If you're scared of DIY upholstery... - Juniper Home

If you’re scared of DIY upholstery…


I got this settee off craigslist a while back and when we bought the Chesterfield I didn’t really have a place for it. The old yellow silk upholstery on the frame was in pretty good shape, but the cushion was bad. The fabric was worn completely through and the feather cushion was a little wimpy and old, and just needed to be replaced.

We almost got rid of the settee but ended up keeping it and I’m so glad we did! I found this black cut velvet on white silk at Mood for $20 a yard and bought the whole bolt (ended up being a little over six yards, which will be *just* right).

My upholsterer quoted me $700 to redo the entire settee, but just to do the cushion (down-wrapped foam) was $250. This is such a great option for beginner DIY upholsterers or tired/lazy DIYers like me! Smoothing and stapling fabric against a frame is not that stressful, but sewing a cushion can get a little tricky!

Once I realized the new foam and feathers would cost me about $150 in materials, paying a professional a little extra to do the hard part was a no-brainer.

I’m hoping to get to the frame upholstery done this week. I pulled off some of the old welting and took out a few inches of staples yesterday to see what I was working with.

The wood is in pretty rough shape – lots of staple and nail damage from about 150 years of upholstery jobs. I might have to do some wood filling here or something.

I’m excited to get this one done and start enjoying the sofa again!
What did you think?
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50 thoughts on “If you’re scared of DIY upholstery…

  1. How funny. As a sewer, that cushion is dead easy. The rest of the upholstery, IMO is tricky :)

    Lovely settee – we just don't get things like that in Australia!

  2. I do a lot if reupholstery. Right now working on a Schumacher chair find at an estate sale. Go for it! Practice really does make perfect. May I suggest having your welt made too so that you can use it around your frame for a super professional look? I don't know what you're planning, but most of the time using gimp to cover staples is a sign of a novice. That settee is stunning and it's already on it's way to ultra professional. I love it!! Can't wait to see it finished!

  3. I LOVE your choice of fabric! And that cushion is gorgeous! So inviting! can't wait to see it all done up.

  4. I love me some stripes!! I think that will probably never get old, love 'em.
    Also, I know this sounds like crazy talk but at first glance I kinda loved the contrasting cushion and a minuscule part of my brain lit up and kinda hoped you were about to tell us you were going to do the frame upholstery in a solid, bright color.

  5. I agree with Little Betty above – as a sewer, sewing cushions is the easy part! I will soon be reupholstering my camelback sofa (w/ a down filled cushion), so I would relish a step-by-step of how you re-do this settee.

  6. Is it just me or do y'all like the yellow with the stiped cushion?! I like it as is! It could look funky bohemian with some fun throw pillows and in the right space.

    But yes, black and white stripes is an all time favorite! – Boo

  7. I am loving that settee! What I would give for someone to bestow a gorgeous piece of old furniture to reupholster and liven up my home. It really is looking gorgeous.


  8. I absolutely LOVE reading about ALL the projects you do! Seriously! My crafty side gets to live vicariously through you.

    BUT I have a question. HOW do you find the money for your hobbies? I know it's kind of a personal question, but if I were to do even HALF of the DIYs you are able to do (and purchasing tools/paints, etc needed) my hubby would think I was crazy. Advice??

  9. Your upholstery tips are so great, thank you for doing them! I love the stripy fabric you chose for the setee, but when I saw the new cushion on the yellow couch, for a minute I thought you were just going to reupholster the cushion and leave the rest of the frame yellow. A little strange, but I actually think it could look kind of cute that way!

  10. I just picked up a CL settee yesterday for $30! It's serviceable as is, but it could really use to be reupholstered. It's such a pretty shape, but It's going to be quite a job because it's tufted all over. Now if I could just decide where I'm going to use it (I have 4 places where it could potentially go) I might be able to decide which fabric to use! Wish me luck!

  11. Honestly I'm surprised you were only quoted $700 for the settee. I've been searching for one and can't find the right one! Ugh. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

  12. Its going to look amazing!

    I'm in the process of doing a similar project. I bought a vintage sofa recently, I plan to turn it into an outdoor sofa. I bought outdoor fabric and lots of welting.

