Some days I am awesome: the story of how I reupholstered a couch

I love DIY, a lot. But I think all DIYer’s will admit that there is that one project that they would love to do but they are way to scared to try. Mine was reupholstering. I really wanted to try it, and I REALLY wanted a new couch, but I was so scared of what might happen, of all of the things that could go terribly wrong. Also, there really aren’t that many Pins about it on Pinterest, I looked all over the place and found only a few who had done the whole thing from start to finish; not an encouraging sign.

And then it happened. I was at my local “previously loved” store ( ie. thrift store) and I saw this couch. DSCN7215Now I know what you are thinking, ” Alix, that is a 1980’s nightmare”. And you are absolutely right… mostly. The color, the fabric, the oak details, yuck. But despite all that I really wanted to get it, I just knew I could do great things with that couch. I waited till the hubby got off work and we went and looked at it together. He said since it was only 25 bucks there was really no harm in trying, the worst that could happen was that it ends up at the dump, which is where is would have ended up anyway. I love that man.

Having basically no idea where to start, I just started taking off all of that horrid fabric. This proved to be the hardest part.  It took a FULL day to tear it down to frame, and I mean working from 7am to 11pm with almost no stopping. I had blisters, I was sweaty and my poor husband had to make his own dinner.

Apparently when they make couches they are required to use 6 billion staples to ensure it is secure. That picture of the staples is one of the 5 bowls of staple I pulled out of it. It was a little crazy.  Now if you are attempting to reupholster a couch (or anything for that matter) know this: that was the most labor intensive part, for me at least. It sucked, but it was worth it in the end. Also, do NOT throw away the old fabric, I know it is temping but don’t do it yet.

While I was taking it apart I took notes and few pictures of how things went together. This proved to be REALLY helpful later on; knowing how things came apart really helps when it comes time to put it back together.

So on to the next step, covering up the naked couch.

Because I had know idea if this was going to turn out well or not I did not want to spend a fortune on fabric. I decided to go with regular old painter’s drop cloth. Its durable, I like the look, it comes in large enough sections to cover a couch, and it is dirt cheap. Seriously. 24 dollars to cover the whole couch ( and its a pretty big couch).  DSCN7218

Earlier I said if you are reupholstering something, don’t throw away the old fabric right away, here is why. I used the fabric pieces as templates for the new fabric. This save so much time and made things so simple. My biggest tip is when you lay the old fabric out, try to get all the wrinkles and creases out. This will help you make sure the new fabric pieces are the right size. DSCN7220After all the fabric was cut out, it was just a matter of getting it on there. I wont go into deep detail on how I did it because I think that might get super boring and if you are attempting to do your own couch or chair its obviously going to be different than mine. But I will say that you are going to need a staple gun and some elbow grease. Take your time and follow the tip my mom gave me about fabric: Fabric has a way that it wants to lay, don’t fight it, work with it.

On the arms I took my time and made sure that they were smooth by adding a layer of batting, I also made sure that the fabric creased where it wanted to and that they matched up on both sides.

If you recall the original picture of the couch, there were a TON of buttons, on almost ever surface they could possibly put a button. There were well over a hundred. That was a bit excessive for my taste ( and most people’s I would assume), but I  did want the tufting on the back rest, I me love some nice tufting. Originally I had the idea that I would go get new buttons. Well they are kind of pricy when you are getting sixty of them. I also looked into getting a machine to make my own upholstered buttons.  turns out those can be a rather expensive as well. I was getting a little desperate and then it occurred to me, why don’t I just paint old ones?! I know that sounds a little wacky but I was able to match the color of the fabric almost perfectly and using the old ones made things a lot easier when I put it back together.

And then came the tufting. Now I wont lie, the way this couch was made and the buttons that were used made it pretty simple. The only tricky part I had to deal with was making sure the fabric layed nicely. I started by laying the old fabric on the new fabric and then marking where the center button should go. DSCN7241

I put the first button in and then went in a spiral out from that point. This helped me to make sure that as I pulled the fabric tight I ended up with enough fabric top to bottom and on both sides.

It came out just how I wanted it to! I was so so happy with the tufting!

The couch originally had a tufted cushoin as well, I didn’t want to do that but that left me with the dilema of having a cushion with tons of little dimples in it. My father-in-law gave me this great tip that solved that problem in no time. If you take a steamer ( or in my case an iron on the steam setting) and run it over the dimples and creases they will plump back up to normal. I was a little skeptical but it worked  SO well. I felt like Harry Potter, it was seriously that magical.


Awesome right?!

We  then found some new feet for it and stained all the wood pieces a dark mahogany. DSCN7327From that point all I did (with some help from the hubby) was get the last few pieces of fabric on there to finish the job.

I love it. This couch is completely my style, its comfortable and it fits a lot of people comfortably.  I was a little concerned about having a white couch with a toddler in the house, so I scotch guarded it like crazy and we have had not problems with it so far.

So the moral of the story is, whatever your big, scary DIY project is that you are to afraid to try, Give it a Shot! It may turn out better than you ever hoped it would 🙂



Posted in DIY