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10 Ways to Upcycle a Sofa

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Sofas can be big investments. Luckily for you – and the planet – they're also ripe for upcycling. So if yours is looking a bit on the worn side, there's hope for it yet. If you don't already have a sofa, you could consider getting one second-hand to reupholster in a modern colour scheme or style. Why not try starting your search by looking on our Good Finds page? Check out our tips on how to upcycle a sofa below and you'll soon be sitting pretty.

(And don't forget to track your transformation... not only is taking before and after shots fun, it also helps remind you what your sofa originally looked like, in case you want to go back a step.)

1. Tools of the trade

For any upcycling project, there are some basics for your toolkit. Buying them second-hand means you’ll get some great bargains on things like:

- an electric sander
- brushes
- masking tape
- a cordless screwdriver

2. Alternative covers

It can be good to think outside the box. Tablecloths, sheets and duvet covers make excellent throws and seat covers. King size covers and larger tablecloths are best for this, as they’re lightweight, come in lots of patterns and colours and are machine-washable. If you’ve upgraded your bedding recently, it’s worth noting that matching pillow cases work great as cushion covers.

3. Ditch the skirt

Does your sofa have a skirt that’s been there since the VCR era? Removing it – and showing off those legs – works wonders and will update your piece considerably. Better still, why not paint the legs and make them a feature? Tip: tucking in and fixing the existing fabric under the sofa will give you a neater finish.

4. How to change a sofa fabric colour

Fabric paints are a great way to change the colour of waterproof fabric, and they work best on lighter colours. These paints are made specifically for fabric, so that old can of emulsion won’t do the trick. It also helps to hoover or brush down your sofa first. Doing a patch test at the back or underside of your couch can help you avoid some glaring mistakes. Your paint should come with simple instructions for you to follow. For a nice finish, it’s best to leave the first coat to dry before you start on a second one.

5. Let’s go outside

Lots of sofas can survive and thrive outside as long as they have a little protection. Metal sofas are perfect for repurposing as garden benches. For wood-framed sofas, you can repaint exposed wood with exterior paint. Adding a waterproof fabric or spraying fabric with a waterproof lacquer will help protect your cushions from the elements.

6. New throw cushions

It’s surprising how much a couple of new throw cushions can perk up a sofa. Different shapes and sizes give a more updated feel. If the sofa already has throw cushions, then new covers may do the trick. And if you can’t find the design you want, you can always make your own. If the cushions you sit on have zips or are easy to unpick, a new foam pad inside the cushion should pep it up nicely.

7. Adding new legs

Upcycling doesn’t have to mean replacing like with like. Fitting new legs to a sofa will get it noticed. If the legs were short, replacing them with longer legs makes the piece more of a statement. Or how about using a different material or shape? Like using metal legs instead of wooden ones or replacing curved legs with square legs.

8. Tufted details

Perhaps you’d like to give your sofa more of a tailored look? Using strong thread, you can sew buttons in a diamond pattern on fabric cushions to give them a fancy tufted expression.

9. Tacks and nail head trim

Adding decorative tacks or nail head trim to upholstered sofas can make them look more expensive. A rubber hammer comes in handy here and it can help to draw a line first to show where the trim will go.

10. Sofa throws

A sofa throw instantly uplifts your sofa. There’s no hard work on your part either. It’s easy to care for and perfect when you have commitment issues. Just remember that they come in various sizes, so you’ll want to check the one you’ve got in mind is big enough.

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