Mixing kids and white.

 After posting the reveal of my living room I received quite a few questions (and even some snarky comments which I’ll never understand for the life of me) about mixing kids and white in my home.  Yes, I get it.  Mixing kids and white may seem like trying to mix water and oil but it can be done.
As you can see I have white slipcovered sofas.  When I originally purchased the sofas the sale’s person highly recommended microfiber saying it was really easy to clean.  So I went for and had it covered in a cream color.  Huge mistake.  I was constantly trying to wipe it clean.  Instead of selling the whole dang thing I decided to have custom slip covers made in white.  I’m not going to lie and say that white isn’t a high maintenance color because it is, especially on a sofa.  However, If I have a spill on the slip cover I can tear it off and throw it in the wash instead of douse it with a toxic chemical cleaner which stays on your sofa indefinitely.
So the next question…how often do I was them? Not as often as I should.  I’m going to say something that may tarnish my image but, once in a while, if one of my slipcovered cushions gets a non-emergency smudge, meaning it’s not something that is going to set in, I have been known to just flip the cushion upside down until a later wash date.  Yep, the old “sweep in under the rug” trick.

The slipcover has 4 main parts…the body which covers the arms and back then three separate cushions.  I find that I wash the cushions covers more often than I need to wash the body.  The body needs washing about 3-4 times a year.  The cushions about once a month (sometimes longer).  Jeanne also made arm covers which I wash maybe 1-2  a month or as needed.
I love the look of them so I’m willing to put up with the maintenance.  White keeps you honest which I think is a good thing.  My son was sick with the flu months ago and laid on the sofa for days watching cartoons while he passed the time to getting better.  When bed rest was up I stripped the whole thing and bleached it in the wash.  Germies gone!  That, I love.
The other thing that makes white work in our home is we have a couple house rules established.  Eating and drinking only in the kitchen and no shoes in the house.  These rules aren’t just there so mom can have a white sofa.  Really, I’d have these rules whether we had white sofas or brown leather sofas.

Final thoughts…my kids are real kids (although these are my friends kids the morning after a sleepover…no idea where my kids were).  They jump on the sofa, they use my pretty pillows for pillow fights, we have toys strewn all over the floor and they do occasionally drool chocolate aftermath all over the place.  I realize my white house is going to get dirty and it’s okay, it can be cleaned.  I’m raising boys, not a house.  I don’t believe that everyone should have to bend over backwards just so mom can have pretty things.  Props to all you who think my house looks like the “after” photos all the time but it doesn’t.  Frankly, I don’t know anyone family that does, unless you have a live-in maid and in that case I despise you.  J/K.

If you just LOVE the look of white consider using materials that can be wiped down.  My ottoman which we  diy’ed is made of white vinyl.

I also had two wingback chairs recovered in white vinyl and lined with black piping.  Talk about a win-win!

I hope I’ve shed light on the white sofa issue and helped you answer your own questions about the possibility of using white on your furnishings.
*Don’t bleach your slipcovers every time.  Bleach can yellow fabric when used in excess (surprisingly) so I only use it occasionally.  I do use Oxi-Clean all the time.
*Don’t dry your slipcovers completely in the dryer.  If you do they will shrink and not fit on your sofa.  Dry until it’s just barely damp then put it on the sofa.  When it dries it will fit your sofa like a glove.
*When my boy’s friends are over playing in the living room I occasionally throw a white flannel cheap blanket from Ikea over the sofa.  Then I don’t have to stand there like a drill sergeant barking at them to get their dirty little feet off my pristine sofa.  Peace of mind for me and they are free to be kids.

*Thanks to Michelle Rasmussen of Wondertime Photo for snapping the “after” photos.*


  1. The house looks great. Too bad about the snarky comments. It’s also too bad how everyone thinks once you have kids you can’t have nice things. I grew up in a houe similar to yours, and my mother wasn’t afraid to have nice things – we were just taught how to respect them. So kudos to your white sofas!

  2. I love the white and would love to do it myself but know I wouldn’t be so good at keeping it – you have to be honest with yourself. I have cream color leather and I thought it would be a nightmare but really it isn’t so bad, leather is easy tho. Your house is amazing and I’m happy to see update pics – keep them coming.

  3. Some people are just punks about comments.
    I think it’s great that you have your house rules (no shoes in house, no food outside of kitchen) it makes for easy clean up! :)
    I think it all looks FABULOUS, and props to you for being bold!

  4. I too have a white slip covered chair and sofa. Plus one husband, two children, a black dachshund and a red dachshund who are allowed on the furniture.

    I wash the cushions much more than the body and often have it covered in an antique French sheet I just toss in the wash. I love oxy clean and line drying.

