Modern Slipcovers: An Underrated Secret Weapon of Design

published May 8, 2017
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(Image credit: Aimée Mazzenga)

Slipcovers have earned themselves a reputation as being shabby chic traditionalists, but to the contrary, these transformative beauties are proving to also have a modern side.

These days, slipcovers are sporting more modern, simple silhouettes to accommodate in-demand contemporary furniture lines—the result is a fresh upholstered piece that embodies that cozy-modern vibe that’s been sweeping the design world right off its feet. Not only can they transform the look of an existing sofa, but they’re fantastic solutions for family’s with pets and kids, as you can remove them, wash them and get right back to living your life.

First, let’s take a look at some gorgeous interiors sporting slipcovered sofas that feel fresh, modern and not the least bit grandma-y.

(Image credit: Sherrie and Oliver)

From one of my favorite recent house tours, Lee Lenox’s slipcovered RH sofa lends an easy, breezy vibe to his airy rooftop studio in Manhattan’s West Village.

Atlanta designer Kay Douglass tapped into he essence of this home’s Alys Beach locale—featured on Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles—by using a pair of white linen slipcovered sofas.

(Image credit: Indie Home Collective)

Doesn’t this snapshot from retailer Indie Home Collective‘s Instagram just make you wish every day was Sunday, and you were spending said Sunday curled up on this couch with your favorite magazines? The gray rumpled slipcover feels totally at ease and modern.

(Image credit: Edda Interior)

Featured on Norwegian blog Edda Interior, this room is certainly more formal than some of the others shown prior, but the crisp slipcovered armchair and sofa still elicit a modern European aesthetic that brings a bit of casualness to the prim and proper space.

(Image credit: The Ranch Malibu)

This room from one of the 18 private cottages at The Ranch Malibu is warm and inviting. The slipcovers on the sofas work particularly well in this resort, as they could easily be removed, laundered and put back on in the case that they get soiled with the high traffic of visitors.

(Image credit: Aimée Mazzenga)

Crate & Barrel‘s slipcovered Willow sofa lends a classic and chic vibe to Jonny and Aimee Mendez‘s Chicago rental.

(Image credit: Oliver Gustav/Line Klein)

Danish style guru Oliver Gustav’s Copenhagen studio, featured on The deVol Journal, is a moody, Scandinavian dream, complete with a washed linen slipcovered sofa and armchair.

Now that we have you convinced that slipcovers can be totally modern (right?), we asked New York interior designer Eileen Kathryn Boyd to weigh in on the possibilities that slipcovers provide and how to shop for clean-lined covers.

AT: What are your general feelings about slipcovers?

Eileen: I really love them! They’re too underrated in my opinion. Most people prefer custom upholstery, but a good slipcover is like a perfectly tailored jacket. It can truly make a room!

AT: What are some guidelines to consider when selecting a modern slipcover?

Eileen: Well, the first thing you need is a collection of great upholstered pieces. You need sleek lines to begin with. I prefer pieces with legs for a more dramatic transformation. Then when you opt not to use a slipcover the room can feel completely different. The second thing is to find a good slipcover tailor who can give you that perfect fit. It’s really worth the extra effort. And, lastly, don’t overlook the fabric. It’s very important that you understand the quality level and durability of the fabric you’re selecting.

AT: What’s the benefit of tailoring your slipcover?

Eileen: Aside from giving your piece a more custom feel (and it just generally fitting far better), a good tailor can add in some killer fashion details, too. Maybe you want to add some welting or instead of hiding the zipper, accentuate it and make it more of statement. There’s a million ways to put your own personal stamp on a slipcover.

AT: Would you consider slipcovers seasonal?

Eileen: They’ve sort of been type-casted as a summer trend, but I tend to disagree with that. You can have a very chic corduroy or velvet slipcover that you can change throughout the seasons, rotating with your classic linens or cottons.

AT: Where do you get your slipcovers?

Eileen: Ikea has the best variety of slipcovers and I love dressing them up with trim or grosgrain ribbon to give them that fashionable feel, but on a friendlier budget. Another great resource is Lee Industries. Not only do they have great slipcovers, but they offer beautiful base pieces in a wide variety of styles. I’m like a kid in a candy store at their showroom!

(Image credit: Bemz)

Ready to give slipcovers a whirl in your home? Check out these retailers that are doing them right: