3.14.2014

a case for the white slipcovered sofa




I get a lot of emails and questions here on the blog as to how I keep this sofa clean and also comments saying that they would love to have a white sofa but because of kids and pets it is out of the question.  I'd like to make a case for the white sofa...even if you have pets and kids.



We've had  white slipcovered furniture for many many years.  My boys grew up with them.  We always had their friends at our house too. So it wasn't uncommon to have 3 to 6 boys laying all over the furniture at any given time. Plus we always had dogs and cats.




I've always preferred seeing the dirt and being able to wash it myself than to having a fabric that hid it and then having to pay to have it professionally cleaned.  It is more work but I suppose it's because my boys were walking dirtbags that I just felt the need to keep our seating clean.  I wasn't paranoid about them using the furniture either.  The two chairs up above have the original slipcovers still on them and they are over 20 years old.





Our dogs really were not allowed on the furniture either.  I know this is not popular today but they always had their own dog beds to sleep in.  And meals were eaten at the table.  Popcorn was fine to watch tv with but really since I was the chief cook and bottle washer...I got to make the rules and basically the rule was you ate in the kitchen.  I don't think this is a popular idea any longer either.



The last argument I'll make is that I've always had a lot of fun changing the pillows out.  I love just swapping out the pillow covers and getting a new look.  Other than the pillows and a few accessories the room is the same.  I thank the white sofa for that.






I store the pillow covers in this vintage suitcase so they are easy to get to.





So that's my defense of white slipcovers.  It's probably a good thing I never went into law.  But if you'd like to see how I wash my slipcover the link is right here.

Have a decent one my friends.

49 comments:

  1. I was one of those white skeptics when I saw you entertaining in there but the slipcovers/pillowcovers are an easy remedy which makes the white sofa a real viable option.

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  2. I so agree Janet! We eat our meals at the table and I think with food out of the picture, the kid factor is really not a good reason to shy away from white. My husband is really the only one who stains our slipcovers. I told him that the other night after I freshly laundered ours. ; ) xoxo

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  3. Love the look, but not an option for our household, as nothing says "home" more than a cat(s) sleeping tightly curled on a sofa or chair.
    We'd be washing slipcovers weekly......

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    1. Or, you can just vaccum them between washings!

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    2. I use a lint roller from Target when clients track cat/dog hair onto my white slipcovered sofa in my office. Works like charm.

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  4. I had white slipcovers on both a sofa and an armchair for years with a growing boy, an orange tabby cat, and a black lab mix--and we ate in the living room, too. One of our favorite things was to watch Blade Runner and have a bowl of stir fry noodles (eaten with chopsticks). The dog wasn't allowed on the sofa, but plenty of black dog hair would be found on it when I got home from work. But those slipcovers were workhorses, washed and spot-cleaned again and again, and the room always looked so great with them. Damp microfiber cloths worked great for wiping off the pet hair between washings. For various reasons I had darker ones for a few years, and found them much harder to keep clean. When we moved here, I insisted on going back to white ones, and have never regretted it. I've always made my own, as my sofa is an odd size. Totally worth it. Like you, I'd rather know when they were getting grotty.

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  5. Your white slipcover is our striped velvet. A velvet sofa with kids! I was the kid back then ...
    http://tinyurl.com/o488h2t
    White, beige, ivory ... just what a living room needs imho.

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    1. Ok, I feel really dumb about now.....Why did it never occur to me to just switch out the covers on the pillows instead of the pillows themselves. I have a trunk full of pillows that I swap out and all I really need is a pretty thrifted suitcase! ugh

      No food or pets allowed on the furniture was my rule also. Mostly they obeyed until we would go up to bed and they were all left unsupervised downstairs!

      Happy Weekend to you! ♥

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    2. I don't know why this came across as a reply... but it took me three tries to get it to post. are you still having problems too?

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  6. I have had white slipcovers with a dog, cat and three kids. I love them. They have taken a beating including a glass of red wine and blueberry pie but still look great. I wouldn't go back.

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  7. We have pale cream couches in our sitting room with two kids and a dog! They are fine. I clean them with a wet/dry vacuum thing I have and have a gorgeous sage green handknitted rug I throw over the one the dog likes to sit on. We have very old leather couches in our kitchen/living area which just keep getting more weathered and beaten up but it seems to suit.

