Sunday, March 3, 2013

Remaking a couch

On the way back from my sister's, my husband, Patrick, and I stopped at a thrift store and purchased a new sofa that folds out into a bed.  So sparked a massive redo-the-living-room project. Not having a particularly large budget, I set out to spend as little money as possible.  We are only partway through the project, but it is going well so far.

All good renovations start with demolition. As we are renting our apartment, demolition of walls is out. Demolition of the ugly plaid, broken sofa we obtained for free from a friend that no longer had a space after obtaining a new sofa at the thrift store, however, just sounded pretty fun.

I started out intending to make a love seat out of the old sofa that would match the new one.  We also had an old love seat that we found with a "free" sign on the side of the road. The love seat frankly grossed me out and was thus covered in the bed sheets from my bed before I was married. I was looking to replace this love seat with the new one I was making.  But I had a long way to go from the sofa to the love seat.  

On day one of demolition, my husband came home for lunch to the picture on the right.  I had made a great deal of progress, including discovering exactly why you sunk into the back of the sofa and landed on a wooden bar if you were not careful.  However, I still had a long way to go.
When my husband came home for dinner, he decided to help.  He got a little too into the spirit, it seemed, and by the time we went to bed, we had the picture to the left. When I sat looking at this pile before going to bed I started thinking "Heavens to Bessie, what have I done!"  Not to be deterred by the increasing odds of this ending in failure, I pressed forward the next day, Saturday.

At 12:30 that day, my husband informed me that we would be having a guest at 3:30. Since the couch looked scarcely better at this point (I spent the morning engaged in other things that needed to get done), I had a lot of work to do. Fortunately, my baby son, David, decided to take a nap from 12:30 to 3:15. I was able to finish most of the demo except for the base with the springs, which I just put up against the fireplace.  I even managed to vacuum. After the guest left (with my husband), I managed to cut the base down to size for my love seat and shove everything into a closet because we were having some of my husband's cousins over for dinner the next day.

Somewhere in the next few days, I got to pondering on the inefficiency of your average sofa/ love seat.  There was a lot of space in the sofa I had just demolished that was filled with nothing but dirt and some airsoft pellets from a previous life. Since we live in a tiny space, I really wanted to build something with multiple purposes, much like the bed frame I had designed and my husband and I built a few months ago (perhaps I will post about that as well). In the end, I had a brilliant idea: a storage bench. Furthermore, because it wouldn't have arms, I could actually make the seating area as long as the sofa's had been before, increasing the number of people who could sit on it in comparison to the planned love seat.

Thus, from wood from the sofa, some particle board, gorilla glue, and screws, I created the bench to the left. It is just a rectangular frame on eight legs screwed into a sheet of particle board with another sheet of particle board on top for a lid.  I stripped the cushions of their plaid covers and laid them on the top. This part was actually relatively easy. It was just measuring and cutting.  Everything is made of right angles and straight lines, so there were no major problems to solve. I even got to use my husband's drill.

Upholstery, however was another issue. I knew that upholstery fabric was a bit pricey, so I got creative. I ordered Eclipse blackout curtains. I got pewter, which ended up being exactly the color I had hoped for. I then used one 42 x 84 curtain to cover my bench cushion.  I pinned the curtain at the corners wrong side out so that it fit tightly around the edges and then sewed them and trimmed. 

 I then pulled the cover tight and hot glued it to the underside of the lid.  Yes, a staple gun is generally the weapon of choice in upholstery, but I a) don't have one and b) don't really know how to upholster so I was going for less permanent first. It turned out to stick pretty well anyway with the hotter variety of glue gun. On the downside, I gave myself quite the blister on my finger, though who is to say I wouldn't have stapled it otherwise. I might buy a staple gun eventually and firm it all up, but it has been several days now and nothing has popped out. 

I then cut a large cardboard box (If you have never reupholstered,  you would be surprised by how much cardboard is in furniture you buy), and hot glued it to the frame. I then used foam I had saved from the sofa and covered the cardboard. At this point, I noticed how much my bench looked like a coffin and pondered putting on a version of Arsenic and Old Lace in my living room.


I covered my bench by cutting strips of another curtain to fit each side.  I sewed each long side to a short side, put the seams at diagonal corners wrong sides out, and pinned the other corners tightly before shimmying the cover off and sewing it up.  I then shimmied it back on right side out, flipped it upside down, glued the bottom edges to the bottom of the bench, flipped it right side up and repeated the glue job while pulling it tight.  I then put on the lid and had a beautiful new bench with storage.  

I took no time in filling the bench with a lot of my craft stuff.  Not all
 of it fit. The curtains you can see in the top of this picture are a post
to come in the future.
My upholstering could use a bit of work, but I am pleased for a first
project, particularly with a glue gun.  


1 comment:

  1. This bench turned out looking profession. Good job! You did the upholstery just like an upholsterer would--excepting of course using staples or tacks instead of a glue gun. Upholstery is quite a bit of work, but very satisfying. And you are right, the fabrics and materials can be prohibitive in expense.

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