Slipcovers!! One of my most favorite things!!

What I love about slipcovers is so many things!!

My mother was from the “South”.  (Lucky me in so many ways having particularly to do with the “HOUSE!”)

She taught me to have four………yes four…… seasonal sets of slipcovers for my furniture.

(My  goal is four;  I now have three;  and I will have four!”  In this post I will show two out of three.)

First of all;  when a new season starts;  I get a” new house”!  It’s almost like having 3 houses in one.

It is just a joy!  Even my husband gets excited.

We’ll start with “Fall”  as it is right now.
(I actually do this transformation with help, on the actual “first day of fall, Spring, Summer;  unless it falls on a weekend)  Otherwise the following Monday.

The very first day of “fall”  The  old “Oriental” rugs rugs go  back down;  All the pillows change, the slipcovers change on the furniture;

 and it does almost look like a different house!

My lifelong collection of antique paisley shawls, antique needlepoint (collected for decades;  even  some made by me) ;

and the fall cozy colors emerge to  replace the Summer pillows and fabrics.

The banquette is covered with my antique tapestry pillows;  collected over my lifetime.

Some were found on a trip to Dallas;  to do a “speaking engagement”;   for which I was paid generously . ( I came home with divine

antique tapestry pillows which were made from an 18th century tapestry chopped up and made into pillows; and none of my “fee”!)

Boy did I have fun  (And what pillows they are.)

The tapestry was falling apart; there is nothing wrong in this…….

the lady who made these exquisite pillows rescues the intact , fragile parts of the tapestry;  and makes exquisite pillows

with antique trim, hand-dyed velvet, and down fills.

They must not be considered “pillows”!

 (They are 18th century works of art preserved for all these years and bringing joy and beauty

hundreds of years later as fragments)

(just explain this to your husband…when he says….”WHAT did you pay for those pillows???)

(You can do it!)

(this lecture has been delivered to many clients;   Most often successfully.)

Here are a few examples:

This is one from Dallas.  There is a village scene around this tree.

This little creature I found in the flea market in Paris.

You can see that collecting things can give so many layers of beauty and meaning to your house!

(This is our new dog, rescued from a freeway onramp)!  The dogs are fond of the banquette;  and the leopard blanket came from Bunny Williams

recommended dog bed source:  (Wally beds ; totally washable)

So to begin;  this is fall.  This is our “big hall” a combination living-dining room……



This picture shows a lot of the furniture!  with……

The fall slipcovers.

Deep rust Fortuny on the ottomans;  teal on the chair seats, tapestry pillows and some quilt on the banquette, and the rugs and paisley

by the fireplace! (one of the two fireplaces in the room).


Rug and cozy seats around the fireplace on the “seating” side of the room.

(there are two fireplaces one at each end.  One at the “seating end”;  and another at the “eating end”.


Still at the seating side of the room

My husband’s incredibly talented uncle’s “book box”.

We inherited it.

Lars Bolander (the chicest antique dealer alive),  carries a copy all hand made……..go to

www.larsbolander.com and see for yourself!  And buy something.   The best!

The “chicest”  thing I think I own! ” Arce Bianchi”!  He was a taste-setter, bon-vivant, and  a major “patron of the arts”

In San Francisco in the forties, fifties and sixties.

The stool is from the thirties.  My old friend gave it to me along with our “sphinxes” on our front terrace.

A “safari in the thirties”.

This shot shows the paisley shawl upholstery with the inset vintage needlepoint.  Also next to the fireplace.
Also the 18th century fragments of tapestries preserved and made into pillows………
The bronze statue of (Narcissus” ?) we had by our pool in San Marino growing up.
So fun to have 60 years later;  looking so elegant.
See the antique paisley shawls and the needlepoint seats?
RED Alert!  No antique shawls recommended for cat households……..
“Shredded”  is the word;  I had to find a substitute fabric that “looked” like; but did not have the “texture”.
(No one except the cat has noticed the difference;  not even my husband! ) Slipcovers are so tailored.
We are not talking, nor doing, “Shabby Chic” loose slipcovers over here.  Nothing wrong with them;
just way too “trendy” for this Pasadena decorator.  I avoid “trends” like country people avoid “rattlesnakes”.
Just my view!

This is the opposite side of the room!

Directly opposite the other fireplace!

Its oriental rug is a cozy addition.

This is the dining area: this area has its fall and winter backwards Fortuny.

Again;  Slipcovers.   And end of FALL.





The main rugs go to storage and the pretty peach floors show.

Cushions pale yellow silk;  ottomans yellow Fortuny.

Different pillows and quilt on the banquette.


This close-up shows the spring pillows in better detail.

By the way, the valance is two antique valances sewn together found at an “Antique Show”

Antique shows are great places to find vintage textiles.

