Why are Throw Pillows Called Throw Pillows? - Complete History

Throw pillows, alternatively referred to as decorative or accent pillows, are design elements that uniquely elevate the ambiance of a living space effortlessly. They come in various materials and designs and offer versatile options for those seeking to incorporate them into their interior decor. 

While we enjoy our throw pillows, one intriguing question arises: why are they called throw pillows, and how did they become firmly established in our lexicon? In the article, we embark on the historical origins of this versatile piece of decor to uncover the fascinating story behind its nomenclature. Let’s get started.

Why are They Called Throw Pillows?

They are called throw pillows, as "throw" implies a sense of casual placement rather than a precise arrangement. It aligns with the idea that these pillows are often used to create a relaxed and inviting atmosphere in a room. They are intended to be easily repositioned or "thrown" onto any surface to enhance the overall aesthetics and comfort of the space with ease. 

Also, they are often smaller than standard bed pillows or cushions. The smaller size makes them easy to handle and move around and contributes to their versatility in home decor. Over time, the term “throw pillow” has become widely accepted and is commonly used to describe these decorative accessories.

History of Throw Pillows

A long time ago, Mesopotamians ushered in a new era in interior decor by introducing decorative stones and wooden cushions. These early precursors to what we now fondly call throw pillows were used to enhance the interiors of their accommodation. Available only to the wealthiest of the family, these throw cushions were regarded more as an art than décor.

They served as a status symbol, showcasing the wealth and taste of their owners. However, it didn’t take very long for the popularity of decorative cushions to spread to other civilizations, where they became an integral part of daily life. Here, we have outlined the journey of the humble throw pillow from its early days to the modern age. 

Early Civilization

There is irrefutable proof that ancient Egyptians used throw pillows. The evidence of throw pillows being utilized dates to ancient Egypt and is a testament to their enduring appeal throughout history. Archaeologists have unearthed ceremonial throw pillows being used in their burial rituals and old ruins. These early throw pillows were often crafted from durable and valuable materials like wood, ivory, or stone, showcasing their significance in ceremonial and everyday contexts.

The Greeks and Romans introduced a notable shift in the construction of throw pillows. They preferred more comfortable materials such as straw, reed, or feathers for their throw pillows. It transformed these cushions into inviting and restful, comfortable accessories to lounge or sleep on. They pioneered various sizes of pillows for various uses, paving the way for modern throw pillows

Although distinctive in design and aesthetics, the Chinese, just like the Egyptians, continued using hard materials for their pillows. Decorative cushions made using ceramic, bamboo, wood, or bronze were popular and integral to their culture. Using such rare materials highlights these cushions' important role in ancient China. 

Typically, throw cushions and pillows were instrumental in their lifestyle in Japan, particularly in traditional settings. They used to throw cushions and pillows for floor seating, adding functionality and beauty to their interiors.

From the Industrial Revolution to the Modern Age

The Industrial Revolution played a pivotal role in democratizing throw pillows and helped transform them from exclusive luxury items into popular home decor staples. Before, decorative cushions were primarily reserved for the wealthy elite and were associated with formal or ceremonial occasions. However, advancements in the textile industry by the Industrial Revolution made textiles more accessible and affordable. 

The Industrial Revolution also helped bring innovations in fabric technology, dyeing techniques, and weaving processes. The production of diverse fabrics in a wide range of textures, patterns, and colors began, ushering in a new era. It helped individuals select throw pillows that aligned with their style and decor preferences, increasing their popularity. 

When Did the Term “Throw Pillow” Become Popular?

The term entered our lexicon from the late 19th to early 20th century. The term "throw pillows" likely gained popularity as the interior design concept shifted from functionality to personal expression. 

The Industrial Revolution brought manufacturing and textile advancements, making decorative fabrics more accessible to a wider audience. Our house and its decor evolved from being just functional to the very extension of our persona. As a result, cushions and pillows transformed from utilitarian objects used in wealthy enclaves to decorative elements suitable for daily use. 

While it is difficult to pinpoint when “throw pillow” became popular in our lexicon, the term has become the synonym for these decorative cushions. This historical journey underscores how societal and technological changes reshaped the interior design landscape. It gave birth to the enduring concept of the "throw pillow". 

Why are Throw Pillows Popular?

Throw pillows are popular for a multitude of compelling reasons. In interior design and home décor, they are popular as essential accessories thanks to the unparalleled ease and versatility they bring to the table. These decorative cushions effortlessly elevate living spaces, enhancing aesthetic appeal and comfort. As stylish layering elements, they add depth and intrigue to our living space. We have outlined why they are such a sought-after aspect of home decor. 

Add Versatility and Adaptability

They can be used in any room, such as the living room, bedroom, and outdoor spaces. Their covers are often removable and washable. So you can easily change the look and feel of your decor. You can simply swap out the covers without replacing the entire pillow. 

Its ease of use also helps facilitate seasonal and festive decor. Whether celebrating the holidays, marking the change of seasons, or creating a specific theme for life events, throw pillows can be easily switched out to reflect these occasions. 

Help in Aesthetic Transformation

Throw pillows are a great idea for easily transforming a room's appearance. They come in diverse shapes, colors, patterns, and textures. They wield the power to uplift and redefine the atmosphere of any living space instantly.

Whether you're aiming for a bold, vibrant look or a more subdued and tranquil ambiance, throw pillows can be curated to match your desired aesthetic and theme of the area. It makes throw pillows great for refreshing your decor without costly remodeling.

Bring Comfort to Your Living Area

Beyond their role in decoration as accessories, throw pillows help enhance the comfort and coziness of any living area. They come in a plethora of materials and construction to choose from. You can opt for a firm memory foam pillow with unmatched support or a soft feathery pillow to sink in. 

Transform any area into a cozy nook with these versatile additions to your décor. You can place these comfortable accessories on your sofas, chairs, or beds to make the area ideal for relaxing. They provide an extra cushioning layer and support for a more enjoyable experience. 


The affordability of the throw pillow stands out as one of its most alluring attributes. Throw pillows offer an accessible, budget-friendly alternative to refresh and rejuvenate a living space without breaking the bank. Their cost-effectiveness opens a world of design possibilities where every cover swap gives your room a new look.

Their beauty lies in their adaptability and simplicity. Instead of committing to costly and time-consuming overhauls, all it takes is a swift change of pillow covers to align your decor with the current theme or aesthetic you're pursuing. This straightforward process allows you to experiment with different colors, patterns, and textures. It ensures that your living space remains dynamic and in tune with your evolving tastes. 

Express Individuality 

Throw pillows offer a unique canvas for personal expression in interior design. They provide a means to infuse your living spaces with your style, personality, and preferences. They offer a versatile platform where you can showcase your passions. It can be the logo of your beloved sports team or a cherished quote from a favorite book, movie, or song.

Throw pillows cater to diverse needs and tastes in their various designs and options. Whether your preference is a chic, minimalist aesthetic or you are drawn to an explosion of colors and patterns in a maximalist display, these cushions empower you to articulate your unique identity and create a living space that feels distinctly yours.

The enduring allure of throw pillows has remained constant throughout the years. These small yet impactful accessories have the power to transform a room with its adaptive style and versatility. The term "throw pillows" encapsulates the casual elegance and ease with which these accessories are used to change your living space's aesthetic easily.

So, the next time you curl up on your sofa, surrounded by these delightful adornments, you can marvel at the intriguing history. After all, small details often make the biggest impact, and throw pillows have mastered the art of leaving a lasting impression.

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