    I'm having some one do the cushions for me (6) I just don't feel like dealing with piping and sippers.

    I plan on DIY the base of the sofa myself

  13. I completed an upholstery boot camp last month so all those staples and the tool you were using looked so familiar! What a smart idea to have the cushion done to cut down on your time. Can't wait to see it finished!

  14. I actually love that cushion with the yellow as is! I wouldn't even change it, the yellow looks so crisp in the pic. But good luck!!

  15. Do you have a recommendation for a staple gun? I have 2 and I don't know if I'm buying the wrong staples or if it is the gun, but it has a hard time with upholstery.

  16. Hi guys! Thanks for the comments! I'm excited to get going on this. I agree that the mixed fabrics could be a sort of cool look, but in person the yellow fabric is in bad shape. It's old and the silk has some water stains. And it smells musty. It's time for a full strip down and redo!

    Ariana – I don't mind the question at all! One of the big reasons I started accepting ads and sponsors on this site was so I could subsidize the cost of my projects. There's no way I would be redoing so many rooms so often if that wasn't the case!

    KNM – I posted about this a while back, so if you search for staple gun in my search bar, there will be a link to the gun, but I use and love my Powershot Pro, using the same brand staples. Works great and is pretty cheap.


  17. Ooooooh, I already love it. Super awesome fabric choice! I love the shape of that settee. I am about to tackle reupholstering my big ol' sofa–trying to pump myself up. O_o gulp

  18. At first I thought your solution was to leave the rest yellow with the BW cushion, which would be extra easy for those afraid of upholstery…don't do any of it! Its a cool look, but the all BW will be very classic. I'm trying to figure out where this set up is – your office where the daybed once was? I'm glad to see your bookcases are still around. I have great envy over those and I didn't see them in your new LR setup.

  19. Cheap and chic and striped all over! I love it – good suggestion. I have a chair I need to recover, and I'm already dreading the bill…

  20. Hi Jenny- a while back you blogged about a making tufted headboard using warsa linen from grayline fabric. I am planning to recover some dining room chairs (formal so they would only have light use) and wondering if this might be suitable for this type of project.

  21. Shirley – I think the linen would be fine for dining chairs. I probably wouldn't use it for a sofa that gets used all day every day but it is a good weight for low-mid use upholstery. Can't beat the price!

    You'll definitely want to treat the chairs with stain guard though! Linen is hard to keep clean!


  22. I agree with some of the other commenters that the yellow + striped cushions looks PERFECT as it is (although I understand the photo doesn't show the flaws).

    I also second a question someone else asked—who do you go to for upholstery in NYC? They seem to do a pretty excellent job!

  23. Love your blog! Just wanted to let you know that the Sears x-bench is back in stock. I just bought two! And you can use promo code KMART10PSAVINGS to save an additional 10%. Looking forward painting and reupholstering. Thanks for the idea!

  24. I agree with little betty. To me, the cushion would be the easy part of an upholstery project! It's just one big pillow, and pillows are cake.

  25. Jenny, the setee is looking fabulous! Your comments about having your cushions redone in down-wrapped foam got me thinking that maybe you could help me out with something–I'm wondering if you've figured out the perfect formula for down vs. foam ratio? My parents have Lee chairs that are all down and they positively hate them! They totally flatten out when you sit on them and just aren't very comfortable. I've sat on other pieces of furniture that I'm quite sure are mostly if not all down and they're really cushy and comfy. It's got me thinking it must be something about the feathers/down ratio and the way the filling is distributed? I've got a couple pieces I'm looking to have reupholstered and I'm trying to figure out how to direct my upholsterer as far as the cushions go. Would love to know your thoughts! Thanks!!

  26. I talked my husband into taking an upholstery class at the local community college with me. It was so much fun and a great bargain at $150 each.

  27. Agree with this article, very informative. We can make our Upholstery looks like new by just changing fabric. Fabric quality and colors are also very important. I have just visited Rana Textiles Mills website and found beautiful and quality oriented fabric for upholstery over there. You can Buy Best Upholstery Fabric from here.

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