Box Pleats Are Making a Comeback—How to Perfect the Look

Learn how to bring this traditional tailoring to your home.

bedroom with box pleat bed skirt and pattern wallpaper

Keller and Keller Photography Inc

As people trade cold, sleek styles for cozy comfort, traditional design is surging. Trends like cottagecore, modern Victorian, and grandmillennial have popularized traditional decor and furniture in a fresh way. Simultaneously, a desire for sustainability and smart spending—bringing new life to old furniture—has also contributed to a resurgence in slipcovers. A natural connection to both trends, box pleats are among the next wave of re-emerging classic accents. 

“The feminine yet classically tailored look is quickly growing in interior design, and box pleats fit perfectly within that style,” says Mimi Meacham, founder and principal designer of Marian Louise Design. “Box pleats add just the right amount of tailored design detail to a classic piece of furniture without going overboard.”

box pleats on chair by vanity

Courtesy of Marian Louise Design

What Are Box Pleats?

Bringing depth and dimension to furniture, box pleats increase the fullness of a fabric skirt. Different kinds of pleats can be created by folding fabric. A box pleat is created with two edges folded in opposite directions; fabric is gathered with one fold facing left and one fold facing right, creating a wide, vertical pleat in front of the folds. An inverted box pleat, on the other hand, has a vertical pleat behind the folds. The height and width of pleats varies.

Whether upholstered or slipcovered, look for box pleats on sofas, chairs, vanity stools, and ottomans, as well as bed skirts and skirted chairs. Tablecloths and window coverings are additional home accents that can feature box pleats.

How to Bring Box Pleats Into Your Home

While box pleats are easily incorporated into some specific styles like cozy cottage decor, they’re at home in today’s traditional and transitional spaces, too. “I personally like to play in the 'new traditional' sandbox,” says Meacham. Like many of the traditional accents coming back into design, the key is to keep it fresh—particularly by balancing classic and modern elements.

Mimi Meacham

Don't go box pleat crazy. The detail is adorable and tailored, but you want it to stand out in a well-balanced room.

— Mimi Meacham

“The box pleat detail is timeless and ages gracefully as long as the lines stay simple and the rest of the piece is clean,” advises Meacham. Pairing the traditional accent, which offers an inherent visual pattern, with clean-lined furniture is a comfortable balance; the box pleats can feel surprisingly geometric and modern in the right context. If you want to punch it up even more, Meacham recommends “using a fun, colorful fabric or adding a trim piece to the bottom” for added interest. 

It’s also important to limit the use of box pleats. An abundance of pleated furniture or strictly coordinated furniture sets feels dated. Instead, Meacham recommends only using box pleats on a single piece in a space. “Don't go box pleat crazy. The detail is adorable and tailored, but you want it to stand out in a well-balanced room.”

Finally, box pleats are meant to convey a tailored look, so ensure the pleated skirt looks crisp and intentional. “Make sure the bottom of the box pleat fabric just brushes the floor,” says Meacham. “Avoid space underneath, fabric that's too long, or any pooling on the ground.”

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