This Is the Millennial Answer to Living Room Plastic Sofa Covers, and I Wish I Found It Sooner

updated Jan 19, 2023
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Danielle Blundell Living room with a tan Article sofa and gallery wall

My sofa struggles and triumphs are well documented on the Internet. What can I say? When it comes to couches, I’m an over-sharer. Last year, I invested in a buttery caramel leather Article sofa and then faked the look of a sectional with a matching ottoman (pictured above). Leather seemed like a better choice than the blue velvet and white upholstery I’d had before, and it is — both comfortable and durable. A well-loved, perfectly worn in patina takes time to achieve though, even when you’ve spent the bulk of the last year or so on your sofa. Combine that with my general desire to keep furniture in good shape so it lasts and the fact that I eat most of my meals at my coffee table, and you’ll see the conflict. How do I protect my investment and still have a stylish seating situation, specifically when I start thinking about entertaining again soon? 

The answer? Allow me to introduce you to the sofa topper, what I’d like to position as the brilliant, modern-day, and somewhat streamlined answer to the plastic sofa cover your parents or grandparents might have grown up with — or maybe you’ve even had yourself. Essentially, a sofa topper’s like a plush bench cushion, but flexible — not firm — and sized for the seat of your sofa. You simply lay the topper over your sofa seat cushion or cushions (tucking its corners into the sofa should you want a tighter fit), and voilà: fairly decent protection from spills and stains, some extra cushioning while sitting, and a pop of pattern or color depending on the design you choose. I went with a dark check design from Zara Home to camouflage whatever messes I’ll invariably make, and it’s hand-washable, too. The one I have even rolls up for easy storage!

Credit: Zara Home

No, a sofa topper isn’t a living room necessity. That’s why I waited to buy mine on sale. Take it from me, though: I’ve tried sitting on towels and blankets, using them as splash guards of sorts. They don’t really cut it, aesthetically or in the extra comfort department either. As someone who likes to pattern mix and switch things up in my place from time to time, the topper just makes sense. I know a full slipcover or a plastic cover is an option here, too, but I like that you can still see the majority of my sofa’s leather… and that you don’t stick to the cover if you’re wearing shorts (I’m looking at you, plastic!). Honestly, I thought I’d only roll mine out for meals, but I’ve been leaving it on round the clock lately and digging the two-toned upholstery look.

Maybe sofa toppers have been around forever, but I can’t remember seeing a bonafide category like this at a home furnishings store before stumbling upon the selection at Zara Home, so I think we’re just seeing the start of this trend. Mine’s only a few weeks old, and it’s already saved me from a couple of sofa snafus. You can see it in action below (please ignore the poor iPhone photo and lack of styling — it really looks much better in person and ties in with my gallery wall colors and sofa upholstery so well).

Credit: Danielle Blundell

While this specific topper is now out of stock, I shopped out a few topper suggestions for you below if you want to hop on the bandwagon. My guess is you’ll be seeing more of these — as opposed to blanket style and super stretchy cushion slipcovers — in the coming new collections for fall and beyond.

While it’s technically meant for the floor, the sizing on this woven cushion from Target just might fit a more petite couch. And at $40, the price is right.

Looking for something machine-washable for pets or spill-prone kids? Wayfair has you covered with a neutral channel tufted design.

Cot pad for camping, or on-trend navy velvet sofa topper? Up to you, and I’m kind of loving the fact that you could take this baby on the road for a little glamping, that is, if we’re still saying the word “glamping.” This model is three inches thick, which is just about right for a topper, and also comes in gray and light brown, too.

For a handmade option in a popular fabric variety, this boucle pick is hard to beat. It comes in a bunch of fun colors, features an optional tassel addition, and has that trendy teddy look you’ll love all year round.

With its refined boho aesthetic and handwoven soft, textural details, this Arhaus pick is one of the most stylish toppers I’ve found. The brand has five total options, including a velvet pick!

Again, Etsy’s the place to be right now if you want a whimsical patterned topper or something custom. This striped motif is a classic, but stars and colorful abstract prints are available, too. This seller also carries three lengths, so one is bound to fit at least the main part of your sofa (if you have a sectional).