The Slipcover Report

By Kate Riley June 13, 2013

It’s been a week of lethargy around here and the start of summer is totally to blame. We’ve spent most of the mornings just lying around and then sometimes we find the energy to do something fun but I admit it’s been nice being extra lazy the past two weeks. 

Ever since the house tour I’ve had a few questions, namely about the furniture in our home and especially in the family and dining rooms with other inquiries like how we live the way we do with kids and pets and my answer comes down to one word or choice that I’m sure several of you endorse and that word is this: slipcovers.

Slipcovered furniture is a mom’s BFF and I’m a true believer. What’s better than a washable piece of furniture when those oops and spills and mistakes of life occur? Slipcovers buy me piece of mind because I know (like last week) when applesauce gets spilled on them, they can go straight to the wash. I prefer the tailored fitted versions, the ones that mimic upholstered pieces but have the benefit of easy removal when “oh no mom I spilled on the couch” moments happen.

Our family room sofas and dining room chairs are our most used pieces and as a result, limbs and hands and paws are on them constantly so naturally they’re bound to get soiled. So here’s the slipcover report after all these years of living with them with kids and pets and life’s circumstances and the lowdown on my two favorite pieces of slipcovered furniture.

First the family room sofas. I bought these sofas five years ago – they are the Pottery Barn Basic sofa and loveseat and worth the investment. They were manufactured by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (in partnership with Pottery Barn according to the label) and still are as comfortable as the month they were delivered.

pottery barn basic sofas centsational girl

This color of slipcover is (sadly) no longer available, they are the “Slate Blue” brushed canvas fabric, and as you know I’m a sucker for anything in the blue gray family so the choice was easy. The cushions are polyester which are more firm and hold the shape a bit better than down blend as I understand (but tell me your experience if you have the down blend versions). They’re not in direct sun, so I have no idea how the fabric color holds up those circumstances, but ours has been consistent through the multiple washings. 

I’ve washed these slipcovers more times than I can count and they still keep their shape, but a few tips: don’t wash all the cushion slipcovers together if you have both a loveseat and sofa, I’ve confused them before when they come out and struggled with which belongs with which. It’s better to wash the loveseat cushions and loveseat cover together, then just the sofa cushion covers, then just the sofa cover, in three separate washes. That’s my routine anyway. Also dry them on a low heat cycle and pull them out when ever so slightly damp so you can smooth any wrinkles away.

Also, the sofa is the foldout version, which we love for family movie night or kid sleepovers when we move the loveseat back a foot and move the coffee table out of the way and they all pile on top in front of a movie with blankets and pillows and popcorn.

In the dining room are the Ballard Designs Couture Chairs that I bought seven years ago and still going strong. I have three of the pleated slipcover sets for them, a dark brown velvet which is yummy in the fall, a cream velvet which I love in the winter, and then a spa linen (seen below) in a pale gray blue which I use in the spring and summer and complements the family rooms sofas nicely.

dining room centsational girl

The regular price on the pleated slipcovers is $49 but I wait for the $39 each sale or use a 15% off coupon (find it in House Beautiful or other publications). I like that the flirty pleat adds a feminine touch and that the chair legs are visible. They’ve gone through multiple washings as well and have held their color and shape for years.

So there you have it, the secret to sanity in my house: tailored slipcovers. Fitted and washable, I couldn’t ask for more!




  1. Good to know that your slipcovers are holding up! I am thinking about buying a slip covered loveseat this weekend and also buying a slipcover for another couch. I was concerned that maybe they would shrink but it sounds like you haven’t had problems!

  2. I love the PB couches!

    Any suggestions for finding slipcovers to fit over a couch and loveseat I already own? It looks similar to the PB couches shown above, but the back pillows are more pillowy (they don’t have sides, they just come together, not sure what to call that) and less boxy. Thanks!

    • Hi Carmen, to have them fit perfectly you’ll have to have them made by a local shop or seamstress, that’s what I’d do!

