Thursday, August 8, 2013

welcome to slipcover hell...(or the story of how I came to spend my birthday cleaning furniture)

Y'all. It's bad.

I haven't shared much about my current living room furniture exploits, because....honestly, it's been a bit of a sore spot. Lots of highs and lows. I've cried a few times. I consumed a lot. of wine. A lot. Today things got a bit out of control, and so I decided it was finally time to put it all out there. I need a frustration outlet other than the fella. I think he would appreciate that.

So settle in...this is bound to be a long one.

We'll start with a quick review of my dream living room. When we moved into the new house it was obvious we needed new furniture. We had all this extra space and a bunch of old, dirty furniture we'd collected separately and then just thrown together once we were married. We were definitely due for a grownup upgrade. And so I started pinning my little heart out and dreaming of ways we could beautify our new space. I pinned a lot of things like this:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Anyone else seeing a pattern? Hello, slipcover obsession. room.

So naturally we went out and bought a giant, expensive leather couch. That's right. #idiot #idiot #idiot 
It was just so comfy in the store....and so easy to clean...and it came in an extra large depth that would be perfect for curling up and watching movies. And so we spent all our pennies to buy this rustic monster of a couch, which I am now trying to make fit with my light, bright cottage home dreams. 

Terrible decision. But it's okay. We have a leather couch. I've accepted that. We'll own it until we die, because I intend to squeeze every last penny out of those extra deep cushions. 

We also have a pair of (p)leather club chairs in our living room that we picked up at target a few years back. I've never intended for these guys to stay in the living's just too much leather. And coupled with the dark floors it feels like living in a dungeon. I've been on the hunt for the perfect chair or love seat to complete the space for a while now, and after getting some color on the walls earlier this summer I was ready to finally commit to my love of slipcovers. I stalked the internet for the best slipcovered furniture out there and read every comment I could find comparing the Pottery Barn collections to the Ikea Ektorp collection. I read and researched until I thought my brain would explode. 

Finally, I convinced the boy to road trip to Ikea with me last weekend (for my birthday! whoop!) to sit on the Ektorp and Hovas armchairs. The prices were so great...we just needed to see for ourselves. The verdict--we hated the Ektorp. The cushions were so thin! We felt like we were sitting on a wooden bench. Terrible. The Hovas had a deeper seat and a thicker cushion. If felt like a chair I could curl up in. The only con to the Hovas line was that it didn't come in the linen blend like the Ektorp collection, and I really had my heart set on linen. In the end, I decided to let go of my love for linen and just get the chair anyway. They had a nice off-white color that we both really liked, and I figured I could always have a linen slipcover made at a later date if I really wanted. And so we trekked down to the warehouse section to buy two of the Hovas chairs in "white". 

You know where this is going.... 

Unfortunately, everyone on the planet also thought the Hovas armchair in white would look good in their living room. In fact, so many people had this idea that Ikea had sold out of the slipcover in this color. Indefinitely. I could still get the chair if I wanted to buy one with a horrid corduroy cover on it. No thanks. We left empty handed. Happy birthday to me. And so we made the trip back to Waco where Tanner proceeded to take a nap while I scoured the internet for the perfect slipcovered furniture. Like a dog with a bone. At some point I found myself on Craigslist looking at an ad for a slipcovered chair, ottoman, and love seat with "normal wear and tear" for a bargain. !!! It was even marked down, because she was moving the next day! It felt like a special birthday miracle. 

I texted the owner immediately (which is something I never do), who told me the furniture was still available but that we would need to come see it that evening. I woke up the boy, bouncing and carrying on about the marvelous deal I found and how we were going to end up with three pieces of furniture for the price of one. He wasn't nearly as excited as I was, but he humored me and we worked it out where we could borrow a friend's truck to go check out the goods. The entire drive to the lady's apartment I kept thinking about how I couldn't believe my luck. Tanner kept trying to prepare me for the possibility that the furniture may not be what we were looking for, but I wasn't hearing him. In my mind, there was absolutely no way we were leaving without that furniture. I'd seen a picture! It couldn't be in that bad of condition. 

