Ask the Designer: Slip cover upholstery

Q. I loved the idea in Ask the Designer on Saturday Aug 4 about sprucing up an old sofa with a slip cover — but am finding it hard to source a nice one. Any suggestions?

A. Slip covers have a more relaxed feel than fitted upholstery, with the added advantage that they can be whipped off and washed when the family pet has spent to much time lying on it!

They especially suit country-style rooms and look great in floral prints, stripes or plain linen.

For the perfect fit, it’s best to get your cover custom-made — a service we offer at The Mills Interiors.

Swedish company Bemz do a great range of covers especially for IKEA furniture (, with a 3-4 week turnaround. Or if you’re in a hurry, try Meadows and Byrne (

Q. We recently stayed at a posh hotel where I fell in love with the plush curtains. I’ve tried to achieve the look at home, but to no avail — can you help?

A. The luxurious effect you’re talking about is achieved by ‘interlining’ – a high-end window treatment where a third layer of fleece (also called blanket lining) is added between the curtain fabric and regular lining.

In the past, it was used to provide better insulation in lofty country houses with sash windows. Nowadays, it is more for style but it also helps the curtains drape beautifully, which is essential for silks and damasks. The only downside is that it can be expensive, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

Q. I have a collection of hats from around the world that I’d love to display in my hallway. Do you have any advice on how to hang them so they don’t lose their shape?

A. First, consider the following three factors: is the lighting in the hallway adequate to showcase them properly, is the background colour neutral enough not to be in competition and will they get very dusty?

One easy option is shelving, where hats of any type can be stuffed with tissue paper to keep their shape and simply placed on the shelf.

Consider grouping them by colour, style or size.

Alternatively, lay all your hats on the floor and decide how you would like to hang them on the wall. Then stick wooden clothes pegs to the wall with double-sided adhesive strips — and attach the hats to them.

You could even paint each pegs to match the hat.

Q. I’m considering revamping my home for autumn — what are the top interior trends this season?

A. This year continues as it began with all the top design houses such as Sanderson, Designer’s Guild and Romo all sticking with brightly coloured bold prints with large patterns for autumn.

Bright greens and aztec blue are very much at the forefront of wallpapers and fabrics, adding a touch of fun to these otherwise gloomy times.

But the trend to watch out for this season is ‘Ikat’. Traditional Ikat is when the thread is dyed before weaving to create a tie-dye effect.

But I suspect there will be plenty of lookalike prints on the high street before long.


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