my black chair

Slipcover. Yay or nay?

( Blue chair is the before, black print is the slipcover)

You’ve been in one of these situations, I’ll bet: 

-The purple accent chair doesn’t look so great with the new sofa. 

-Uncle Jim gave you his ‘sittin’ chair, and the leather cushions are so bare you’re afraid to sit there.

-The winter was hard on the sofa;  it’s wearing in places, showing blotches and kitty scratches, but it’s still really comfy.

So, what’s the solution? Well, of course, you can dispose of these pieces and get new ones, but for environmental, frugal, or sentimental reasons, this might not be a viable option for you.

You could give them away—same reasons for not doing that.

You could get them reupholstered. But you will probably be a tad surprised at the price tag.  ( More on this in a minute.)

Aqua cut velvet

Or, you could consider slipcovers. (I can HEAR you, you know!)  NOT the one-size-fits-all from the online department store, but ones custom-made to fit your particular piece. Slipcovers which fit, don’t shift around, are washable, replaceable, look like upholstery, and cost a lot less than replacing the piece. Seriously.

 Five  reasons you should consider slipcovers:

1. A Slipcover does not damage the piece. You can take it off, and the original is still intact.
2. Slipcovers can be washable. Yes, washable. As in your washing machine.
3. Organic fabrics can be used. While natural fabrics are not typically suitable for upholstery, they are almost a must for slipcovers.
4. You can change the covers with the seasons or your whims.
5. You can have a slipcover custom made to fit your piece for probably half the cost of upholstery. 

Original on the left, first slipcover in the middle, last incarnation on the right.

Now, the proviso here is that the price of upholstery depends on quite a few variables, which don’t exist in slipcovering. Most upholstery involves removing the cover fabric ( huge time-suck) replacing any worn padding, tightening screws, fixing springs, etc…. and using upholstery-specific fabric for the cover.  So that all adds up, but it often results in a new piece from the frame out.

I recently asked an upholsterer what it would cost to fix a little loveseat whose springs were tired. The quote for upholstery was, ‘About $2000.00’. Slipcover was $450.00.  Granted, the upholsterer would have fixed the springs… And this upholsterer won’t give a firm quote; her prices are ‘approximate.’ I like to know what I’m going to pay.

Judy's chair
Slipcover. Yes, slipcover.


A wing-backed chair costs about $1500.00 to reupholster — if it’s in good shape, no squeaks or wobbles. A slipcover is about $500.00. Again, these costs depend on the fabric used, the condition of the chair to start with, and your expectations.

So, you might want to consider slipcovers. It doesn’t cost anything to ask.. look at the examples on the website

Monica's sofa
This one had to be on 8-inch blocks because of a physical limitation of the owner…

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