And my antique toile coverlet with the hand embroidered work salvaged from some  beautiful old sheets made into a pillow by my friend Kathy

(Pillow Beach on Etsy)


The Spring dining chairs have slipcovers of some Chelsea Editions embroidered fabric.
(Rugs not removed yet)
The whole room looking the other direction
We also have “summer slipcovers”…I call it “3 months in the Hamptons”
Those will be in the next post……..
Please do notice;  not one piece of furniture is different .
Same with the “summer installment”.
The whole point is;  the comfortable arrangement of furniture does not change.
You feel as though you have gone to your “summer house”  with just a change of tailored slipcovers
By the way;  another important  thing slipcovers do (I also learned from my adored mother);
is that your furniture (if you buy quality;  which of course you do)  will outlive YOU.
 Three or four sets of slipcovers prevents any of them from becoming worn out or faded.
 Just select carefully ;  and preferably hire a decorator to help you. (I volunteer).
Honestly,  my daughter’s living room has two large “loveseats”; and an 8 foot sofa that belonged to her “great-grandmother”.
(This is the daughter who lived here……..she was in Traditional Home Magazine;  not the one who just moved back;  how fun to have TWO here).
And the upholsterers have remarked every time they have been reupholstered about the quality of their construction.
 Buy the best made  upholstered pieces you can possibly afford.. (custom made or from a great consignment store).
and then slipcover like mad!
I truly believe there is much that can be learned from the past.
And old traditions are worth continuing.
Recycling wonderful old textiles is very GREEN!
p.s. some funky thing is happening with the font.  I apologize.  It doesn’t show up in the draft part.
pps. my darling writer stepdaughter (who wrote my “about me”;   made a suggestion about (!!! )exclamation points. (too many).
I think I removed a hundred.  It would make a great Saturday Night Live skit.   I must have mixed them up with periods!
Thank you, sweetie.

We now offer our design services online. Please contact us at Penelopebi@me.com for further information.

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32 Comments Subscribe to comments

  1. Billy Watkins

    Beautiful, Penny!!!! Tracy and I have to come up sometime for a visit; she will LOVE to meet you and appreciate your designs!!! — Love, Billy:)!!!

    Nov 27, 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  2. Phyllis Higgerson

    I love the seasonal house, Penelope. It looks beautiful in every incarnation. I have to say the bedroom with the antique toile coverlet looks like the most heavenly spot.

    Nov 27, 2012 @ 5:11 PM

  3. BoxwoodTerrace

    I appreciate your views on seasonal decorating and ejoyed the photos of your living area. The tiger-print pillows immediately caught my eye and look perfect for fall. Everything looks so fresh and original, but also comfortable and warm–nothing is forumulaic about the decoration of these rooms. In fact, they look “undecorated”, which in my opinion, is not easy to do!


    Nov 27, 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  4. The Devoted Classicist

    As much as I enjoy very tailored upholstery, people are surprised how much I like slipcovers. It is part of my Southern heritage too, reinforced by the influential tutoring of Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, and Bunny Wiiliams. For your home, it would be hard to pick a favorite scheme — all are absolutely lovely.

    Nov 27, 2012 @ 8:01 PM

  5. Penelope Bianchi

    Oh my goodness!!
    What a thrill! Thank you!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  6. Penelope Bianchi

    How wonderful your comment is!!)
    (You all have no idea how I appreciate your comments!)

    Thanks so much for your comment!
    Funny! Iam a decorator; and my goal for all my clients is to look “undecorated”; “undesigned” and “collected” as opposed to “curated!” YIKES ICKY THE PERFECT “spare house!” Who wants to go there??? And who wants to sit there?
    Thank you!!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:24 AM

  7. Penelope Bianchi

    Oh thank you so much!! You trained under the “masters” in my book!! What a compliment !!
    Thank you!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:31 AM

  8. Jacqueline@ Tokyo Jinja

    Penelope, I loved getting this view into the other versions of your room and can’t wait to see the summer post!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 4:09 AM

  9. Kelley

    Hi Penny, thank you for all of the beautiful photos! Your house is one of my all time favorites!

    best, Kelley

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 8:35 AM

  10. Delores

    I am in love with your paisley shawl slipcovered chair! I too collect them, but am afraid to use them as slipcovers as they will shred! Love seeing your home, not matter what season! It’s just beautiful. Would love to see it decked out for Christmas. Winter slipcovers? ~Delores

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 9:30 AM

  11. Debbie

    Where do you buy beautiful slip covers?

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 10:02 AM

  12. Penelope Bianchi

    I have an upholsterer who makes them! It costs less than reupholstering !!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 10:09 AM

  13. Penelope Bianchi

    Hi!! The only reason mine shredded is the cat!! They can be backed to use as upholstery or slipcovers !!

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  14. Garden, Home and Party

    I love your home in all seasons, but the Fall version was my favorite today. I love the slip cover idea…where do you find someone that can make them so that they don’t look sloppy and ill-fitting?

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 4:24 PM

  15. Penelope Bianchi

    That is vitally important!
    Find (if you don’t have one) a really good upholsterer; and ask him (or her) If they don’t make them; they will likely know someone who does. And make sure you see their work! More and more people are working from home now; and do lovely work! You can also google. (Whatever did we do before google”?)

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 4:30 PM

  16. Karena

    Penelope, Gorgeous both versions for the seasons, very excited to see more!

