8.14.2008








I picked up the August issue of Real Simple yesterday and was smitten by the photos of this beautiful, lived-in home in New York. I love how real this house looks - full of kids and stories and interesting colors and old books and objects. Just lovely. Well done, Hilary Fox-Mills! You seem like a really cool person.

I am also interested in taking a poll, inspired by these pictures and my long-held love of white couches: do you think it's crazy to get a white slip-covered couch when you have small children and a big black dog? Or, can you actually keep white couches looking nice with bleach? Do any of you have experience with this? Or with Ikea couches in general, quality-wise? I'd love to hear what you have to say as the latest Ikea catalog is tempting me once again into thoughts of selling furniture and trying something new.

45 comments:

Alison said...

even though i'd love to be proven wrong by a mass majority--i just don't think it will work. i love the look too.

margaret k. said...

i have an ikea couch and, overall, it has been good for us. i have three small kids, so i love being able to wash the slipcovers. my original cover is the beige, which i have a hard time keeping clean. i ordered my second slipcover from https://www.bemz.com/ because i wasn't crazy about the ikea options. the funky pattern i chose covers up so much dirt.

i have heard that bleaching white slipcovers is the way to go with kids, but i agree that it sounds unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I bought an Ikea couch with a white slipcover about 1 month ago. Luckily when I bought it, the slipcovers were on clearance for $11/each so I bought 4. I don't have kids, but I do have a large dark brown, dirty dog that likes to rub up against the couch to scratch her back. It gets dirty, but it's not horrible. I've washed the slipcover once and then dried it. The cheaper fabric that makes up the unseen parts of the slipcover melted, so I don't recommend drying Ikea slipcovers (it says not to on the instructions, but I foolishly ignored them.) So far so good...

Beth said...

We got a white one from IKEA about a month ago too so time will tell... I figured we'd get one of their other (patterned) slipcovers if it didn't work, but I bought an extra one for the $11 too. I washed one cushion cover with a coffee spill and just had it air dry-- Worked great. We have an almost-three year old boy. I don't know about the dog factor, but I think it can work with messy/fun kids in a house with a no-shoe approach!

kyrie said...

I have two mudpie-making little girls under three and another on the way, and I LOVE our white slipcovered Ikea couch. I have washed blueberry, chalk, paint, mud, sand- you name it. It still looks great. I just pop them in the wash as soon as they get dirty. Only bleach once in a blue moon.

I also have assorted slipcovered furniture from Shabby Chic, but I have to say the linen washes up better than their denim. The linen comes out clean as a whistle every time.

Do white! It's awesome. :)

rachelhc said...

I have had a white Ikea slip covered sofa for 6 or 7 years. I have a 2 year old girl and an outdoor cat and it has worked out. The quality is pretty good--it's definitely not as good as my more expensive sofa, but has held up nicely. The slip cover has started to look a bit dingy, but that's likely due to my lack of cleaning (I only wash it once a year, if that). I think if you want a light solid colour, white is the way to go b/c you can spot-bleach it. However, be sure not to wash it on hot and put it back on while still wet. The slip covers shrink!

Paloma said...

...it seems like someone is getting the white couch...enjoy !

Mary said...

I think I need to direct my husband's attention to this stream of comments! We have dark mossy-colored couches that don't look even slightly dirty after 5 years with four messy, messy kids, so my husband thinks my longtime desire for white slipcovers is insane. I always thought he was right, but I still want them! I'll bet having more than one set, so you can have one on while you clean another would be key.

$11 slipcovers?!! People, are you kidding? And durn it, this is something that's over now and I've missed it, right?

Prue said...

I would be too chicken to try a white couch with kids. Hmmm, orange texta all over! Great!

A maiden aunt of mine always had brown carpet, because that's the colour of dirt. Sensible, except that orange texta is orange!

Oliver Rain said...

We had an IKEA couch and it was the most comfortable couch we ever had. It had a dark green slipcover made from some kind of denimy fabric that washed up like a dream. I never put it in the dryer. I wouldn't have any problems getting a white one. The only reason we still don't have the couch is because we moved into a new house and it wouldn't fit through the door! My advice is to measure your doorways first!

