Let’s Talk Slipcovers

posted by Andrea | 10/30/2013

slipcovers

Would you believe that EVERY couch, sofa, love seat and (almost every) chair we’ve ever owned since being married has been slipcovered?

It’s true… I LOVE slipcovers! 

And based on the number of questions I get on a weekly basis about our couch, our chairs, what type of slipcovers we would recommend, how they wash up, and if I REALLY love slipcovers as much as I claim to… I figured it might be time for an in-depth slipcover chat!

Below, you’ll find the “history” of my life with slipcovers — along with many helpful tips and suggestions along the way.

The Early Days of Garage Sale Slipcovers:

In our early years of marriage, slipcovers where the frugal option that allowed me to integrate ugly hand-me-down furniture with pastel floral prints and stripes into my ultra-neutral farmhouse decor.  I was fortunate enough to find a sage green sofa slipcover and a cream love-seat slipcover at garage sales for $10 and $5 respectively (both from Pottery Barn — but many years old). We used those to mask our freebie sofa and love seat for the first couple years of our marriage.

These were just generic slipcovers that laid OVER the couch and the cushions — so definitely not ideal. They did require a decent amount of shoving, pushing, and pulling to get them situated just right — and they moved around all the time. However, for $15 total, they were worth it to not look at the pastel flowers and stripes all day long.

Yes, this is the ONLY picture I could find that even showed any of our very first slipcovers — remember, I never took pictures for the first 5 years of our marriage!

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX D530

An Upgrade:

Then we “upgraded” to an IKEA Ektorp sofa with a nice neutral beige slipcover and a matching storage ottoman! We scored the combo on Craigslist for $250, and although that seemed like big money at the time, we were thrilled with our purchase. We also loved the fact that the IKEA slipcovers snugly covered each individual cushion, which meant no more shoving and pushing the slipcover back into place every time we got up from the couch.

We actually still use this sofa in our heated out building… and we’re using the ottoman in our living room now, just with a new slipcover (one of the many reasons I love slipcovers!)

Couch

My Slipcover-Making Experiment:

At one point when we still lived in our old house, I decided I wanted to try making my own slipcovers (I’m still not sure why!) I started small by slipcovering 2 really junky chairs we had gotten for free from relatives. I used fabric from another white sofa slip cover I found at Goodwill for $10 and then disassembled.

I had always wanted to try making my own slipcovers — and figured that since fabric is the most expensive part of the project, I didn’t care if I wasted a little bit of time (this was definitely before kids.)

Although the slipcovers did NOT look professional, they worked for our needs for a few years. Plus, I enjoyed the challenging project… and I learned that I never ever wanted to try making my own slipcovers again.

New House; New Slipcovers:

When we bought our farmhouse in the Fall of 2010, we literally sold almost all our furniture because we knew we’d be living in our “one bedroom apartment” upstairs while we renovated the main floor of our house. It was so “freeing” to get rid of all our hand-me-down furniture that we didn’t necessarily love, and start fresh in our new house after that LONG first year of renovations were over.

We had an idea of the type of furniture we wanted to eventually have in our home — and we knew we wanted to stick with slipcovers because of how versatile and easy to clean they are.

We ultimately decided on another IKEA Ektorp sofa for our living room — but this time, we got the corner sectional… and of course, we got the white slipcover :)

For a whopping $799, we got a brand new corner sectional PLUS a perfectly-fitting slipcover… and as I mentioned above, we purchased an additional white ottoman slipcover for $29 to replace the beige cover we had gotten on Craigslist.

I’ve done a lot of furniture shopping over the years — via garage sales, 2nd hand sales, thrift stores, Craigslist, online, catalogs, and in furniture stores — and I can tell you that $799 for a new corner sectional and slipcover is a really good deal.

I could have purchased a nearly identical sofa + slip cover from Pottery Barn (I actually almost did) to the tune of $4000… but decided that even if IKEA was a little less quality, I’d rather pocket the $3200.

sofa comparison

I’m SO glad I did! 

Dave and I are both big fans of the IKEA slipcovered furniture — and despite a few negative reviews we read about the quality of IKEA furniture, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how comfortable our couch is and how well it has held up to our abuse over the past 2.5 years.

our slip covered sofa

I received many MANY comments and concerned messages from people who said white was a really bad decision for someone with kids… but since I LOVE white and since our slipcovers are fully washable, I really wasn’t too concerned. Honestly, if worse came to worse, I could buy a brand new slipcover straight from IKEA for $99 if our current slipcover got horribly ruined or stained so badly I couldn’t wash it out.

A couple years ago, I posted my tips to keep a white couch white — and I’m thankful that those tips still hold true today. We’ve spilled on our white couch many times, we’ve rested dirty feet on the ottoman, babies have spit-up, and Nora has done her fair share of artwork — but it always washes right out.

