My Couch Baby

Ever since the screened-in porch on the back of our house was just an idea, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for a great wood or bamboo couch to settle in back there.  The tough thing though, is having the idea and then actually finding something that would be perfect, only to realize that you have zero room in your house to store a couch to put in a space that may or may not happen.  Sometimes I feel like that’s the story of my decor life, I find something that would be perfect in some space in my mind but a space that I don’t have or don’t have yet in my house.  Womp.  Two years ago when we were searching for the perfect entertainment center to turn into the girls’ play kitchen, we stumbled upon the coolest wood frame couch in a thrift store in town and man, I wanted it for the porch we had just started saving up to build.  Like, I wanted it bad.  It was marked at $60 and it had clean lines and a concentric, cut-out circle pattern in wood on each side and in white, it’d would’ve been amazing!  I left a piece of my heart with it when I walked out those thrift store doors that day.

But it all turned out okay and I have no regrets because right after the screened-in porch was built, I was at another of my favorite thrift stores here and out on their front stoop they had a wood frame couch with a piece of computer paper taped to it that said “Please take.  I’m free!” 
IMG_1280I guess they had tried and tried to sell it but nobody wanted it.  I can’t imagine why…

It wasn’t my style at all – too many big curves – and the springs holding the bottom on were broken.  The fabric was awful (but I planned on reupholstering whatever I bought anyway) and the wood faded and in need of a good sanding and paint job.  But, it was FREE.  I was so torn.  Either way, at the moment I saw it, I had all the kids with me and no way to get it home so I snapped the picture above and home I went to later bring it up to Anthony.

Then, as fate would have it, we drove by a few days later on our way to church and the couch was still there.  We decided that, since we really wanted to get our porch put together, that’d we’d go grab it and see what we could do about making it look more ‘our style’.  Better than in a landfill, right? 

Here she was, home and in all her vintage glory:
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And this is the story of how we made her a little, or a lot, happier…

First, Anthony removed all of the springs/metal rails that held the bottom in.  Like I said above, many of them were broken which made sitting in this thing impossible or dangerous at very best.  Then, I unscrewed all of the metal loops that held the springs in place along the inside of the couch. 
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Now since there weren’t any springs, there wasn’t anything besides the two support bars left to hold seating.  This is where holding onto pieces of construction material for long periods of time comes in handy.  We have had a sheet of plywood stored away from our previous home (yes, we moved down the country with it) just in case we ever needed it.  Well, that day came.  Anthony cut it to fit down into the recess of the couch seat where it sat snugly atop those two wood support bars.
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It’s so much more firm and sturdy than springs; nobody’s falling through now.  Stay away Dumbo.

To reign in slivers and to keep up appearances though, I grabbed some thin cotton fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and upholstered the side of the plywood that would be facing up.  It was as simple as laying my fabric out on the floor, cutting it so that I had a few inches of extra fabric all around, wrapping it around the plywood, and stapling it down.IMG_1684Since no one was going to see the underside of the couch lest they were a feline or pup, I wasn’t too particular about making straight cuts.
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Lazy?  Maybe.  Efficient?  I vote yes.  ;)

Next up was prepping for paint.  After I had all of the looped screws out, I had to pry the fabric-covered piece off the front of the couch.  I didn’t know what it looked like underneath but there was no way on God’s green Earth I was keeping it there so find out, I would.
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A flathead screwdriver did the trick nicely followed by a needle-nose pliers to get any remaining nails pulled out.  Luckily, all that remained was the flat piece of curved wood at the front of the couch and some nail holes.  After filling all the holes left behind by those nails and giving the entire couch a good sanding (a workout, let me tell you) to roughen it down to a matte finish, I was ready for paint.

Because it was wood and wood can bleed through latex paint, I opted to prime the couch with two cans of RustOleum spray primer in white.  Spray paint is typically oil-based (or maybe it’s all oil-based?) and better at inhibiting wood-bleed.  (Don’t ask me where I read this little rule but I’ve found it to be true in both following and not following that direction.  I’ve seen wood bleed through latex paint and primer and so I’ll stray from that combo as long as I live.)
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To paint, I used a latex paint (Swan White by Glidden in an eggshell/satin finish) sprayed on using this paint spray gun*.  My friend Jesse let me borrow her Critter paint gun I had read great reviews about and then, at Christmas, I used some gift cards to buy my very own on Amazon.  It’s really as awesome as I had heard!  My favorite part is that it uses mason jars to hold the paint so, if you’re doing a big job, all you have to do is have a few mason jars lined up to be screwed on and you’re good to go until you’re done.  There’s no stopping because you have to refill the paint canister.  My other fave part is that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg…it’s under $50 (I paid $41.97).  (However, it does need an air compressor to run so if you can’t borrow one from someone, you’ll have to tack that onto the cost.)