  3. I love my slipcovered chair from World Market too! People are always shocked when they see that I have a cream chair with boys in my house. :) However, I have one spot (I think chocolate) that won’t come out. Any tips for how to get out tough stains?

    Also, I would love to see a floor plan on your house. I love each and every room, but can’t figure out how the house flows together. Just an idea for a new post. :)

  4. We just got a PB Comfort sectional and are LOVING it. We got (what I think is a new-ish fabric for PB) a great griege fabric in the Performance canvas. The performance canvas is amazing!! I have a crazy toddler and dog, and pretty much anything will wipe off with a wet cloth, if not with a little soap and water. It’s a slipcover, so I can still was the whole thing, but it is sooo wonderful to be able to do most of the maintenance without the trouble of washing the whole thing. Definitely recommend!!

  5. Similar question to Carmen, I have a couch I love, but it’s an ugly fabric (green and gold with pineapples, ugh…but it was free…) and I would love to slipcover it with a fitted slipcover. Any advice on where to find one?

    And like SJ I would love a floor plan too, even a rough one!


    • Thanks for the suggestion on the floor plan Christina, I’ll see what I can do!

  6. Hi Kate!

    I love your blog and follow it regularly, I’m a wannabe DIY’er haha…my projects never turn out right : ) Anways, I have 2 little one’s under 3 and was wondering if you could suggest the best option for me for these slip covers? I have some Pier 1 parsons chairs I’d love to cover, the reviews stated ppl actually used these covers on Pier 1 chairs and they worked!

    • Hi Jackie, I’m confused, did you mean the Ballard Designs covers on Pier One chairs? I’ve seen the Pier One chairs, it could work, not sure of the dimensions.

  7. I have a slip covered section that I love, but I am sick of the khaki color – any thoughts on how (or preferably where I can take it) to dye it? I want to change it to a dark gray/blue but have no idea where to begin!

    • Hi Helene, yes you can dye certain fabrics or ones that aren’t synthetic but it’s a commitment. You’d have to try it in an inconspicuous spot first.

  8. I too have a slipcovered sectional from C&B and slipcovered dining chairs from Ikea. I LOVE them! My sectional is about 10 yrs old and as I would love to get a new cover (not that its worn, but for a different look.) It’s still going strong! We have the down version and have had to add stuffing (old down pillows) to each of the back cushions, but the lower cushions are in near perfect condition. It was a significant investment when we bought it, but after 10 years is still holding up fantastically. And my slipcover is still going strong as well after numerous washings. I will definitely be replacing them with slipcovered sofas again when the time comes.

  9. Hi Kate,
    Your family room is so pretty :) I love your ability to combine pretty with comfy and natural elements.
    Not related to slip covers but any chance you can share where you purchased your mirrors?

  10. Thanks for this post, I just purchased the same sofa from PB (in the parchment) and I’m glad to know I made a good investment. The washing tips will come in handy, too.

  11. The first thing that hit me about your post wasn’t necessarily slipcovers (although I’m a great fan, too!) – but was the consistency in your home’s colors. I’ve learned from you especially the importance of planning colors that blend from room to room and how calming and “grown up” it makes the house seem. When I first purchased my home more than a decade ago, I was so thrilled to have my own walls to paint and rooms to decorate that I went with whatever colors seemed pretty on the swatches. But now, my decorating seems a bit discordant and I’m slowly working one room at a time on a more cohesive color palette. Thanks for showing us your home – I’m learning from your thoughtful work!

  12. Hey Kate,

    I apologize if you have answered this before, but where did you get that white console table/bookcase behind the couch? I have been looking for something just like that but haven’t been able to find it anywhere?

    Thank you!


  13. After just completing a slipcover for my SECTIONAL, I am completely hooked. I decided I’m going to start a business making them. It is so funny that you posted about this. I am amazed at the transformation that slipcovers provide. Their family friendly qualities are extremely attractive as well. Your home is beautiful and an example of how style doesn’t have to compromise function.

  14. You always amaze me! I starting googling slip covers today for the first time and thought I wounder what Kate would do and sure enough…..your post today was just what I needed!

