Updated: Nov 17
How to give an old sofa a new lease of life with reeded wood detailing and new cushions
I completed this DIY project in 2020 and debated whether or not to write about it as I wasn’t sure there would be a big demand for people wanting to do it in their living room and I also wanted to make sure it all stayed intact as would hate to share a step by step only to find bits of wood started pinging off every time someone sat down on the sofa! However, I’ve recently received a few messages from people requesting more details & it’s been well and truly tested with my children jumping all over it, so here it is… my, nothing if not controversial, reeded sofa!
Firstly, please note the sofa in question was very old and very tatty & cost under £300 to start with - many years ago. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this for an expensive or well-made sofa - if you have one of these then I’d probably sell it on the secondary market and let someone else enjoy it. No one would’ve enjoyed this old sofa and I hate the idea of adding to the serious landfill issues that we already have so I looked for upcycling ideas aka ways to fall in love with it or at the very least, extend its life by a year or two.
Secondly, this sofa is not a living room, snuggle-in-front-of-the-TV-type sofa. It’s located in our back room which doesn’t have a TV, looks out onto the garden and has a wall of bi-folds (think indoor/outdoor vibes) which means (*well I think it means) you can get away with garden/conservatory-style furniture.
So, now I’ve crowbarred in all the reasons why you shouldn’t troll me for this project (I’m mentally scarred after a brief foray onto Reddit where some people (not all) revel in anonymously posting the most offensive comments they can think of…ouch!) let’s jump into the ‘how’…
What you’ll need *Contains affiliate links
An old sofa or chair that is beyond repair
Mitre box and saw
Half dowel rods
Measure sofa arms and base (anywhere you wish to cover with half dowels)
Cut half dowels using a mitre box.
Note: use a straight cut on both ends for the based board area vs one straight end and one angled cut for the arms to allow the dowels to join neatly along the edges.
Glue the cut dowels into position using grab adhesive. My favourite is no-more nails.
Sand any rough edges paying particular attention to the angled joins on the armrests.
I initially left the dowels unpainted for a more Scandi look but eventually got bored (a common theme) & painted various different shades over the following months. Well, who wouldn’t want to match their sofa colour to their shelf accessories, right?!
You could just end the revamp here, but I went a stage further by taking off the back sofa cushions and squashing the foam filling into some huge, cushion covers from H&M which completely changed the look. I then styled with tasseled throws and funky cushions (also from H&M.
Isn‘t it uncomfortable?
Nope, because you don’t sit or even lean on the dowels. The sofa cushions are still there to provide all the comfort so it’s no different to say a rattan sofa that you find in every garden centre around.
Don’t the wood strips fall off?
Nope, because no-more nails is ridiculously good at bonding materials so that wood is not going anywhere (in fact it’s going to be a chore to prize it off when I eventually decide to change it up again).
Did it take long to do?
I did this DIY over the course of a couple of evenings back in lockdown but you could easily complete it in a day.
Was it hard to join the dowels?
A mitre box makes light work of cutting precise and regular angles so as long as you have one of those it’s a breeze.
How much did it cost?
I honestly can’t remember how many half dowels I used but it will depend on the size of sofa (or armchair) that you are covering. I’m pretty sure the wood and glue came to under £60 though.
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