"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adventures in Slip Covering: Finding the Fabric

In spite of a serious case of Spring Fever, I have several home projects in the works and new slip covers are at the top of the list. Hurrah!

Long overdue. 

Although our current covers tried valiantly to maintain their dignity, alas they were no match for years of kids, more kids, a few glasses of spilled wine, sleepovers, TV dinners and a naughty pup or two... see Exhibit A: (And no, she isn't allowed on the couch. She is going through her rebellious phase...)

Exhibit A.

However, finding a fabric that would accommodate our taste as well as our heavily-trafficked lifestyle proved more difficult than expected.

Choosing slip covers for the couch and accompanying wing chair meant determining the direction for new wall colors and possible flooring decisions as well.

A domino effect. 

Paralysis by analysis was tempting, but desperation and a threadbare couch won out. I headed to the Dorell Fabric Outlet in Fountain Valley, California.

Located in an industrial park next to a restaurant supply store and several other home furnishings outlets (including: Just Like The Model), Dorell's retail outlet has been in business for about a year and boasts no fabrics priced over $20 per yard.

The bolts are grouped according to their primary color family and tagged to indicate whether or not the fabric can be reordered. Many fabrics are at the discount warehouse because they are the last of their lot, which means if you fall in love with something --act quickly.

 I needed to find 25 yards of sturdy upholstery fabric for the couch and 8 yards for the chair. Seems simple enough, until faced with so many choices...

I zeroed in on prints because I believe they are more forgiving of paw prints, peanut butter, ink marks and almost everything else a busy family can (and will) dish out. 

Although I love the idea of sophisticated solids, I don't see them lasting long under this roof. Yes, I know slip covers can be washed, and white slip covers can be bleached -but do I really want to add another chore to the weekly list? 

Maybe when the kids are in college.

Several trips to the warehouse, and many swatches later, here's how we ultimately made our decision:

* We chose colors that both my husband and I consistently like and gravitate towards; these colors also compliment most of our accessories and we won't be required to make radical changes in the accompanying decor.

* We chose prints we agreed on -and ones that work well in a cottage-style, eclectic home.

* It was important that the fabric suited the type of furniture it would be covering: a big squishy couch with pillows, and a structured wing-back chair.  

* The patterns feel updated and modern without being too trendy -and hopefully we will enjoy living with it for years to come.
* Finally, we tried to find fabric that could withstand the test of time and family.

Drum roll please...

The big decision: I am going to have two couch covers made in hopes that by alternating them, they will last longer! Shown in the photo above, the covers will be made in the yellow floral as well as the red, diamond-pattern fabric. (I am going to use the beachy striped material for a tote bag, and perhaps outdoor cushions!)

The living room chair is going to get a makeover with a dark denim cover. Can't wait!

Pillows offered finished, and unfinished.

Good deals, endless possibilities. Prepare to spend some time!

The giant banner on the front of the warehouse advertises free fabric. It's true, but a bit misleading. A free piece of yardage would probably equate to a throw pillow or two. No matter what, you won't leave empty handed.


  1. OMG...how fun is that? Love your choices! Be sure to post "after" photos when the slip covers are on!

  2. Thanks, Caroline! Absolutely, I am looking forward to posting the big reveal!


  3. Good post. I really like the quick writing style. I’ve always had trouble with design myself.
    Recently I got a few rooms in my apartment furnished by a startup, Furnishr. Furnishr let me
    pick my room design, all the furniture, and decor items for one price. They delivered everything
    in less than a week. Here’s link to them if you’re interested cool furniture stores


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