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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

8 ways to refresh a tired sofa

Updated: Apr 26

neutral sofa in minimalist living room styled by Claire Douglas

From stretchy slipcovers to cushion supports, this handy guide will help refresh a tired sofa in no time

I happen to know a thing or two about sofa styling and how to refresh a tired sofa. After years and years of nursing tatty old sofas back to life, tarting them up to look respectable after kids have done a number on them (sometimes literally!) and revamping and refreshing them to suit the particular phase or decor theme I'm going through at the time; you could say that I've become a bit of an expert on sofa saving. Here's my rental-friendly home styling advice.

1. Use stretchy slipcovers to refresh a tired sofa

Slipcovers are a great way to refresh a tired sofa because they cost relatively little and make a big impact on your furniture. You can change the colour, texture and style of your sofa with slipcovers and the the good news is they are easy to fit. All you need to do is measure your sofa and find the correct size and shape slipcovers, then stretch them out over the whole sofa before tucking the edges in around the sofa cushions. Dunelm do a great range of sofa slip covers including different materials ranging from boucle to velvet and would make a great Christmas gift.

Top Tips for fitting slip covers to fit your sofa

  • Ensure an extra snug fit with foam sticks or pool noodles. Squeeze the foam sticks or noodles in the gap between the cushions and the sofa base trapping the slip cover underneath. This ensures a snug fit and stops the slip cover from coming loose at the first sign of movement on the sofa.

  • Velcro strips are your friend

  • Velcro strips are handy because one side can be attached to the underside of the slip cover and the other to base of the sofa. Following this strategy will keep you slip cover in place ensuring a smooth appearance.

2. Refresh your tired sofa with reeded detailing

Green reeded sofa and white built in shelves with green ornaments

This was a fun (slightly experimental!) project I did a couple of years ago. I attached half dowel rods that had been cut to size to the kickboard and arms of the sofa to create a textured look. You can read the whole DIY tutorial here. It was such a transformation because the addition of the wooden detailing meant the sofa could now be painted, suffice to say I did not let this opportunity pass me by!

It turns out that painting your sofa every time you fancy adding to or changing the colour palette is really fun! You could opt to leave the wooden dowels unpainted and wax or stain them instead.

3. Replacement foam

Cream corner sofa with black and white ornaments

If the style is still in favour, but you need to refresh your tired sofa because it has lost its firmness and support; replacing the foam is a great idea. Replacement foam means you can save a packet, as it will bring your sagging seat cushions back to life and ensure a comfy and relaxing experience once again.

You can pick up replacement foam from upholstery or haberdashery shops or online too. Amazon and eBay are my go-to places for foam, wadding and the like. Measure the length, width and height of the cushions to determine the size foam you require. You could save money by just adding a one inch thick layer of memory foam on top of the existing cushions.

4. Sofa support board

You can buy a folding sofa support board to refresh your tired sofa if the main issue is sagging seat cushions. Sofa supports can be picked up online at places like Amazon or eBay and will give you back the firmness under seat that an older sofa can lack.

5. Use throws to add colour or texture

Throw blanket and cushion over a white sofa

Don't underestimate the power of a new throw to refresh a tired sofa. You can buy a huge throw to cover the sofa completely, fold the throw to cover small sections of the sofa, or cover the main body of the sofa with a throw, leaving the arms exposed. Another styling idea is to use multiple throws for maximum impact.

Throws can be bright and colourful if maximalism is your bag, or they can be calming and understated in neutral shades. I recommend opting for some texture if you prefer neutrals as this stops things from becoming too washed out or wishy-washy.

6. Refresh your tired sofa with cushions

Green sofa in scandi styled interior room

Who can resist a good cushion?! Ok, I'm probably a bit biased here as cushions used to be a bit of an addiction of mine, but they are so good at lifting a room by injecting, colour, pattern or texture. Cushions come in all shapes and sizes and you really don't need to spend a lot either. Homesense and TK Maxx have a fantastic selection of cushions in store, usually starting at around a tenner, or you could make your own, adding texture with boucle or using chenille fabric.

7. Distract the eye with daring decor

Teal coloured wall and sofa with art on the wall above the sofa.

An alternative to refreshing the sofa itself is to make the rest of the living room, or at least the adjacent furnishings and decor, so fantastic that the eye is drawn away from the tired sofa completely. Add a large piece of art to the wall above the sofa, or perhaps some beautiful table lamps on side tables adjacent to the sofa as these kind of decorative features will instantly elevate the space and make the tired sofa far less noticeable.

8. Cleaning could be the answer

sofa cushion being professionally cleaned

If you are looking for ways to revive and refresh a tired sofa, a really good clean could be just the ticket. Sofas get grubby from everyday use and you'd be surprised how impactful cleaning can be. If you don't want to invest in a professional material cleaner, then hiring one might be a good alternative. Pay special attention to the seat cushions and the arms of the sofa as these can get particularly stained and worn.

So as you can see, refreshing a tired sofa is one of those 1-hour DIYs that you'll be glad you completed. You can make a big impact in your living room with a little effort and a small budget.

Where next?

Here are some DIY furniture-related posts you might enjoy. Click the underlined words to go straight to the relevant page!

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