    I don't think the food in the kitchen rule is that old-fashioned at all - I do it too. Meals are at the table and snacks at the breakfast bar in the kitchen.

    Your house is gorgeous. I love how uncluttered but still homy and interesting it is. Beautiful.

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  8. Totally agree, Janet! I've had mine for many years, and raised three kids with them. Can't imagine any other way. Clever way to store your pillow covers!

    Hope you have an awesome weekend :)

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  9. Janet, I totally agree with you about dogs staying off the furniture and eating in the dining room or kitchen! Our first two dogs, adopted as puppies, were taught to stay off furniture. Our two most recent adoptions were both adult dogs when we got them, and clearly they had been allowed up on sofas and beds. We couldn't break them of this, so now we keep towels on the spare bedroom bed and the sofa. I love the look of white slipcovers and I get your point about being able to see when something needs to be cleaned. Your chairs and sofa look great.
    Claudia

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  10. I love your homekeeping series!

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  11. We bought two IKEA love seats after I found your blog. They are slip covered in cream linen and I adore them!
    One night some crumbs from a chocolate bar were inadvertently dropped and they melted into the linen. The next morning I got out my soap and a small brush and cloth and voila the stains were gone! You have, and continue to inspire me Janet and I am forever in your debt.

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  12. This is a real possibility for when we next need a couch - good arguments, Janet!

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  13. I have lusted after white sofas for years and everyone kept telling me that I was insane.
    In the meantime I found and fell in love with a black faux leather vintage sofa and chair at an estate sale.
    I love those pieces as much as a sane person can love furniture but if they ever need replacing I am definitely getting the white after reading this! That's so much!

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  14. Thank you so much for providing the link on washing slipcovers. I need to wash mine, for the first time. Also wanted to add I, too, love your housekeeping series, and loved particularly enjoyed seeing how easily you are able to get a new look via changing the lamps, rugs, pillows -- because you have great foundations from which to work All the room photos are lovely and I would have a hard time choosing a favorite, but I am very fond of the brass student lamp…juxtaposition makes a room feel a bit eclectic, which is my favorite style and one a decorator once told me is the hardest to accomplish, and you have!!! Louise

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  15. The Ikea sofa is amazing! We got ours just over a year ago and I've washed everything about 4 times since then, all the stains have come out very easily and it's just so nice to be able to wash it and have it all fresh! If it ever gets really bad then for the price of about $50, you just buy new slip covers:) Genius!

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  16. I am a white slipcover lover too. Being able to see the dirt, and wash it off, makes me feel a tad creepy about the dirt and germs in my friends dark upholstery. I have found that cotton corded trim can shrink if you use too hot a dryer. Sadly, that was learned from experience.

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  17. Thanks for this post. I, too, have the white slipcovered sofa, loveseat and chair. They are in my family room and rarely get used (I know this is the reverse of what is normal...the living room is off the kitchen so we use that more). My teenage daughter uses this room the most and I have gotten a few unidentifiable spots that didn't come off with the cleaner I was given, but other than that, they are spotless and I haven't even had to wash them yet. But I was very paranoid when I first got them!! I guess because I thought I would never get the slipcovers back on as perfectly as they are now if I washed them! lol! My dogs have little quilts they lie on in the living room and we just don't let them on that furniture which is a little confusing to them!! I guess you could say I need to lighten up! Ha! Your post helped. Going to look at the washing link.

    XO,
    Jane

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  18. Well I agree, it is good to be able to see stains and dirt and then wash , rather than sit on something for years that is hiding grime and whatever. Our one and only lounge suite was used on a daily basis by all, no animals though ,served us well for many years. I am wanting a new look, and white/cream/beige is on the wish list. Change of cushions to suit the seasons, just what I want to do...and I can't help but wonder why I always feel so calm after looking at pictures of your home...
    Janet, is your lounge Ikea, and if so, what model is it and are you pleased with it? thank you, Linda C.

