Money Month

For Long-Term Savings When Decorating Your Living Room, Nothing Beats This Throwback Staple

published Mar 3, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Laura Fenton's Living Room with a Navy Slipcover
Credit: Laura Fenton

If the word “slipcover” calls to mind a ruffley, chintz chair in a dusty corner, then you’re missing out on one of the best investments you can make for your home. Slipcovers can be just as tailored as upholstery, and they vastly extend the life of your furniture

In decades past, a homeowner might commission a slipcover to cover up an old sofa or to prolong the life of precious antique upholstery. Today though, a slipcover is something you can purchase in lieu of (or in addition to) the sofa’s fixed upholstery directly from the maker upfront or another brand that specializes in slipcovers. These manufacturer-made slipcovers will be customized to fit your frame and cushions. Unlike fixed upholstery, a slipcover can be zipped off for laundering or dry cleaning, which means that you can keep your couch looking clean much more easily. However, many people skip the slipcover entirely because a fixed upholstery option is cheaper. This may be true when you compare the two couches at their initial purchase prices, but for long-term savings, the slipcovered sofa is a better bet.

Credit: Laura Fenton

A change of slipcover is also the fastest way to give a room a whole new look. Savvy shoppers sometimes purchase two slipcovers right from the start, so they have two looks to rotate between. That way, you don’t run the risk of your sofa being discontinued when you go to purchase a replacement slipcover. (This is an especially wise idea for IKEA sofas that come and go from the Scandinavian brand’s product offerings quickly; check out Bemz for options in addition to what IKEA offers.) When I changed my own slipcover from the original Room & Board natural linen to a navy blue replacement from Comfortworks, it updated my living room’s style in the amount of time it took to zipper on the new cushion covers.

If you’re convinced to purchase a slipcover for an existing sofa, be prepared to make an investment. Replacement slipcovers will run you hundreds of dollars (or more if you’re having a tailor make one from a high-end fabric). However, this cost is still much less than a whole new sofa — and it is much less wasteful!

Credit: Laura Fenton

One-size fits all slipcovers are cheaper, but they aren’t quite the same as a custom slipcover. These affordable covers sometimes will bunch and drape in awkward ways and very rarely look totally neat. If you’re on a strict budget though, a universal slipcover can be a lifesaver for a worn out sofa. I recommend the cotton canvas ones over the stretchy styles, and a steamer and a box of T-pins (for making little adjustments and tucks to the fabric) can help you get these looking the best they can. 

Buying a slipcover for my sofa when I purchased it was an extra expense, and the additional replacement cost me more, too. I’m proud to say though, that, thanks to slipcovers, my 11-year-old sofa looks like new — even after six-and-a-half years of abuse from my kid. Hopefully, my sofa is many decades away from the landfill with the help of a new slipcover, say, every ten years or so. 

This piece is part of Money Month, where we’re covering everything from side hustles to down payments to a beginner’s guide to investing. Head over here to read more!