Furniture Makeovers Home decor

Short Cuts for DIY Upholstery

Hello  Friends,

This week (ORC Week 4), we share a sofa makeover with DIY upholstery that goes all super-simple and semi-homemade. Hope you will join us.

Short Cuts for DIY Upholstery

OK. Truth.

When it comes to furniture refinishing, I paint and stain without one iota of fear. I just dive in the deep end and see where it takes me.

But with DIY upholstery.

Ecccck. Not so much.

DIY upholstery is easy using slip covers on back pillow cushions | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Then last year, I started small. An ottoman here….a slipcover there…and slowly, the elusive upholstery codes began to break.

And now, here we are.

Before all is said and done, this 1990’s sofa is destined to bust out and shout hello to 2019.

Sofa and basement BEFORE makeover and renovation | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

DIY Upholstery – Let’s Get Started

Wrap the Frame

In Part 2 of this series, we will share how easy it is to lift the skirt, expose the awesome legs and wrap the frame.

Yep. Because the current upholstery is in pristine condition, a little batting and fresh fabric wrapped right over the top of the old fabric will erase the plaid frame of shame.

Sorry for the split series, but hubby needs to be here to help handle the frame. It’s a sleeper sofa and heavy like a tank. So Part 2 will focus with greater detail on wrapping the frame without stripping the old fabric.

An easy update is to hide or remove the skirt and show sofa legs | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Slip Covered Seat Cushions and Pillows

But for now, let’s talk fabric and seat cushions and pillows. To make this project REALLY easy, I chose:

  • a mid-weight upholstery fabric with a slight backing (for strength)

  • one without a repeat, but it does have to be used in the same direction

  • one without a visable nap

  • and one that doesn’t ravel

Two earlier ORC posts share in more detail about things to consider when buying upholstery fabric. 

A textured fabric without a repeat is a good choice for this sofa makeover | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Slip Covered Seat Cushions Using a Boxed Envelope

The seat cushions (not the back or side pillows) will be slip covered using a boxed envelope. The seat cushion in the photo below is covered using this super-easy method. The cushions for the sofa need to look more casual so this slip cover without cording on the edges should be perfect.

An earlier post shares the step-by-step tutorial for making the seat cushions. In this post, there is a no-sew option, but for rugged sofa cushions, sewing the envelope is recommended. Click here to see.

Sunroom Bench Makeover - Chalkpaint plus five different fabrics breathe life back into this weathered bench. | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Slip Covered Back Pillows with a French Seam

As for the back and side pillows, basic slip covers will cover the plaid fabric. Here is a before and after. 

DIY upholstery works miracles on the sofa back cushions | Before: Left | After: Right | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Please note that a French seam is simply the flat fabric around the sides of the cover.  I used a one-inch seam around these covers, but you may choose any width you like.

In an earlier ORC post, a lengthy step-by-step tutorial for making these slip covers with and without a French seam is provided.  Click here to see.

DIY upholstery using a slip cover with a French seam is perfect for a casual look | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

So we have three different kinds of slip covers going in this sofa makeover. But if you review the earlier posts, you’ll see how each method is really simple. The toughest part will be wrapping the frame, but I still don’t anticipate any problems. In the past year, I learned that fabric is more like paint than I had originally thought.

Hubby will be home this week-end….and the deep dive on the sofa frame will begin.

Hope you will stay tuned.

In the meantime, please keep or share these ideas by PINNING the image below.

A sofa makeover uses three different kinds of DIY upholstery short cuts | The choices convert a stiff traditional sofa into a classic casual | #diyupholstery #orc #oneroomchallenge #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc |

Previous Weeks

In case you missed:

Week 1 – Basement Family Room and Bonus Space Plan

Week 2 – How to Refinish a Buffet Using a Paint and Stain Combo

Week 3 – Easy Patterned Wallpaper Using Paint

Week 4 – You are here.

Week 5 – How to Make Low Ceilings Go High

Week 6 – Modern Traditional Bonus Room Reveal


Our Hosts

And as always, we extend a special thanks to our gracious hosts, Calling It Home , One Room Challenge and Better Homes and Gardens. And invite you to enjoy over 200 more room renovations,  click One Room Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc



  • Reply Toni | Girl Just DIY April 24, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    It’s going to look fabulous with the colors and patterns you chose. And getting rid of that dated plaid on the cheap is the best repurpose for something otherwise in perfect shape.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 24, 2019 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks so much, Toni! CAn’t wait for you to see it in person… maybe next Haven year…

  • Reply Susanne April 24, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Okay, I am totally going to try and recover that winged back chair. After I read all the tutorials. This is looking awesome!! I can’t wait for the wrapping.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 24, 2019 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks Suz.. and yes! That wingback chair is calling you!!

  • Reply Joannie April 25, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I’ve always wanted to reupholster a couch but then I start adding all the yards I need and change my mind – daunting for sure! I can’t wait to see how yours turns out. Maybe if I read enough tutorials I’ll actually try and do one

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2019 at 6:20 am

      Thanks Joannie. Covering a sofa does require a boatload of fabric and it took me weeks to gather the courage to have the fabric cut. I’ll do my best to take note of every trick to save on fabric and get them in the second post.

  • Reply Emy April 25, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Upholstery is so intimidating! Your sofa is going to be gorgeous! I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Hi Emy and thanks. And yes, upholstery is totally scary, but I am hoping to break it down even better in the second post. Fingers crossed.

  • Reply Jeweled Interiors April 25, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I am so impressed! I know how much work this is!!!

  • Reply Mary K Hunnicutt April 25, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Great tips and your sofa is going to look so good when you finish!

  • Reply Tee April 25, 2019 at 9:42 am

    You are motivating me to attempt upholstering furniture one day! I actually have a chair that is sitting in my shed waiting to be upholstered. It’s just the seat so it’ll be an easy intro to upholstering. Ha! Love the fabric you chose. I can’t wait to see the sofa all done!

  • Reply Marie April 25, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    What a difference the new fabric will make to your sofa. I can’t wait to see it when you’re finished. I am way too scared to upholster a sofa so I’m going to follow your tutorial to the letter and hopefully get the courage to tackle the club chair I’ve been itching to reupholster.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      Awww Marie!! You’re an inspiration!! I remember seeing one of your pieces and asking you about it. As for the chair, you got this. But, thanks girl.

  • Reply Libbie April 25, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Susie, this is going to be so so good! Love the fabric choice.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 25, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks Libbie. I’ll remember this when I have the next wave of total panic…

  • Reply Cristina April 25, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Whoa, that’s a huge project! I try to stay far away from upholstery projects and here you are making it look so easy! Kudos to you my friend!

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 26, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Awww, my friend, you’re so sweet. Every ORC, I try to stretch myself to do something new and this is truly challenging. But hey, it’s not like I’m trying to build a huge wall unit of floor-to-ceiling cabinets in my family room…..or anything hard like that. LOL… XO

  • Reply Ola April 26, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Susie, I believe you’re my new superhero! Lololol! I have been wanting to reupholster a sofa in my home for quite a while now. I’m definitely going to take a look at that detailed post. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 27, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      LOL….Hilarious! Thanks girl,but let’s see how this turns out. LOL..

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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