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    1. the sofa in the living room is pottery barn and the one in the office is an ikea ektorp. :)

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  19. Hi Janet,

    We had to eat/drink at the dining table when I was a kid and our furniture always looked new. We also had Dobermans (show dogs, no less) and they were not allowed on the furniture. I sit on the floor when they are puppies now, so they never even think to get up on the sofas. I crate train them when they are puppies and then when they are trustworthy they graduate to dog beds and that way they don't develop bad habits like chewing up everything you own. They're still pretty spoiled though.

    I love your white furniture, your home and your blog!

    Michelle

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  20. love this post and love the story and love how you store the slip covers!

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I repost my comment as Ihave had some technical issues!

      Janet!
      I am rather new to your blog and I love it. You have a special talent to talk about the most simple subject in an elegant and relaxing way. I feel peaceful when I read your post and that makes it the first thing I do in the morning. I love your sense of humour and the fact that you don't take yourself seriously, I think that's what makes this blog rather unique.
      I have always aimed at a simpler and beautiful life without knowing there was a trend about it. I have had the same sofa as yours and I do pretty much everything in it (our appartment is small). I nursed my baby in it and now I am feeding her there (our kitchen does not have any seating space), so far so good! But as soon as she can sit in her high chair she will eat at the dinner table ;-)
      I know it is not the subject of this blog but if you have any other idea or memories on bringing up kids that you would like to insert "en passant" that would be great! I like a lot your perspective on life, you make it sound so light and playful. I believe this is your special talent and what makes this blog so sucessful! We all need more beauty, simplicity and fun, thank you for giving us that!

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  22. I love the look of white sofa. I drove myself crazy about buying one for our place here in London. I have the slipcovered dining chairs back in VA and I had to wash them a little more often that I cared to. In the end i went with a gray sofa and it's already stained with coffee (thank you MATT!) I might just have to buy a new white cover eventually.

    Lovely house janet!

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  23. I've never had problems with mine either ( from Crate and Barrel, 1997); my corgi is never allowed on furniture, only one red wine stain in all this time, easily removed with Wineaway, kids not allowed to eat in the living room. I take mine to a laundromat and use the massive machine there with biokleen and chlorox2. Your living room looks so peaceful!

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  24. I too have the white Ikea sofa...here is a tip I found out a long time ago. At Wal Mart, there is a product in the detergent area called White Brite. It smells like a salon full of hair perm lol but if you soak any of your whites ...shams...slipcovers etc, they come our so very white! I think its about 3.99 . I love it. I am just getting ready to soak all my white bedding and slips this next week. Just do not use it on any color items. As always your blog is delightful!

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  25. A good defense Janet, but I do not like white furniture so out of the question for me. It's pure chaos around here lately with the new babies and a live-in nanny so I am really enjoying the simplicity that you share with us. I close the door on reality and transport myself into your neat and calm cottage. Bliss!

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  26. Thanks for posting this, because I'm leaving behind my sofas in my toxic-mold house(!) and wondering if getting a white slipcovered sofa would be doable for me, because I am far from tidy. Since I can manage to through things in a washing machine, I'm going to give this a try. BTW, I am using your home for inspiration in decorating my new place, wherever that may be. I just want to come close to the feeling of calm and beauty you've created here- and having to start over seems like an opportunity. Hope I can do it!

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    1. SE, I too have new furniture courtesy of toxic mold! Reading about simplicity here and elsewhere certainly helped me let go of contaminated stuff. Still in the process of weeding things out for our downsized space...still needing inspiration! Our new furniture is chocolate brown microfiber -- practical but dark, so I'm thinking plenty of cream accents and striving for serenity.

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  27. There's such a timeless and soothing appeal to your living room. I have seen all white or mostly white rooms that just don't do it for me - too stark, maybe. Yours is perfect. Thanks for the info on the white upholstery. I'm afraid of it, but you make a great case. My family already thinks I'm too in love with white and I fear I'd never hear the end of it if I brought up white upholstery! Ha! Ha!

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  28. Ooooh...pillow covers. {smacks self on forehead} I was wondering where you stored all of your throw pillows. Great idea for both saving space, and changing out the look in the room seasonally! Thank you for sharing this tip. :)

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  29. I love the fact that you have matching pairs of pillow. It seems the thing to do lately is have a jumble of mismatched ones and call it eclectic. It's nice to know I am not alone in preferring symmetry.

