Living Space: Slipcovers can freshen decor without blasting budget

Creating a new look or simply freshening your home's style can be a costly endeavor. But there's one decorator fail-safe that can give your home some much needed pizzazz without blasting your budget: slipcovers.

Whether you love them or hate them, they're versatile and indispensable for giving rooms a revamped look quickly and easily - and you don't even have to move the furniture.

Unifying

If you're just starting out in your first apartment or your furniture is a hodgepodge of styles, slipcovers can create a unifying look. For example, by selecting a single color of slipcover, you can make your whole living room look unified. You can also increase your decorating options once you have a single focal color to work with.

Need a sofa but don't have the cash? Slipcovers are a cost-effective way to repurpose bargain furniture you find at flea markets or garage sales.

Once viewed as elements of a casual, comfortable look, slipcovers can do much more. Pick one in a patterned fabric, and suddenly, that plain sofa has a funky new look.

A good upholstery company can create slipcovers with contrasting piping, such as white duck fabric with navy or red to recover old furniture at a beach house.

Or take a staid man's chair and have a floral chintz slipcover made with a flouncy skirt, and suddenly, it's right at home in a little girl's bedroom.

For all furniture

Whether you have plain, wooden barstools, a wingback chair, a beat-up recliner the family refuses to part with or you just want to cover up a stain, there's a slipcover that can do the job. Maybe you're tired of all those leggy chairs in the dining room. Adding a slipcover suddenly gives them an elegant upholstered look. Headboards can be slipcovered as well as futons, ottomans and even side tables.

Different styles

When you want to add slipcovers, don't think you have to stick with white duck fabric. Get creative. Use a boldly striped Mexican blanket to create a colorful cover for a headboard. Go with a restful matelasse blanket to create a slipcover for a sideboard, entry hall table or headboard.

If you sew and are looking for a fun summer project, making slipcovers might be the ticket. You'll pick up a valuable new skill and your rooms will be refreshed. Look online at websites like DIYnetwork.com or Wikihow.com for instructions on how to design your own slipcovers.

If the DYI route sounds daunting, you can easily slipcover a sofa or chair by simply tucking painter's drop cloths over the pieces. Cut a drop cloth large enough to cover the cushions then tuck excess fabric underneath.

Even easier? Order slipcovers online at Surefit.com or Wayfair.com.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.