Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Got You Covered

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is of the Vice-Regal Lodge boudoir in Dublin, Ireland. What a fun spot for women to gather and refresh themselves in comfortable chairs, read a magazine, and wonder how a palm tree survived there in the corner. Apparently a flurry of ladies had just left, judging by the disheveled appearance of those slipcovers.

When I was growing up, my mother frequently made slipcovers to update our furniture or to fit into a new paint scheme. 

Large blue medallions with scenes were replaced with floral stripes
sister and Dad on the left; sister and boyfriend on the right
My grandmother also changed her slipcovers from time to time prolonging the life of a worn sofa or favorite chair. 
Wendy Slade and Mary Slade Easter 1955
Shades of what? mulberry? pink? rose? 
My mother and me 1955
I followed their lead after ten years of sitting on red pheasants and fruit.
Before and after - 1973 and 1983
same sofa, different people
Me in 1973; my mother, Daughter 1 holding Daughter 2 in 1983
Like most people, we added slipcovers as a permanent solution. My grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker, however, changed slipcovers with the season.

Helen Killeen Parker's living room
Helen's living room in winter
I do not know the man and woman on the extreme left and right.
In the middle are my paternal grandparents Julia and Fred Slade
along with Granny's sister Catherine Barany. 

In the fall and winter, her sofa and chairs went naked. The tapestry upholstery on the sofa and the velvet on the chairs were dark and warm. Maroon oriental rugs covered her floors. The décor always made Helen’s living room feel cozy even in the dreary months.

Helen's living room in spring
In spring, out came the slipcovers in cool cotton. Floral patterns in soft shades of grey-green and pink brightened the living room. The oriental rugs were rolled up and replaced with a large jute rug. So fresh, so light, even if the windows were not open. “Breath of fresh air” is cliché but appropriate.

Helen's living room in spring

There was a time when changing slipcovers and rugs with the season was common, at least in the South. I doubt anyone does that anymore. Too much work. No place to store things. Now I am lucky if I think to swap out throw pillows and change the wreath on the front door.

Come sit a spell in the Sepia Saturday boudoir and enjoy some good stories.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Originally my parents had their sofa and matching chair covered with cotton floral print slipcovers.
    lLater, they just removed the slipcovers to expose the original upholstery which was still just like new.

    1. Seems backwards, doesn't it? But now that you mention it, I think that's what my grandmother did too. The sofa in the picture from 1955 has a slipcover, but I have another picture from 1959 on that same sofa without a slipcover.

  2. At least slipcovers can be temporary, so if we get tired of the pattern, we can re-do them. That reminds me, I've a rocking chair begging to be re-upholstered! It's had a blanket thrown over the worn fabric for a few years! Oops.

  3. I tried slipcovers for a while, but didn't like them, so had a favorite sofa re-upholstered twice - once, almost totally rebuilt. But it finally became more expensive to re-upholster it than to buy a new sofa. Luckily, when I wanted to have a favorite chair re-upholstered, a friend was taking an upholstery class and offered, for a nominal fee to cover the cost of necessary hardware (I supplied the material), to re-upholster my chair as her class project. She did an excellent job and I enjoyed that newly done chair for many years after that! :)

  4. The way couches were made back then, it was worth slipcovering to preserve them. My least favorite treatments were the see-through plastic covers of the 1960s that would stick to the back of your legs in the summer. These look much more inviting!

  5. Your Right,slip covers are not so common now.Though, I do remember my Mum& Aunts used to do this too.
    And Its quite creative and a chance to stamp one's own style on a room.

  6. I remember my mother getting slipcovers made or getting some furniture reupholstered. She didn't change anything with the season though.

  7. Upholstery patterns - stripes, florals, paisleys, zigzags, etc. are good clues to date photos. Unless you have someone using vintage material. Just this afternoon my mother came up with an idea to cover her sofa cushions with an old leftover roll of upholstery fabric. Nothing wrong with the old cushion covers, just a cheap way to get a new (old) decor color.

  8. I am not only impressed that your Grand Aunt changed the slipcovers with the season but that you actually have photos of them! Your photos remind me so much of the sofas and slip covers of my youth.