When I moved into my house it was winter. Even after I painted and had the floors redone, it felt like someone else’s house. It wasn’t until I moved my furniture in that it began to feel like mine. As I slid my English sofa—the sofa where I watched old movies and my boys watched SpongeBob—under the window, it became mine. Its peacock-blue velvet slipcovers offered an enveloping softness that was just the comfort I needed.
But as the days grew longer, the sun brighter, the morning air warmer, those slipcovers began to feel like the sweater with the too-tight neck that your mother used to make you take even on the days that you declared, “But I’m not cold.” Two weeks ago I realized they were making me avoid sitting on the sofa altogether. I wanted to strip them off in a rush and reveal the crisp black-and-white ticking underneath. But I hesitated.
I’ve had ticking somewhere in my house for the last 25 years. It’s crisp. It’s fresh. It plays well with any number of patterns and colors. But this spring, before the soft, warm nap of the velvet began to chafe (figuratively, not literally), I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to greeting those stripes. I didn’t want something neutral, even neutral and snappy. I wanted color—but not turquoise. I wanted yellow.
For a long time yellow was my favorite color. My childhood bedroom furniture was yellow. I once had a living room glazed the color of marigolds. The outside of a house that I lived in was the color of warm butter. But my house now doesn’t have yellow. I thought it didn’t want it. But then, on a whim about a year in, I painted the inside of my dining room cabinets a great yolky color. It was the same sort of inspiration that I had one day, stretched out on the sofa the velvet soft beneath me as I read the paper. I want yellow linen slipcovers.
I want yellow linen slipcovers with an illogical passion. I can see them, friendly and inviting in my mind’s eye, and I know there was nothing to do but figure it out. The hunt for fabric is on, and while I look I wonder how I will explain to my boys someday why they are supporting me in my dotage. I wonder if they will understand as I explain all the things that make a home that were simply too difficult to pass up. The Fornasetti tables. The Chinese pottery. The Victorian tulip watercolors. “Then there were the slipcovers the color of sunshine, remember?” I’ll ask them.
“Didn’t they make you smile every time you walked through the door? It was totally worth it.” I’m sure they’ll understand.
Seasonal Affective Reorder
Adjusting your house for the seasons doesn’t need to be a major overhaul, nor does it need to incorporate gourds or reindeer or cotton-tailed rabbits. Follow your instincts to warm up or cool down with ease.
Slip Into Something More Comfortable
Habitually reupholstering furniture is not particularly good for the frame. To save the long-term wear and tear on the structure of the piece and the fabric, slipcovers are a sensible solution for both look and maintenance. Slipcovers have come a long way from the rumpled look of shabby chic. Good workrooms can fit a sofa or chair as seamlessly as an accomplished dressmaker. Chances are, you won’t be able to tell they are slipcovers.
Machine washable fabrics make the most sense. Do make sure you wash the fabric before it goes to the workroom to accommodate any shrinkage. Then your furniture can be stripped, washed and reassembled as effectively as a chocolate-y child on Easter morning.
Sometimes It’s the Little Things
Pillow covers crafted with discreet hidden zippers or playful and functional buttons or tie covers can allow for easy on and off for a seasonal change. These small pieces also allow you to experiment with a new color or a fresh, bold pattern.
Accessories, too, can rotate. Tartanware with its charming plaids makes a perfect accent from October to February, while creamware can lighten the mood for spring and summer.
I’d love nothing more than to have soft, thick wool underfoot in the winter and cotton or natural seagrass in the summer. (Bare floors in the warmer months hold huge appeal as well.) If this is in your budget and you have a safe space to store out-of-season rugs, this can make a dramatic difference in both cozying things up against winter’s chill and cooling off in the heat of the summer.