Interior Design / October 4, 2018 / Bethany Selby.
Imagine a world in which every day you could have a different house full of furniture, changed at a whim to suit your mood. On Saturday simple chenille prints, then turn to silk brocade on Monday and to a sizeable woolen copy that Wednesday. Replace that with pure white cotton or the most stain-resistant polyester blend imaginable when the nephew comes to visit. It is not a pipedream of a far-flung future – not at all! It is the exciting world of slipcovers.
Slipcovers have been with us forever – Urg probably created the first the caveman long before written history thought it important enough to document such things as interior decorating.
Examples of Slipcovers
For years just as in this early example slipcovers were just a way to change an existing piece of furniture to a different look, or to protect that furniture from being worn out by providing a separate outside cover as needed. Today, however, an exciting new trend is developing in which furniture designed for slipcovers is hitting the market. Want white linen look? Put on the appropriate cover. Looking for a more elegant blue-pattern satin to impress the boss?
In the 18th century, rich materials like silk and printed cotton were far too expensive to permanently mount to a piece of furniture that could not an easily cleaned. This concept brought to the Americas in the form of ‘upholsterers’ who would come to fit the slipcover and choose the material then go back and create them to be sent to the customers home.
The Machine Driven Age of Furniture
This type of specialized artisan has long been replaced by our machine-driven age and by the advent of upholstered furniture on which material and padding was already lavishly applied. Since the average masses were now washed more often then the once-a-year previous record and cleaning materials and supplies were improved to a record level this inexpensive and cheap to manufacture approach seemed a boon to both consumer and manufacturer.
No longer did the craftsman have to carefully mate his tongue and groove and glue it into place to create a seamless join. The workings of the furniture will it a hidden beneath cotton batten and material! Any screw or nail that will hold was acceptable, so quick mass-produced furniture became all the rage on the development side, and the public latched on to it too since the luxurious fabrics and relatively inexpensive costs were what they had longed. Moreover, the art of furniture making dwindled.
Couch Photo from Flickr
Still available from the Amish and certain high-end specialized furniture manufacturers hardwood furniture that had been the norm became specialized and expensive.
Each piece was turned out handcrafted and delicately carved with a commiserate price – and slowly the trend shifted again back towards these heirloom quality pieces for rocking chairs and some sitting chairs – but not the sofa.
The Sofa as First Candidate for Slipcovers
The sofa it seemed was destined to remain firmly fixed in the new and inexpensive manufacturing method. Daybeds and their cousins the futon took advantage of both worlds – using throw pillows and blankets (rudimentary slipcovers) as well as exposed framework manufactured in mass-produced workshops they had both the look of high-end stand-alone furniture and provided a couch with an ‘upholstered’ surface as desired. Moreover, the wheel turns.
Enter today where the couch and sofa have again entered the world of adjustable upholstery as well. Still using the mass production techniques that keep the cost of creating the framework down, the new slipcover sofas had removable exterior covers slightly than hard fastened upholstery.