Save the Sofa: 5 Easy, Good-Looking Ways to Protect the Favorite Seat in the House

emodelista headquarters: founders Julie Carlson and Josh Groves at home in Mill- Valley, CA. Matthew Williams photo for Remodelista.

If you’re sitting right now, chances are you’re on your sofa. I myself am in a full recline writing from mine. The most used seat in the house deserves some preemptive measures to keep it not only intact but fully presentable. Short of adding a fitted slipcover, or encasing your sofa in plastic as past generations were known to do, there are easy, no-sew, washable ways to protect the cushions from dogs and cats, romping kids, and other wear and tear while adding visual interest. Here are our five favorite DIY approaches.

1. Add Something Soft

Remodelista headquarters: founders Julie Carlson and Josh Groves at home in Mill- Valley, CA. Matthew Williams photo for Remodelista.
Above: Remodelista founding editor, Julie Carlson, and CEO/publisher, Josh Groves, at home in Mill Valley, California, on a sheepskin-layered Catherine Memmi sofa. Photograph by Matthew Williams from our first book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.
Julie Carlson and Josh Groves living room, Mill Valley, from Apiece Apart. Leslie Williamson photo.
Above: Same sofa as above with a new ensemble of cushions and a Moroccan pom pom blanket, photographed by Leslie Williamson for the Apiece Apart feature on Julie and her daughter, Darcy. The blanket is a discontinued design from Twenty One Tonnes; find something similar at L’Aviva Home.

2. Tuck a Textile On Top

Wayne Pate, Brooklyn, living room via IG.
Above: In his Brooklyn living room, artist Wayne Pate tucked a vintage floral fabric around the seat cushions of his white canvas sofa. The surrounding paintings are by Pate—see his latest @waynepate, and take a look at his Paris-Inspired Fabric and Wallpaper and Painterly Tile Collection for Balineum.
Ingredients LDN linen-covered sofa, Nina Plummer photo.
Above: In her Edinburgh apartment, Nina Plummer of Ellei Home has a Le Grand Air Sofa with a loose slipcover that looks like the seat cushions were blanketed in a natural linen sheet. Bedding, drop cloths, towels, and yardage of all sorts can easily be wrapped protectively around base cushions—and rearranged as required. Photograph by Nina Plummer.
Matthew Axe Jackson Heights Apartment Living Room by Eric Piasecki
Above: In his New York apartment, creative director Matthew Axe folded a denim patchwork blanket—purchased at a Martha Stewart Living tag sale—atop his reupholstered Goodwill sofa. Photograph by Eric Piasecki from Quiet, Please: A Stylish Apartment in Bustling Jackson Heights, Queens.

3. Layer the Cushions with Bedrolls

Designer Corinne Gilbert's Brooklyn workroom. Matthew Williams for Remodelista photo.
Above: Designer Corinne Gilbert tops the daybed in her Brooklyn workroom with homemade bedrolls made of linen and ticking. See more of her work in Expert Advice: How to Decorate Like a French Woman and Steal This Look: Modern Bohemian Living Room in Brooklyn. Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Ingredients LDN, Nina Plummer photo.
Above: In another corner of Nina Plummer’s Edinburgh living room: the classic OGK Safari Daybed cushioned with kapok-filled Safari Daybed Mattresses by Tensira. Photograph by Nina Plummer. Follow her shop @elleihome.
TBo-Catskills-cabin. Matthew-Williams-for-Remodelista-photo
Above: Tensira Kapok Mattress Bedrolls from Goodee work well atop sofas and daybeds of many sorts, including these Ikea Utaker Stackable Beds in TBo architects Bretaigne Walliser and Thom Dalmas’s cabin. See more of their Catskills hideaway in Steal This Look: A One-Room Family Cabin, and find a full tour in Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home. For our roster of bedrolls sources, go to 7 Favorites: Soft, Stylish Throwbeds. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

4. Cloak the Whole Sofa

Michaela Scherrer Pasadena living room. Photo Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: In her shades-of-white bungalow in Pasadena, LA designer Michaela Scherrer pet-proofed the living room sofas with linen slipcovers  layered with white leather blankets. The linen serves as protection from cat claws and the leather as a dog guard that’s easy to spot clean. Photograph Matthew Williams from Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home.
Living Room in Anthony Esteves Cape in Maine, Photo by Greta Rybus
Above: A sheet-cloaked John Derian for Cisco Meadow Sofa greets visitors in the 1754 Maine house that builder-designer Anthony Esteves restored for his mother: see The New New England. Photograph by Greta Rybus
Linen sheet sofa cover: Castelleras Villa living room. Jacques Couelle house update, styling by Olivia Design.
Above:In a villa in the South of France designed in the late 1920s by Jacques Couëlle, interior designer and stylist Lauren Olivia unified a built-in banquette by covering its cushions in linen sheets. Photograph by Sarah Button.

5. Patch as Needed

Little Mill Abergavenny holiday cottage, Abergavenny, Wales.
Above: When your sofa fabric starts to give, consider adding some patches. At Little Mill Abergavenny, a dreamy holiday cottage in Wales, the sofa covered in a much-repaired vintage French striped sheet.
Berman Horn Harlem House, Photo by Greta Rybus
Above: Rather than recovering her cat’s favorite spot on the sofa, architect Maria Berman of Berman Horn Studio added patterned patches that lend visual interest. See more in “Silly, Thrifty and Not Too Serious: Two Architects at Home in Harlem and Trend Alert: Visible Mending All Over the House. Photograph by Greta Rybus

More furniture upkeep:

N.B.: This post was first published on Remodelista on May 16, 2023.

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