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Style School: Styling a Sofa


Our tastes change as we settle into our spaces, and that’s a good thing! Style is something that evolves as we gain more life experience. Sometimes these changes lead to big dramatic before-and-after affairs, but more often it’s little fixes along the way that allow our space to grow with us. DIYer and interior decor creator Zenia Olivares has figured out how to make a space feel different with little more than a single trip to a home improvement store.

Zenia lives in an 1875 farmhouse that she’s renovating room by room. From furniture flips to simple light bulb swaps, her design motto is, “Let’s see what it looks like!” So we knew that she would make even a one-afternoon DIY project feel full of life.

We partnered with Toyota to show you a tiny task that can transform the look and feel of your space. The first-ever Toyota Corolla Cross lives up to your style goals, with sophisticated design and distinctive details that stand out — like wireless charging and touchscreen entertainment. It combines head-turning style with enough cargo space for a house worth of DIYs, making it the perfect partner for any home project. This is one of Zenia’s favorites: updating your couch’s outfit.

Zenia’s tastes change with the wind, but she doesn’t just want quick fixes. Throw pillows are an easy way to update her space to fit her evolving style while still remaining true to the things that feel like her.

“It’s such an easy, budget-friendly spot to style,” Zenia says. “Just by switching out pillow covers and throws, you have a whole new look and feel.” Here are some of her favorite tips to guide you.

Whatever the project, Zenia starts by asking herself how she wants her space to feel. In the living room, that means giving her traditional, English-inspired style an extra dose of coziness. “I want it to feel like you can sit down and get comfortable,” she says. Of course, cozy looks different in December than it does in April. Zenia lets the season guide her toward colors and textures, whether that means velvety cushions for winter or cheery florals for spring.

Think that’s just a random assortment of pillows? Think again. Zenia follows the rule of thirds, mixing three pillow sizes as well as three pattern sizes. (She likes 22×22, 20×20, and 18×18, or 20×20, 18×18, and 12×18.) “It’s important to think of the size and scale of your patterns so that they don’t compete with each other,” she says. Let one large pattern be the most prominent, then add a medium-sized print, such as a stripe. “The third pattern should be the most subtle, such as a solid color in an interesting texture. You can also stick to three colors, which helps keep it cohesive.”

Zenia is a big fan of secondhand shopping, browsing online marketplaces and local thrift stores for unique finds (and dupes of high-end styles!). When she brings her treasures home, she does a test run, laying them out until she hits upon the look and feel that she envisioned. Then, it’s time to sit back, relax, and welcome a new season with a fresh look.


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