    Once a “friend” told me that I was crazy to have a white sofa as they are just filthy. My reply was to ask her to go home, take a white cloth that had been dampened slightly and rub it a few times across her dark upholstered couch. She was horrified. I myself like knowing when my sofa needs a good wash. :)

  5. Your house looks fabulous..very light, fresh, airy etc. I think you should have the colors & things that you love and make you happy..so what if they get dirty-that is what they make soap & water for right!!

    I love your chalkboard door..at least I think it is chalkboard? I am debating doing my panty door up like this but it is right beside the oven–I worry if any grease splatters that will soak in & won’t come out?

    BTW..regarding the comments..I don’t get it..my kitchen redo was posted on a site and 99% of the comments were focused on how IG sucks (one of my photo’s was taken via IG)..come on people!!!

  6. Thanks for the deets on how to keep whites white in the face of real life. I remember reading something about carmakers using synthetic leather due to durability issues so I think the advice re: vinyl is spot on.

    Switching topics, do you reject comments that do not respect the vibe your blog seeks to achieve? I went through the comments section to see what snarkies were posted and could only find something that imho is only vaguely negative, about how the commenter thought your decor was a poor fit for their lifestyle… But I’m a pretty serious and literal person (read:socially clueless) so maybe I missed something?

  7. I have two white sofas in the living room and LOVE them. With three boys (and the same house rules as you), I find the upkeep to be minimal. I have two identical slip covers for each sofa, so I can change a cushion cover when needed and not have to worry about washing right away. The other night, the boys had a chocolate chip cookie snack, and I realized later that my youngest smeared a little chocolate on one the sofas. (I guess I missed a spot when I washed him up.) I just popped on clean covers and soaked the soiled ones overnight. No worries.

  8. I have a beige sofa and I told the hubs I want to get white slipcovers. I have white bedding and it actually works wonders because I can always toss it in the laundry with bleach.
    I agree with you that is not that horrible to maintain. I love your space!

  9. Hi Michelle,
    I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. I’m an interior designer in Canada and I often recommend white slipcovers to families. White is actually one of the easiest colours to keep clean as you can bleach them if absolutely necessary. I also grew up in a home where my Mum never put away any of the good stuff nor did we live any differently than families with no children. I’m one of 4. We were just taught respect for our home and we didn’t eat on the sofa and we took off our shoes. It’s really quite simple, right.
    In terms of the snarky comments, that’s very sad. It’s been my experience that the more anonymous one is, the harsher the comments and actions etc. The internet does have it’s unfortunate side. Your home looks wonderful and you have a lovely family. Keep on keeping on! Paula.

  10. Beautiful! And thanks for the tips :)

  11. I have to admit, when I first saw the reveal I thought, Oh my word, how does she keep it clean with all those boys?! But I think you have just sold me on white slipcovers. We just purchased new furniture, but when the time comes for a change I think I just may have to try white slipcovers. I’ve always loved the clean crisp look of them. I love Sara’s idea of having two for each piece of furniture so you don’t have that lapse time of no slipcovers. THen you can soak the dirty ones for as long as it takes! :)

  12. Many people entertain the misconception that living with fabrics other than white will ‘hide’ the dirt. I have a black suede sofa with matching white suede chairs and the black sofa reveals the dirt just as much as the white chairs. They are placed on a white area carpet. These, along with, among other things, white leather Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Pavilion chairs in the library have done quite well through raising my son and half the neighborhood boys. I too have kept a ‘no shoes’ policy as well as a ‘food remains at the kitchen island’ rule. These are among the foundational rules of raising a child for which your future daughter-in-law will thank you profusely! We don’t tip-toe around our home – we actively live in it! Neighborhood boys have always loved coming to play at our home and they always respect ‘house rules’.

    It is quite clear that your boys love their home. That is the final analysis of having created a ‘home’ versus a ‘house’.

    One of my best friends is named ‘OxyClean’ – I learned about this wonder product from Mary Romney – Mitt’s daughter-in-law – when her blog was opened to the public to read. She too loves a nice home where her boys can play and she can entertain family and friends – and she incorporates white into her home. She mixes OxyClean with baking soda and other ingredients – almost like a ‘cleaning cocktail’.

  13. Thanks for the tip Micheller! I understand totally how sometimes people can sound snarky when they leave comments, but I know they probably don’t mean to, it’s just unbelievable for some maybe, to have white all over the house! But I see the beauty of white in your home, it makes the chaise seems more controllable and nice! Keep your chin up high and your sofas nice and white! Have a good day!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Love your home and love your approach. Thanks for opening your doors to us!

