You know when you buy something and it’s just not “right” from the beginning. Well………when I bought my sofa and chairs a few years ago, the day they were delivered, I took one look at the slipcovers and had to stop myself from crying. I could see immediately that my new, fresh, white linen slipcovers had NOT been washed prior to being made! Needless to say, I was devastated. And shocked. And beyond angry. You see, the person who made them knew better. I mean, how many slipcovers had she made before mine? Hundreds? Thousands? And what really added fuel to the fire was that waiting in my garage were 40 yards of freshly washed white linen that I had bought just for the job. I didn’t use that fabric because the slipcover person had already gone and ordered the fabric herself, so I kept my washed linen for a future client. Thinking over my options - I didn’t know whether I should send all the furniture back the next day, or try to wash the slips myself and see how much they shrank. After much discussion, getting nowhere fast, I just decided to forget it for a while and deal with it, like Scarlett, on another day. When the time came to wash the slips for the first time (because with white linen – that time DOES come!) I used cold water, and dried them in a barely warm dryer and put them back on damp, while trying to stretch the fabric. Of course they shrank, but they did still fit – barely: the cushions were so tight that the bottom one wouldn’t lay flat. I always knew it would have to all be redone down the road so eventually I called Shabby Slips to come to my rescue.
Here you can plainly see on the chair – how short the slips had gotten. The slip is barely covering the upholstered muslin. The long bottom cushion on the sofa was so tight it wouldn’t lay flat. You can see how it is sticking up on the right side of the sofa. Also – here you can see the original button detailing on the back of the chair.
Luck finally came my way when Shabby Slips sent their seamstress to my house to fit my new slips. I didn’t even have to send my furniture to them! Heaven! They cut the fabric on the furniture right at my house. And since I already had the washed linen in my garage, I saved a fortune. A week later they delivered my nice new slips which fit like a glove and had rows of charming ties instead of buttons. Thank you Shabby Slips – nothing beats dealing with the best! I tell you all this because I want you to learn from my mistakes. RULE: never make slipcovers without washing the denim or linen first! The only exception to this is if the material is a blend and won’t shrink OR if you plan to dry clean your slipcovers instead of washing them. My situation was neither, and here I was stuck in a position that I would never allow to happen to a client. I could have gone to small claims court over it, but in the end, it just wasn’t worth it. In truth, I knew that slipcovers don’t last forever and I would eventually have to get a new set anyway – I just sped up the process, unfortunately. Problem solved.
New slipcover detailing on the chair: the buttons were replaced with charming ties on both sides. Notice how nice and long the slipcover is now. Before - the slip barely covered the upholstery.
There’s been another change in my family room, and a rather contentious one at that: the coffee table. Ben and I had bought our coffee table when we moved into our house about 15 years ago. It was once an Irish dining table that had been cut down to coffee table height and it was a dream come true for us. We bought it from Colin Gibbins in Montrose who specialized in these tables. Once the table was cut down, he would add a shelf on the bottom for magazines. He then stained our honey colored table a rich, dark brown. They weren’t overly expensive tables, but at the time, the only way we could afford it was with the yearly check we got from my generous and sweet parents for our anniversary. Each year, Ben and I would eagerly wait for that check because as newlyweds, it was the only extra cash we had to spend on furnishings! After many years of happiness with the table, maybe 14 years, I had begun to think I wanted to upscale a bit. The table is very rustic, very wormy, and I wanted something taller and more refined to go with my new, higher sofa and chairs. So, one thrilling day I brought home this table from The Fabulous Flea:
The Fabulous Flea French Writing Desk, aka coffee table.
I thought it was the prettiest table I had ever seen! The top has a black leather inset and there’s a little drawer. Doesn’t it look beautiful in front of that sofa at The Fab Flea? It looked great in front of my sofa too. Except there was one problem. Ben. He took one look at it and claimed he couldn’t see the TV over it. Without even trying it out!! Now all my clients know my lecture about husbands and decorating. During discussions about furniture and design, I preach: you are to look your husband in the eye and say, “and where was it that you got your degree in Interior Design?” Ben usually falls for this tactic, but this day, over this table, he wasn’t falling for it. In fact, he told me that either the table goes, or he goes. So, I thought about that for a while. It was a tough choice. When I couldn’t decide, we compromised, and he said he would stay if the table went to another room. This way, he said, he would save me the humiliation of having to tell The Fab Flea “my husband wouldn’t let me have it.” The table went here:
The desk moved in front of my day bed in my living room.
The desk worked out perfectly in my living room, but it still left me with the worm eaten, cut down Irish dining room table in my family room. Until last Saturday, that is, when Stefan Hurry and I dropped in on Cindy at Neal & Co. and I saw the prettiest French dough table. Cindy was sweet enough to measure it for me and I went home to see if it was too tall for Mr. TV Man to see over. Truthfully, it was a little taller than I told him. He was skeptical enough at the fake measurement to begin with – if he knew how tall it really was, the dough table was never going to make it home with me. RULE: sometimes white lies are necessary to get around non-design savvy husbands. But, I knew he would be able to see the TV over it, because it was a few inches shorter than the Fab Flea table which never was too tall anyway. Hyperventilating back to Neal & Co., because I tend to hyperventilate whenever I buy a French antique (I don’t hyperventilate for much, certainly not clothes nor cars) I brought the dough table home. The timing was incredible too – replacing one anniversary coffee table for another anniversary coffee table, 15 years apart. Here it is:
I’m in love.
It’s actually called a Petrin. The top slides off and there is a compartment inside the table where you would place the dough to rise after kneading it, or before? It’s a rich, dark wood – chestnut, actually – and it weighs a ton! It’s dressier, but not fancy, just a step up to match the scale and mood of the larger sofa and chairs. Also – notice the new slips, how much better they fit. Plenty of room to shrink a little too!! It’s hard to see in this picture, but even the back cushions are taller and the bottom cushion lies flat now that the slip fits properly. I even made a new little skirt for my Target ottoman.
And from the front. I’m still in love.
From the side, you can see where the apron drops down to cover the hidden dough receptacle.
So, did Mr. TV Man approve? Well, sort of. I had to endure a little talk from him about not putting anything tall on the table in front of where he sleeps while pretending to watch TV. OK. I can do that. See how empty the table top is on the left side? And there was a little whining that he couldn’t put his feet up on the coffee table anymore. So, I moved a small footstool for him to use for that. He said it still wasn’t as comfortable as before. But a few days later, I caught him on the phone happily describing it to his mother. So, that means he’s OK with it.
I mean, really. Does he look uncomfortable to you? And check out his “sock shoes.” Mr. Sexy. OMG. Do you feel sorry for me? Who actually wears “sock shoes” in the 21st century????? Next he’ll be ordering a Snuggly on TV, just you watch.
Yep. Just wait, he’ll order one for sure.
And on a more serious and personal note - To the sweetest man in the world, the most generous, kindest, and most loving person I have ever known, my best friend and my “cell mate:” Happy Anniversary!!! Twenty-one years of happiness. Thanks for putting up with me, I don’t deserve you – we both know that! I love you!!!