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It’s August, which means our semi-annual upholstery sale is underway. Through September, you can take an additional 10 percent off the already lower-than-retail price of all in-stock and special-order Cisco Home furniture. We know that new furniture is an investment, and it takes time to find the right piece. There are lots of things to consider – and one of the most important is whether you want to slipcover or upholster. I’m sharing the pros and cons of each to help you make that decision.

Honestly, there is no wrong choice. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. You just have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. What are you willing to trade off?

Slipcover Pros:

The first and most obvious selling-point is that you can wash slipcovers easily. Just pop them in the washer, throw them in the dryer (be sure to pull then out just before they are totally dry, though) and put them back on your furniture. Or, take them to the dry cleaner, and let them do the work. If you have children or animals, then this is a definite plus. Also, if you want to stay sustainable (and not use performance fabrics and polyester) but want something that’s cleanable, then slipcovers are an excellent choice.

When it comes to style, slipcovers offer a lot of flexibility. While it’s a bit of an indulgence, some people order an extra slipcover so they can change their look seasonally. You can also upholster the sofa in one fabric and buy a slipcover in another to get both looks.  

Slipcovers also offer a layer of protection for your sofa. If the kids rub blueberries on the fabric, the whole sofa doesn’t need to be shipped out to be reupholstered. Just get a new slipcover. As long as the frame is still offered and we did not customize the size, you can order a slipcover for your Cisco sofa anytime – and as often as you like. One of our favorite customers is on her third slipcover for a Seda sofa!

Slipcover Cons:

I’ll be honest, a slipcovered piece costs more than an upholstered one. Under the slipcover, the piece is upholstered in a muslin fabric, so you’re paying for both. The price difference isn’t huge, but if budget is a concern, then it’s something to consider.

The beauty of a slipcovered sofa is how easy it is to clean – but there’s a caveat. You do have to wash every cover – meaning every cushion and pillow cover – each time. When one gets washed, they all get washed. If you don’t, then the covers will fade at different rates, and you won’t have a cohesive look. And, for some of you, dry cleaning may be a con too.

Because of the nature of slipcovers, the fabric options are somewhat limited. Slipcovering in velvet, for example, isn’t really an option, neither is leather. More fluid fabrics like linen, cotton, or blends work best. If you like the relaxed look of a slipcover, those are probably the fabrics you prefer anyway. 

Upholster Pros:

Whereas slipcovering limits your fabric options, upholstering means the fabric world is your oyster. There’s a plethora of choices. And, if you want performance fabrics, then this is a great option for you. (Something to consider, though: we are finding some performance fabrics pill like your sweaters, plus the polyester means they aren’t sustainable.)

Because the fabric is tight-fitting to the frame, upholstering provides a little extra durability.

Customization is another pro. If you want trim, nail heads, fringe, or any number of additional design add-ons, then upholstering is the way to go.

Upholster Cons:

With upholstery, cleaning isn’t as easy as it is with slipcovers. You can spot-clean, but if the dog jumps on the sofa with muddy paws, then you’ll likely be calling in professionals, which can get expensive. One key thing to remember about upholstered furniture: you cannot just pop the cushion covers in the wash for the same reason you wouldn’t wash just the one dirty cushion on a slipcover.

Because upholstered pieces aren’t cleaned as often, allergens and pet hair can accumulate.  Regular cleaning is still necessary, so upholstery is not maintenance-free.

If those paw prints can’t be removed, then you are left with the option either to reupholster the piece or buy a new one. Of course, reupholstering means sending it to a workroom – which leaves you without a sofa for a while.

The pros and cons are just a few things to consider. When buying a sofa, be very honest with yourself, particularly about your lifestyle. How do you use the space? Do you love the look of upholstery but really live a slipcover existence? Which option would best serve your needs right now?

Also consider your personal style. Each option provides a distinctly different look. Slipcovers are casual and cozy; upholstery is neat and tidy. Take a peek in your closet for clues. If you’re a jeans-and-t-shirt person, like me, then slipcovering might be for you. If your closet is full of polished suits and crisp button-ups, however, then perhaps upholstering is your best bet. Also, are you someone who likes to change things up or do you prefer one-and-done?

Budget is the last thing to consider. Slipcovers are more expensive, but easier to clean and less costly to replace. An upholstered piece might mean a smaller initial investment, but changing it (for style or stain reasons) and cleaning it are more costly. Ask yourself which trade-off you want to make.

Finally, I’ve leave you with a few design thoughts. If you just can’t choose between the options, then go for both. An upholstered piece might be perfect for the formal living space where the kids don’t hangout, and slipcovers might be a better choice for high-traffic family rooms. You can also mix and match in a room. I like a slipcovered sofa with upholstered chairs. That way, I get the flexibility with the much-used sofa and the tidy look of upholstery on chairs that see fewer bottoms. Finally, be sure to take a look at the piece you’re considering both slipcovered as well as upholstered. As you can tell from these photos, the two will look very different in some cases.

It won’t surprise anyone that almost all my furniture is slipcovered. Cisco’s slipcovers are particularly tailored, so they work well in both my living room and family room. I just love the lived-in, casual look. Both are paired with upholstered leather chairs, so I get the best of both worlds (wink, wink). 

I hope you’ll stop in and have a sit on the amazing Cisco pieces we have on the floor at the store. If the in-store options don’t suit you, then our team can help you find the right piece during our semi-annual upholstery sale. See you soon!