Hi there! My name is Jennifer Bridgman and I write the blog The Chronicles of Home. I’m hopelessly hooked on home projects and write about decorating, building furniture (and other things!), trash-to-treasure furniture redos, and recipes – I love to cook (and eat) when I’m not wielding power tools and fabric swatches. I’m so thrilled to be guest posting on BHG Style Spotters today and telling you a little more about my sofa reupholstery project that’s featured on the “I Did It!” page of BHG’s October issue.
The first question a lot of people ask me when it comes out that I reupholstered my sofa is…”Why??“ And while I think “I reupholstered my sofa” makes me sound very intrepid and fearless – picture me standing on top of my sofa, flexing my muscles with a pair of scissors in one hand and a staple gun in the other, letting out a roaaaaaarrrrr! – the truth is that I had very little to lose by taking on this project.
My husband and I bought the sofa seven years ago and the center cushion had a tear in the leather that stretched across the entire width. The seat cushions were sewn to the frame, so flipping the cushion over wasn’t an option.
We went out to look at replacement sofas one weekend but were planning to move within a year or two and ultimately thought we should wait to buy a new sofa until we moved to be sure we got something that fit the space well. This pretty much left me with two cost-effective options: live with the torn sofa for another year or two or try to reupholster it myself. The sofa was already pretty badly damaged so if I got it apart and the redoing didn’t go so well, I wouldn’t have ruined a perfectly good sofa. I’d just have ruined an already kind of ruined one!
I’d done enough reupholstery projects where I’d stripped furniture to the frame to feel reasonably sure I wouldn’t come across any big surprises. But, don’t get me wrong, this was the biggest project I’d ever undertaken and in the end had to just hold my breath and leap! The good news is, I didn’t have any surprises. It was, however, a very time consuming project. My husband took our two young daughters to his parents’ house the weekend I started the reupholstery and I worked about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. When he got home that night with our girls, I had stripped the whole sofa and had the frame, including the arms with nailheads, finished.
This left the three seat cushions and three back cushions to be done, and I spent every spare minute I had that week chained to my sewing machine. Not literally…but sometimes it felt like it! I had never sewn welting before (that raised cord along the edge of the cushions) and there was a LOT of it for this much sofa. The first seat cushion took me five hours to finish, and that was not including sewing the welting. I was such a beginner, though, and the next two went faster for sure. I had moments that week while working on the sewing of the cushions when I just wanted to stop but I was too far in to turn back and when I zipped the last cover onto the sofa that Friday and we headed into the weekend with a “new” sofa I was about as proud as I’ve ever been of a project. Sinking onto the velvety cushions made every moment spent worth it.
When I was choosing the fabric for the upholstery, I knew I wanted something very different than the original dark leather. Our pillows were constantly falling on the floor because the leather was so slippery, it was sticky in summer and cold in winter, and I had had enough dark. When I tried to think of the “opposite” of dark slippery leather, I kept coming back to the idea of plush, soft, velvet.
I wanted a light color but was worried I’d regret the choice with my two well-intentioned but often messy munchkins using the sofa every day. I ordered a bunch of fabric samples and thought I would go with one of Sunbrella’s indoor/outdoor velvets, but I wound up falling in love with another ivory velvet that had a slightly ashy undertone. It wasn’t Teflon-treated like the Sunbrella velvets, but it had a water-repellent finish that I hoped would be enough to ward off little stains.
It’s been about six months since I finished the sofa and so far, so good. Well…except for the time my two year old got into my husband’s oil paints in the basement and rubbed her green paint-covered hands on one of the cushions before I realized what had happened…the day before the BHG crew was coming to take photos. I think I very nearly fainted. I made these cushions reversible though, so I just flipped it over and everything looked good as new!
It cost me just under $250 in supplies to complete the reupholstery, not including my labor, of course, and I had the tools I needed for the work already. I don’t know of a single place where I could have bought a new sofa with spotless upholstery for $250, so from a cost perspective, this project was definitely worth it! I also have no regrets whatsoever about the time I spent working on it. I might have been singing a different tune had you asked me that question midweek after hours sewing, though! But, really, for me, this project was worth every second spent.
If you’d like to read more about my process with some tips, sources, and tutorials, I shared some of that info HERE. I also made the X-benches you see in some of the photos, and share a tutorial for making them HERE.
I hope you enjoyed this peek inside the process behind the “I Did It!” page. Stop by The Chronicles of Home sometime and say hello! You can also sign up there to follow along with me as I take on new projects. I’ll be sharing some never-before-seen (oooh, the drama!) behind-the-scenes photos and info on the BHG photo shoot next week when the issue hits newsstands.
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