The heavyweight linen I used for Sally’s sofa slipcover worked just as beautifully for her chair cushions. She found these wonderful caned barrel chairs at a resale shop. A great find! But the old blue velveteen covers had to go.
Covering the curved, tufted back cushion with a single layer of fabric resulted in ripples across the front. So, I created a padded front with channel stitching to fill in the concave shape a bit, which helped the fabric follow the curve. Then, I added covered buttons to give the illusion of tufting.
This is only part one of the makeover for these chairs. Sally is thinking of painting them in color Old White using Annie Sloan chalk paint. I like that!
It’s a good idea to replace worn out, compressed cushion inserts before you have a custom slipcover made for your chair or sofa. Why?
Because a slipcover won’t hide cushion wear & tear. It follows the surface and shape of your furniture exactly as is. If your foam cushion dips or bulges in certain spots so will your slipcover.
Finding comfortable foam cushions cut and wrapped to the shape you need is often challenging for my local customers as there are few options here in Kalamazoo. I’m not a foam expert but after covering many new foam cushions over the years I learned there’s more to it than simply choosing “high density foam”.
Here are 5 things to consider when choosing new foam cushions:
1. What type of foam do you want to use: conventional or natural latex?
Conventional foam is typically made from polyurethane treated with fire retardant chemicals. It’s the most common foam used in furniture and cushions. It’s offered in a variety of densities and firmness. The down side of conventional foam is it’s known to out-gas toxins, which accumulates in our environment and bodies.
An alternative to conventional foam is natural latex. This is not memory foam. Natural latex foam cushions are made from the sap of rubber trees. The sap is processed into foam using minimal chemicals. Choose from Dunlop or Talalay latex in a variety of densities and firmness. It’s considered a healthier alternative to polyurethane foam because it does not contain synthetic fillers or treated with chemical flame retardants. It’s long lasting, too, but it is more expensive.
Carla at NaturalUpholstery.com has created a free Buying Guide to Natural Upholstery Materials. This is an excellent resource for learning more about natural latex foam for cushion inserts and alternatives to polyester batting wrap.
2. How do you want your cushions to feel?
It’s important to try different foam densities and firmness to determine the right comfort and support. A firm, high density foam may sound great compared to your old, squishy cushions but “firm, high density” in one foam quality can feel hard-as-a-rock while in another it feels soft and springy.
I suggest contacting a knowledgeable cushion supplier that offers a variety of foams so you can compare. If you can’t find a good resource in your area try Foam Order.
Also, keep in mind seat cushions are generally firmer than back cushions so shop for the appropriate foam quality for each. FYI — very few types of back cushions need foam. Just a good loose fill.
Natural denim slipcovered back cushion with foam insert.
3. What type of cushion wrap do you want?
Foam cushion inserts need to be wrapped with a Dacron polyester batting or an alternative material such as down, wool or cotton. The wrap adds a crown to the cushion surface and makes the cushion easy to slip into a slipcover.
A wrap also adds to the comfort and overall look of the cushion. For example, if you want a flatter appearance and a denser feel go with a Dacron polyester wrap. It comes in a variety of loft (puffiness) and densities.
Or, if you want more of a puffy pillow look go with a down wrap. It will give your cushions a loftier crown and a sink-in feel.
4. What is the size and shape of your cushions?
To ensure correctly sized foam inserts, take your old cushions in their original cover to your foam supplier. The new foam will be cut to fit the original slipcover taking into account the type of foam and wrap you choose. Be sure your supplier understands the look and comfort you want to achieve.
If you order foam inserts online follow the supplier’s instructions for measuring your cushions and selecting a wrap.
Tip: look for a supplier that can make each cushion from a solid block of foam. I stay away from foam inserts that are pieced and glued together. Average size foam inserts that are pieced and glued break down much faster than a solid block of foam.
5. What will new foam cushions cost?
New cushion inserts will not only improve the comfort of your chair or sofa but also add longevity to your newly slipcovered furniture. It’s a worthwhile investment if you’re planning to use your loved & worn furniture for several more years.
In my area new conventional foam inserts cost approximately $65 to $150 depending on size and quality of materials. You can except to pay much more for natural latex foam inserts.
A cushion makeover made this estate sale piece new again. It came to me with faded blue cushion covers and worn down loft. With a fluffy new wrap for the inserts and a Waverly floral print this couch is ready for the cottage-style living room it was intended for.