before & after: faux leather sofa + campaign dresser

Antique sofas are beautiful, but I’ve never considered them practical, especially if they are upholstered in the light colored linens, leathers and wools that look so fantastic on sofas of this shape. Rebekah had the ingenious idea of using a white faux leather on this old piece; according to her, the fabric holds up amazingly well against kids, dogs and the rest. It looks awesome in her home, and I’m well on my way to being fully convinced that I need an identical sofa. Great job, Rebekah! — Kate

Cost: $450 (for the vinyl fabric and cushions)

Basic Steps: I bought the antique sofa off Craigslist after drooling over Rashida Jones’ white linen beauty in Domino back in 2008. After looking through tons of fabric books, I was actually surprised at how gorgeous the faux leathers were and how reasonably priced — in fact, they were much less than some of the designer prints. My friend Denise Lingle did the upholstery work for me including the antique brass tacks. It has held up so well with the kids and dog and cleans up great with just a wet cloth! — Rebekah

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE to see Jamie’s bright and crisp new dresser after the jump!

Refinishing old dressers can be quite laborious, especially when they include lots of rusted hardware. Although more hardware means more work, in the end, the results can be well worth it, as this campaign-style dresser from Jamie illustrates. The fresh coat of white is a big improvement, and it shows off the newly polished hardware nicely. Great job, Jamie!

Time: 3–4 hours

Cost: about $100

Basic Steps: The hardest part of this project was prying off the hardware without bending it or damaging the dresser! Next I sanded the top of the dresser — the top is Formica and the rest is solid wood, so I wanted to make sure the paint would adhere to the top. I like to use the sanding “sponges” as opposed to sandpaper because they are easier to use.

Next I used a putty knife to fill the holes and gouges with wood filler. I did a light sanding over the entire dresser to smooth the wood filler. Before painting, I took a damp towel and wiped down the entire dresser to make sure it was clean and then let it air dry. I used one coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer. Then I used a foam paint roller to apply three coats of semi-gloss paint.

I like to leave a lot of drying time between coats of paint, and I used the finest grit sanding sponge over the entire dresser between every coat to make sure it was smooth. I let the hardware soak in a mix of Bar Keepers Friend and water and then rubbed it on to clean off all of the grime and make them shiny again! The last step was to reattach the hardware. — Jamie


I think my heart stopped when I saw that sofa!!!!!!! Very cute dresser, too.


I CANNOT get enough of the tufted look… Though I’m always scared away from attempting it myself, as it seems like a heck of a lot of work. This couch has inspired me… we have a similar couch waiting expectantly for some love… thanks for the post.


That’s fantastic! That sofa absolutely pops now – very very cool. Thank you for sharing this!


You are killing me with how gorgeous that sofa is!! With a woodworker for a partner who loves to work on projects in the living room, and with three hairy, poorly behaved cats, I NEVER thought I could have a light colored sofa. This is such a great idea. Thanks for giving me hope that I can have nice things :)


That sofa needs to be in possession. Immediately! I can’t get over how amazing it turned out!

(sending love to the dresser as well!)


love the sofa, but oh my goodness a white couch! i would wreck it in under 2 minutes.
i love the metal corner caps on the dresser as well. amazing.

january, x


That sofa is so gorgeous… I wish I knew how to upholster like that or even knew someone who could. We are in need of a new sofa badly.


Is the sea color we’re seeing in the mirror the painted ceiling? Gorgeous!!! Can you please let us know roughly how much it cost for the whole job – fabrics and labor? I’m alwasy so amazed by the before and afters – shtoinko old chair, then pow! new upholstery…I’d love to do one myself but am afraid of the labor costs. REally beautiful, thanks for sharint!


Antique sofa makeovers always make me a little uneasy, but this is just absolutely stunning!! The after really is so very much better in this case.


The dresser is my favorite! Sofa is a nice job (and a big job too!), I’m just no fan of white on an antique sofa.


these projects are NOT helping my kijiji addiction. i love them both so intensely!


Those look amazing! I love that the dresser resembles a steamer trunk. Makes me want to go find some old pieces to fix up. Thanks for the inspiration!

hena tayeb

The sofa looks great and the painting above it is also a great touch. Alos liking the chest.. the brass hardware is a great touch


OMG LOVE IT ALL – & love that mirror – my grandmother has the exact mirror but in it’s original condition which is a gold – and it’s crazy heavy & substantial – bought in the 80’s I believe – LOVE that you have it white!!!

Darcy Davidson

I love recycling and reupholstering furniture, especially a gem like this one!

My fiance has an old sofa like this Victorian one, you just gave me a fabulous idea to use faux leather!


I literally have the exact same couch that I bought at a thrift store a few years ago. Would LOVE more information on how you went about this (as the yellow just doesn’t look quite as good at home as it did under the florescent lighting at the thrift store)

Belly B

I always look forward to your before and after photos. This is just FANTASTIC. So chic and Victorian. Love it!


question: in reality, around how much does it really cost to upholster something like this???

karen berg

Before and Afters are my favorite posts! That is the coolest low cost makeover of a kitchen, great work Brett! Love that sofa too, it kind of made my fingers hurt to think about tying all those tuffet buttons, but it looks gorgeous! I am inspired to go check out what is available in vinyl myself!


How beautiful..! I was thinking about faux-leather for my sofa but I was worried about vinyl/PVC… What brand did you use? Thanks for sharing!


Beautiful sofa and dresser! The whites get me excited about spring and thinking a bit lighter. :)


i have a similar drawer and i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on where i can find hardware to replace some of the missing items on my piece. TIA.


wow. just beautiful. i love the combination of the stark white with the iron details. thanks for this post, it’s wonderful!

Jim Browning

I’m hooked on your blog :)
Keep the before and afters coming!!! I’ll send some over as soon as get the “afters” done :) Sweet Sofa!!

Portable Closet

This make-over is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe the leather sofa could still be that beautiful. I think spending $450 was so worth it. Love the dresser, too! :)


Truly wonderful job on the sofa. But you knew that!


combining the 3 cushions into 1 piece & using the tacks instead of the cording was genius!

Amanda Whitmarsh

Never thought that a Victorian style couch could look so good in white leather! I am so glad that you kept the wood details- really sets it off.

The dresser is great- very trunk like. Such a great imagination to see the potiential in these pieces.


where did you get the white leather fabric…. I am going to cover two chairs in it!!


I’m hooked on your blog :)
Keep the before and afters coming!!! I’ll send some over as soon as get the “afters” done :) Sweet Sofa!!