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July 1, 2011 > Real Rooms For Real People: Reupholster or slipcover for a new look

Real Rooms For Real People: Reupholster or slipcover for a new look

A great way to revitalize a room is by reupholstering or slipcovering the furniture. Rather than buy new pieces, recovering existing items can give your home a new look and extend the life of your furniture.

Is your furniture a good candidate for reupholstery? A good upholsterer can actually reconstruct the frame, springs and cushions on an old sofa or chair. A reupholstered piece of furniture can be as good as or even better than new. However, the cost can be quite high, especially if an expensive fabric is chosen. If the piece is of very good quality, then reupholstering makes sense economically, as it can be less expensive than buying a comparable new piece. On the other hand, if the piece was of lesser quality to begin with, from a financial point of view it is probably better to purchase something new instead.

Slipcovers are a great choice when you want flexibility. Some people like to change the look of their furniture with the seasons. Light, cheerful colors are good for spring and summer, while dark, rich fabrics are appropriate in fall and winter. Other people love being able to remove the slipcovers for cleaning. Slipcovers are very practical for families with young children and pets for this reason. Don't shy away from white and natural fabrics - they fit into a variety of design styles and they can be bleached. Tailored, well-made slipcovers can look almost like upholstery and can extend the life of the upholstery underneath. Like reupholstery, custom-made slipcovers can be pricey, but are designed to last for many years.

Several of my design projects lately have included recovering existing pieces of furniture. I love doing custom reupholstery because it gives my clients and me the opportunity to select the perfect fabric for the room. Most furniture stores have limited upholstery choices. But there are so many fabrics available through fabric showrooms, that just about any style and color can be accommodated when recovering furniture.

Reupholstery can be a great option when you find gorgeous dining chairs, for example, at estate sales or consignment stores. Try to look past the current fabric and see the potential. The same goes for upholstered headboards, benches and accent chairs. If you like the shape, size and scale of the piece, don't let its current upholstery dissuade you from purchasing it.

I recently helped one client reupholster the large ottoman in her living room. We selected a gorgeous embroidered floral pattern in the colors aquamarine, chocolate brown and cream. The refurbished ottoman coordinates beautifully with her teal blue sofa, cream-colored chairs and dark wood tables.

Another client decided to re-upholster two chairs that she and her husband love. The chairs are the perfect size for the room, have a cute shape, and are well made and comfortable. It would be difficult to find comparable chairs at an affordable price. Re-upholstering them was the perfect solution. We chose a lovely fabric in an amber color with cream embroidered dots.

A third client decided to have a custom slipcover made for her sofa. She wanted a new look for the sofa, but wanted the option of reverting back to its original look. For this client, a slipcover was a great choice. We chose a yellow, blue and white striped fabric to complement her decor. Underneath is the original oatmeal colored fabric waiting to reappear at a moment's notice.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local Interior Designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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