Lighten up: Metamorphasis Monday

It's time for another Metamorphasis Monday at Between Naps on the porch. New relaxed shades in off-white burlap (only $3.99/yard) let in plenty of sunlight, but still provide some privacy.
A new slipcover (I made it, so forgive the imperfections) in cream cotton provides protection for the sofa from the beast, Cleopatra.

Here is my living room as it looked when we moved into the house in Oct. 2007 after completeing the post Katrina renovations:

Not bad. A warm, masculine room, but heavy. Definitely a little heavy with the dark chairs, the black faux leather on the sofa (doesn't faux leather just sound so much better than pleather?). I did enjoy it for a while, but it started to oppress me. And quite frankly, two cats and a large dog had taken their toll. The rug became one of Cleo's favorite chew toys, and quite frankly, Todd Oldham's pleather was no match for pet claws. I also lost the two Nate Berkus burlap pillows in separate housebreaking and foster pet incidents. The cloth on the the side chairs was defective and frayed at the seems. And as for the dark trim--what was I thinking? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it always reminded me of a 1970s McDonald's. And it's not clear in the pic above, but the glass panels in to the door were covered with old-fashioned shirred panels in a woven fabric that resembled bamboo. (Those panels were a major point of contention--I say leave the doors bare and let the light in--the house is dark enough. Thomas hates the lack of privacy.) Any way it was time for a change. The first change, as seen in the opening photo was to paint the trim a deep cream and change the door color to a fresh green. Then, in the spirit of compromise, I made relaxed shades for the door panels out of natural burlap. It lets in much more light than the bamboo panels, but it provides enough privacy for Thomas. So much for the easy part--now the sofa needed to be tackled.

Replacing it was not an option. Number on4, we can't afford it. Number two, we both really like the sofa and find it comfortable. So, then came the question, "Recover or Slipcover?" Honestly, I would have preferred to recover it in an outdoor fabric--one practical way to have light coloured upholstery. However, I really didn't want to spend the $700 or so dollars it would take, and I could slipcover it myself, so slips it was:

I did as fitted a slipcover (including back zippers) as my limited sewing skills would allow. I don't mind the rumpled look at all, but I didn't think a really sloppy look would fit the retro lines and tight upholstery of the sofa. I also did a short, tailored faced hem to show the legs and keep the sofa from feeling too heavy (please ignore the pins in the hem and the hanging threads--a work commitment prevented me from finishing completely, but I was anxious to show the makeover). I found the cream cotton twill for $7.99/yard and bought during a recent sales tax free weekend.

I finished it just in time...the little fellow in the back showed up on our porch that same night.

It's not the first time I've had slipcovers. I've lived with them off and on for the past 15 years, so if you're not familiar with living with them, here's the whole truth:
1. Making them is not difficult (especially if you are naturally precise), but it's very tedious. For a first timer--a large chair with separate back and seat cushions might take a whole weekend. Professional labor starts at about $350/chair and goes up depending on the workroom and the complexity of the design. Honestly, to do it yourself, all you need is a good sewing machine, basic skills, and a good set of instructions which are readily available. And pins....lots and lots of pin. And thread...lots of thread....much more than you ever think you can use...because if you don't overstock the thread---you will run out, after the store is closed, with only one cushion left to make.
2. Unless they are extremely well fitted and made out of a stiff fabric, they will rumple and wrinkle somewhat. Deal with it--that is the nature of sleepcovers--they are inherently casual. It's like wearing linen--if the wrinkles bother you, it's not the fabric for you.
3. The washability---the truth is that it is nice to be able to wash the covers. you can get rid of lots of stains, everyday debris, and pet hair. If you pick white, the ability to bleach does make it fairly practical. That said, there might be stains that cannot be removed. Slipcovers make it easier to get out stains--but it's not foolproof. On a previous sofa, a guest fell asleep with make up on and left a mascara stain that managed to persevere through numerous bleachings. Like all stain, regular maintenance and quick action make the difference. In other words, if you see the red wine spill and can immediately strip the slip and tend to the stain--you'll probably get it out. If you find it the next day, probably not.
All in all, slipcovers are a good option for kids and pets, especially if you want light-coloured upholstery. But most importantly, it's a look I love and a great way to prolong the life of a piece of upholstered furniture that's seen better days.


Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Hi Mitchell, Love that first pic with all the glorious light streaming in! Your a genius for finding a way to let in the light and keep your privacy, too. I love Cleopatra passed out on the floor...too cute! :-) I really do like your new lighter look! I've never gotten up the nerve to try slipcovering something but you've made me think I should try it some time. Thanks for all the great tips. Yep, that's what I like about white...it can always be bleached. Have you seen those Clorox pen thingies...the ones that let you put bleach in a specific spot when you don't want to bleach the whole thing? Well, they work great...I use them a good bit because you can really concentrate the bleach in one spot. But be forewarned...once I put some on a wine stain on a tablecloth...then forgot about it for about 2 hours. When I came back...the spot was definitely gone...and so was the tablecloth. I had a hole where the spot used to be. :-} So don't leave that stuff on for too long if you use it! Wonder if that would have helped with the mascara stain. Thanks for a great Met Monday! Susan

Jennie said...

I LOVE the shades! Gorgeous!

Bill said...

Hi, Mitchell. Great metamorphosis!
This is my first time visiting your blog ... found you through Susan an BNOTP. The slipcover looks great! You really accomplished your goal of lightening up the space with all the changes you made.

Very nice post, well-written and informative. I'll definitely be back!

Bill @ Affordable Accoutrements

Enchanted Rose Studio said...

You did a beautiful job lightening up the room, it looks marvelous! Love the slipcover, great solution to a favorite sofa or chair! Love that it can be tossed in the wash.

Beautiful job! Bravo!


Anonymous said...

I'm seeing Double Dogs in that last shot. How's Lincoln making out?

mimi said...

The new look is beautiful. Well done!

Cheri Peoples said...

This looks really good. It lightens up the room and you still get to enjoy your comfy sofa--great way to be thrifty.

This is my first time to your blog. I hope you will come for a visit.
Its So Very Cheri

beki said...

Your slipcover looks good to me! I have plans of making one for my own sofa, but after my recent slipcovering of a wing chair and loose cushion settee, I just don't have it in me. I have all the materials, just not the time or patience at the moment. Thinking about all the cording I'd have to make for my 3 loose back cushions and 3 seat cushions kinda makes me sick.

Design Junkie said...

beki, I know your pain. I've been wanting to slipcover the sofa for at least 6 mos, but I kept putting off as long as I could. I also bought enough fabric to slipcover a couple of chairs, but I have been finding reasons to avoid it--unfortunately, our cat has decided to remind why I need to slip them, so I'm actually on-line right now taking a break from making cording---which I hate with the white hot heat of a thousand suns---but I will say, the cording always make it look better--it hides a mulitude of sewing sins.

Maria Killam said...

I just love that slipcover you made. It looks completely professional, you are amazing! Wow does it transform the room, and so great that that sofa already had such classic lines! I love coming over here to see what you've done next!!
Thanks for your comment today!

mimi said...

Great job! It looks like a new room!!