Ask Vicente: Slipcovers

From: Katherine Fortier Interiors
City: Boston, MA

Dear Vicente,

I have just finished the renovation of my parents’ beach house in Maine–my first major project to be completed since going out on my own after leaving the high-end residential design firm where I began my career four years ago–and now I’m tying up the second phase of this project: the interior decoration.  (I gave my presentation on Sunday, and we’re hoping to have an order placed by the end of the month.)

For the upholstery, I selected light-colored linen and cotton fabrics from Rogers & Goffigon in the hues of the landscape–watery blues, seagrass greens, and sandy taupes and creams.

My client/parents were thrilled with the design, but are concerned that the light-colored fabrics will be quickly ruined by wet, sandy dogs and people who flop down on the furniture right after a romp on the beach. I will have the upholstery stain-treated by a company who will come to remove any pesky stains whenever necessary and without an additional charge, but my clientparents envision their having to make weekly housecalls, which they consider a hassle and, thus, not a solution in and of itself.  I’ve been experimenting with using indoor/outdoor fabrics from Janus et Cie in place of the lightest-colored Rogers & Goffigon linens and cottons, but I feel like I’m sacrificing the nuances of color and texture . . .

So we’re thinking that slipcovering the all the upholstered furniture in a white fabric could be the ideal solution.  I actually have no experience slipcovering furniture, but I noticed that you slipcovered all the upholstered pieces in your Montauk house.  Would you mind telling me what fabric you used?  Do you wash your slipcovers at home, or do they require special laundering?  I have excellent workrooms that I use for custom upholstered pieces, drapery treatments and pillows, from whom I presume I could order the slipcovers–if not directly from O. Henry House, where I’ll be getting most of the upholstered pieces–so finding a trusted and experienced fabricator isn’t an issue . . . Do you recommend using a separate workroom for slipcovers or ordering them from the furniture company?  Are there any additional tips/instructions that I should know about when writing out the specifications for the slipcover order?

(Other upholstered pieces with rattan or woven wicker frames–like the WS-10 Umbria Lounge Chair and the A-56 Toscana Lounge Chair from McGuire–will require a different solution–any further advice on those?)

I really appreciate your taking the time out of your very-full schedule to read my email, and hopefully select it as one that you’ll answer on your blog–which, by the way, is such an inspiration.  I think I speak for all your loyal followers and fans when I thank you for your generosity of time, expertise, and spirit.


PS: I’ve attached a photo of the house:  taken from the kitchen, looking out onto the dining room, living room and screen porch.  (All the existing furniture will be replaced.)

Vicente Responds:

I upholstered all the furniture in my Montauk house in a dark taupe color about eighteen years ago and then had slipcovers made for pretty much all the sofas and chairs. The thinking was that the dark taupe would be great for winters and the white ones for summer. After all that planning, I’ve never taken the covers off to expose the darker look. The white covers look great in winter and summer time. I also had stretch covers made for metal chairs – which you could consider for the wicker. (Or why not paint the wicker frames white?) Here’s a tip: make sure all the fabric is pre-shrunk before you have them sewn. We wash all the covers about twice a summer at home in the washing machine and then just put them back on when they’re almost dry.


  • What a great post!
    I love the Slipcover photo, oh so fresh and divine!
    Such a casual, restfull and relaxed feeling that it gives to a home.
    Great tips!


    September 04, 2010
  • Cindy

    I have a tip. Having slipcovers made for all of my own furnishings about 5 years ago,
    I am now looking to replace them. They were not poorly constructed. However, the fabric was a problem.
    So my suggestion is to choose fabrics that are tightly woven. Cotton duck, or tightly woven cotton is the most durable. I chose a linen, which I loved the look of but it did not hold up well. Choose someone who will surge the individual pcs. and or seams so that the fabric will not frey.
    and will also have the fabric pre washed. Some furniture companies are now selling pre-washed fabrics now.
    Good luck, Oh, also consider having them made just a bit loose, to help with the extra shrinkage that may occure. Last tip. After washing put on pcs. slightly damp and all of the wrinkles should pull out.

    September 05, 2010

Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment

Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.Vicente Wolf Associates, Inc.