    Would you be open to doing a post on your “no shoes” policy? I am from Hawaii, where shoes in the house is never an option, and have instituted the same policy in my family. But I live in Arizona now, and am always at a loss as to how to tactfully ask guests to remove their shoes. My kids tell their friends with no problem, but it’s the adults that I worry about. I noticed that your last home had a sign on the front door- how did that work? Any other suggestion?

    Thanks! Looking forward to your thoughts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have 3 little boys and have had 2 slipcovered white couches (crate & barrel) for years. The number one comment from people coming into our living room has been “wow, 3 boys and white couches!” but for exactly the reasons you mentioned they stay beautiful and i stay sane. We recently did a redo and moved one white couch into the tv den and sold the other. We now have beige non-slipcover couches and i feel like i need to be way more vigilant about the no food, etc. in there! Kind of miss the white.. Adorable pics of your friends kids and your home, as always, is inspirational.

  16. Oh Michelle. I’m sorry you got snarky comments last time. I hope that you got way more comments about how beautifully everything has turned out- because it truly has. Don’t mind the naysayers! We love you and everyone has to do what works for their family.

  17. I’ve come to learn that white is almost the best option with kids–especially white slipcovers. They’re durable, bleachable . . . and overall probably cleaner than all of the stuff that builds up on a darker microfiber fabric over the years. You’ve done a beautiful job with your home, Michelle!

  18. Just thought I would mention – a while back in your AZ home I sent you an email about your sofas and you got right back to me – a huge thank you by the way! Well you inspired me and my little fam – 1 little man so far are proud owners of a white slipcovered sofa. We love it! Thanks!!

  19. I love your white sofa! I want slipcovers too- maybe one day. We also have the same rules- no shoes and no food out of the kitchen (except on very special occasions when we have guests and don’t fit in the tiny kitchen). Anyway, hugs to you. Love your blog!

  20. Your home is absolutely gorgeous, Michelle!

    I am super glad to read this post. In fact, you’re one of many who have inspired me to “go white” with my decor. With a toddler, two dogs, and a husband who works in the oilfield, it’s, quite frankly, a terrifying leap, but who wants to live in a space that’s just “eh” to them? Not me!

  21. hey michelle
    so glad you did a post on white furniture. We finished our family room and i chose 2 white slipcovered chairs with two little ones. I have no problem with it!! I love your idea of the vinyl wingback chair. Ive always wanted to do something simiiar but thought the costs to reupholster would be brutal. Just curious how much you paid to reupholster them??

    amanda from

  22. Great post! I have no children but I love your attitude and your decorating style!!!

  23. I totally agree…I had a white couch and in a post I did someone called me and idiot for it since I have 4 kids. I did end up getting a new slipcover made, not because my kids trashed it but because my old washing machine did. My could is green now which hides the dirt better but my rules of shoes and food in kitchen still apply, white couch or not!! Love your house and let those kids jump away!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I love your white!! Some people just aren’t happy and have to try to bring everyone else down w/ their “snarky” comments! I have four sons and in one of my houses I had white carpet in the family room. I, too, got many comments about having white carpet w/ four boys. However, it was the easiest carpte to keep clean because of the color. I also used Oxy Clean on that carpet but if it had been a color, the Oxy Clean would have dyed the color out. Oxy clean is the best, especially for getting blood out. :)

  25. I just bout a white slip-covered loveseat from Ikea so this post was perfect! Thanks!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I think you mean “for the life of me” :)
    Cute house!! Love the white!

  27. I LOVE IT! Snarky people are just jealous of your obvious talent. IGNORE them.

  28. I recently changed from light blue couch covers (that were getting increasingly brown arms – blech) to dark plum ones thinking “hooray, a dark color! it’ll never look dirty in here again.”

    Yeah, no.

    Turns out, there’s always a color of dirt to contrast with furniture. I think it’s genius to have something bleachable. Should’ve gone with your way!

  29. Anonymous says:

    L.O.V.E. Great parenting, great home.

  30. Michelle,
    Love this post and love the entire house! I, too, have a VERY white house and also occasionally get comments on my blog about how it seems unrealistic. I don’t have children yet, but I do have animals…and you’re right: white is doable. I actually like it better because I like being able to throw all my whites in the washer and have everything clean and new! Kudos to you! :)

  31. I came over from the Nester, and I have to say that I love the room! I have white slipcovered furniture, too, and it is the best. Way cleaner than the dark red chenille couch I had before. The baby puked on it, and what could I do? Slipcovers are the heat. And white goes with everything! I love being able to switch out pillows and throws for a new look.

  32. I love how you said you are rasing boys, not a house. I too am a mother of boys, and I also have white slipcovered sofas. Except, the seat is yellowed for some reason now and I can’t seem to get it clean. Oh well :(

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