Kari said...

I have slip-covered furniture in "stone" but not pure white. I love being able to wash it. It holds up to my kids, buy I think the hairy black dog might be another story!

Laura said...

i have a white ektorp love seat and I love it (5 and 2 year old). It is in our dining/living room. I had the same slip covers and washed them in the tub with bleach alot. I too just bought 2 new covers for 11$. I just through one in the closet until needed.

teresa said...

we have an ikea couch that is a queen pullout and it's cushions have really flattened over time (7 years) and made it uncomfortable compared to our other spring cushion sofas - though the stone slip covers wash easily for our two kids markings.... so take care if its not a spring type sofa. Love your blog...

Francesca said...

I would opt for NO on the white couch idea. Please consider this, if it gets ruined you can live w/ a slip cover or throw it away. Then it ends up in a landfill. You can have a white couch when the kids go to college.

Joy said...

I am on my second white couch and love them. My first was a slipcovered sofa from Pottery Barn. I didn't have the best luck washing all stains out. After bleaching for a couple of years, the fabric did lose some integrity. I still say I loved it while I had it. If you still have the link to my blog you should check out my white leather one that I just bought for $250! I am in love with it! I say if you want white, go for it. It is classy, sleek and modern! If you need my blog address again just let me know! Best of luck!

Grosgrain Kathleen said...

I feel like you have enough feedback to get a good idea of whether or not a white sofa is something for you but I just have to add my two cents. I too bought white Ikea chairs because they were cheaper thinking I can just "bleach" out the stains. Well, I was right and I was wrong. You can in fact bleach out almost any stain. However, the slip covers are *REALLY* difficult to take off and put on. I am actually quite winded by the time all the slipcovers are back on.

So much so, that I find myself leaving the stains until I know I'm having guests over which isn't cool. I like having a clean looking house. I just don't have the lung capacity for what I signed up for.

So I will suggest to you, that it CAN be done, IF, you buy slipcovers that are not very tight, AND don't mind washing your furniture about once a week.

Of course, I might just have super messy kids:)

Grosgrain Kathleen said...

Oh okay, one more thing, the Clorox bleaching pen works good on stains that did not come out with regular bleach in the washer.

Sarah said...

I love it when homes are showcased that look welcoming for children to live in, its so inspiring and this house looks beautiful. As for your poll, I don't think I could go down the white couch path at the moment myself because every time I saw a stain I'd feel like it was screaming at me to be washed, and at the rate my boys mess up the couch that would be every few days! But every family is different, and maybe a few well placed colourful throwovers could disguise the stains in between washes.

Jen said...

Hmmm, that is a tough one. All my couches are slipcovered and I do throw them into the washer about 3 times a year and I LOVE that! None of them are completely white though. I always hear that white denim is as easy as bleaching, but it is sort of a job to wash them and put them back on so there will be times when they are stained and you just don't have the time or energy to wash them. What about trying a slipcovered white chair as a tester?

luckybeans said...

We have IKEA couches with both white and beige slipcovers. Oh yes, and three children. I found the white has actually worn better than the beige, and am about to reorder a new set of the same slipcovers after 8 years.

And thank you for your blog-- I am one of those dreadful lurkers.

Anonymous said...

my dream family (three kids, one black dog....:) )room couch is the ikea ecktorp sofa/bed in a white slipcover.....my family room is painted a wonderful blue and I'm wanting to paint the huge old round coffee table an olive green...I so look forward to this room! Go for it! -Suzanne

Jaclyn said...

I have a terribly ugly taran couch, (was totally hot inthe late '90's dated very quicky) I have it covered in a white cover from target and feel much closer to it and less like slashing the seats. I also have a 11month old and 2 1/2 year old and really its not an issue straight in the wash, easier to clean than the other couch.

ella kelly said...

I have to agree with Kyrie - go for it!

