Throw Covers for Chairs and Living Room Sofas Are a Thing, and They’re Ingenious

published Aug 27, 2023
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Credit: Erin Derby

One of the issues with thrifting upholstered furniture — or inheriting a hand-me-down sofa or chair  — is that sometimes these pieces need a lot of love to look their best. And that usually means recovering them, which isn’t always a DIY-friendly or quick, inexpensive process. A fabric-topped stool or seat isn’t too tough to figure out, but when you start talking about larger sofas and chairs, things can escalate fast in terms of skill level and cost. 

That’s why I had to laugh recently when I saw my father’s idea of “reupholstering” the family’s old but still stylish Henredon Chesterfield sofa a few weeks ago. Unsure what, if any, off-the-shelf slipcover would fit the fairly large 90-inch wide couch — and not ready to commit to a pricey upholstery job at the moment either — he took a large piece of fabric my late mother had squirreled away for some project or another, and threw it on top of the sofa, tucking it into its cushions in a few key places. I couldn’t quite tell if this move was made in jest or not, but imagine my surprise when I saw popular content creator Brigette Muller, who posts about renovating and decorating as @hummusbirrd on Instagram and TikTok, doing the same thing to a cozy club chair in her apartment

From lurking in the comments, it appears that Muller used a pretty pricey block printed textile for her “reupholstery” job, but the fact that anyone was even asking what she did here is telling to me. This curiosity seems to signal that people are looking for a way to reinvent chairs and sofas quickly and potentially on the cheap, and you know what? Throwing a piece of fabric — or even a linen bedsheet or blanket — onto a chair or sofa and artfully tucking it in isn’t the worst idea in the world. It’s, at the very least, a decent stopgap solution when you don’t know what fabric you want to invest in for the long haul. It’s also a quick fix until you’ll find the time and/or funds to bring a piece to a professional, if you aren’t an avid DIYer. And it’s the easiest-ever “slipcover” to “install” and remove (or reuse) elsewhere in your home, too.

There are a few unofficial rules to follow should you choose to drape your seating like this. Of course, you want to make sure your chosen textile is large enough to cover the frame and cushions of your piece. If you’d like to use something smaller, you can choose to just wrap the seat. Worried about the material shifting when someone is sitting on the piece? Blanket fasteners are an option you can explore to cut down on any slippage. 

If nothing else, I promise this decorating move will raise a few eyebrows and maybe get a conversation going the next time you have guests over. And isn’t that what design is all about, after all?