How To Extend the Life of an Older Sofa

How To Extend the Life of an Older Sofa

Colleen Quinn
Feb 25, 2010

The sofa I have is a perfectly fuctional, perfectly comfortable, completely hideous piece of furniture I bought new (and on sale) in 1997. I moved overseas in 1998 and the sofa went into storage until my return to the US in 2006. When the movers unpacked it, I realized just how much my tastes had changed and immediately started plotting to replace it. As the months went by, I realized how much I loved the way the sofa cradled me at the end of a long day, how snuggly it was when I stayed home sick, and how reluctant I was to replace it despite the ugliness. I stopped looking for a new sofa, unwilling to commit the time and money to a major purchase which I would only enjoy for a couple of years before heading back out overseas. Still though, every time I looked at the sofa, I dreamed of a makeover. Finally this winter I reached my breaking point and committed a little bit of money to a sofa makeover that will get me through to my next move.

What You Need

1 sofa (your own, a hand-me-down or a Craigslist find)
1 stretch slipcover with separate seat (mine was a Surefit bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $130)
4 Euro sham pillows (mine were from Target at $10 each)

boundless patience
a helping hand (thanks mom!)


1. The first step for me was replacing the back loose cushions which had seen better days. Though I originally planned to get new upholstery pillows, I decided to give these Euro shams from Target a shot instead because they are not divided inside and are much softer and smoother.

2. As usual, the corners of the pillows were too pointy and empty, so I got my mom to tack them down to give me a smoother line under the slipcover.

3. The next step is to choose a slipcover. I opted for a brown microsuede slipcover from Surefit. The key elements that make the slipcover a viable option rather than an irritant are the fact that it is stretchy, and the fact that it came with a separate cover to enclose the seat cushions.

4. Now if at all possible, I recommend getting a friend to help put on the slipcover because wrestling with a huge stretchy slipcover alone is madness. I survived, but I should have bribed mom to help! Once you get the arms set, the rest slides over fairly easily.

5. Tucking the back cushions into place it another adventure especially alone. One trick is to rub a dryer sheet over the surface of the pillows first as it helps the slipcover slide more easily.

6. Tuck and twitch and tug to your heart's content until you are happy with the look.

7. Toss on throw pillows and get a tasty beverage before sinking back to enjoy the new soft pillows.

The sofa definitely looks better in person than in these photos, and it makes me happy to come home to a soft blendy brown sofa rather than those cream on cream flowers. The new back pillows are delightful- I definitely noticed the difference when I came in from shoveling snow and just sank into the sofa. A note on the slipcover- I've sat and napped on the sofa, sorted laundry, sprawled reading books, etc and I haven't had to fiddle with the cover at all- the stretchy, separate seat slipcover was well worth the extra money.

I do apologize for the photos- the bad weather made it impossible to skip the flash. Also, please ignore the background mess as the project was part of my Snowpocalypse spring cleaning!

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Images: Colleen Quinn

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