I have an Ektorp sofa, white slipcovered, and some bar stools, also slipcovered in white. The sofa has the odd spot on it that one can't notice but the stools -- whew! My kids are 3 and 5. Messy. Blueberries, you name it. Avocado. However, they do come right off, wash with tons of stain-remover (that oxy stuff is good, do a spray as soon as the food hits the slipcover and it will really help) and hang outside to dry, they come very clean and ready to go again. It's worth it to have white. It's so relaxing and lovely. And kids, unless they're really running wild, will understand that's not a "food-eating" couch. Except maybe popcorn. And milk. :)

However -- a dog I'm not sure. I suggest trading him/her in for a white large dog. Who'd notice?

Oh - DO NOT put the slipcovers in the dryer...I did that with the chair cushions on "low" and they still shrunk like mad. Now I need the death-grip to get them on and off.

These magazine pics are great, I loved them also.

xo
ella

Anonymous said...

This is my first comment here, so let me just say I love coming here to see your creations! That last dress is dreamy and I can't wait to buy the pattern!

We have two different Ikea couches, both have the white slipcovers on them. We have an almost 2-year-old daughter and 3 sheddy cats (one of whom claims one of the couches as her spot) so they get hairy and drawn on, and spilled on and they wash up just fine. Oxyclean helps (chlorine bleach will wear out the cotton over time), as does hanging them on the clothesline. We have a tiny living room, and I think the white couches really open it up, so to speak. I'm glad we have them.

Unfortunately, the Ikea slipcovers are not made very well (the seams were wearing out after the second washing on the Klippan cover). I hope the Bemz covers are made a little better. And never let them get completely dry in the dryer. It's best to put them back on the couches/cushions still a little damp.

If it doesn't work for you, you can always use the slipcover as a pattern for a new one in the fabric of your choice!

Heidi E.

Jen said...

Wow! Lots of people have IKEA sofas! Who knew????

Amy B said...

If you do spring for it, please don't use chlorine bleach. No couch, no shirt, no piece of fabric is worth it. Especially when there are great aternatives out there! You probably already know this--sorry to sound preachy.

Brooke Rane said...

we have a white ikea Lund Bjuv couch with white slipcovers and it's been very good to us. granted we've bought about 3 sets of slipcovers, just in case. But they wear well, and when washed they come out looking brand new. We have a golden retriever so his hair doesn't show up on it, either.

Wendy said...

I have been visiting your blog for a while now, and I had to leave a comment on this one. I have an IKEA couch also...I have four little kids and white slipcovers. They worked well when I had the couches in a less-used room, but when we moved, I put them in the family room. They got really dirty, really fast. They washed up really well, but I decided since I would have to wash them all the time to keep them clean the way I liked them, I better switch to beige. So, in short, it works, but if you're going to have them in a high traffic area, just be prepared to wash them A LOT ;-)

melissa said...

I've had a light beige slipcovered sofa. I think it's pretty high maintenance washing it all the time. (Though it is nice to have the option to wash if it gets some really yucky, stinky stain.) I don't think IKEA upholstered pieces hold up very well. I would look around for a nice upholstered sofa on discount. I found a Martha Stewart slipcovered sofa with a hide-a-bed a few years ago on clearance in a furniture store for $400. We'll be able to keep this for years. Everything is such nice quality and the cushions never flatten out like cheaper sofas I've had in the past.

Anonymous said...

to get off topic....
I refuse to believe that those piles of books stay that piled... :)

Rebecca said...

In our rental apartment in Shanghai, we had one of the IKEA couches with a white slipcover. Because we have a big dog (and we had a full-time maid at the time) the pillow covers were washed once a week. They cleaned up beautifully.

However, as one previous poster has mentioned, the base slipcover from IKEA has a cheaper, polyester fabric that lies under the seat cushions. I was so afraid of washing the base slipcover because I thought that cheap fabric would come apart just with a trip through the washing machine. So I didn't wash it, but then the base slipcover gradually became a different color from the cushions, which were washed regularly. It was a mess. I eventually had a new set of slipcovers made in brown. Hope that helps.

kevstephb said...

white protected leather would be the route I would go. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Kris said...

