Design Dilemmas: Slipcovers and sunbrella

Linda Brigida

Question: I need some help finding a source for slipcovers that have separate covers for each cushion. You and several other decorators recommend slipcovers to update or freshen, but finding ones that fit or look like something other than a throw, or that don’t have to be straightened each time the furniture is actually used is difficult. Please help, I have several pieces that I would like to slipcover but they all have cushions. Thanks.

Answer: As I have said in the past, today’s slipcovers are not at all like they used to be. There are certainly some available at your local home goods store, but these will not have separate cushion covers and will not fit the sofa very well. The best bet and the best end result is to consult an interior designer/decorator. They will have their own workrooms and sources to get you the best bang for your buck.

The other advantage to this is they will have several fabric books in different price ranges that can be ordered and then the custom slip covers can be made to fit your sofa, chair, etc. perfectly. Having a professional make your slipcover will insure a better fit and a more precise cut. Have fun choosing the fabric. Slipcovers are a great alternative. The price will be more than if you purchased one at a store but the look is professional and in the end you will get a more desirable look.

Question: My roommate and I are ready to purchase some new outdoor patio furniture. We have decided that we want cushions and pillows on our furniture. There are a lot of choices out there and we are getting somewhat confused. Do you have any suggestions as to what fabric would be our best choice for longevity?

Answer: “Sunbrella” fabric is certainly one of the best products available for outdoor cushions and pillows for your backyard or boat. Sunbrella fabric is treated with a special finish that repels water and is fade resistant. This special finish is designed to last for many years. When you do need to clean the removable cushions and pillow covers, just wash in cold water with a mild detergent. Always allow the covers to air dry. When cleaning becomes necessary, the original treatment will weaken and there is a specific process to re-treat the fabric. Just consult your retailer and they will be able to guide you in the right direction. 

Question: My husband and I own a motorboat and have many cushions and pillows on board that are made of Sunbrella fabric. We have noticed that the suntan oils and lotions that our children are using is staining the fabric. Do you know what we can do to clean them?

Answer: I contacted my Sunbrella rep and she advised me that cleaning the covers is very simple. She did agree that suntan oils and lotions is the number one cause of staining on the cushions and pillows. She said to use a soft cloth with a pine oil detergent, mix as directed with water, rub gently with the soft cloth. This should remove the stain. Let them air dry. Good luck. 

Linda Brigida is the owner of Interiors, a new decorating business located in Plymouth and specializing in window treatments, room design, color choices and furniture selection. Design dilemmas appears in Town Commons every other week. E-mail your questions to or call Interiors at 508-746-2166.