A few days after painting, I ruined the paint job.  Okay, not really.  I just upped the ante by distressing it a tad.  This part was the most fun of all.  I grabbed a hand-sander and some light-grit sandpaper and went around sanding down some of the edges of the couch.  Nothing to crazy.  Just a slight distressing for a slightly old piece.
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So, the couch was painted and distressed and looking quite jolly but the cushions?  Even though the white couch made them look like they might convert to a cute outfit (distressed white jeans below with a plaid button-down up top), they did absolutely nothing to help aesthetics on the couch.  Plus, they were so old and worn that if you rubbed them, they’d start crumbling into tiny pieces.  Ewww…

I’d never reupholstered couch cushions before so the task ahead of me was very (very, very, very, very…) daunting but then I found this tutorial on how to sew box cushions by Christy from Confessions of a Serial DIYer.  I ordered 5.5 yards of this Robert Allen outdoor fabric (it’s says chocolate but after seeing it in person in JoAnn Fabrics, I’d say it’s more of a charcoal gray) from fabric.com and I followed Christy’s directions almost to the T; the only difference is that I wanted to make mine zipperered so I removed the zippers from the old cushion covers using a seam ripper and re-inserted them into my new covers.  I inserted the zippers first and then sewed the side seams and corners.  The foam cushions were in good shape, albeit a tad smelly and minus a large stain one had that looked like a big glass of wine was spilled (or at least I hoped it was just wine or coke or something not gross).  Oh the foam; cleaning it all was an ordeal.  I scrubbed and swelled with soapy water and squished and repeated that process with each individual cushion in our bath tub and then, when I was done scrubbing, I threw each one into the washing machine with some clorox.  My guess is that they had never been washed (because who washes couch cushions?  I know.  Not me.) and, even though they still held their shape, I didn’t want to recover them with brand new covers much less sit in them without knowing they were oh-so-fresh-and-so-so-clean.  Washing those was a labor of love, let me tell ya.

After washing, I cut the top cushions so that they were a tad shorter and only just hit above the back of the couch by sawing a few inches off the bottoms with a serated knife.  The bottom cushions, even though in good condition, had seen fluffier days so I wrapped some one-inch thick batting (from JoAnn Fabrics) around them to fluff them up.
IMG_3007Butttt also, I made the mistake of sewing the covers for the bottom cushions a little too big so the fabric was really loose and wrinkled once on.  I tried to figure out a way to resew and take them in so that they fit more snugly but, with the zippers, I couldn’t, so batting was the answer for that too.  Win, win.

Anyway, in case I lost you on all the details ten paragraphs ago, here’s the 1000% better after:
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It’s not pictured outside in the screened-in porch because, in the time that’s passed since I finished this piece, we found a bamboo set for $40 on a resale sight and that couch and loveseat are currently waiting to be snazzed up.  I love you old, vintage, wood couch, but the bamboo really has my heart and so my heart I must follow.  We don’t really need the loveseat from the set so my plan is to fix that up and sell it but the couch will be my resting place all summer so you can be sure I’ll have all the details on that makeover.  I’ll be sure to write some better tutorials on how I sew the new cushions and wash the foam (if need be) on that since my first try was successful and now I kinda know what I’m doing...kinda.  Stay tuned.

As for this wood couch, we staged it for a blog and sale picture and sold it within four hours of listing it.  It’s a little bittersweet but the sweet lady who bought it is putting it in an old building in her backyard that she’s fixing up to be a little retreat; pinterest-style.  It sounds so delightful and this mom’s happy my couch baby went to a good home.  Okay, couch baby Sheena?  I know, forgive me of my unhealthy attachments to furniture…

But, it’s yet another furniture project in the books; quite possibly the most demanding furniture project to date.  I’ll be taking a short break from those to recover and working on some simpler stuff.  If you’re sitting back wondering how I got this thing done with three four kids under my belt, know that this took me weeks to finish.  I know it all looks like I did this in a day or a weekend but let’s be realistic, shall we?  Things around here happen slowly.  Just ask Dwija.

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So, let’s talk Labor of Love’s:  Home Edition?  What’s been yours recently?  Maybe painting a room?  Sewing?  Remodeling?  Give me all the details!  It’s my love language.  This week I’m deep-cleaning the kids’ bathroom and you know what that means…project in the bathroom time!  Here’s a sneak peek if you’re interested.  :)

Have a fantastic week eeerbody!

*affiliate link to paint sprayer gun I purchased

thrifted wood frame couch makeover

39 comments

  1. Wow!! They look amazing!! So updated and fresh! So glad my tutorial helped and thanks for the shout out...much appreciated! XO

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    1. Yes, those two key words...updated and fresh! Thank goodness! :)

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  2. You're amazing! It's so nice now!