It was bad, guys. Really bad. The woman was a smoker with cats. The slipcovers, which she reported as being "off-white", were now a rusty red color. "Normal wear and tear" included disintegrated cushions, cigarette burns, and stains that I can not even describe to you. There are no words. I had a small panic attack in this poor lady's apartment. Tanner was looking at me...she was looking at me...the smoke smell was making me queasy... We bought the furniture. She just looked so pitiful and nice...I couldn't tell her no. I'm a sucker. It was awful. And so we paid (what I now consider an outrageously overpriced amount of money) for this furniture, packed it into the truck, and took it home. I am never allowed to go on a Craigslist run again. 

I tried to be positive. I told Tanner that I thought we could probably get by with just replacing the back cushions and slipcovers. I told him I still thought we could save the furniture and that in the end it would be worth it...but it smelled so bad. It was so stained and dirty and stinky that I refused to take it any further than the garage. And after removing and disposing of the slipcovers, we discovered that none of the cushions were salvageable. 

At this point I was no longer hopeful. I felt stupid and foolish and I was pretty sure we had just made a terrible mistake. Tanner still felt like the pieces could be saved, bless him, and we spent the next day (my actual birthday) deep cleaning our new furniture. We rented a carpet/upholstery cleaner from our local grocery store and got to work. We cleaned...and we bleached...and we sprayed with Odo-Ban...and we sprinkled with baking soda...and by the end of the day the smoke smell was gone as were nearly all of the stains. I didn't take any before pictures of the furniture, mostly because I didn't think any of our friends would sit on it if they knew how it looked before. Much better to just leave that to their imaginations, right?

All three pieces looked much better after their deep cleaning and my confidence returned. I ordered some upholstery foam and batting for cushions and started researching slipcovers. We settled on a set of linen slipcovers from Ballard Designs. They were beautiful and much more affordable than other places I had looked. Well...those slipcovers showed up today, and wouldn't ya now it, they don't fit. Now, I'm not the greatest at working with numbers, but I measured and counted and checked and checked and checked my math on this. I was certain I had it right--down to the half inch. But, I missed one little thing. Let's take a look.

Here is an awesome iphone photo of our newly cleaned chair hanging out in the living room:

Notice it's still discolored in some areas. I am not a wizard. 

And here is the slipcover we purchased from Ballard:

How about those extra short arms on the Ballard chair? Yea. That took us hours to figure out. HOURS. The slipcover fit perfectly along the back and over the arms, but we couldn't get the sucker to fit over both at the same time. No wonder, right? Le sigh. 

So we're sending them back. I spent some time researching other options last night...I called our local Pottery Barn and talked to the most unhelpful salesperson ever. I read and reread return policies. (Heads up--special orders (like slipcovers) can not be returned to Pottery Barn.) I looked up information on custom slipcover makers. I cried for our bank account. When Tanner suggested we wrap the frames in fabric and staple it to the bottom I started feeling a little desperate. Finally, I came across a set of JCPenney slipcovers for their Linden Street line, which is very similar to the Pottery Barn collections in style and size. (Yay!) And I can return them to our local store if they don't work. (Double Yay!) Sadly, they do not come in linen...but at this point I do not care. Bring on the twill! All in all, I'm feeling a little better about things this morning. I can't say at this point that my slipcover obsession is worth all this trouble. I'll let ya know once the new covers are in and I've tried my hand at making cushions. Our leather monster of a sofa is looking pretty good about now. 

Kudos to those of you who made it to the end of my little novel rant! It was quite therapeutic. 

Today I'll be chilling in front of an industrial fan trying not to sweat my face off while waiting for the air conditioning man to pay us a visit. In the midst of last night's slipcover drama, our AC unit started leaking water everywhere. A little internet research suggests that some duct thing located somewhere is clogged. Awesome. Tanner swears he saw a frog living in the pipe. I guess we'll see?

AC man came and it went and it was not the frog! Just a run of the mill clog. Easy fix! 
Live on little froggie, live on. 


  1. I am currently obsessed with slip covered furniture too, probably due to seeing your gorgeous pins. :) Our new house has a "formal" living room that is currently just a giant empty room with a piano. I don't have a pottery barn budget so I've been checking craigslist too and found a decent looking set from Wal-Mart, but haven't bit the bullet yet. I am worried everything will be all wrinkly. I look forward to seeing how everything turns out!

    1. We have a small set of slipcovered chairs in one of our bedrooms that we picked up at Ikea a couple years ago, and I really haven't had a lot of trouble with wrinkles! I have a lot more trouble keeping dog hair off of them. :)