The Versatility of Slipcovers

Discover how slipcovers can provide a quick and easy makeover for any room in your home.
By: Shari Hiller
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Use warm neutrals to dress up a living room for fall and winter.

You can add new touches to a room with artwork, pillows, and throws, but what if you want a whole new look?

Well, if the budget doesn’t allow for all new furniture, there is an alternative. Slipcovers can provide a quick and easy makeover for any room in your home.

Slipcovers are very versatile. Not only can they hide unattractive upholstery, but they can also change the entire color palette of a room. Dark upholstery pieces that create a warm, inviting atmosphere in the winter months may seem a bit too warm for spring and summer. Solution: white slipcovers, which can create a cool haven for those hot, humid days.

Slipcovers can also work wonders with furniture pieces that don’t quite match, in either color or style. Coordinating slipcovers can turn mismatched furniture into a matched set or instantly transform the old couch you inherited from Grandma into a beautiful new sofa.

For apartment dwellers who might find themselves living with neutral walls and carpeting, slipcovers are also a wonderful option. Warmth and interest can be added to neutral spaces through the use of bright-colored slipcovers and interesting pieces of art.

Do you have kids and pets? Slipcovers can be a relatively inexpensive way to extend the life of your new furniture. Just think, when the kids head off to college, you can whip off the slipcover and have a brand-new sofa!

Ready-made slipcovers are available in most home-decor stores and home catalogs. They come in a variety of styles and sizes. Custom-order slipcovers are also an option but can be quite costly. If you’d prefer a custom look but can’t afford a professional, you might want to try making your own slipcovers. Although time-consuming, they aren’t complicated to make. Here’s how it works:

1. Decide on your material. Always choose closely woven fabrics, making sure the material is heavy and durable. One hundred percent cotton is the most popular fabric choice. Be careful if using upholstery fabrics, since heavyweight upholstery fabrics may not be suitable and will definitely be difficult to sew on your home machine.

2. Measure the item to be covered several times and make a drawing of each piece to be cut out, include its measurements. Using these measurements, cut pieces of inexpensive muslin to size. Create the pattern pieces by fitting the muslin to the surfaces of the piece you’re covering. (Note: If a piece of furniture is wider at the top than the bottom, leave open seams in the back to allow the cover to slip over the top of the furniture piece. These open seams can be closed with bows, loop tape, or zippers.)

3. Pin all the pieces together to check the fit over the furniture, and make alterations as necessary. Once you’re satisfied with the fit, mark along the seams and use them as patterns to cut out the real pieces. Pin the pattern pieces onto the slipcover fabric. Then carefully cut out each piece.

4. Sew the pieces together to complete the slipcover.

(Shari Hiller is co-author with Matt Fox of Real Decorating for Real People.)

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