Reupholstery 101: My Thrift Store Loveseat Redo {Part 1}

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how to reupholster


If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, then you’ve been watching this project for the past month (er, six weeks).  It’s not that the project itself took so long, but it was just a really busy time for us, and sometimes entire weeks went by without my touching it.  Plus, I had the hardest time picking a fabric, and I wanted to be sure I chose correctly.

I’ve reupholstered dining chairs before (you can see them here), but never any large or difficult pieces.  When I saw this small loveseat at Goodwill for $14.99, I figured I had nothing to lose if I took it apart and realized there was no way I could put it back together.  Here’s the ugly “before”:

loveseat before

Before I took a closer look, I thought I might be able to paint the upholstery, the way I did with my gray chair, but there were so many rips and tears in the fabric that I realized that wasn’t going to be possible.  It was pretty dirty, too–I didn’t really want that fabric in my house, painted or not!

Because I took so many pictures along the way (mostly so I could remember how all the pieces fit together), I’ve decided the best approach is to show you the glamour shots in this post, so you can see the finished project, and then I’ll write up a Part 2/tutorial post on exactly what I did.  The only thing you have to realize is that every piece of furniture is different, so what I did won’t necessarily be what you do, but at least you’ll know where to start (the bottom, and then the back!)  So stay tuned for Part 2 next week, and for now, let’s enjoy some eye candy!

Here’s is the full frontal (ahem!) shot:

aqua white loveseat

The fabric is Waverly’s Fun Floret in Spa, and like I mentioned, it probably took me two weeks to find exactly the color and pattern I wanted.  I was trying to find an aqua and white trellis or quatrefoil pattern, but the blues just weren’t right for my daughter’s room.  She’s the lucky owner of this piece, by the way.

Here are some of the fabric samples I considered:

aqua white fabric trellis

I painted the legs white and decided to add silver nailhead trim.  The original piece had dark brown legs and piping everywhere you see the nailheads.  I did sew white cording (I love how it contrasts with the print) for the cushion and the back of the loveseat.

white contrast cording piping

Here’s the back:


rear of loveseat cording


loveseat back

Getting the back to line up and lay without wrinkles was the hardest part.  I had to rip the fabric off once and redo it, and it’s still not perfect, but it’s good enough.

The fabric was a little bit tricky to line up from piece to piece, but I’m glad I used the print instead of a solid.

side of loveseat

You can see that I distressed the legs just a little bit…it would have happened in the next move, anyway, I figure.

nailhead trim white painted leg

The nailhead trim was the kind you buy in a long strip–genius!  I used 1-1/2 rolls for the entire project, and probably five hundred staples.  Seriously.  I also used my pneumatic staple gun and was SO glad to have it for this project!

blue white floral loveseat

My daughter is only ten, so she can stretch out and read a book.  I replaced a lot of the batting, so it’s nice and fluffy.

gumballs apothecary jar

inside corner
By the way, my neighbor Kelli is a sewing genius, and she pretty much made the entire seat cushion for me.   I sewed the cording, but that’s it.  She did an absolutely amazing job, and I learned a ton from her–maybe enough to try it on my own the next time!

gold mirrored table

I am about ready to show you the rest of my daughter’s room, IF she ever gets it clean enough to photograph! {Update:  see her room here}

If you’re really paying attention, you’ll notice that in some of the photos the loveseat is in front of the two windows.  That’s where it really lives, but the light is much better when it’s on the opposite wall, so some of the shots were taken over there.  Also, I continued to play around with the styling and in some pictures you’ll see her brown zebra lamp on the gold mirrored table, and in the one below you’ll see her chandelier–that’s the way I left it, at least for now.


The table is a HomeGoods find, and the top is actually a removable tray.  I think it’s really a bar tray, but I like it here for now.

gold mirrored tray

Oh, and one last fun touch–instead of using the upholstery fabric that was on the seat and the bottom originally, I decided to use this brown zebra fabric instead.  It was originally a sheet that I bought at the thrift store for $2, and it’s been in my fabric closet just waiting for this project.  The underside is covered with it, too.  It makes me smile every time I see it!

brown zebra upholstery

I’m so glad this project is done!  Now I can park in the garage again. 🙂  It was a long job, but not too terribly hard, and I would definitely take on another reupholstery project if I found something with great lines at the right price.  Stick around and next week I’ll give you a more detailed post on how I took it apart, put it back together, and the cost breakdown (about $150 total, if you’re wondering).  UPDATE:  Click {here} to read Part 2.  Let me know if you’ve tackled any big reupholstery jobs lately–I’d love to hear what you’re working on!

loveseat before after reupholstery

Thanks for stopping by~




  1. This has given me hope that the 3+ pieces of upholstered furniture in our garage might have a future that doesn’t involve hundreds of dollars at our upholsterer! Can’t wait for the tutorial!

