If you think it’s time to replace that dated chair or sofa, reconsider. You might only need a few yards of pretty fabric. That’s Diane Kaufman’s solution for freshening up old upholstery. Instead of always buying new furniture for her home in Tybee Island, Georgia, Diane shops at garage sales, secondhand stores, and other bargain shops to find comfortable chairs and sofas that she can renovate with well-made slipcovers. With designer Jane Coslick, she scours area outlets for current fabrics at a discount. The decorating duo chooses 100% cotton fabrics that can be washed.
After keeping the cost of both the furniture and fabric to a minimum, Diane turns to seamstress Kendrah White Galassi of Savannah for custom slipcovers that complete the rags-to-riches transformations.
Diane Kaufman painted the interior of her 80-year-old home white, creating a fresh canvas for displaying nostalgic treasures and coastal finds. Informal slipcovered furniture is the key to this relaxed and charming look. For design sources visit southernliving.com/sources. Before, the look was comfortable but not so cozy.
Beautiful floral and striped slipcovers clothe the seating group in Diane’s family room. It’s hard to believe that each piece―even the gorgeous aqua armchairs―began as a bargain- basement find. “These are $20 chairs,” she says. “That’s why we needed Kendrah.”
For the chairs, the talented seamstress sewed slipcovers with deep, gathered skirts that brush the floor. For the sofa, she created a striped beige-and-white cover and then topped it with fringe-trimmed, aqua pillows. To dress up the stools at the breakfast bar, Kendrah sewed ruffled outfits accented with contrasting piping and fabric-covered buttons.
The barstools are import-store purchases that sport short, ruffled slipcovers. Carpenters assembled the breakfast bar from pieces of exterior siding that were original to the old house. New pendant lights and simple white cabinets update the kitchen.
With the furniture makeovers complete, Diane and Jane added finishing touches to the family room. To devise a one-of-a-kind table lamp, they had an artist cover an inexpensive ceramic base with oyster shells and fragments of beach glass. Stacking some well-traveled suitcases yielded a stand for a vintage fan. To make the space even cozier, they placed an electric faux-wood stove (from a home-center store) in the space where a real fireplace once stood. And at the mantel, a wide landscape painting hangs over an arrangement of seashells and fan coral.
Drawing on her training in fashion design, Kendrah White Galassi creates well-fitting chair and sofa covers, often with special details. “I love to mix and match fabrics. I like using contrasting cording, layers of fabric, and dramatic ruffled skirts,” she says.
If you’re buying discounted fabrics, watch for flaws, such as patterns that are not printed straight, advises Kendrah. A loose-fitting slipcover makes fabric defects less obvious. “I prefer working with medium-weight fabrics such as cotton duck―nothing too stretchy and nothing too thick,” she says.
Preshrink the yardage before sewing if you plan on washing the slipcovers later. “I cut my fabric into 4-yard pieces and can fit two of those into a normal washing machine,” Kendrah says. “Wash on hot and dry on high to shrink them.” For more information visit www.savvysewing.com, or call (912) 695-5667.