Here’s a Practical, Budget-Friendly Way to Turn Your Old Sofa Into a Living Room Focal Point

published Jan 25, 2023
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Growing up, maybe you knew someone whose parents wouldn’t let you sit on the sofa in the “formal” living room — or maybe your own grandparents’ furniture was even covered in plastic — and this all made no sense to you. But if you’ve dropped real money on a couch or set of armchairs as an adult, you now know the struggle of living your life while also taking good care of your things.

Upholstered furniture, while soft and cozy, is notoriously difficult to keep clean, especially if covered in a light color. Pet accidents, food and wine spills, and just daily use can wear down even the most rugged of performance fabrics. So it’s no wonder many people turn to sofa slipcovers to either prolong the life of — or cover up years of stains — on an upholstered piece.

While a great option for many, slipcovers don’t always fit correctly. Unless you have a custom slipcover that works with your exact couch model, chances are it will move around, get wrinkled, and always look just a little sloppy. Also, if you’ve ever shopped for a slipcover, you probably know how expensive they can be, especially when made to fit your unique sofa.

Now, a pair of blankets might not seem like a step up from a slipcover, but hear me out: What if they were statement blankets that actually elevated the look of the couch? If you’re not sold yet, take a glance at the airy Paris apartment of Gemma Askham, who is using blankets to her decorative advantage in exactly this way, as shown throughout here.

Upon moving into a fully-furnished apartment (which is quite common in European rentals) Askham knew the light gray sofa that came with the apartment wasn’t going to work with her beloved “hairy dog who spends his lunchtimes digging mud.” So in order to protect the piece, she bought two rainbow-colored throws from Zara Home to artfully drape over the seat and its back to provide coverage. “It wasn’t my intention at all to create a design feature, but the rainbow sofa instantly became one of the most striking elements of the room,” she says. “[It’s] proof that functional can be creative.” Askham’s exact Zara Home blankets are no longer available, but you can get a similar look with this multicolored wool throw from McNutt of Donegal (and wool or a wool-blend is probably best for this, since durability is important).

If you want to try this idea out, know it’s a little more involved than just flinging a blanket over your sofa. The couch looks tailored because Askham found two generously-sized throws, which she then carefully tucked them under the cushions and into the back crevice of the sofa, which emphasizes the shape of the cushions. The throws’ fringes hit at just the perfect spot, too, making the “cover” seem intentional. I’d suggest some trying out a few blanket pairings before landing on the best combo.