I love my white sofa and chairs. Not just during the summer but year around. Every time someone new visits my house they always comment on how much they admire my decorative bravery and always follow up with, “I would love to someday have a white sofa but in my house it will never happen.”
I’ve had white sofas and chairs all my adult like, mainly because my parents never did and my mom always longed for an all-white room. I took the time to figure out how with kids and dogs that I could have what I wanted.
It starts with the right fabric. You don’t choose white satin, not that I ever would anyway, but satin stains and isn’t pet or people friendly. Fabrics that can be washed or dry-cleaned are the best. The pinnacle, of course, is Sunbrella fabric. Yes, the same kind you see on all quality outdoor furniture is available for interior use.
This fabric is “Superman” in a world of cloth mere mortals. Ketchup, mustard and red wine just wipe away with a damp cloth. I’ve put it to the test more than once in my home and others. I love to eat hot dogs in front of the TV during the big game and wash them down with a good burgundy.
Still not convinced? Go for white leather. Pick a slightly textured pattern that is soft to the hand. Leather is easy to clean and wears well when jumped on by toddlers and slept-on by couch potatoes. Again, my in-house testing held up to five grandkids and lots of family spuds.
Another trick … exposed wood arms. The first places to get dirty on any piece of furniture are the upholstered arms. Eliminate that problem by selecting a sofa with exposed wood arms so guests can run their hands up and down them without leaving a trace and still balance a beer can or snack plate.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk a little about lifestyle changes. Over the years I’ve had white furniture and dogs. But you do need to make some choices here. I recommend dogs that don’t shed. I have to say this might be even more important if you have a dark-colored sofa. Dog hair just doesn’t enhance any room’s décor. Your guests may love your pet but not really want to take part of it with them when they leave.
I also don’t believe pets should be allowed on furniture unless they are in your lap and getting all your attention and affection. I’ve been into beautiful homes with expensive designer furniture only to have the entire image ruined with a beach towel covering one or all of the furniture. Really folks? Is this a dog house or a people house? You don’t go sit in their kennel or dog bed. Maybe they should show you the same respect.
Eating on the furniture: I have a double standard here. It’s OK, sometimes, for the adults, but I think children should learn to eat at the table or kitchen counter and not be allowed to wander around while they graze.
Still not convinced? I’ve got other room alternatives. Bedrooms look great in white upholstered headboards with white occasional chairs and benches. Dining rooms benefit beautifully from white upholstered chairs. Consider slip covers that can be removed and tossed into the wash after a rowdy dinner party. Outdoor patio furniture looks so “resort like” when accented with white cushions. Use zip-off covers fabricated from Sunbrella fabric for easy cleaning.
Stop dreaming about white furniture and finally live in the rooms you’ve always wanted. I do, and my mom always loved visiting so she could live vicariously through my brave design choices.
Brown Jordan Outdoor furniture from the Connexion collection by Brown Jordan
Vicki Payne is the Charlotte-based producer and host of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV, and in syndication. Reach her at www.foryourhome.com.