Interior Design

Slipcovers For Sofas And Loveseats — The Ultimate Solution

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.

Upholstery Mistakes

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.

Yellow Matelasse Upholstered Rolled Arm Sofa And Loveseat --Slipcovers --The Ultimate Solution
Our sadly dingy yellow matelassé sofa and loveseat right after we had the family room floor refinished.

Dingy yellow matelasse upholstery --Slipcovers --The Ultimate Solution

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.

Slipcovers

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.

Natural linen blend custom slipcovers --Slipcovers--The Ultimate Solution
These custom slipcovers fit perfectly and do not require constant adjusting.
Natural linen blend custom three cushion slipcover --Slipcovers--The Ultimate Solution
Because the slipcovers are linen, they do wrinkle, but I like the relaxed more casual look of this fabric.
Eclectic family room with linen blend slipcovered sofa and loveseat --Slipcovers--The Ultimate Solution
I am really enjoying the peace of mind of knowing that I can just throw the slipcovers in the washing machine a couple of times a year to keep them clean. My Ethan Allen sales person also recommended that after laundering in cold water, I have the slipcovers professionally pressed by a dry cleaner. I think this is great tip because trying to iron them would be quite difficult.

--Slipcovers--The Ultimate Solution

Black and green sofa table adds interest to the back of the sofa --Slipcovers For Sofas And Loveseats --The Ultimate Solution

 

Deep red blooming amaryllis - --Slipcovers--The Ultimate Solution
I just had to include a picture of my amaryllis which didn’t bloom for Christmas as expected but is putting on a beautiful show in the new year.

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:

Floored–A “Gripping Saga Of Hardship and Hardwood (Episode One)

Floored–A “Gripping” Saga of Hardship And Hardwood (Episode Two)

Floored–A “Gripping Saga Of Hardship And Hardwood (Episode three –How It All Turned Out)

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30 thoughts on “Slipcovers For Sofas And Loveseats — The Ultimate Solution

  1. Well Lisa, I agree slip covers can be wonderful! But the cold water wash doesn’t always work. My white slipcovers were a custom made set and were great until they were washed ( in cold water ) and they still shrunk. I later learned I could have dry cleaned them, even tho’ a “polished cotton” and they may have kept their original size. Sorry to say a throw now hangs over the side of the sofa where the partially closed zipper exits.

    1. I appreciate the warning about laundering slipcovers. Maybe I will just have mine dry cleaned too. Either way, it’s nice to know that they can be cleaned somehow.

  2. You have had couch drama in your life! I am in impressed with your diligence, and also like your fabric choice too. Beautiful family room!
    I must say that your amaryllis bowl is to die for. It is no a bad thing to have January color!
    Dh

    1. Thanks so much Deborah. The rooms in my house are always works in progress because I love changing things to update the look. However, I hope that I don’t have to change anything about my sofas for a long time!

  3. It’s so hard making a decision on sofa’s because they are so expensive. And for me, I don’t like paying much for furniture only because I get tired of it quickly and feel guilty getting rid of something I paid so much for. I think your sofa’s are perfect. Great shape, size and now a perfect slip cover! I’d not heard of Comfort Works. Checking them out now! Thanks for the post. Now if I could only get the hubby to get rid of the uncomfortable leather sofa and chair, I’d be on cloud nine!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Cindy. I wish you success in getting your husband to get rid of your uncomfortable leather pieces. What is it with men? My husband never wants to change anything!

  4. The sofa’s look really nice! Given how accident -prone I am, having something that can be taken off and cleaned is great. The color scheme in there is also so pretty!

  5. You have given some great tips. I will remember to check tags and whether or not slipcovers are available from the manufacturer the next time I am purchasing upholstered furniture. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Barbara, for your comment. It is gratifying to know that my experience could potentially help others avoid furniture disappointments in the future.

  6. You did a great job purchasing the sofas with the 8 way hand tied coils. The sofa themselves should really last a long time but fabric is the tricky part with any furniture purchase. I am glad you found some great looking slipcovers to be able to use your furniture even longer.

  7. One thing I’ve learned about upholstery, via my duvet cover, is to never sit on anything without washing new jeans first. There will be a permanent color transfer. It my be faint, but it will be there forever and ever amen.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. You make a very good point. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a certain amount of color transfer from all the jean-clad bottoms that sit on my couches.

  8. Remember how our parents had couches for eternity? Whatever happened to that? We are on our third sofa in the past 6 years!! The first one we bought when we moved to Texas was the “perfect” neutral. Within two weeks the piping started wandering all over creation like a drunk driver. I had to argue vehemently with the store about returning that sofa. We have spent more and more each time and the one we have now is holding up well. I did buy a whitish couch this time and we are very careful. I will slipcover in the future like you. 🙂

    Your room is beautiful!

    1. Thanks so much, Stacey. I agree with you. Nothing seems to last the way it used to. I feel like we need to have an elaborate long-term strategy when we buy anything these days. I hope your current sofa holds up!

  9. These are great tips. I currently own IKEA slipcover couches (hand-me-downs) so I have no real concerns just yet. I am hoping to replace them in the next couple of years and appreciated reading your post. Very, very helpful!

  10. Oh Lisa, your home really is so beautiful and I’m loving your slip covers. I’m a huge fan of them BTW. It makes life so much easier and we use them too, especially with four purr babies in the house who tend to be used as scratching posts.

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle. I really have come to believe that slipcovers are the only way to go if you have kids and pets. Having the ability to remove them and clean them, seems like a Godsend!

  11. So sorry that you had such difficulties in your upholstery and the manufacturers….going with slipcovers sounds like the best solution….I have a sofa that is 13 years old (Flexsteel) and the fabric and cushions have held up so wonderfully….I have had an estimate to recover it, just to update the fabric and yes…very expensive! Have a great day!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Shirley. It is wonderful that you have had a sofa that has held up so well for 13 years. It’s clear that you chose much more wisely than I did or maybe your family is just less messy than mine. Either way, you are very fortunate!

  12. You have now a whole new furniture set. Unfortunately I was not lucky and when I ordered my slip covers do not fit well so I had to return them back. I was waiting about 2 years and I asked new sofas for our living room from hubby as a birthday present 🙂 Yours, look fantastic!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comment. It is quite like having a new furniture. I am sorry your slipcovers didn’t fit. I hope you have something you like for your birthday.

  13. Great post Lisa. I also had that problem years ago with a shiny fabric that would not come clean. Now I just have a faux leather sofa. And lots of throws for coziness!

  14. Lisa, I meant to comment about your slipcovers sooner, but forgot until I read your post today on your family room. We bought a new couch when we moved into the condo over 4 years ago. I bought an Ethan Allen couch that they named Bennet. It looks like yours, but I’ve got two cushions on ours. I chose a neutral soft grey tweed called Granite. I know how dogs and kids don’t go too well with upholstery, so I also had them make a soft white slipcover to use. I love being able to switch the look in our room from winter to spring when I put those beautiful slipcovers on.

    1. Thanks so much, Carol for taking the time to comment. My sofa and loveseat are indeed the Ethan Allen Bennet model. I think you were very smart to order slipcovers right off the bat for your couch, as I imagine that your upholstery will hold up much better than mine did because it’s only exposed for half the year. It’s also great that you are able to easily change the look of your room with the seasons. In the future, I may have to consider having another set of slipcovers made for a seasonal change too.

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