Sofa, So Good: 10 Creative Ways to Revive a Tired Old Couch

It’s not surprising that the couch is the focal point of most living rooms. It’s often one of the largest pieces of furniture, and family and friends alike make a beeline to its ample seating. Over the years, however, a sofa can become stained, outdated, or saggy, tempting us to bite the bullet and spring for a new one. But you can upgrade your sofa without buying new. So, before you buy, check out these clever ways to revitalize an old sofa.

By Caitlin Castelaz | Updated Nov 25, 2020 01:44 PM

Before: Dated

Outdated White Sofa

This classic couch still had a lot to offer, but in order for it to keep up with the contemporary surroundings, the outdated skirt had to go.

Related: 15 Lazy Ways to Make a Big Change in Your Home

Remodelando la Casa via Pretty Handy Girl

After: Elevated

Remove the Skirt to Update an Old Sofa

A little investigation revealed that this couch had good legs that it could show off with a mini makeover. First, the staples holding the skirt were removed with a tack puller and a pair of pliers. Once the skirt was detached, the remaining fabric was tucked under the couch to create a smooth line along the bottom. Finally, decorative nailhead trim along the arms and bottom added some extra pizzazz. In the end, these few simple, targeted changes not only modernized a great couch, but also made the room look more spacious.

Related: Don't Make These 7 Mistakes in Small Spaces

Remodelando la Casa via Pretty Handy Girl

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Before: Sunken and Sad

Saggy Brown Sofa

This baggy and forlorn sofa had seen one too many movie nights. But all it needed was a little TLC to make it chic and comfortable again.

Related: 9 Worth-Every-Penny Upgrades for the Hardworking Parts of Your Home

After: Revived and Restuffed

Replace the Stuffing to Fix a Saggy Sofa

For a quick update to this piece of furniture, the homeowners first exposed the lovely legs that had been obscured by the couch skirt. Then, to amend the sunken seat cushions, they removed the old stuffing and replaced it with Poly-Fil batting. Finally, they traded in the floppy cushions along the back of the sofa for plush pillows that can be easily swapped out as styles change.

Related: 10 Ways to Give Furniture a Fast Facelift

Before: Craigslist Find

Vintage Couch Before

Blogger and decorator Miss Mustard Seed saw potential in this Craigslist find, but to make this sofa suit her country classic home design, she had to scrap the retro upholstery.

Related: 16 New Things You Can Do with Old Furniture

After: Living Room Ready

Revive a Tired Sofa with Paint and Fabric

Structurally sound and elegantly shaped, this thrifty find was in great position for a quick update. Painting and distressing the wood lightened the sofa and gave it a country flair that was enhanced by the addition of durable, neutral upholstery. To complete the makeover, gimp trim, hot-glued in place, provided a decorative finish.

Related: Beyond Ikea: 10 Other Places to Get Affordable Furniture

Before: Dorm Room Staple

IKEA Futon

Whether used as couches or beds, futons are a dorm room staple. But what happens once you’re not a student anymore? This DIY makeover adapts this college kid must-have for a more mature living space.

Related: A+ Storage Hacks for the Best Dorm Room on Campus

Instructables via efraguada

After: All Grown Up

Add Pattern to an Old Futon

This refinished futon hack would look quite at home in any grown-up space, yet it comes at a price even a recent grad can afford. To achieve this transformation, the futon frame was disassembled so the panels could be modified and rearranged in a new configuration. The original futon mattress was cut up and reconfigured to fit the new dimensions, then covered with heavy-duty canvas that had been hand-stamped in a cheerful pattern to create a one-of-a-kind couch.

Related: 9 Things You Never Thought to Paint—But Should

Instructables via efraguada

Before: Thrift Store Throwaway

Thrift Store Outdoor Sofa

This unlovely thrift store find wasn't doing this backyard patio any favors, but the potential was there. 

Related: 8 DIY Pick-Me-Ups for a Plain Patio

After: Perked Up with Paint and a Tablecloth

Use a Tablecloth to Reupholster an Old Sofa

As it turns out, it didn’t take too much to uncover this sofa's potential. While the frame was in excellent shape, it was in desperate need of a fresh coat of black paint. The cushions received an easy upgrade with a tablecloth reborn as a slipcover. A few decorative throw pillows later, this bargain find was successfully revamped into a stylish outdoor couch.

Related: 7 Ideas to Steal from Real People’s Tiny Backyards

Before: Boring Basic

Gray IKEA Couch

This Ikea Karlstad sofa was the right size for this space, but it lacked the luxe look of a higher-end couch.

Related: 21 Totally Free Ways to Upgrade Your Home

After: Midcentury Modern

Upgrade a Boring Sofa with DIY Tufting

Tufted cushions make this sofa appear more tailored and expensive—at little cost. The look was created by pulling thread through layers of fabric, then securing a button to the front. No one would guess that this classic tufted couch was a DIY hack. 

Related: The 9 Rules for Rugs That Everyone Should Know

Before: Dingy and Off-White

Stained White IKEA Couch

White furniture exudes classic, clean elegance, but it’s also a magnet for stains—case in point, this once-white sofa that was impossible to keep clean.

Related: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Painting Your Walls White

After: Refreshed with Green Paint

Paint an Old Sofa for a Whole New Look

Reupholstering is not the only solution for a stained white couch—you can paint it too. Textile medium allows latex paint to permanently bond to fabric while staying soft and resistant to cracking. A little green paint and medium was all it took to turn this grubby sofa into a cool, vibrant fixture.

Related: 9 Things You Can Do with 1 Gallon of Paint

Before: Raggedy Rescue

Classic Velvet Couch

A luxurious velvet couch is divine, but with age, these classic sofas become worn and rickety. But the impressive length of this sofa and its invitingly curved form are features that you won’t easily find in new furniture. The good bones made an investment of time—and a few dollars—worthwhile.

Related: 14 Retro Home Trends It’s Time to Revisit

After: Recovered in Velvet

Reupholster a Classic Sofa in Velvet

Once the old fabric was stripped away, it was easy to repair the structure underneath and add fresh batting and foam. Finally, new velvet and a retufted back transformed this old sofa into a one-of-a-kind showpiece.

Related: 10 Ways to Fill a Blank Wall for Under $20

Before: Scribbled-On Survivor

Stained Couch with Scribbles

In the hands of a child, a permanent marker can transform a couch into a mess of scribbles. While accidents can be forgiven, permanent marker is not so easily forgotten.

Related: 10 Quick and Easy DIYs to Do with a Sharpie

After: Saved by a No-Sew Slipcover

Tuck Fabric Into Sofa Cushions to Disguise Marks and Dirt

Permanent marker is tough to remove, despite washing and dry cleaning, so recovering the cushions was the best solution. This no-sew slipcover project offered a simple alternative to reupholstering, while the graphic print paid playful homage to the couch's stained past. 

Related: The New Neutrals: 9 Colors You Can Trust for Today's Home

Before: Dark and Dreary

Vintage Black Leather Sofa

Vintage furniture has a certain shape and style that some people love, but it’s often difficult to find a piece in perfect condition. This worn-out retro sofa was almost ideal for this blogger, but it needed some TLC.

Related: 7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn

After: Leggy in Leather

Revive a Vintage Sofa with New Upholstery and Legs

While the structure of this retro sofa was sturdy, the tired leather needed to be replaced. As the cushions weren't removable, the entire couch had to be reupholstered with one giant piece of leather. The slimmer legs that complete this transformation paradoxically make this vintage sofa seem even more of its era—and yet perfect for ours.

Related: The Best Plants for Every Room of the House

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