Thinking about slipcovers? Find tips and hints on how to decide if a slipcover is your best solution, or should you go one step farther and reupholster.
By Lisa FrederickMore in Decorating
Slipcovers, which stole the design spotlight during the shabby-chic boom of recent years, are practically synonymous with seasonal makeovers. What feels fresher for spring than a crisp, clean face on a chair or sofa that’s showing its age? Before you start pinning fabric or browsing the shops, though, keep these pointers in mind.
First things first: Is a slipcover your best solution, or should you go one step further and reupholster? Before you get ready to toss a piece of fabric over a sofa that’s seen better days, think about a few key points. How much do you like the lines of the piece? If a chair or a loveseat has a silhouette that’s too modern or old-fashioned for your taste, a slipcover won’t fix that — you’re better off with a new model. On the other hand, if you love the basic shape (but nothing else), a slipcover might be a cost-conscious way to update it. The same goes if a piece isn’t of sufficient quality to make reupholstery worthwhile. And if you have small kids or pets, slipcovers’ washable nature might tip the balance that way.
Also, know that slipcovers aren’t miracle workers. They can’t smooth lumps from a sofa or make an uncomfortable chair fun to sit in. If your piece is beyond cosmetic rescue, it may be time to rehab it from the inside out or replace it entirely.
Super-stretchy versions, such as this one, lend a sleek look and highlight the form of a piece of furniture.
Settled on slipcovers? Here’s the second question to consider: Will a standard slipcover work for your piece, or do you need a custom one? There’s no getting around the fact that custom slipcovers will almost always give you a crisper profile — most pre-made styles simply can’t compete with that level of individual tailoring. But there are a few criteria that can help you decide whether you really want or need to make that investment. Think about the following:
What style is your room? If it’s decorated with cottage comfort or an eclectic mix, it can handle a slipcover that’s a little bit baggy or rumpled. But a strongly traditional or contemporary space begs for a contoured fit. Consider what works best with the look.
What shape is your piece? Whether they’re loose or fitted, pre-made slipcovers tend to follow simple silhouettes. If you have a sofa with an unusual form or a very overscale chair, it will be tougher to find standard options that do their job well.
If you go with a premade slipcover, you might choose a multi-piece version that clearly delineates cushions for a crisper look.
How big is your budget? Custom slipcovers are significantly more expensive than pre-fab versions. If the cost isn’t in the cards, a standard slipcover may be the way to go. Or, if you’re confident in your sewing and upholstery skills, you could try your hand at stitching a slipcover on your own.
Slipcovers aren’t limited to chairs and sofas—they’re a great way to revive ottomans as well. The pleated skirts on this pair add a flirty note.
There’s nothing easier than tossing a sheet of fabric over a sofa, then pinning and tucking it into shape. But you can give it a little extra moxie by using a fringed blanket, oversize shawl or other cover with fun trim.