Let’s Talk Slipcoversposted by Andrea | 10/30/2013
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!
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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!
So that’s our story of slipcovered furniture — kind of long, but I honestly have NOTHING bad to say about slipcovers.