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  30. Our sofa is also a white slipcover style. I wash the cushion covers but haven't been able to wash the 'body cover' part as it's too big for my washer at the moment. I like your vintage suitcase for storage! Thanks for the tips, Janet.

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  31. The next living room furniture we buy is going to be slipcovered...I had a white sofa years ago that wasn't, not a good idea when it's the only sofa you have. (didn't have it for long) I had the rule no food on the couch/in the living room but it was hard to enforce.

    I recovered my dining room chairs in an off white about 5 years ago which we hardly ever use unless we have company. However, I just noticed recently that the chair my daughter sits in on occasion has a few stains. (she is still a messy eater!) Luckily I have some extra fabric if I can't get them out. Maybe eventually I should look into slip covers for those too! :)

    Linda
    xo

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  32. I have the same rules as you…no dog on furniture and we eat in the kitchen (except for the occasional popcorn/movie thing too). Our slipcovers are in great shape with 3 kids too:)

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  33. I have cream leather sofas and the most damage is from my husband and cat (claws) but they are there to be used and my grandchildren jump all over them, too. But I also have a slip-covered sofa upstairs and can choose what look I feel like - white, red or light purple, which I love to change seasonally! This is Ikea and the covers fit in my (European) washer, no trouble.
    We can't tell our cat what to do (she only lies on furniture if there's a sheepskin there, anyway!) but the dogs have been brought up to die rather than jump on a sofa, they would feel so bad if they even tried LOL All four paws on the floor is our rule!
    And kids are only allowed to eat or drink if they sit at the table to do so. This has worked for 30 years and ongoing with grandchildren. My daughter enforces it, too. Anything else is just out of control and would drive me nuts.

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  34. A lovely peek and a quick question, Janet (or anyone): I also have 2 vintage suitcases that I love, but both smell very stale and old inside. How do you rid the inside of the "vintage" smell so I can store soft linens in there without them absorbing the must? Thank you! This is an AWESOME idea and I WILL use it ASAP if I could alleviate that darn stench. TY!

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    1. lor i get rid of those smells with mrs myers lavender dryer sheets. but i'm sure there are other ways too.

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    2. Well, easy enough. Ill look for those. No matter how long I leave them open, they never seem to "air." Ill give that a try. TY! If it works, Ill have great storage for my table linens. GREAT idea BTW. Mine are empty right now....

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    3. I sprinkle with baking soda, let sit, and vacuum out. I do it to get that musty antique store smell out of drawers.

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    4. I've heard of putting charcoal inside. Wrapped, I guess.

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  35. I bought the IKEA Ektorp with white slipcovers about 3 years ago. My daughter was 5 at the time & everyone thought I was crazy. I knew white would be a commitment, but I also know my detailed personality & love of cleaning & homekeeping would ensure I would keep up with it. I love my slipcovers, we use our furniture everyday without stress, and I truly feel they have been a wonderful lesson with my daughter in respect for our belongings.

    As for white bright...I've used that in the past. I don't keep it on-hand, but I will re-purchase when I have a specific need for it. Never used on my slipcovers, but on my white laundry. I used to make my own laundry soap and learned about a year into it that even though my laundry was clean, the whites were dingy and needed brightening. The White Bright did an okay job on those. Once things get dingy past a certain point, it's harder to address. If I would have used white bright earlier into the observation, I think it would have been better.

    Don't inhale near the white bright! It's a fine-powdered bleach and burns on the way in.

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  36. Janet, I so agree. With two boys and two black cats, I still like white sofas. I wash them as you do and just had them drying in the sun the other day. Love that clean feeling and you can't get that with a couch that is darker..
    x Kim

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  37. I am a huge fan of white sofas! I have two kids but I do not consider it as a reason good enough not to use white leather sofa. I'm just so happy with it and I try my best to keep it clean and stainless!

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  38. My cottage industry is sewing slipcovers, Sipcoverchic.blogspot.com. I totally agree with you about white fabric for slipcovers. It is wonderful to know that all that had been on those covers is now completely clean and gone. I Change pillows often and keep the covers on my Chippendale highboy.

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kindness is never out of style.