What lurks beneath: couch repair

Since we’ve moved, you’ve probably seen a lot of outfit pics with the shoddily slip-covered couch in the background:


One might never have guessed that a mid-century-style couch with gorgeous lines lurked beneath (as well as distressed upholstery):


Isn’t she beautiful? I inherited her from my grandmother Kiyomi, who had exceptional taste.

So, in a fit of disgust, I cast off the muumuu slipcover this weekend and have replaced it with a less offensive but temporary sheet that at least doesn’t add 50 years and 50 lbs. And then, I hit the internet in hopes of finding a reasonable solution to making my couch look nice.

Option 1: Professional reupholstering
I was interested in using a reupholstering company as a lazy way out. Yes, I was expecting it to cost a lot – $1,000+ – but I wasn’t expecting it to require numerous consultations and an it’s-ready-when-it’s-ready timeline. I was expecting expensive, quick and great, not expensive, slow and potentially ruinous. Also, I fell prey to Yelp’s tendency to attract only starry-eyed and disgruntled reviews and became nervous about how even the highest-rated Seattle reupholsterers had a bunch of 1-star reviews. Next, please.

Option 2: Total amateur reupholstering
I ruled out this option, but only after about an hour of gazing longingly at DIY-upholstery books. Since I’m already (happily) buried in projects, learning how to reupholster will have to wait.

Option 3: “Toss out the couch and get a new one”
While I scoured for DIY upholstery info, the message I came across most frequently on message boards was “Anything you try to do with a new couch is going to be too expensive. Take your old one to the dump and get a new one.” (!!!) My thoughts are this: buying something new has all sorts of hidden costs; the cost of using new resources, use of fossil fuels to transport it, potential dumping fees and landfill space, all sorts of costs that aren’t reflected in the single price at Ikea, for instance. I didn’t entertain this option, but was surprised to see it so widely championed.

Option 4: Making a slipcover
And, our winner: making a well-fitted slipcover! This is the option that makes the best use of my skills: measuring things, sewing things, buying fabric. It struck a good balance of cheapish and time-efficient. I think I’m going to force myself into making a bed-sheet muslin, instead of cutting into nice thick cotton canvas and hoping for the best.

So, expect some slipcover updates here! And I’ll be covering the couch back up with the sheet, because it’s unfair to expect Orson (our cat) to resist all of the delectable strings hanging off the couch in its current state.



6 thoughts on “What lurks beneath: couch repair

  1. learning to reupholster furniture is on my to-do list too!!!you could make the cushion covers fairly handily and then make your slip cover so that it sits under the cushions instead of over, and you could use velcro tape to attach the bottom hem to where the material stops on the base of the couch so you'd still see the wooden frame…

  2. There used to be phrases like "waste not, want not". I wonder what ever happened to those.Anyway, couldn't you yank the previous pad covers off and copy the cuts and stitches?Oh, and if you're making a slip cover, can you do the couch and cushions as two separate covers? I've had problems with covers coming untucked. It's dreadful. No one should ever sit on an untucked couch.I love this blog!

  3. That phrase is alive and kicking over here! I annoy people by saying it constantly.Anyway, my plan is to sew separate covers for each cushion. Then, the slipcover will go underneath. Agreed on the horrors of untucked couches!

  4. I hope I'm not too late to throw out this bit of expertise, which I inherited from my mother, the interior designer. Your plan to make covers for each individual cushion is the way to go. As far as the base cover, my suggestion is to stretch the fabric, tuck under, iron for a great crease, and then STAPLE GUN the hell out of it. Staples are easy to remove (with a flat head screwdriver), super secure, and they last forever (whereas velcro tends to slip and lose its stick over time). Give it a shot. And then plz post new pics! 🙂

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