Shelley Metcalf

Forget slouchy slipcovers of yore. The new trend in furniture fashions points to more fitted silhouettes.

When Bill and Gina Ellis first got into the business, slipcoversfeatured soft, loose-fitting designs. [The furniture, says Bill,had the romantic look of sheets draped over it at summer's end.] Bythe mid-'90s, styles veered toward a country sensibility, withmakers using four prints to make one slipcover. "Then it got alittle more refined," says Gina. "We saw a Country French look with[broad] baggage stripes, flanges, and ruffles." While theoverstuffed style is still popular [today], Gina says slipcovershave become more tailored. Excess fabric tucks into crevicesbetween cushions, and bare wooden legs show rather than hide behindgathered, full skirts. "Now, [the look] has developed a very cleanedge," says Gina, who offers this advice on [current] trends:

• Though slipcover makers have turned to untraditionalfabric choices, such as houndstooth and broadcloth, a beach housestill looks best in lighter, solid fabrics or airy prints such astoiles.

• Don't overwhelm a room with busy prints. Savecomplicated patterns for smaller pieces instead of the sofa.

• Follow the "one for all" rule: For continuity, covereverything in a furniture group with the same fabric.

• Get a cushy look. The best way to make a regular sofalook overstuffed and comfortable is to make the slipcover so thatthe skirt falls from just below the seat cushions. But if you'rehoping to get the look of big, overstuffed furniture by simplymaking a slipcover, think twice. A slipcover on a scrawny sofa,says Gina, "just won't do it."

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