Summertime as a child meant warm days filled with spontaneity and freedom. As adults, something inside of us still feels that summertime yearning for a change of pace. In our homes, nothing can foster this change like a quick switch of color. One of the most dramatic ways to escape the winter doldrums and plunge into summer is to swap out some of the fabrics in your home with the use of slipcovers.
Sofas play a considerable role in the look and feel of a space. Switching up your sofa with a slipcover can make a major difference. Slipcovers are the perfect perk for a room, and custom slipcovers are easily attainable here in the Central Virginia area. Linda Edwards of Interiors by Decorating Den tells us, “Slipcovers are an easy way to lighten up color. I especially like using them in vacation homes because they can be easily changed.” Cindy Greer of Curtains, Blinds and Bath suggests choosing bright and airy colors for spring and summer, and a more muted palette for fall and winter.
Because of the endless options available with custom work, choosing to slipcover a piece begs many questions about fabric choice, washability, fit and wear. Working with a custom seamstress or a designer can help you through the process. When it comes to choosing fabric, Patrice Thornhill of Picket Fence says, “You want to
use something that gives.” Her suggestions include cotton duck cloth, chambray, linen, denim or even vintage fabrics. Thornhill also recommends staying away from something that has a pattern that needs to be matched at the seams, such as stripes. “Wide stripes are time consuming and expensive to match,” she says.
Since slipcovers are by definition totally removable, washing is also a consideration. Thornhill offers sage advice: “You want [the fabric] to be totally washable. You don’t think you will want to wash it, but you will.” While decorative trims add flair, they decrease the ability to launder the cover.
The condition of the furniture you’re slipcovering is also a consideration. “Do not slipcover something that is very soiled,” advises Thornhill. “Old stains can come through to new fabrics.” If the fabric on the original piece is dirty, you can have it steamcleaned, or even have the cloth and padding removed. Anything with a solid, heavy frame indicates that a piece is made of quality wood and is worth recovering. Greer cautions, “If you do not have the bones there, then it is not worth [recovering].”
A custom-fitted slipcover adds much more panache than a ready-made, store-bought cover, and it allows for more creative expression. Although one-size-fits-all covers are a quick solution, they can be bulky and leave the homeowner puzzled over ties, pins and elastic. A made-to-fit slipcover allows the cushions and frame to be covered individually with fabric that simply unzips to make removal and washing easy. Thornhill carefully constructs her pieces so that the fit looks more upholstered and tailored than the old-school, loose-fitting slipcovers. Custom pieces also allow for the true shape of the sofa to show through—yet skirts and piping can be added for a unique look.
Many slipcover tailors offer a wide variety of textile choices for their clients, or customers can provide fabric from their own sources. Prewashing fabric is also a wise idea to allow shrinkage before the piece is actually constructed.
Commissioning Custom Covers
If cost is a concern, realize that you are actually extending the life of the original fabric on a sofa. A slipcover also provides variety and offers a different look aesthetically; it is like having two pieces of furniture in one. The cost of custom slipcovers can vary tremendously because there are many variables: the fabric, seamstress, the form of the piece itself, the trims and details. To get an idea, however, consider this ballpark range: To slipcover a chair, you can expect to pay around $300 to $400 for labor, plus the cost of 8 to 10 yards of fabric. Sofas require around 15 to 20 yards of fabric with an approximate labor cost of $400 to $600, while loveseats require 10 to 15 yards of fabric with a construction cost of around $350 to $450. Adding detailing such as decorative trim, skirts and piping will also affect the cost of the project.
Commissioning a slipcover can be convenient because many slipcover tailors will come to your home to take measurements. This step also allows you to view cloth samples in the lighting of your own residence. Smaller pieces of furniture can be taken to the tailors’s studio for measuring. Once the dimensions are taken, the tailor crafts the slipcover and most will deliver the completed work to your home, allowing you to see how the cover actually fits the piece.
While a sofa is often the main attraction in a room, other seating pieces can benefit from a change of pace as well. Upholstered chairs, ottomans and even side chairs can benefit from a freshening up with fabric. Custom seat cushions add softness to dining chairs, and the entire piece can be measured and fitted for a custom cover. Thornhill has covered ice cream parlor chairs to add a festive look in a home. She also suggests perking up chairs with fabric that covers only the seat of a chair, which can also include a skirt of any length. A slipcover that envelops the entire chair is also an elegant option to have on hand to transform simple folding chairs.
Now that summer is here, all it takes is a little imagination and inspiration to transform your residence into a place that leaves the cold weather behind and welcomes the warmer weather’s bright sunny viewpoint into your home. With a few textile changes, your home will be welcoming and ready for the summer season.