Good as new — literally!

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Our First Professionally Made Custom Slipcovers:

After we realized how much we LOVED our slipcovered couch, we started looking for 2 smaller chairs to complete our living room “set”. Dave and I both wanted swivel rocking chairs — and since we wanted them slipcovered, they couldn’t be reclining chairs (plus, reclining chairs tend to be pretty big and we wanted/needed small).

We started searching in furniture stores, but honestly, everything was so humongous and ridiculously overpriced that we just couldn’t do it. So of course, I turned to Craigslist — and for $35 total, we got 3 VERY ugly swivel rocking chairs that were exactly what we were looking for in terms of size and structure (we use 2 in our living room and one in our office right off the living room).

They were literally perfect for our space, and lucky for me, I know a professional seamstress who makes custom slipcovers out of her home… just a few miles away from me.

So I sent her the measurements, she told me how much fabric to buy, and quoted me a price. I knew custom slipcovers would be expensive, and I was willing to pay the almost $350 to have her cover all 3 chairs (plus the cost of fabric).

Since upholstery fabric can easily be $40-$60 per yard — and since I needed 15 yards — I waited for the Friends and Family sale at JoAnn’s fabric AND used a 40% off coupon to get 15 yards of this lovely pattern for around $180!

So, for less than $600, we got THREE of the exact chairs we wanted, with custom slipcovers in the exact fabric and colors we wanted… and they’re washable! No, that’s not a deal of a lifetime, but it’s not bad for getting exactly what I wanted :)

We definitely could have lived with our “puke green” chairs as Dave lovingly called them, but we were to the point where we just wanted what we wanted and we had the money saved up to do it.

We get so many compliments on these chairs — and most of the time, people don’t believe us when we say they are slip covered! Plus, they add a nice pop of color to our neutral living room, they match the colors in our kitchen almost perfectly, and they really help to tie the kitchen, living room, and office areas together.

Future Slipcover Plans:

The living room is actually the ONLY room on our main floor that we haven’t totally gutted and started over on — mainly because it was the only room on the entire main floor that didn’t need to be totally gutted! It had nice big windows, high ceilings, neutral carpeting, and neutral paint — so we’ve just lived with it while we renovated the rest of the main floor, and will continue to do so now that we’re starting on the upstairs.

However, next spring/summer we hope to do a living room upgrade with can lighting, new windows, new front door, new carpeting, and possibly knocking down a small wall to open up the entry way. We’ll re-paint the entire living room at this time — and depending on what color we choose for the paint and what type of carpeting we go with, we might consider either a new slipcover for our current sofa, or go with a completely new sofa. We might even configure the room differently depending on if we knock down the entry-way wall or not.

We’re keeping our options open at this point — but we’re fairly confident that no mater what we decide, it will be slipcovered!

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So that’s our story of slipcovered furniture — kind of long, but I honestly have NOTHING bad to say about slipcovers.

Do you share my love of slipcovers?

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20 comments

  1. Emily

    10/30/2013

    I don’t know about in the US, but here in Europe we have companies like Bemz.com (I hav no affiliation with them! Just think they’re great!) that specialise in making replacement slipcovers for Ikea furniture, and they do them at very reasonable prices. We have brought quite a few pieces of furniture back to life/got them to fit with new decor with new covers from them!

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  2. Colleen

    10/30/2013

    We have two Ektorp IKEA sofas. We purchased the first one at the store. Then one day I found an identical one at Salvation Army for $79! It was like new and the slipcover on it was even the same as the one on our other sofa. I absolutely love them. They do hold up well, even with two rambunctious little boys. I wash the slipcovers all the time, and I’ve even taken the down-filled covers underneath off and washed them a few times. I will never go back to furniture that doesn’t have washable slipcovers.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow $79! That’s amazing! It blows our $250 for the couch and ottoman out of the water :)

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  3. Melissa

    10/30/2013

    Well at least I am not the only one who was asking you questions:) I have contacted Lynette to see if she would do my sofa that I had originally e-mailed you about. Thanks for putting up this post. It was a great one!

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, not at all Melissa! Glad you got in contact with Lynette — she is fabulous!

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  4. Jen

    10/30/2013

    This is a GREAT post! We live outside Baltimore/DC and so we have THREE Ikea stores in close proximity. I LOVE having them so close! My sister is in GR and I know she wishes Ikea were closer.

    My question is regarding Craigslist. You find some GREAT stuff and I know you’ve done a post about it recently but I don’t remember you mentioning this. How far are you willing to drive to get something on CL? Do you only search close to home? If it’s a larger, hard to find item, would you drive to pick it up? How far? Just wondered how that factored in to what you’ll purchase on CL?

    Happy Wednesday!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Lucky! We have to drive over 3 hours to get to an IKEA — which is why we’ve only done it 2 times in our 7.5 year marriage!