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  3. Incredible! I can't even imagine having the energy and perseverance to do this! I think you need to run for president. :)

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    1. Ha! I'll give all the credit to nesting...or maybe just an insane amount of motivation to make something cute out of something free and very ugly. ;)

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  5. Ha! I made the matching footstool to your couch a couple of years ago! here's the link: http://onacraftyadventure.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/re-upholstered-footstool.html I love the couch though, so fresh and so clean, clean!

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  6. This is inspiring!! Makes me want to go out and thrift a couch!

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    1. To be honest, I'm pretty blown away at it too Bonnie! Haha! I didn't know I had it in me and I thought for sure this would be a 'diy fail' post someday. ;)

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  8. I cannot believe how fantastic this is! You are amazing!

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  9. Oh my goodness! Your follow through is awesome. I got a little distracted just reading through the description. Washing the cushions would have done me in for sure.

    I picked up an awesome vintage chair at a yard sale in the fall and I found some great fabric on clearance two months ago. It has sat wrapped around the chair cushions since then. 😒

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  10. Wow. Just wow. (And remember this is coming from an avowed non-DIYer who simply doesn't care for home decorating). That is most definitely NOT a Pinterest fail! Congrats!

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  11. Wow! I'm so so impressed with all you did to that couch! Good work!

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  12. Omg when I saw the picture I thought we have the same coach. I'm going to do the same in really like your job

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  13. Homg I love this diy. You did such an amazing job.

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  15. Thank you for posting! I convinced my husband to pick up a wooden framed couch, very similar to yours. I've removed all the springs, staples and nails. I have sanded it. I plan to stain and polyurethane the wood then purchase outdoor cushions (we're waiting for the rain clouds to go away). I can't wait to see it in our backyard patio :)

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    1. Awesome Cynthia! I'd love to see it when you're done!

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  16. Thank you so much for this, I have the same couch (funny even the original fabric is almost identical) this will be so helpful. You did a great job. I am planning some sort of French look with toile fabric. I appreciate that you took the time to line up the stripes too, this is sometime overlooked. It looks great!

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    1. Haha! That's so great! The toile will look so beautiful on it, I'm sure! It's so crazy how pretty these wood couches can be with just a little love, no? :)

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  17. I absolutely love it!! My son just found a coffee table that someone put out to the garbage & he is going to refinish it & sell it! I do floral crafts & while looking for some ideas for the upcoming holidays I found your couch redo & really enjoyed reading how you made old become so fresh & new!! Great job!!

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    1. Thank you!
      Wow! Furniture is the best stuff to find on the curb, isn't it? It's so great that he's going to refinish that coffee table!

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  18. I did the same thing to a couch chair and two end tables that I inherited from my parents. It was circa 1965 and the springs has been replaced by a board just like you did. I wish I could post my pictures. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax. I absolutely love it.

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    1. Oh awesome!! If you're up for it, you can email me pictures at beaninlove@gmail.com! I'd love to see them!

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  19. I own this EXACT. SAME. COUCH. And the matching love seat! They were my husband's grandparents' and they've been in our house our entire marriage. I've been too scared to redo them - I've never redone furniture before! Is there an easier way to cover cushions that anyone knows of? Without doing the gusset and zippers? Thanks for the inspiration - that's a beautiful piece! :)

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    1. Haha! So crazy! Well you should definitely redo them! I don't know of an easier way to recover cushions but maybe someone who reads will chime in. You could always just paint the wood, which will make a huge difference, and tuck a cute, big blanket around the back and seat until you figure out something for the cushions?

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  20. Hi,
    I got a couch just like that, well, almost. Same era anyway. Same size and all. Do you happen to have a pattern for the cushions, for the seats and back, as I would like to redo mine eventually and I am not sure I can make my own pattern...

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    1. I don't! As long as theye're square like ours, it'd be easy to just measure and cut a big rectangle to sew into a cushion like I did. If not, you could always just take apart the old cushions and trace them. :) Good luck!

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  21. Did you use this outside? Does the weatherproof fabric protect the foam of the cushions from getting soggy when it rains?

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    1. Hey! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to respond! We did use it outside but in a screened-in porch so it wasn't exposed to rain. I don't know that I'd trust the cushions staying dry though, even if the fabric is "waterproof". If we did have the couch outside, I think maybe wrapping the cushions in plastic and then placing the covers over them would've been an option. :)

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  22. Bless you for sharing! I purchased a similar couch from a thrift store several years ago. It is wood framed with green velour cushions. It is awaiting it's redo which will now probably be sooner rather than later. The cushions I have a clue how to recover and how to make my own pattern when I recovered the seats on my 1965 Karmen Ghia. Many tears but a total sense of accomplishment when finished.

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A penny for your thoughts? Or how about you give your two cents? Whatever the change, I'd love to know what you think and I try my best to respond! If your name is linked to your email, I'll hit you up there. If not, check back! I'd love to see you again anyway! :)