Second Lives for Sad Sofas: Budget Ways to Make Them Look New Again

updated May 3, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

The Apartment Therapy Sofa Squad shopping guide has me dreaming about green velvet chesterfields and tailored mid-century modern sofas—prompting me to give my basic white IKEA couch some serious side-eye. Before tossing any couches to the curb, I set out to find affordable DIY fixes. As it turns out, even if you’re not ready to make the splurge on a brand new sofa, there are several inexpensive solutions that allow your good taste and your wallet to compromise.

Solution #1: Pick Up a Paintbrush!

(Image credit: Katie Steuernagle)

Long-time contributor Katie Steuernagle put Angelus leather paint to the test on a $50 Craigslist couch, and despite all our doubts, the results are surprisingly beautiful. The original black leather still peeks through in some spots, but because we’re fans of the weathered look, we don’t mind it one bit.

Solution #2: Dip It In Some Dye

We’re no strangers to the transformative effects of dye (find some favorite projects here), but when we saw how regular ole Rit Dye turned a white KARLSTAD sofa into a trendy pink perch, we were smitten all over again. Krys from Melodrama used a combination of petal pink, yellow and tan dyes to tint the slipcover, proving that mixing several dyes is the key to a sophisticated color.

Solution #3: Tuft a Saggy Sofa

Simply adding tufts can make droopy sofa cushions look much perkier. This mess-free technique doesn’t call for paints or dyes, but as Oh Everything Handmade‘s makeover of a KARLSTAD sofa shows, the effect is still dramatic. Now that’s how you custom tailor a couch.

Solution #4: Tuck in a Makeshift Slipcover

The owners of the awesome 1962 sofa above, spotted on Design Sponge, haven’t gotten around to having the piece reupholstered, but wrapping the cushions in whimsical floral fabric serves as a temporary solution. Follow Rebecca Atwood’s tricks for turning fabric or rugs into makeshift slipcovers—but careful, if done too well, you may lose all motivation to reupholster.

Solution #5: Fix It With Fringe

One way to save a sofa with scratched-up legs is to conceal them behind a veil of bullion fringe trim — a decorative trim made of twisted cords. The fringe-adorned slipper chair above, embellished by Megan Pflug for One Kings Lane, is inspiring us to trim an entire sofa.

Solution #6: Spritz It With Spray Dye

To give an inherited couch in good condition a facelift, Meredith from The Starving Artist spray-dyed it using six cans of Simply Spray. The immediate result was a fresh charcoal gray finish. And more than a year later? The color held up, save for a couple spots in need of a touchup. While we wouldn’t recommend this method on an expensive sofa, it’s an easy way to extend the life of a thrift store steal.

Solution #7: Plump It Up with Poly-Fil

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

When Apartment Therapy contributor and DIY master Ashley Poskin wanted to save her parents’ wrinkly leather couch, she discovered Botox for couches: Poly-Fil. Available at most craft stores, Poly-Fil is a blend of polyester fibers that’s both durable and inexpensive (a 10-pound bag will set you back about $25). After stuffing the seat backs with polyester fluff and wrapping the seat cushions in quilt batting, this luxe leather sofa looks about 10 years younger.

If you want even more ideas for perking up a saggy sofa (hint: you’re going to need upholstery foam), check out these Budget-Friendly Fixes for a Sad, Sad Sofa.