    As far as Craigslist drive-times, I usually won’t go more than 10 -20 minutes for normal things (toys, household items, etc.) but if it’s something really specific AND a really fabulous deal, I’ll either see if we can meet 1/2 way or I’ll drive further. The longest I’ve ever driven is 1 hour one way (VERY rare for me) and that was for our office desk which was literally exactly what I was looking for the the exact size (to the 1/4″) to fit our space!

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  5. Debbie

    10/30/2013

    The chair slip covers look great. The pattern gives your home a country (farm house style) feel. That seamstress is really good, wish I know one. I’m excited to see your future project to renovate your living room. I think you’ll like the canned lights as it gives out more lighting overall. My husband and I are not much of a lamp only lighting kinda people, just feels so dark and grandma-ish house. Knocking out that wall to open up your entryway will make your living room feel bigger too. If you’ll replace the carpet I would suggest to go with a frieze carpet with specks. It hides dirt so well and I love the feel of it on my feet.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie — and yes, we blog LOVE canned lighting. We’ve done canned lighting in all our renovated “living areas” so far (not the bedrooms) and we love it. We’ll definitely be doing canned lighting in the living room unless there are huge issues — which we don’t anticipate.

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  6. Lizanne

    10/30/2013

    The timing of this post is uncanny! I’ve been considering custom made slipcovers for a while now, as our cats have made our sofa and loveseat unsightly, and now that it’s approaching winter and we’ll be spending more time indoors, I’d really like to do this. I wish I’d gotten an Ikea sofa sometimes, because it would’ve been so much easier to find ready-made slipcovers! Our sofa is sort of boxy and large, so most standard covers I’ve seen won’t fit right (even some of the stretchy ones, which I don’t really like anyway.) However, seeing your slipcovered chairs makes me think it might be worth the expense. They look great! In your experience, with custom made slipcovers, does your seamstress require you to give her the furniture she will be making covers for, or are your own measurements and photos enough for her to work with? Or does someone come to your home to make a template?

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    Andrea Reply:

    It would totally depend on your seamstress. Mine just took one of the chairs to her house (since they were all the same and small) and made her own pattern. She said the for larger items, she would come out to the person’s house and make the patterns at the location so she wouldn’t have all kinds of extra furniture at her house.

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  7. Virginia

    10/30/2013

    Andrea…may I ask how you wash and dry your IKEA slipcovers. I have a white one and a denim one and have been nervous about washing them for fear of them not fitting properly afterward.
    Thank you

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    Andrea Reply:

    Just like anything else — in the washer and dryer. I’ve never had any issues. If you’re really worried, you could take them out of the dryer while they are just a little bit damp so they will definitely stretch back over the cushions.

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  8. Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings

    10/30/2013

    I hear you about those hand-me down floral prints! I actually bought and returned a bunch of slipcovers, because they never fit just right. I finally found that my favorites so far are the Bed Bath and Beyond stretchy ones. They fit so snug and perfect on our couch and chair!

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  9. Heart and Haven

    10/31/2013

    I have the Pottery Barn Carlisle Slipcovered Apartment Sofa w/washed cotton/linen in ivory (I love the English roll arms on them!). This small sofa fits so beautifully in our living room!

    I also have the small Jenny Lund chair from IKEA w/white slipcover in the kids’ playroom. Easy enough to wash w/bleach and/or set out in the sun to line dry/bleach. We’ve replaced the cover once, after it had worn & torn, for only $29! Easy peasy!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I love the apartment sofas for smaller spaces — NOTHING makes a home look small and cluttery more than huge furniture in small rooms! That’s one of the main reasons we went for the IKEA sectional — because it was significantly smaller than many of the other sectionals we looked at!

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  10. Melissa Dehne

    10/31/2013

    I’m wondering if you ever need to iron your slip covers after washing? I’ve been considering the idea of slip overs for a while now but I really hate to iron! :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Nope, I’ve never ironed our slipcover — or ever even thought about it :) I NEVER iron anything (read this post to verify!)

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  11. Melissa Q

    10/31/2013

    I’m so encouraged to hear about getting exactly what you want. Sometimes in the name of being frugal, I settle for something “that’ll do” instead of getting what I really want. When I “settle” after a while I think to myself “If only I had held out for…” So now I’m working with a new mentality – one that says “No more ‘it’ll do’ – if I don’t love it, I don’t do it”. It’s not like I can’t get what I love for a really good price, but somehow I had translated frugal into not-so-nice.

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  12. Michele

    11/01/2013

    I, too, love slipcovers. Years ago I worked for Restoration Hardware and bought a slipcovered chair. It was buttercream yellow. After my nephew spilled god-knows-what on it, I couldn’t get the stain out. So I bought Rit dye and dyed it chocolate brown! The chair has lasted longer than the original slipcover, but it’s still holding strong!

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