    • I think it’s definitely worth a try–the hardest part was working up the courage to try it. I’ve always thought that only professionals could reupholster something. Good luck!

  2. WOW. You did a great job! It doesn’t even look like the same piece!

  3. It looks great, Christy! I’m in awe of your upholstering skills!

  4. Wow, amazing job!

  5. Wow. I’ve got my glider rocker which doesn’t match anything else in the room. I will be waiting for your tutorial.

  6. Fabulous job! I would love to reupholster the 2 love seats we have in our living room. Maybe one day! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. A fabulous looking loveseat. You have amazing talent. Love the pattern, color and workmanship. Job so well done!

  8. Wow! Your daughter is so lucky to have such a talented mother!! That little love seat looks amazing – I can hardly believe the before and after shots are of the same piece. You did a phenomenal job! :). Looking forward to the how you did it post.

  9. Absolutely charming! I can’t wait for the tutorial to give it a try on my own 🙂 I’ll definitely be heading to the thrift store tonight!!! Thank you for the inspiration.

  10. You did a great job, can’t believe this is your first attempt. You’ve given me the motivation I’ve been needing. We have two pieces all ready and waiting.

  11. Lana Robbins says

    This is so pretty, your choice of color and pattern are perfect for this love seat. And you are right, the silver trim really sets if off. I would love to try to do something like this.

  12. You were brave to attempt the upholstery and did an excellent job! Your daughter’s room is very pretty. Did you make the ruffled pillow and do you have a tutorial for it? I’ve been wanting some fluffy, flower-looking pillows for my porch rockers in the summer. You are so talented! Thanks for sharing.

    • Linda, thanks for your kind words! The pillow is from Home Goods. It was only $12.99 so it was just one of those things that I figured was cheaper (and faster) to buy than to make. I was in there the other day and they still had them so you might take a look there or at TJ.

  13. Very very nice! Great job. The pattern matches beautifully and I do love the white piping accents! You should be proud.

  14. It’s so lovely! I’m nervous about my own. Every time it says sew, I freak a bit. I have a sewing machine and I can work it, but terminology kills me, knowing what kind of stitch, anything like that, so then I sway away from this kind of thing, it makes me mad!

    • Kelly, I truly stink at sewing. Straight lines only! There was VERY little sewing with this piece–just two small sections where I had to sew the upholstery lining to the fabric, and I could have opted not to do that and just cut from an entire piece of fabric (more expensive but no-sew). I think you can also buy cording, but you don’t have as much control over the colors then. You can do it!

  15. Love it! Have a circa 1940’s rocker I picked up at an estate sale for $5 several years ago. I’ve done the easy part (material, I quilt so picking that out was easy) now I gotta get brave and take my chair apart and put it together. Can’t wait for your tutorial.

    • It won’t be long, Sheri, probably sometime this week. If you’re not already an email subscriber, you can sign up over on the right and then you’ll get an email whenever we put a new post up (to include the tutorial!). Hope that helps!

  16. This is wonderful! When will you have part two – the upholstery part up? I’m very excited to try this myself on some chairs I’ve seen in the thrift store! I am using all borrowed furniture now and this will make it possible for me to afford “new”! And your daughter’s room is a dream!

    • Thanks so much, Anita! I’ll probably post it sometime this week. Like I told Sheri above, if you’re not already an email subscriber, you can sign up over on the right and then you’ll get an email whenever we put a new post up (to include the tutorial). You can do it!

  17. I have been delaying and delaying…..I now have the fabric and am still delaying, but your post and the finished project is so gorgeous, I am inspired to start on my project. Thank you and I hope mine looks as beautiful as yours.

    • Liz, it’s a big project and so time-consuming, but also SO worth it. Good luck with yours! By the way, my step by step tutorial will be posted in just a couple of days, so stay tuned.

  18. What a beautiful transformation…and how great is that to have your friend/neighbor Kelli to help you…I so love the fabric…it looks fantastic in the room!

  19. I am looking for the “like” button! 🙂

  20. Christie, what an excellent job you did on your sofa! I am seriously jealous at the prices your op shops charge.
    Something similar here would be $200. Would you believe that my local,Salvation Army Opshop had a dated pine queen bed frame, a dressing table, without a mirror and one bedside table priced gat $750? Bear in mind, that would be well,over US$1,000. Fortunately, that is an exception to the rule, but stuff here is way overpriced, considering it is donated. Anyway, I’m so pleased to have discovered your excellent site.

    • I’m so glad you found us, too! Thrift shop prices have gone through the roof here, too, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that loveseat for such a great price. I guess it’s gotten “trendy” to shop at the thrift stores!

  21. designdreamer says

    What a gorgeous transformation!!

  22. Marty Grimson says

    Wonderful job! Your daughter is lucky!

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