    Could you recommend a substitute for the blue/grey oversize chair slipcover you have in your living room? You said it was no longer available but I was wondering if you knew of another identical to it online?

  15. I loooooove your sofa table! Where can I get a similar one? I believe yours was a Joss & Main purchase,no?

    • The more fitted they are, the less they’ll shift around Attic Management, ours stay in place very well.

  16. I’ve had the Henriksdal dining chairs from ikea for years and loved that I could bleach the white slipcovers. I did have to learn to live with some food spots after my Girls grew out of their high chair because, goodness knows, you can’t wash them after every meal! Also, after I learned to put them back on damp (easier to get them to stretch over the seat and fewer wrinkles!), it was such an easy process. Recently, I got the Fresh Floral slip cover for the chairs from Pier 1, which fit really well! At first I was worried because I couldn’t bleach stains out, but its been so nice because with the large, colorful pattern, the little drips and finger smears are barely visible between washings. It’s almost better than the white!

  17. Thank you so much for posting this! I have an old parsons chair from Pier 1 that has seen better days and the leather is falling to pieces, but I can’t beat to get rid of it! I don’t like most chair slipcovers because they look slouchy or sloppy but these are awesome! Thanks again!

  18. I bought an Ikea slipcovered sofa and two club chairs in white a few months ago. Everyone thought I was crazy since we have three boys, but it’s been fine. I’ve only washed the cushions once so far. Not bad! Because it’s so hot here, I wanted something that felt “cool” all year long. That’s why we chose colors similar to yours for our family room. It makes these hot days so much easier!

  19. I love the slipcovers, especially the ones on the dining chairs. I love the ruffle at the bottom. I wonder how hard it would be to sew these yourself? I am reupholstering dining chairs now and have been throwing around the idea of slip covers to protect the fabric after all that work!

  20. I too have a LOVE for slipcovers. We have a large cream colored sectional and it is fabulous to take all of the covers off and throw them right into the wash! Such a nice feature. People sometimes think I’m crazy to have a white couch, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  21. I have never really looked into slip covers fearing they wouldn’t fit well but seeing yours and reading this post I am coming around to them. Really like the idea of being able to take them off and give them a good clean

  22. Thanks for a very helpful and timely post! I need to go sofa shopping and love the slipcovered look. But I’ve been worried that they would shrink and be difficult to get back on properly. Changing sheets is one of my least favorite household tasks, so I have this fear that changing slipcovers would be even worse. Nice to hear some first-hand experience. I’m heading to Pottery Barn! I’ve been in love with your family room for a long time now!

  23. I agree, slipcovers are the way to go! Originally, we looked at several different sofas and settled on the PB sofas and the Baldwin sofas from Ballard. After visiting both stores and actually sitting in each sofa, we ended up choosing the Ballard sofas. The Baldwin just worked out better for us as my husband is 6’3″. We LOVE them!

    We also purchased two sets of slipcovers in two different colors that we switch out every six months or so. They’re the twill (brushed canvas) slipcovers and have laundered very well. No noticeable shrinkage so far. My only complaint is that the slipcover colors offered by Ballard are somewhat limited, PB definitely has more options. Ballard does offer the option to make the slipcovers for you using your own material that you send them. It’s a bit pricey though, maybe one day.

  24. I’m a slipcover addict and love the possibilities for changing out during the year. Ballard Designs and JCP have many options both color wise and style. Watch for furniture sales, the slipcovers will be part of such. The sizes are shown and easily matched to existing sofas. Different fabrics have never been an issue or the construction. I’ve lucked out on different styles fitting well, even T-cushions.

    Also, have always had down fill. But am casual which is what you will have with down. Haven’t had to fill them, but wouldn’t think this would be an issue if needed.

    Make sure your back pillows are not sewn on. Although if you are going for a slipcover it is easy to remove them.

