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Green and Frugal Decorating Ideas: Cover it with Fabric!


If you can’t use frames to decorate it or paint it, then perhaps you can cover it with fabric! We’ve done that quite a few times in our home. Here are some examples.

Example Number One a.k.a. one of the sassiest chairs you’ve ever seen


This is how my MIL found this chair. (I regret to say that I don’t have a real before picture. I can’t believe we forgot to take one! Thankfully, she (meaning, the chair, because it is most definitely a female) was in the background of this picture.)


Let me try to zoom in on that. (Excuse the roll of paper towels.)

chair before

There she is. Covered in cat hair with a horrible brownish-goldish velour/velvety fabric. However, this lady has some fine lines. Mmmhmmm.  How YOU doin?! And she was a great price—Free!

While yard sale-ing (that should be a word) my MIL and I discovered a roll of cute decorator weight fabric for $5. Sold! When the lady having the yard sale saw that we were interested, she told us she’d give it to us for $2 without us even saying anything. Yes!! She also gave us an old couch cushion without a cover. Right now, you may be thinking, why would you want that?! Well, the dense foam is expensive and can be reused. That is what we used to build up the seat of this beauty. I do want to mention that my mother-in-law helped/did this project with me. She is teaching me how to re-upholster stuff, so this was totally a joint effort, with it being skewed toward her doing more. Thanks Donna!

A work in progress…



And here she is today! Isn’t she beautiful? I’m pretty much in love with this chair. All in all, she cost about $2.50 when you factor in the staples that we used. Not bad! I need a name for her. Any suggestions?



Example Number Two: My “New” Lampshades

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I have a small obsession  with pretty fabric. It makes me happy.  I really wanted some nice lamps and shades to go in our dining room, but nice lamps with nice fabric lampshades are expensive, so I decided to redo the ones I already had.


(Again, sorry I don’t have real before pictures. I get all excited to get started and then forget to take before shots about 75% of the time.)

These lamps were in our bedroom in our place in California. Notice that we liked red then. We don’t like it as much now as we did then.


I’ll zoom in again. (I’m pretty sure you can see dust on the shade too. Oops.)

lamp before


Here is the lamp after I spray painted the body of it and refinished the shade.



I found a tutorial online to redo the lampshade through this website. Now, when I went back a few months later to look at the tutorial to finally do the project, the story gets a bit complicated. Please skip this part if you want to. Just go to the next bolded subsection.

Complicated Story: The tutorial was done in Flickr and was not available anymore because the lady’s Flickr Pro account had expired. I looked everywhere for a tutorial online about how to recover a lampshade like the one I had, but sadly, there was nothing. So I emailed the lady and asked about getting the pictures and she said she would renew her account if she could, but expenses were tight. She never did renew it, and I completely understand, seeing as how I’ve never renewed mine either because expenses are tight. I did discover, though, that I could see all of her pictures when I searched for the tag “howto lampshade.” Bingo! She didn’t have to renew it and I could still see the tutorial. Where there is a will, there is a way. Here is the search I did so you don’t have to figure it out yourself. The only problem is the pictures are not in order. You will have to figure that part out yourself. Email me if you need any pointers.  I should have just made a tutorial when I redid my lampshades, but I wasn’t doing this blog when I did this project and I don’t currently have any lamp shades I need redone. (Anyone want me to help them redo their lampshades?)

Example Number Three: The Couch and Love Seat

A long time ago in a decorating magazine, I saw an interior designer that had slipcovered all of her furniture with white slipcovers, even though she had a few kids and a couple of dogs. Everyone thought she was crazy until she explained that she could take off the covers and wash them with bleach. I thought that was such a great idea! All I needed were some standard couches and some slipcovers.

At a yard sale this summer, this love seat and sofa was selling for $75. They were pretty dirty, but had really simple lines (so they could be slipcovered easily) and seemed well constructed and sturdy.  I knew we wanted to slipcover it anyway, so if the stains didn’t come out, it didn’t matter. (Sorry, no before picture at all this time.) Bought it, brought it home, used my mother-in-law’s carpet cleaner (that conveniently has a furniture cleaning attachment) to clean the backs and sides of the pieces.  I threw the cushion covers in the wash on the gentle cycle and put the cushions out in the hot August sun. The furniture cleaned up beautifully! It looks brand new, which would be great if this were the early nineties. However, light country blue with pink specks is not quite the look I was going for, so I still bought the covers. I found them for $20 each on clearance from this place online, which is great, because they cost more at Wal-mart. (In my mind, if I can find something for less than it costs at Wal-mart, its probably a good deal.)  The covers are just a natural cotton duck fabric and it works great. I can take them off and wash them whenever I need to and I’m not constantly worrying about the kids or the dog messing up the furniture.

