Sofa Solutions Sofa Solutions

Q: About six weeks ago I ordered a sleeper-sofa, and it was just delivered. Unfortunately, it is a yellow so fluorescent I no longer need a reading light! I chose the fabric based on the samples; the floor model was a bright blue. The store won't take the sofa back. I love the lines of the sofa, and it's very comfortable, but I can't live with this color. Is there anything I can do?

A: This problem isn't as unusual as you may think. Of course you didn't want the bright blue, and I'm sure that in the store the yellow fabric you selected looked lovely, like whipped butter or pale lemon lilies. That's because you were looking at about 3 square inches of it, and now you're looking at something closer to six square feet of it, right in front of you, every time you venture into the living room.

The first thing to try is changing the colors around the sofa, especially since you say you love the lines of it. You might try painting the wall behind it a paler yellow, which would allow the offending sofa to fade into the wall a little. Choose a color that has the same tone, but is just a few shades lighter - you don't want to end up with a bright yellow wall as well.

You can also try using cushions and a throw that will blend in with the yellow while hiding some of its great bright bulk. Try pillows that have just a little bright yellow in the pattern, but which have a very dark background. Something with a black, navy or maroon background and a bright floral print might do the trick.

And if all else fails, invest in a slipcover. Slipcovers aren't what they used to be; time was when "slipcover" was synonymous with "old crocheted afghan thrown over the ugly sofa," but now they can be quite elegant, and can really makeover a whole room.

Today, slipcovers come basically in two styles: the kind that can be ordered immediately and are designed to fit a number of basic styles, and those that are custom-made for your sofa.

The first type can be casually draped over furniture, and tied in place with attractive, decorative ties. These slipcovers often involve folding the slipcover material around the cushions and securing it with ties. This may sound a little too similar to the old blanket trick, but these really look pretty good.

The second kind gives a more finished look. These slipcovers are made to fit your sofa, after you send in the exact measurements to the company.

The fitted slipcovers give a sleeker look, and will allow you to retain the shape of the sofa you like so much. They are, naturally, more expensive than the one-size-fits-all model, as they're custom made.

Both kinds come in models that can fit either regular sofas or sleepers, as well as easy chairs.

And if all else fails, think of what you'll save on the electric bill with your glow-in-the-dark sofa.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design

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