  25. I love all the slipcovers!! Very timely post as I just bought a home and am looking at ways to utilize the furniture I already own, while also have it fit with the home and not look like I just threw furniture together for the sake of it. I have to ask though, WHERE did you get the dining table? I just LOOOVE it! I love all your selections, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint the type of dining table I want, and yours is the perfect blend of formal while still being inviting. I don’t want a stuffy dining room that only gets used on Christmas and Thanksgiving, and yours is warm and inviting.

  26. We are updating some club chairs and can’t decide to recover or slip cover. What is the least expensive in your opinion? Love your home. Thanks for sharing:}

    • Hi Sarah, custom slipcovers vary in price depending on who you have do it, and the fabric you choose, but they can be just as expensive as upholstery sometimes, search around in your area for that type of professional service, often the reupholstery shops do slipcovers too.

  27. Big slipcover fan here as well! I’d really like to order a PB sofa for our next sofa but I’ve been going back and forth on if the price was worth it. One of those “Is it well made or am I just paying for the name?” type deals. Your post clinched it for me so thank you! Happy to hear that they hold up nicely.

  28. I no longer have young children in my house but I do have a husband who likes working outside and often comes in sweaty and dirty. Needless to say, the furniture did not stay clean. I recently had slipcovers made for my sofa and two chairs. I am thrilled with the results because, as you say, you just throw them in the washing machine. I am very happy with the change!

  29. I worked for Pottery Barn for a number of years & here is a great tip: they change the slipcovers on their display sofas 1-2 times per year. The old slipcovers are sold at a discount. As they don’t have anywhere to display these, you usually have to ask about them, and frequently they will have several seasons worth of covers in their stockroom. Alternately, if you are interested in a cover currently on the floor you can submit a customer service request asking to be contacted once the slipcover is changed out. A few caveats: 1. obviously you have to own the same size sofa as the one on display in the store and 2. these covers ONLY work on Pottery Barn sofas. In answer to Corrie, no, I don’t think you are just paying for the name – PB sofas are really well made and hold up well. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative you might try West Elm. They are a division of Williams Sonoma (as is Pottery Barn) and have some nice, albeit more modern, sofas available. I actually purchased a West Elm sofa for my home and have been very pleased with how it has held up.

  30. Your house is beautiful and I always love reading your posts! I have the same PB basic sofa and loveseat – have had them for 10 years and they still look just as great as when I bought them, although with my sunny room, the fabric has faded a bit over the years, but nothing noticeable to anyone else. With five kids, I have also washed them countless times and have always done as you suggest – dry them on low and take them out when they’re still a little damp – and they still fit fine. My cushions are the down blend – you asked how those hold their shape. They’ve held up perfectly – I haven’t had any problems with them losing shape, plus with the down they are so comfy!
    Thanks for all the tips and enjoy your lazy summer days!

  31. Where did you get the beautiful turquoise glass table lamp? I’ve been looking for one like that for months.

  32. We just purchased our first slipcovered furniture from Ikea (Ektorp sofa and 2 chairs) and already love them! I wish we had done this years ago when we had kids at home! I just didn’t believe it could be so easy to take care of them. Thanks for the washing tips!

  33. Your slipcovers look amazing! I’m sure your family loves to snuggle on the pull out for TV and movie time! I love those chair slipcovers – I’ll keep my eye out for them!

  34. I love slip covered furniture. It’s so good to hear reports like yours. I had slipcovers made for a sofa before. It’s expensive and every time I washed them, the unfinished seams frayed. Not good.

  35. For all who wash slipcovers, do you wash the whole set each time to make sure any fading is even? Or can you get away with washing just the cushion cover that gets the spill, alone? I had a deep persimmon colored quilt bedding set years ago with several matching euro shams. It took a few washings of the quilt without washing the sham covers for me to realize that the quilt had faded faster than the shams. Maybe if the color had not been so dark or deep to begin with, the fading wouldn’t have been as noticeable?

  36. If there is a spill on the slip cover does it seep thru onto the couch material? I’m thinking of red wine or food spills.

    • I haven’t had that problem Tinisha but all spills have been minor, I use Wine Away for red wine, works every time to remove any stain.

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