Slipcover Style

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, slipcovers featured soft, loose-fitting designs. [The furniture, says Bill, had the romantic look of sheets draped over it at summer's end.] By the mid-'90s, styles veered toward a country sensibility, with makers using four prints to make one slipcover. "Then it got a little more refined," says Gina. "We saw a Country French look with [broad] baggage stripes, flanges, and ruffles." While the overstuffed style is still popular [today], Gina says slipcovers have become more tailored. Excess fabric tucks into crevices between cushions, and bare wooden legs show rather than hide behind gathered, full skirts. "Now, [the look] has developed a very clean edge," says Gina, who offers this advice on [current] trends:

• Though slipcover makers have turned to untraditional fabric choices, such as houndstooth and broadcloth, a beach house still looks best in lighter, solid fabrics or airy prints such as toiles.

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

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

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

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