you through the various pillow insert sizes and shapes, as well as the best pillow pad filling for your space.

What size pillow inserts should I buy?

The size of pillow insert you need depends on your pillow cover size, but you should also take into account where and how you plan to use the pillow. Will it be decorative or practical? The classic square pillow is most commonly used for both, and usually comes in 46cmSq, 51cmSq and 56/57cmSq sizes. One square pillow makes a great accent pillow on an armchair, offering that little bit of extra comfort whilst adding a dose of color or pattern. For decorative pillows, try a rectangular pillow instead, such as a small rectangular (60x35cm) and a longer bolster pillow (90x35cm). Small rectangular pillows are ideal for layering in front of square pillows to add depth and contrast in your scheme, whereas bolster pillows are good for laying across benches and beds.

What’s the best cushion pad filling?

OKA cushion covers are supplied without pads, giving you the flexibility to choose your own level of comfort. Our standard duck feather cushion pad is made from shredded duck feathers to give you a deliciously squashy pad, making it a comfortable but relatively economical choice. For the ultimate in softness, our luxurious duck down and feather mix pad is filled with a sublimely soft blend of 70% duck down and 30% duck feathers. All feather and down used is ethically sourced in France from the Muscovy duck. The feathers are washed with filtered water to remove oils, then dried, cooled and de-dusted to make them clean and fluffy. It’s definitely worth investing in a luxury pad for cushions you use day in, day out.

For outdoor use, a fibre-filled pad is a good choice. It won’t retain moisture, dries easily and won’t mould (just remember to store them somewhere dry when not in use). Hollow fibre cushion pads are much sturdier than feather-filled ones but they’re still very comfortable. They’re a great alternative for indoor cushions if you’re allergic to feathers, and they’re also machine washable, so the best cushion pads for your pets to curl up on.

How do I measure a pillow cover?

To measure a pillow cover, remove the pillow insert inside, lay the cover flat, then, in the case of a square or rectangular pillow, measure along the length and width of the cover. For round pillow covers, measure across from one side to the other to find the diameter. Expert tip: always choose a pillow insert that’s the same size or one size bigger than your pillow cover to ensure extra plumpness and comfort. Never go for a pillow insert smaller than your cover as you’ll end up with empty corners where there’s no filling – overstuffed looks and feels much better.

How many pillowss should I use on my sofa?

Sofas are a great blank canvas to play around with a variety of pillow insert sizes and arrangements, but you first need to consider the size of your sofa. For a small 2-seater sofa, perhaps stick to 3 pillows maximum, either 46cmSq or 51cmSq – you don’t want your pillows to encroach on the seat too much and leave you with nowhere to sit! For large 3-seater sofas, why not try a mix of square pillows and rectangular pillows? Remember, asymmetry is always more interesting, so if you do opt for the same size pillows, use an odd number. For corner sofas, anything goes. You can create smaller pillow groupings in the corner and at each of the ends or go all the way along both sides of the sofa – the choice is yours.

Price certainly plays a factor in choosing the right pillow insert – the bigger the pillow and the softer the filling, the more expensive it will be. Feather-filled pillow inserts are a great ‘all-rounder’, but if you’re looking for that extra softness, you won’t regret indulging in a luxury pillow insert. Don’t just stick to square pillows either; there are so many different shapes and styles to choose from. We’re always introducing new pillows every season and now have over 200 designs, ready and waiting to accessorise your home; take a look at our guide to adding color with pillows to get your started.