Ideas for Redesigning an Old Couch

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Maybe you can't afford to replace the couch, or you don't want to junk it because it's a well-made piece of furniture, but it still needs a no-nonsense makeover if it's going to continue taking up space in your home. Re-color it, re-cover it or relocate it for another purpose entirely to get years more use from the couch in whatever incarnation suits your present fancy.

Tapestry Tuck-in

  • The couch is faded, boring, wearing yesterday's dated print or the wrong shade of purple now that you've painted the walls. Try a quick fix that won't cost you a penny to give that wish-I-could-afford-to-replace-it monolith a whole new personality with which you can live. Rummage through your textiles for an interesting bedspread, tablecloth, tapestry or large piece of ethnic weaving from your travels and redeploy it to the couch. Tuck the fabric into the creases between seat cushions and secure it with upholstery pins. If the material is large enough, use it to cover the arms as well as the seat and back. Mix a couple of complementary fabrics to cover more of the couch. Add a few throw pillows to pick up a color or pattern in the added fabric and settle in with a free couch makeover that looks as good as the rest of the room.

Circus Sofa Art Attack

  • If you've inherited a curvy vintage sofa with dated, carved legs and time-worn upholstery, jazz it up with a patchwork of bright, patterned splotches of fabric. Strip the old upholstery off carefully, marking each piece so you know where it went and in what order you removed it. Use the old pieces to cut new material with each piece a different pattern and upholstery fabric -- contrasting and complementary colors, stripes, florals, graffiti'd or poetry-printed, scraps of ethnic weaving -- anything sturdy enough to survive normal sofa use. Paint each leg a different color and add a few throw pillows pieced together from leftover sofa fabric. The eyesore becomes a stand-out original piece of art.

New Kind of Sleep Sofa

  • Magically transform the old couch into a new bed for the guest room by reupholstering the arms and back to match guest room decor, and attaching a mattress frame where the seat cushion was. Each couch is constructed differently, so you have to adapt the frame and couch to each other, but a queen mattress is about 60 inches wide, the same as the length of a love seat. A king-size mattress is 76 inches wide, adaptable to the frame of a medium couch. For a more elegant appearance, build a frame of boards, padded and upholstered to match the couch-headboard, to enclose a standard metal mattress frame. Set the box spring, its edges covered in the same upholstery fabric, inside the upholstered frame with the mattress on top.

Tufted Luxury

  • Re-cover the tired couch but add a few flourishes to make it a standout. Shop for some fabulous velvet in a vibrant jewel tone to replace the old upholstery. Use the pieces you removed from the couch to calculate yardage but add extra so you can increase the padding and tuft the couch back and front panel. Add foam or batting to the couch back and front panel and drill holes where you want the tufts to go before fastening the upholstery fabric. Thread velvet-covered buttons on waxed twine on a chenille, upholstery or tapestry needle with a big eye and pull the twine through the upholstery at the drilled hole, tugging the twine to indent the velvet at the button, then tying off the twine on the back of the panel. Finish upholstering the couch, using velvet-covered piping around the edges of all cushions.

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