The owners had decided many years ago on Early American furniture. It was good furniture, especially the two or three antique pieces, but the sofa was scarcely worth the cost of recovering.
I recommended a coverall. This is easy to do with patterned fabric, because the pattern has a tendency to drown out all the mistakes in shape and form that often accompany furniture choices made many years before. Fabric patterns also tend to enlarge a small room when used as a cover-all, by giving a visual continuity.
The sofa was a real problem, because it was covered in a dark blue tweed that was badly faded on the back; the faded part has been compounded by the cat, who had used the sofa as a scratching post for at least a month before the damage was discovered. The owners planned to move in a year or so, and re-covering the whole sofa would have been unwise since they had no idea of the kind or size of furniture they might be using in their next home.
Instead, I made a small quilt, about the size of a single bed quilt, of the same fabric, and threw it casually over the damaged parts of the sofa. The French chair was easy and inexpensive to reupholster, so that got the full treatment. To take the place of the conventional and uninteresting overstuffed chairs of the old room - which were never used anyway - I used the patterned fabric to cover four huge pillows, which are marvelous for extra seating.
In a later home, quilt, chair and pillows can be re-organized in a bedroom for a growing daughter of the family.
In the current room, because it is so small, I used a small pattern in a Provincial all-over floral, in off-white on a navy-blue background. I painted the paneled wood walls and the shutters in the same off-white to give a look reminiecent of a French farmhouse. The wood floor was stained as dark a brown as I could find that still allowed the grain to show through. For the summer months, the floor will be left here, to give a cool feeling to the room. In the winter, an off-white area rug will define the seating space under the furniture.
There's nothing new about the idea of coverups. In the old days folks had lace antiynocassars to cover the worn parts of their upholstered furniture. Occasionally, extra cuffs or backs were made for the arms of the same fabric. I use cover-ups of all kinds.
A patterns of any kind is a good visual disguise. A multi-patterned crocheted afghan, for example, is a marvelous mask for the worn parts of a chair or sofa. A Greek rug once took the place of new uphostery in the home of a friend who just couldn't bear to re-cover an old sofa. Even a simple, store-bought blanket, in a Navaho pattern, can do marvels for a tired old beige sofa.
If you're daring and have one to spare, you could even try an old fur coat. Just cut off the sleeves and the worn parts. Stitch up the raw edges. And throw the good parts over the old upholstery for a super-chic and luxurious look for an old and tired room.