Before & After: Jude’s Virtually Free Sofa

updated May 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Our readers don’t just come to us for home inspiration – they also share their own projects with us, bring the inspiration around full circle. Jude emailed us this sofa transformation that we think is a great lesson in patience and DIY chutzpah.

Jude’s small apartment requires a slim sofa, one that is no longer than 56 inches. After searching in vain for a new sofa that would work in the space, Jude turned to Craigslist – and ended up with not only a sofa but also a little extra cash for re-upholstering it.

I found a hideous couch with a great silhouette on craigslist. It was posted with two wing back chairs for $60. I picked it up in a nearby suburb of San Francisco from a nice couple with a small condo. It was decent quality with a hard wood frame and the world’s ugliest floral tapestry. Everything was in great shape. I ended up reselling the two wing back chairs for $125 and used the extra $65 towards my budget.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
I stripped down the couch carefully saving all of my main pieces to make a pattern, but first I had to sand down a layer of ugly fake cherry varnish on the legs. Using several coats of dark blue, black and metallic gold, I was able to imitate a nice convincing faux antique gilt look. Next I cut out my pieces and added a little Dacron where it was needed. Using old fashioned nails and a hammer (I don’t have room for a fancy pneumatic staple gun) I went about reattaching the fabric. The rolled and sculpted arms took a lot of time, but as an experienced dress designer, it was easier than fitting fabric to a person. Now as a lot of you guys know down cushions are expensive! Using a custom service like Cushion Works, I would have spent probably $300+ to pad my sofa. Instead I went to Overstock and bought down body pillows at $15 a piece. Two for the back and arms and one for the seat. Total price: $85
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
So now I have an amazing sofa that’s comfy to curl up on. A custom sofa at $100 that has tons of glamour and twice the quality of a store bought sofa! My advice, don’t compromise and wait. It literally took me three solid years of looking, measuring and searching for fabrics until I found exactly what I wanted and at the exact right size and price. Just about everything is already out there, just waiting, if you’re willing to look.

(Images: Jude Gabbard)