Throw pillows do a little bit of everything, don’t they? Whether you need a soft place to rest your noggin or an easy way to layer in color and texture to your space, they’re quite a dynamic accessory.
And while it might be a straightforward journey to find a throw pillow covering you love, choosing the right pillow insert for your needs takes some separate consideration. Let’s get to it.
1. Pillow Insert Fillings 101
Pictured from left to right: 22” down, poly fill, and wool Medley pillow inserts
So many options here with look, feel, and price all at play. Medley offers three pillow insert options: down, poly fiber, and wool.
Down pillow inserts are stuffed with...well...down bird feathers, typically from ducks and geese. This filling is breathable, lightweight, and oh-so-fluffy. If you’re familiar with the ubiquitous “karate-chop” pillow look found across home magazine photoshoots, you’re almost always looking at a down insert because it has enough squish to accomplish this style. Whether or not you’re into the “karate chop,” down is a great choice if you’re looking for soft support and a luxe, elegant look on your sofa or bed.
Note that down and feather pillows compress more easily than other pillow insert types and need regular fluffing. Down also tends to be the most pricey of any insert, but it’s worth it to go with a high-quality option if you’re trying to achieve a full, plush look that will last (Medley’s durable hypoallergenic down and feather mix consists of feathers and mature goose down that’s thoroughly tested, graded, and washed).
If you’re looking for a pillow that offers lots of support and good rebound, poly fiber inserts could be your match. Lighter but more firm in shape than down, this option provides a cozy, filled-out look (to some, less formal than the “karate chop” pillow styling). Poly fiber also tends to fall on the opposite end of the price spectrum and is typically among the most affordable insert options.
Note: all synthetic poly fiber is not created equal. Research what's in (and purposefully left out of) this material before you buy.
Wool is such a magical material: naturally dust mite, mildew, and flame-resistant, plus anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, this is *the* stuff you want in your home. If you're opting for a fuller look and firm, comfy support that’ll keep you upright, you've arrived at a great solution—especially if you’re considering an all-natural alternative to poly fiber. You can usually expect a price point similar to down.
Another plus: Medley’s OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Wool is gently shorn from grass-fed crossbred sheep, and sourced from farmers who genuinely care for the environment, animal welfare, and encourage healthy ecosystems.
2. Choosing the Right Pillow Insert + Cover Sizes
This should be simple, right? Choose a throw pillow insert that’s the same size as your pillow cover. Lots of advice online will mention choosing an insert size about 1″-2" larger than your cover if you’re after a luxurious, stuffed look, though—especially if you’re using a less “full” insert. But keep in mind that opting for a larger size could pull your cover's seams too far depending on your pillow's thickness and which fabric you choose: proceed with caution. An alternative: at Medley we offer bundled throw pillow covers and inserts so you can take the mystery out of all this sizing business!
Okay, now onto some quick styling points before we wrap up: if you have a larger sofa, sectional or bed to style, a square 20-22 inch insert like our Lulu Throw Pillow is a good place to start. When layering pillows, start with the largest at the back, then move forward with smaller sizes and different shapes. Smaller pillows like our 18" x 10" Judge Throw Pillow or 16x16 Lulu will typically accompany narrower / shorter sofas, loveseats, and accent chairs more comfortably.
Finally, have fun blending patterns, solids, and color—this is an easy way to bring life to your sofa or sectional, especially if you're working with a neutral upholstery color (on the reverse, you could tie in calmer / muted tones via your throws if you have a colorful sofa).
Ready to get shopping? Medley’s throw pillows are available in beautiful, 100% organic cotton hand block printed covers and other eco-certified fabric options. And if you need some help deciding, our furniture stylists are happy to assist.