Monday, March 24, 2014

Domestic Matters

I've said before: you can have kids and dogs or you can have nice things, but you can't have both.  Case in point, our couches: within hours of their delivery from the furniture store, someone spilled chocolate pudding on one of the arms.

That was years ago and we still own the chocolate pudding couches and three dogs + four kids have caused them to deteriorate to the point that I don't want to have people over.  I was starting to think about buying new ones, when I was inspired by an article in the February, 2014 issue of Country Living, in which someone slipcovered a thrift store couch with painters' drop cloths.  What really arrested my attention was that the owner replaced her couch's back cushions with euro squares.  My couchs' back cushions were a real problem because after repeated washings, they had gotten out of shape and were bulbous, unwieldy and uncomfortable.  They were the reason I hadn't slipcovered the couch years before, so realizing I could just throw them away and get a new back was really liberating.

Decorator fabric is expensive, especially the amount you need to cover a full size couch and matching love seat.  The largest drop cloth at Lowe's cost $31 and provided enough fabric to cover the loveseat and a portion of the couch.

Here's the couch before, and this picture doesn't really do justice to how dirty it is.  I have washed the cushion covers many times, and once, rented an upholstery cleaning machine, which turned out to be a futile operation.

I have slipcovered furniture before. It's a pain in the ass, but it's not rocket science.  We've all seen Project Runway, right?  You just use your couch as a dress form. I did the love seat first and it took weeks and I still have to cover the seat cushions.  The couch came together in a single weekend.

I basted the trickier seams with the pieces still pinned to the couch.  To pipe or not to pipe was something I debated with myself at length and I went so far as to buy cording and cut several miles of bias strips, but ultimately decided it wasn't worth it to go to all that effort to class up what is essentially a couch-shaped dog blanket.

I bought 24" square pillows for the back, and originally intended to cover them with the drop cloth fabric, but changed my mind and used black and white ticking from some old curtains I had in my scrap basket.  The yellow throw pillows are from Target.

Is this perfect?  Does this look professional?  Is this the couch for the rest of my life? No, but it means I can delay buying new couches for several years and my guests won't be afraid to sit on my furniture. (More importantly, I won't be afraid to sit on my furniture.)

Now that my sewing machine is officially out of hibernation, expect to see more sewing projects!

Also on the domestic front, I started the process of repairing the walls in the hall and picking out paint colors.  All the dings in the wall below show that this is the spot where we always struggle to get large items of furniture up the stairs.

Pinterest is full of pictures of rooms with elegant gray walls and white trim.  I really thought gray might be a good choice, but I am not responding to that gray swatch.  To me, it says, "interrogation room."

Actually, I think I hate all of these colors.
We will definitely be buying new switch plates.

Of the colors above, I'm gravitating toward the top right (Kittery Point Green, Benjamin Moore).  The middle color on the right is definitely out, as are the top two on the left. Also on the left, Sherwin Williams' Gardenia, Narcissus, Morning Sun.

Left to right: Kittery Point Green, Nantucket Gray, Prescott Green, all Benjamin Moore. I'm not committed to a green hall, but it seems like a warmer alternative to gray.  On the other hand, I could walk blindfolded into any paint store, grab a random paint chip and whatever I picked would be better than the orange that's on the walls now.

Oh, and the orange walls?  They were inspired by Jacosta Innes' Decorating with Paint and The Thrifty Decorator, so we don't deserve all of the blame. 


  1. I'm amazed you did that with painters' drop cloths. It looks great.

    My tubby 17-pound cat never ever claws the furniture. He likes to claw the wood floor and moldings instead. If he's feeling especially naughty he'll put a few scratches in the kitchen cabinet doors. This is the third cat I've had and I've never seen such a nutter for destroying wood.

  2. I'm in awe that you covered your couch yourself --that is the kind of job that seems incredibly overwhelming to me. I think it turned out great.

    I have to ask though --with multiple dogs and kids, what ever possessed you to buy a white couch?!

    1. It was chosen by default. From what I recall, the year we bought our couches, the color choices available to us were either hideous, or that off white.

  3. My sofas came with large loose pillows along the back and it was not too hard to make new cute ones, and I'm SO much happier with them. I am considering making a drop-cloth slipcover for a bonded-leather chair that the cats have essentially ruined. Honestly--with pins and basting in place, it's not so tough, right? Plus it looks all Pottery Barn cool.

    As you've realized--just looking BETTER is worth it. The same will be true with the paint, you'll see. Close your eyes and pick! Whee!

  4. NICE work on the couch!
    And I had to snicker because I totally noticed the switchplate. You can find brand new ones at places like Habitat ReStore for pennies, seriously.
    I am with you on grey--so cold and industrial looking unless it's done just right--with the perfect trim and furnishings to pull it together. I'm way to lazy to ever fuss with grey walls. But green or blue? In a heartbeat!

  5. I am craving a flowery yellow couch right now, but that would require repainting the living room, which Larry won't do until he finds time to rip out the walls and insulate them. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

  6. I like the job you've done on the couch. I re-covered a chaise last year. I think it took me 3 months. (I had to re-spring it and re-pad it, plus make new legs)

    What's wrong with a gentle off-white for the hall?