    2012 Artists Series & Giveaway from Pamela Terry

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 4:38 PM

  17. Sandra Jonas

    Gorgeous! Love the changes, it does look like a different house and stunning in each season.

    Happy Holidays hope you post your decorations.

    BTW I loved your !!!!!!!!!!! showed your enthusiasm & sense of fun. It is not all about punctuation & essay writing.

    Nov 28, 2012 @ 8:04 PM

  18. Penelope Bianchi

    Thanks! I honestly do think I took out 100 exclamation points!

    However, thank you for saying that! Many of my readers say that they can hear my “voice ; and that is the way I talk; I guess? or I think? Please tell me your honest opinions! My main goal is to be “me” authentic; the one and only real “me”! (there I go again!)

    Honest opinions are requested…..it did seem ridiculous…….100 exclamation points in one blog posts! Good grief!

    Before I had my own blog…..I responded to others…..and many made fun of me for all of my exclamation points!

    What shall I do??
    We are all very busy…comments will be appreciated! This is the first question (I think) I have asked!

    If you have a minute…….please weigh in……..about the exclamation points!

    I think my writer is right……..I use them as periods…..however; I talk like that! So…your opinions please?

    It is an important part of my website and blog!

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 12:20 AM

  19. velvet and linen

    Every time I visit your home I never want to leave!
    You have created something so magical.
    I adore your slipcovers. They are perfect for the way we live… with all of our adored animal family members!



    Nov 29, 2012 @ 8:35 AM

  20. tara dillard

    At Winterthur, Dupont had 4 sets of draperies for each window.

    He didn’t want views of the garden to be ruined with the wrong fabrics/colors.

    Love this man.

    Adore your room. XO T

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  21. pimpmybricks.wordpress.com

    When I’m properly grown-up I’ll be organised and when I’m organised I’ll have seasonal covers. Though there are only really two seasons here, which should make things easier.

    What I really love is the way your creeper hangs, untrimmed, in front of the door. We used to have an orange trumpet vine which grew down over the deck roof in festoons of orange flowers. We never trimmed it until all the flowers were over and the little showers of rain water that fell on us when we brushed against it always gave us a sort of thrill!

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 6:12 PM

  22. pimpmybricks.wordpress.com

    oh, and as for the exclamation marks – keep ‘em. I just assume you speak as you write – with lots of enthusiasm. Those exclamation marks carry your voice, so l say keep them.

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  23. Penelope Bianchi

    Interesting! I am so interested in everyone’s opinions! Thank you!

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 6:26 PM

  24. Sandra Jonas

    The exclamation points are you!!!!!!!!!!!
    They express your enthusiasm when you share the beauty of what you have created or discovered.
    Where would we be without enthusiasm??! And, they are contagious!

    Nov 29, 2012 @ 7:54 PM

  25. Penelope Bianchi

    Oh my goodness! You are one of my very first comments on one of my very first blogs! Thank you so much for commenting!

    “Blogging” I think, is different from writing! Thank you for all of your comments…….I treasure every single one! From the bottom of my heart!

    Nov 30, 2012 @ 12:15 AM

  26. Joni Webb

    p: i love slipcovers too. my favorite are your spring ones – can’t wait to see the summer ones, those might be my favorites too. i love your house – can i have it? just mail it me, please. i’ll take good care of it!

    Nov 30, 2012 @ 11:24 PM

  27. Penelope Bianchi

    HOW FUNNY it is to reply to this kind of comment! (are you sure you want to approve? ) DUH!!
    The question should be…..”are you sure you deserve this enormous compliment?)

    Thank you, Joni…..from the bottom of my heart! Yikes!!!

    Dec 01, 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  28. Loi Thai

    Dear Penelope,
    What a beautiful and gracious home, no matter the season! I love the changes, and of course, your slipcovers! What I really love most: your ability to create many harmonious seating groups!! And all your antique textiles, cushions and pillows.
    Thanks for this fabulous post!
    Cheers from DC,

    Dec 03, 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  29. Loi Thai

    PS – Very sweet face on the new rescued doggie. Is he / she still with you?

    Dec 03, 2012 @ 6:06 PM

  30. Penelope Bianchi

    Yes! At first my husband said…..”only two dogs!!”; then she won his heart! He says: “We still have a ‘two dog’ rule; but she can stay as a ‘back up’”
    She is darling!!!

    Dec 03, 2012 @ 6:29 PM

  31. Jennings & Gates

    Penelope, your slipcovers are so, so marvelous! Your home looks so fresh each new season. I tend to get on a soapbox about buying well-made furnishings so that they can be recovered and slip-covered year after year. Your house looks warm, inviting and so comfortable. I think I judge the success of a room if I can see myself taking a nap there or reading a book there. (Tells you a lot about my priorities in life!!) Your rooms look divinely nap-able and read-able. N.G.

    Feb 09, 2013 @ 4:50 PM

  32. Penelope Bianchi

    Honestly; I could receive no greater compliment! What you expressed in one sentence is what my goal has been for every house I have done in the last 43 years! May I quote you??

    Thank you!!!

    Feb 09, 2013 @ 8:56 PM


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