I have 8 children and lots of Ikea ektorp couches. (So comfy) I love the slipcovers, they wash up beautifully. I wash mine about once a month and wash everything at the same time. I always hang them outside to dry (what can I say, I live in Australia where everything dries outside all year!) I don't know about the dog, but my white slipcovers have been brilliant even with 8 messers using them. I am so glad I went with a slipcovered couch, imagine all the dirt on a fixed cover couch! Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

I admit I was skeptical when I first bought my ektorp with it's slip covers, but now I wouldn't go back. Just follow the wash instructions and they will come up beautifully!

Chris said...

I can't even keep a shirt white. I'd be asking for it, if I had a white couch. But I'm a slob :)

Slipcovers might not be so bad though. At least they can be washed.

Jennifer said...

We have light colored sofas, but in leather, so anything will wipe off (our kids are 2 and 3). But white leather sounds a little too funky...best to go with slipcovers?

Just wondering (like someone else): what are all of those books doing stacked on the floor like that? How do you get a book from the bottom? And how dusty and crumb-filled would it be when you finally got to it? How many book towers will be knocked over by the kids? Sorry, the other photos of that house were cute, but that one was crazy!

Jennifer said...

We have light colored sofas, but in leather, so anything will wipe off (our kids are 2 and 3). But white leather sounds a little too funky...best to go with slipcovers?

Just wondering (like someone else): what are all of those books doing stacked on the floor like that? How do you get a book from the bottom? And how dusty and crumb-filled would it be when you finally got to it? How many book towers will be knocked over by the kids? Sorry, the other photos of that house were cute, but that one was crazy!

Bethany Hissong said...

I had to have white couches... actually it is a large sectional in a white linen from Ethan Allen. It is wonderfully made, as all their furniture is, but the fabric is impossible to wash! So our rule is no food except popcorn on the white sofa and absolutely no drinks there either. And guess what? With 2 kids and a hairy dog (who's not allowed on it either), it is still very white and in great shape. My nerves are just shot after the friends come over!!
I LOVE this house you showed so much, I have to get that magazine!!! It's so me: red, white and books stacked high!

jen said...

i don't know about ikea sofas but we (my boyfriend and i) have a white couch. granted, we do not have kids (so maybe this is not even helpful at all!) but we do have a grey cat.

our sofa color is actually called "oyster" which translate into a very pretty off-white with the tiniest bit of grey. the fabric is microsuede which we got b/c we've been told it good for kids and pets. also, we got it scotchgarded. so far so good, i've been able to get out all the stains with little to normal effort.

robinettehandmade said...

I have a couch with a white twill Pottery Barn slipcover and it is terrible to keep clean (we have two boys, 3 and 5). Bleach has not seemed to work and it just looks dingy now. I wouldn't recommend it...

Bethany said...

I can't speak to the whole white couch issue, but I do have an IKEA ektorp couch that has been great for about 4 years now. It's comfy and sturdy, also fairly light if you like to move your furniture around allot (or change apartments/houses three times in four years). The slip cover comes out of the wash wonderfully. I highly recommend it!

on-hand modern said...

look at that! i'm not the only person crazy enough to attempt white ikea slipcovers! (someone tell me they are still on sale for $11????) i've had mine for 2+ years. wash them about once a quarter. any more than that is kind of a workout. but they wash well, and so far i've never had to resort to bleach. my only gripe is that almost all the zippers have broken. anyone else had this problem? fortunately, they go in the back so no one notices but me. :)

overall, i like them.

Elise said...

I sound like a lone dissenter... but Go for it! My couch is pale yellow, slip covered. We only drink water and milk, anyway (well, adults drink other things, but we don't ever spill...). Any stain can come out. Don't compromise! A beautiful couch will make you happy!

kaat said...

Hi there, our mostly white Ikea cover survived a dog, and chocolate handprints from 4 children. I must have washed it dozens of times. Sure, that started to show in the end.... Then I got bored with the print and simply made new covers...

The thing is I think: kids and dogs and white covers go great together! Just leave your glasses at the hallway table. Enjoy!

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Anonymous said...

just make sure you have a very good cleaning company to take all the slip covers off, wash.. iron and put them back on... oh, and keep your house immaculate too!