Slipcovers freshen room frugally

The Baltimore Sun

Because of budget issues, I have to use in my new home some clunky furniture upholstered in brown-and-dark-green material. These pieces are overscaled in the new home's small living room, and the fabric is worn and needs replacing. What should I do? Maybe give the white walls and wooden floor a different treatment? Reupholster?

There's no single way of visually reducing the size of a piece of furniture that's too big for its surroundings. One technique might be used for a piece that's out of scale with others in a room, while a different approach might be taken in the case of a sofa, say, that's of a style not consistent with the overall look of an interior.

Because of your budget limitations, the best option would probably be to leave the floor and walls as they are and slipcover the furniture in a white cotton canvas. Adding a sea grass or sisal area rug will freshen the room while also helping the furniture appear less imposing.

Not everyone likes such elegantly simple and cost-efficient solutions. If you yearn for a more luxurious look, consider the accompanying photo.

It features some pieces from Baker Furniture's new Jacques Garcia collection published by Kohler. They're clearly too heavy for the space in which they've been placed, but the white-on-beige color scheme lightens the setting. The outside backs, arms and platforms are covered in a pale beige, velvetlike fabric, with the cushions done in a lighter, woven pattern.

The subdued contrast between the walls and the furniture fabric enhances the softening effect while further enlarging the space visually.

The clover-like ottoman has a refined design but it would definitely look even better in a more spacious and less upholstered setting.

In its place, I would introduce a glass-top table to make the space seem less cluttered.

Rita St. Clair is a Baltimore-based interior designer. Readers with interior design questions can e-mail her at

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