We love pre-loved, old furniture. We especially love free, pre-loved, old furniture We love it stuff so much that I can literally count on one hand the pieces of furniture that we have bought brand new for our home. The thing about this stuff though, is that it isn’t always exactly what you want for your space.
“Oh, you don’t want your old tv stand? We’ll take it! We’ll make it work.”
“Oh, that old couch? Trying to get rid of it? We could make that work in our house.”
We are the masters at picking up free stuff on the sidewalk. Yep. We’re those people. We just saved an old dresser, side table, and outdoor chairs from our neighbor who was looking for a lighter load. Those furniture updates will be coming soon. But today? Today is all about this old, well-loved grandma love seat that I got for free in grad school.
Did we love the fabric? No. Did it work for our grad school budgets until we could maybe someday get something better? Yes. Most importantly, was it comfortable? Resounding YES.
Five years later, we still haven’t found the need to upgrade. Everyone always talk about furniture having “good bones” and in a couch’s case it’s especially important. If it’s not comfortable or the shape you like to begin with, a new outfit may cover up a few imperfections, but it’s certainly not going to change her personality. 🙂 So if you do like your couch’s personality, and just need to give her a little facelift, you’ve come to the right place.
- 10 yards fabric of your choice (mine is a grey ticking print. similar here)
- heavy duty staple gun
- sewing machine/thread, etc. for cushions
- The whole thing took me about 2 weeks all said and done. I worked after school each day, so if you had a weekend dedicated to working on it, you could call it a weekend project. I also really procrastinated on doing the cushions because I dreaded pulling out my frenemy, the sewing machine.
I want to tell you first that I watched this captivating youtube video about 20 times before I felt confident enough to start ripping my perfectly good couch apart. Highly recommend.
You essentially need to start from the outside and move in. Every couch is different, so take LOTS of pictures on the way to look back on. This will help so, so much in putting it all back together. Make note of what you did first, second and third because you put it all back together exactly opposite. Make sure to make note of what parts where on top of others to you layer it the same way on the way back.
The upholstery of a couch is just stapled in to the wood frame body. All you’re doing here is using your pliers/brute strength to tear the fabric off your couch to get to the main frame. Be careful though! Those heavy duty staples are strong and pokey! You will want to keep kids/pets away from the area as those staples may go flying.
The arms of the couch were really confusing to me and layered in about five different places, so I took about a million pictures to help me..And drew this amateur sketch plan.
Mike husband will continue teasing me about it for until the end of time. Please don’t use this as your guide. 🙂 Make your own that your significant other can mock you for!
Him looking at the note: “This? This is what you’re using to tear our couch apart and put it maybe back together again? These are the only notes you took?!” Me: nods slowly.
Many will advise you to keep your original coverings intact to use them as patterns when you cut your new fabric. I didn’t do that. I just rough measured everything and tore my original upholstery to bits. It was very therapeutic. 🙂 Again, if you are the nervous-plan-everything-ahead project type, you may want to do more prep work. I’m more the figure-it-out-along-the-way-with-blind-confidence type.
There she is! In all her naked glory! I was really lucky that we didn’t need to replace any of the padding. It was all in really good condition. You may need to get new batting to replace whatever is under your original fabric. I’ll cross my fingers for you that you don’t!
And then you start putting her back together again and staple the heck out of all your new fabric to the wood frame! I wish I had taken more pictures of the actually putting her back together again. I promise you that you really will learn how to put it together just by taking it apart though.
Do be sure to pull the fabric as tight as you can to make sure that it doesn’t sag once the staples are in and once you sit on it. Also make sure that you staple it so you won’t be able to see fabric hanging down toward the floor on the bottom when looking at the couch.
I can’t say that this will be the order for your couch, as it’s really best to just make note of the layering when you take it apart, but for ours the order to put it back together was:
- arm faces
- front of the back
- back of the whole couch
- and finally, I did the cushions, which was my least favorite part of the whole project.
Mike was in charge of cleaning up after me. We lived with the couch like this for a while. Those darn cushions. I’m not going to go through and show you how to sew the cushions. That would take another 20 picture tutorial, and honestly it may have been luck that mind turned out okay. There are also about a million resources for you to look at online if you need more detailed instructions.
I will tell you though that the cushion corners were really hard. I ended up just doing little “end caps” on the corners. That is not how someone would tell you to really do it. It’s like my little cheat version. I just wrapped up the corners, cut the fabric and just sewed them on by hand.
You really should look at some of the great youtube videos online for cushion covering when you get to this part. Mine weren’t as tight as they could have been, they don’t have the original piping, and have more of a slip-covered look. I like, but you may not!
The back also could have been a bit tighter. My original upholstery had this tack strip on the back nailed into the wood so you couldn’t see the staples underneath from the arms of the couch. It was just a flat back. I just used tiny nails to go around the sides into the wood. I wish it were just a touch tighter, but that’s an easy thing to go back and take out and re-nail in.
No DIY project is totally perfect though, and if Wendy’s happy with the final product, then I’m happy. All in all, I think it’s been updated a bit and fits a whoooole lot better in our little space.