It seems like every time I post a photo of our living room, I get several bewildered emails asking how we have white couches AND small kids – at the same time – and whether I’d recommend it to other families.
My answer is always a haughty: “what do you mean? Do your kids make messes or something? Sounds like poor parenting to me.”
Juuuuust kidding. We use our couches like CRAZY and because our kids are wild mess-making machines with persistent peanut butter fingers, who throw the couch cushions on the floor and make forts out of them, it’s actually the only kind of sofa I’d have for this season of our lives.
First, here’s the deal on our sofas. We started with a microfiber sectional (“the tannosaurus“):
We spilled all kinds of junk on that sofa. You’d be impressed at the quantity of things we found to spill. Because we paid a little extra for pre-treated fabric, it wiped clean pretty well, generally. But then we had our first kid and saw disaster looming for the furniture, and decided to sell it while it was still in good condition, and buy something we’d be okay ruining. (And something a lot less tan.)
So I went to two identical cheap, bleachable white slipcovered sofas.
These are Ikea Ektorp sofas, which cost $399 new but I bought from craigslist for about $125 each. We threw away the used slipcovers that came with them and bought new ones from Ikea for $50 each. So we spent about $175 each and got two sofas that looked brand new.
The Ikea Ektorp sofa is remarkably similar to the Pottery Barn Basic Sofa, which costs $1399.
I can’t speak to the difference in quality between the two, and I would assume (hope?) the Pottery Barn sofa would last longer, but here’s my thinking on that: You can buy THREE ikea sofas for the price of one PB version. So you can replace it (with something different! Yay, redecorating!) three times and still come out ahead of where you’d be if you bought a Pottery Barn sofa.
So having invested only $175 on each sofa, I don’t go crazy-mama-bear on my kids if they wipe their face on the sofa arm. Which actually happens.
Care & Maintenance
Here’s what I do: About once every month or two, I wash the slipcovers in hot water, sometimes with bleach. Then I let them dry in the sunshine, where the stains get bleached out naturally. (I do this all the time with our cloth diapers too.) It’s always kinda fun and magical to watch the stains disappear over the course of a few hours.
WHOA. I’m sorry for just saying that was fun. Accidentally let my suburban-mom-over-30 show through a little bit. Yikes. #BeginningOfTheEnd
Here’s an arm of one of my sofas before and after sunning:
It doesn’t always work and there are occasionally some spots that don’t come out, but if it gets out of hand, it’s a quick trip to Ikea and $50 for a new slipcover to get them looking bright and new again. (I haven’t actually had to replace any of my slipcovers yet, but I like knowing it’s an option.)
So this is my complete plan of attack when it comes to furniture stains with kids.
1. Buy inexpensive slipcovered sofas, just for this season. (See decorating rule #3.)
2. If the slipcovers get dirty, wash them and use the sun to bleach out stains.
3. If the slipcovers get hopelessly stained, just replace them. It’s only $50.
I don’t want to be the kind of mom who yells at her kids all the time for ruining stuff that’s just “stuff” in the end, when they’re just being kids, after all. And I think having cheapo washable white sofas keeps us all a little more sane around here.
I do dream of having a blue velvet sofa like this someday:
And sometimes I go shop around online and pick one out, just for fun. But I’m okay with knowing I’m just in a Slipcovered-White-Couch-Season-of-Life, and the Blue-Velvet-Couch-Days can be tucked safely into my future plans, for someday… when I’ll probably wish for fingerprints on the couch and sofa cushion fort parties.
You guys, I’m like 10 for 10 on posts with embarrassing pictures of Andy lately. That’s how I know a post is ready to be published: if I found a way to post a weird pic of him.
Would you ever have a white sofa? What’s the most durable sofa fabric you’ve ever owned?