What Is the Difference Between a Pillow and Cushion? A Helpful Guide

Pillows and cushions both make a pretty big difference in your decor and level of comfort at home. They help create a cozy and beautiful setup in bedrooms and living rooms. These accessories also make it easy to refresh or change up the look of interior spaces for different seasons. But what exactly is the difference between pillow and cushion choices and which should go where in a home? Let’s dive in.

What Is the Difference Between Pillows and Cushions?

Pillows are traditionally used for functional purposes in the bedroom. They are practical and are needed to support your head and neck so you can sleep comfortably.

Cushions are decorative accents on beds, chairs, sofas and benches and are usually removable items on seats and chairs.

The difference between a pillow and cushion used to be pretty obvious because these items were only available in traditional sizes. The standard pillow size is about 20 x 26 inches, whereas for sleeping a standard cushion of 18 – 20 inches was used for decor purposes. 

Today you can find a wide range of pillow and cushion types. This array of product types in a variety of sizes makes it a lot harder to identify the difference between pillows and cushions, especially since modern interior decorators love to swap looks and styles these days. 

The distinction between these two homeware items is more about schematics. Learning where to draw the line can help you enhance your interior design skills and help you gain a lot more home functionality.

What a Pillow Is Used For

difference between pillow and cushion

Pillows are functional items that should be used to optimize your health and sleep comfort. 

Cushions sold with comforter sets are often mistaken for pillows. A lot of people use them for sleeping when they are actually for decorative or display purposes when the bed is made up. These should be considered cushions even though they are the size of a traditional pillow because they are not specifically designed to reduce pressure or enhance sleep comfort.

Essentially, a pillow is something with a practical purpose and there are many types that can boost your health or posture. 

When you choose a good pillow, you should focus more on finding something that suits your sleep comfort and less on style.

There are all sorts of pillows that you can get for enhanced sleep comfort. Traditional pillows, goose down pillows, memory foam pillows, body pillows, knee pillows, orthopedic pillows, square pillows, lumbar pillows, circle pillows, U-type pillows and neck rolls can all be helpful for achieving that perfect sleeping position.

Tips for Choosing a Good Pillow

Changing your pillow every couple of years can help you get a much better night’s sleep. A classic down pillow or standard goose down pillow is always a good option but if you still feel uncomfortable then you can always consider using any of the following types of pillows.

  • Hypoallergenic Pillows: Hypoallergenic pillows are always a good pick for those with allergies and, not to mention, they are available in many different types.
  • Contoured Pillows: Contoured pillows can make a huge difference if you struggle with neck pain.
  • Body Pillows: Body pillows are ideal for pregnancy or after-surgery care.
  • Memory Foam Pillows: Memory foam pillows are perfect for preventing awkward sleeping positions that can result in a stiff neck.
  • Shredded Memory Foam Pillows: Shredded memory foam pillows can improve your sleep posture without causing you to feel too hot.
  • Bamboo Pillows: Bamboo pillows are antimicrobial and ideal for cool sleepers since they help you stay dry.
  • Gel Pillows: Gel pillows will help keep you cool at night and offer posture benefits.
  • Lumbar Pillows: Lumbar pillows will help you improve your posture in an office chair.
  • Knee Pillows: Knee pillows are perfect for preventing knee and hip pain.

What are Cushions Used For

difference between pillow and cushion

Cushions are mostly included as decor pieces in the living room. They are used to add a bit of color and texture or to make your interior decorating look more exciting and decorative. These are also the first accessories you swipe out when you want to change things up or when you want to create a different vibe or theme in a room.

You can use cushions just about anywhere. They are most common in the living room but can also be used in the bedroom, reading nook, guest room, on hallway benches and on the patio.

Cushions usually come in 18 or 20 inch sizes, but they can be found in much bigger sizes as well. Today you can get outdoor cushions, indoor cushions, round cushions, rectangular cushions, themed cushions, and even customized photo cushions. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Cushion

Since cushions are mainly used for decorative purposes, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to buying. You can choose to include any shape, design or texture cushion in your room as long as it suits your overall vibe. 

The most important factor for choosing a cushion is usually the color and texture since these can have the biggest visual impact on a room. 

It is best to focus on cushions with eye-catching designs, but be careful not to go over the top or it can make the room overwhelming.

Bottom Line

There is a pretty big difference between pillows and cushions and learning about the different types of products in each category can make your home life a lot more beautiful and comfortable. 

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