Stylish Slipcover Solutions

Remember what fun it was to play dress-up? These homeowners do. They've rediscovered that fun, with a grown-up twist, by transforming dated decor and worn upholstery pieces with slipcovers. Try these ideas on for size.
Alicia K. Clavell and Sarah Jernigan

Dressed for Dining
 These cheery chairs are sure to be the topic of conversation at Mary Jo and Robbie Swain's breakfast table. "Covering the chairs with fabric made it possible to work with their level of formality, and it provided a more playful look," says designer Janie Molster, who helped decorate the room.

She left the window treatments unlined and added simple bamboo shades to let in natural light, while providing a sense of privacy. "By not using a lot of pattern at the windows, we kept the chairs and table as the focus of the room," Janie notes.

A combination of fabrics, including a small check and a stripe, introduced colors featured in the adjoining kitchen. Janie and Mary Jo added a series of dressmaker details to the covers, including a line of buttons up the back. Self-fastening strips at the sides make the slipcovers easy to remove for washing. (Tip: It is a good idea to have your fabric preshrunk.)

Room for Play
Catherine and Philip Boyd decided to use slipcovers to update their children's playroom. Before, the hunter green, low-arm sofa was structurally fine, though a bit dated. "I knew that I didn't want a custom design for this room. I wanted something that could be easily thrown in the wash," Catherine says.

She purchased a durable khaki slipcover online. The clever cover-up is washable and can withstand anything that the couple's two children, Philip and Isabel, throw at or on it. It also instantly updates the sofa without a significant investment.

To build up the couch's low arms, Catherine used a foam neck roll. She cut the pillow in half lengthwise and used half of it on top of each arm. With a bit of batting, fabric glue, and pins to secure the foam in place, the low arms have a more contemporary, not to mention comfortable, appeal.

Clever Cases
Don't overlook the obvious. Case in point: Just because pillows are old doesn't mean they're ready for the trash. Remove the old pillow cover, and use a fabric that you really love to freshen up the existing form. The edges of these decorative pillowcases are self-fastening for easy cleaning. Catherine and Philip use the pillows on the sofa and on the floor as extra seating for the kids.

  

Rags to Riches
"We needed additional seating for our living room, but I wasn't ready to invest in expensive chairs," says Catherine. Located on either side of the sofa, wrought iron outdoor chairs, which were inherited from Philip's grandmother, provided the perfect solution. And ready-made slipcovers from a home-decor store were a good fit.

To personalize the slipcovers, Catherine added a monogram in a complementary color to each chair back. She also removed the slipcovers' original cotton tiebacks and replaced them with coordinating grosgrain ribbons. Plush cushions trimmed with fringe in the room's color tones were an attractive finishing touch. These pillows help to soften the chairs' rigid appearance. Because Catherine didn't put a lot of expense into these chairs, she has the flexibility to change the look or replace them at any time.

Sensational Slipcovers
Designer Janie Molster shares her tips.

  • If you're thinking about slip-covering, particularly in high-traffic areas, have your yardage preshrunk and laundered to ensure shapely slips.
  • Add dressmaker details. Buttons and ties are a great way to bring in color.
  • Slipcovers are not upholstery, and they shouldn't look like it. A loose-fitting form ensures a casual look.
  • Combine fabrics for a fun effect. Cover a club chair in white duck, then use a soft velvet on the cushion.
  • Personalize slipcovers by adding monograms. Use your initials, family members' names, or even a fun saying.