This post is primarily a cautionary tale about choosing upholstered vs. slipcovered sofas and loveseats for the family room. I am writing it in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes. However, if you’ve clicked on this link because you are only interested slipcovers for sofas and loveseats, you can skip right to my tips about slipcovers here.
I have not had great luck with choosing family room sofas in the past. And it’s not because I bought cheap furniture. When we moved into our current home, I knew I would have to purchase some new things for the family room. This was because our previous home was much smaller, and my existing pieces ended up looking like dollhouse furniture in the larger more open floor plan of our new house. We decided to replace our small two-cushion sofa with a longer three-cushion sofa, as well as a loveseat. I did my research and made sure to buy the best-made furniture we could afford. This meant we bought couches with 8-way hand tied spring coils, kiln-dried hardwood frames, high-density spring down cushions, and beautiful chenille Scotch Guarded upholstery.
Having purchased what I considered to be the Cadillac of sofas, I felt sure that I had made a wise investment that would serve us well for many years to come. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! In less than two years, the fabric on my beautiful sofa and loveseat looked worn, dirty and frankly, like a dog with mange. It is true that the family sat on those sofas every day, but I did not permit our dog to get up on the furniture, and my kids were not allowed to eat on the couches. In other words, they were not subjected to undue wear. Nevertheless, the nap on the chenille fabric had worn away in places, basically creating bald patches all over the sofas. They had become so unsightly that I was embarrassed to have guests sit in our family room.
When we got no satisfaction from the manufacturer, we looked into reupholstering the pieces; after all, the foundations of the sofas were still quite good. However, I was horrified to learn that reupholstering was as expensive, if not more so, than buying all new furniture. So, we bit the bullet and bought another new sofa and love seat. Because I was afraid of any fabric that had a nap like the chenille, this time, I chose, what the salesperson assured me was a very hard-wearing matelassé fabric for the upholstery. This also turned out to be a disappointment.
Five years later, the sunny yellow matelassé had taken on a gray tinge. I then discovered that my sofa could not really be cleaned. The cleaning code (which is found on a tag under the seat cushions on the deck of the sofa) was a dreaded “S.” The “S” code was bad news because it means dry clean only. It turned out that I couldn’t find anyone in my area who would dry clean furniture. I ended up contacting Chem-dry, and they told me that they use a wet chemical-free process that is safe to use on almost all fabrics (even those labeled “S” by the manufacturer). I hired them to clean my sofa and loveseat and found that, while it may have been “safe,” it didn’t actually remove the embedded dirt from the upholstery. The fabric still looked gray.
There was no way we were going to buy more new furniture. So, what to do? It was at this point that I decided to look into slipcovers. I was sold on the idea because they could be removed periodically and laundered. However, when I first mentioned this idea to my husband, he was not enthusiastic. Years ago, when our kids were toddlers, we had gotten a ready-made slipcover to try and protect our couch from our darling little crumb-eaters. And my husband remembered that it was always rumbled and askew, and made the couch look like an unmade bed. However, I was hopeful that there were better options available today.
I did some research and found Comfort Works ( I have no affiliation with this company). They make reasonably priced custom slipcovers that are delivered in about three weeks. The way it works is you identify the style of sofa that most closely matches one of the standard sofa styles (ranging in size between 75″- 97″) on their web page. Then you can choose from a variety of different fabrics and even customize further with piping and skirt options. Once you make these selections, they will give you the price. Although, it is not clear on the website, if you decide to order, you are instructed to send a photo and they guide you through the process of submitting the exact measurements of your sofa. They also make replacement slipcovers for many specific Ikea and Pottery Barn models and sizes.
After reading many very positive reviews, I was ready to order a set of slipcovers from Comfort Works. Unfortunately, because the full customization of your slipcover was not clear on their webpage, my husband was not convinced about them. Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated. Then I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that my upholstered Ethan Allen sofa and loveseat might have also been available in a slipcovered version. And if so, I might be able to purchase a custom slipcover made specifically for my sofa model. This turned out to be the case, and I ordered beautiful linen blend slipcovers for both my sofa and loveseat. It took six weeks to get them, and they were not as inexpensive as the Comfort Works set. But they fit like a glove, and although only time will tell, I feel like these slipcovers may be the ultimate solution to my sofa problems.
Things To Keep In Mind When Buying Upholstered Furniture Vs. Slipcovers For Sofas And Loveseats
- Buy the best upholstered furniture you can afford.
- Look for 8-way hand tied spring coils, kiln-dried hardwood frames, and high-density spring down cushions.
- Avoid fabric with a substantial nap on pieces that get a lot of wear.
- Pay attention to and understand the cleaning codes: “W” means it can be cleaned with water, “S” is dry clean only and, “S/W” means a combination of water and dry cleaning solvents can be used.
- Vacuum regularly and professionally clean your upholstery annually to avoid deep soil that can’t be successfully cleaned.
- Consider buying a slipcovered sofa with washable fabric.
- Consider purchasing custom slipcovers for existing sofas and loveseats from a company like Comfort Works.
- For a more inexpensive slipcover option, check out Sure Fit ready-made slipcovers. They offer many options including stretch fabrics, which are form-fitting, as well as individual seat and back cushion covers.
- Check with the manufacturer of your existing upholstered sofa to see if it is available in a slipcovered version.
- Launder slipcovers a couple of time year in cold water. Dry them on low and remove from the dryer while still slightly damp. And have them professionally pressed by a dry cleaner.
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in these posts about refinishing hardwood floors:
Sharing this post with these terrific link parties:
Metamorphosis Monday, Inspire Me Monday, The Scoop, Show And Tell, Project Inspired, Wow Us Wednesdays, Artsy Fartsy, The Creative Circle, Feathered Nest Friday, The Pin Junkie, Funtastic Friday, Sweet Inspiration, Home Matters, Share It One More Time Inspiration, Best Of The Weekend, Best Friday Features, Sundays At Home, Inspiration Monday Amaze Me Monday, Over The Moon