Is 2023 the Year Slipcovers Make a Comeback?

These aren’t the slipcovers of the ’90s: Fresh approaches to the slipcover—and styles that celebrate skirted silhouettes—are bringing back this practical look.

If your favorite old couch has seen better days, but you’re not quite ready to replace it, we have a surprisingly simple solution from the not-so-distant past: a slipcover.

These furniture-saving fabric covers are an easy way to take dated or dingy decor and give it a done-in-a-day revamp without breaking the bank. And while the slipcovers of the ’90s were all very blousy and shabby-chic, modern slipcovers have a more tailored twist and come in a multitude of options for creating a look that’s true to your design style.

layered red rugs in living room sitting area near fireplace
David Tsay

If you’re looking for a way to hide stains, proactively protect some delicate fabric, or perhaps just test out a new color scheme in your home, slipcovers can help you achieve all these things and more—and they’re not as outdated as you may have thought. Trends such as the coastal grandmother look and grandmillennial style celebrate the covered, skirted furniture look, and Clever by Architectural Digest even named skirted furniture—a look easily achievable with a slipcover—as one of its design trend predictions for 2023.

To avoid the pitfalls of passé slipcovers, we’ve consulted with a design expert to make these covers a modern and practical way to spruce up your home.

white living room with natural and blue coastal accents
Joyelle West

Why We’re Seeing a Slipcovered Comeback

The reason for the return of slipcovers isn’t much of a mystery—they’re a practical solution to multiple furniture woes.

“One of the main reasons to choose a slipcover is for protection of the underlying piece of furniture. Kids and pets are both wonderful, but they may not be the most friendly to your pristine cream white sofa,” says Cameron Johnson, CEO and founder of Nickson Living, a furniture rental service.

It’s not just high-traffic homes that can benefit from the protection offered by slipcovers.

“Sunlight can cause damage to the fabric of many pieces, and a slipcover can act as a sunscreen of sorts,” Johnson says. “Additionally, some furniture pieces cannot economically be reupholstered, and a slipcover can increase the lifespan of a piece by giving it a ‘new’ look.”

Slipcovers also fit in well with the more traditional takes on design that are currently popular, including the bright and breezy coastal grandmother aesthetic. But even if your style is more contemporary, slipcovers can still work in your home.

“Modern day slipcovers tend to be more fitted and trendy than their predecessors of yesteryear,” Johnson says. “Generally speaking, gone are the days of floral prints meant to tie in with bold wallpapers. Today’s slipcovers are meant to enhance the design of the underlying piece far more than the slipcovers of the ‘shabby chic era.’”

This enhanced versatility makes slipcovers an excellent option for updating furniture in all styles of homes.

Living area brick fireplace
Edmund Barr

What to Know Before Trying Slipcovers in Your Space

If you’re considering refreshing your home with slipcovers, there are a few things to think about before taking the plunge.

Some design styles lend themselves better to being slipcovered than others.

According to Johnson, “traditional pieces with roll arms befitting of cottage-style or beach house design work very well with slipcovers,” because their proportions allow the covers to hang properly for a more seamless look. Conversely, slipcovers tend not to be a great option for highly modern styles or furniture that is predominantly wood, as they can break up the clean lines of the furnishings. So think about how slipcovers will work with the design of your pieces before committing to buying them.

white living room sofa two chairs large brown square ottoman
Edmund Barr

Once you’ve decided you’re going to get slipcovers, there’s plenty to consider while you’re shopping for the perfect cover.

One of the biggest decisions is picking the right type of fabric for your slipcover. While classic cotton is still a popular choice, advancements in fabric technology mean that there are options ranging from faux leathers to stretch velvet that can fit into different decors. If you’re only covering one item, Johnson recommends purchasing a slipcover in a material that matches the rest of the fabrics in the room to keep it from standing out too much. In addition to the appearance of the fabric, also consider your lifestyle. If you have a home full of toddlers and playful pets, the practical appeal of easy-to-clean microfiber might win out over a lovely beige linen option.

The design of the slipcovers is also an important consideration. Some of today’s slipcovers still come in the one-piece style with ties that was popular in the 1990s, but there are other types, as well. You can buy ones that stretch for a more custom look, or covers designed with separate pieces for the cushions and the base of the chair or couch. These options will all provide more a more structured appearance and lend the covers a more formal feel, but they can also be more time consuming to take on and off, something to be aware of if you plan on washing the covers frequently.

living room white couch blue chairs
Kim Cornelison

Whatever style slipcover you choose, make sure that you measure carefully and get the correct size for your furniture. While it might seem safer to buy a slightly larger slipcover, an oversized style will look dated and won’t enhance your overall design scheme. Remember, you’re trying to improve the pieces you’re slipcovering, not hide them.

If you take your time and choose the right slipcovers for your lifestyle and home, you won’t be wondering if slipcovers are back—you’ll be wondering why they ever went out of style in the first place.

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