Without the cover:


With the covers:

Much better!



So, $115 dollars for the couch, loveseat, and covers with the exact look I was wanting. Yay! I don’t think you could beat that price at Wal-mart.

Example Number Four – Couch Pillows

These couch pillows came with the sofa and loveseat. I took off the covers that came with them (they were the same blue and pink fabric as the couches) and made new covers for them. Pillow covers are really easy to make and I made them removable so they can be washed when needed.


The Cutting Edge of Fashion

Ladies (and maybe one or two gentleman) – For the first time in my entire existence, I am on the cutting edge of fashion. Here is the proof.



These photos are from the current issue of Woman’s Day magazine. Do you see the grouping above the couch, the aqua color, the natural cotton slipcover, and the fun patterned pillows? I am on the Cutting Edge of Fashion, I tell you. It is now documented for all of the world to see. :)

This article in Woman’s Day is about Chris Kauffman’s home. You can see her place over on her blog Just Beachy. Its a lovely home. She even used the exact same color of paint on her kitchen cabinets as we did on our walls—Popped Corn. Great minds think alike? I think so. :)

Links for Further Information and Inspiration

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Custom Slipcovers – this is an eBook from Pink and Polka Dot

My friend Leah recovered her reading chair and it turned out very cute!

How to Make Slipcovers – from The Nester  (She slipcovered her sectional sofa too.)

Here is a bunch of ideas for pillows you could make.

The DIY Showoff Blog – Lots of ideas here!


Check out “Transformations and Treasures” every Wednesday over at Pink Postcard!

  1. 02/16/2011 10:39 am

    Hey – I really like your chair!! I have found the key to re-upholstering is to never try anything with cording/piping – it is so hard to get it straight and then everything just looks so messy. It’s difficult finding affordable furniture to re-cover without the piping. Good job finding a free chair! That’s amazing! also a great deal on the foam!
    p.s. thanks for the shout out, too :)

  2. 02/16/2011 11:16 am

    Looks great. I especially love how the chair turned out! Beautiful.

  3. 02/16/2011 12:04 pm

    Wow, I love the chair! I have just stumbled across your blog and am really inspired, loads of great stuff to read! Like you, if I don’t paint it or use frames to decorate it, I like to use fabric to cover it! My next big project is an attempt to make a slip cover for my ugly secod hand sofa, and your post has inspired me to actually get on and do it rather than just think it! Thank you.

    • Kate permalink*
      02/16/2011 7:51 pm

      Thanks! I’ll be excited to see how your sofa turns out!

  4. 02/16/2011 2:32 pm

    I love it all, but the pillows are what catch my eye!! Well done, frugal and sassy Kate.

  5. Donna/Nonna permalink
    02/16/2011 3:12 pm

    I was reading Emily’s comment and thought of a name for the chair….Sassy. Of course, around here that means “to talk back” (don’t get sassy with me, young lady). But, maybe that still fits this chair. Put the name in the running if you like it.

  6. Heather permalink
    02/17/2011 7:32 am

    Gorgeous chair. I think you should name her Eleanor. One of these days I”m going to use some of your great ideas. :-)

  7. Tara permalink
    02/18/2011 3:30 pm

    Everything is so pretty, Katie! I was laughing at your couch because mine is an early 1990’s (I remember my mom buying it when I was in middle school!!!)navy with little ugly mauve flowers…all disguised with a Surefit slipcover,too. (Only I didn’t get a fantastic deal…still, after 7 years and lots of washing its still in great shape and cost way less than a new couch). You’ve inspired me to try and fix up my raggedy throw pillows…they aren’t as washer-friendly as my slipcover. :)

  8. 03/13/2011 2:17 pm

    Wow, you have got some skills girl! LOVE that chair! Maybe the Green Goddess would be a cute name?? ;) ha ha!
    Super fun projects- thanks for sharing these at Transformations and Treasures!

  9. maryann permalink
    09/25/2011 5:33 pm

    love the chair, so pretty! i have dogs i just painted my fabric sofa and chair with white semigloss paint , looks great! and you can just wipe it down, looks like leather! i found the blog called myeverydaypassions can you paint a couch….love your blog


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