before and after

before & after: modern two-tone sofa + chair makeovers

by Kate Pruitt

The lines on this “before” sofa are incredible, and while the fabric is not terrible, it certainly isn’t doing the  decorative wood details any favors. Theresa inherited this sofa and decided to give it a modern spin, using two tones of fabric and a pop of yellow welting. The mix of hues is restrained and yet totally unexpected, and I think it adds the perfect amount of flare and glamour to this already-standout piece. Great work, Theresa! — Kate

Basic Steps: The couch was purchased by my great-grandmother back in the 1950s. It spent quite a long time in the attic at my grandmother’s house until my mom and I remembered it in 2009 when I moved to Leipzig (Germany) and got it refurbished. As an inspiration for colors and fabrics, my mom found a great couch from MOROSO called “My Beautiful Backside” by designers Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien. We chose the colors gray and white, with a little colorful twist using yellow round cord.

The only downside, however, was that we did not get a cost estimate. Thus, I really really adore my couch, but we probably could have found another upholsterer to do it for less. — Theresa

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 Sara’s gorgeous two-tone reupholstered chair after the jump!

Mixing patterns on one upholstery piece is risky business, but like Theresa’s sofa above, this chair is a great example of how wonderful a successful marriage of different prints and colors can be. Sara worked on this chair as part of an upholstery class, but it looks far better than any class project I’ve ever completed :) The large-scale pattern is limited in all the right places, and I love how it just peeks out on the front of the arms. Fantastic work, Sara!

Time: 36 hours (completed in 4-hour increments during a 9-week upholstery class)

Cost: $250 (chair + supplies)

Basic Steps: The first step is to remove staples. Actually, the first ten steps are probably removing staples. Then I removed all the old fabric, making sure to mark where it came off the chair. I reinforced the springs, added extra padding and sewed a LOT of cording. I used the old fabric pieces as my patterns for the new pieces and carefully placed my patterns before I pinned or tacked them onto the chair. After that, it’s just a matter of sewing together and stapling everything on exactly how it came off.

My advice, if you choose to use fabric with a print, is to take time before cutting to lay out all your pieces and make sure the patterns can meet up in ways that make sense. Otherwise, no matter how great the print is, it’s just going to look messy (or you might not have enough fabric). Also, take your time and search out fabrics that you really love. Don’t be afraid to mix prints and don’t overlook the details, from the color of the legs to the color of the trim. — Sara

Suggested For You


  • I’m in love with that couch. Two-tone is such a great idea, and it’s incredibly well executed on both of these!

  • Wow, that looks great! Thanks for the inspiration! I have a very similar chair, its in pretty good shape overall but the front of the cushion is worn. I had been toying with the idea of covering just the cushion with a coordinating print. This was just the inspiration I needed!

  • Both of these are beautiful! Bold move with the yellow piping. Bold move! Love it. And the chair just looks fantastic. Equally dangerous choice. And certainly not as easy as repainting a wall if it had gone wrong! Good job. ~ karen

  • oh wow! that sofa is incredible! i love the asymmetrical lines, and the wood…! their after shot is absolute perfection, and reminds me of alphonse mucha somehow. very inspiring. i have a chair i’ve been meaning to reupholster for weeks. hmmm…

  • Lovely! And I’d love to know what the “stitch” font is that you use for the “before” and “after” text. Thanks!

  • Where did you take the upholstery class? So do you basically sew the fabric onto the chair? I am really interested and fascinated by reupholstering things… love bringing old things back to life!

  • LOVE!!! that couch! Making me reconsider the plans I’d had for reupholstering my own (not nearly as cool… ) couch.

  • Great makeovers! It’s funny though that in the intro it says “Theresa and her husband..” Where do you get the info that she has a husband? I read her blog on a daily basis, and I don’t think she is married..

  • Thanks for all the lovely compliments on my chair! Sara – I live in Milwaukee and took a class at Waukesha Technical College. I’m sure there are similar classes at technical colleges all over! I recommend taking one if you’re eager to learn! There are so many steps I never would have imagined!

  • C – You are right! My mistake— in weeding through the many submissions and corresponding with everyone through email, I occasionally get people’s information confused. I don’t know for a fact that she’s married, and I’ll make the change now…thanks for spotting the mistake! —Kate

  • Always love your upholstery before & afters. Can’t wait for your instruction series to start!! I can’t decide if I need a hands on class, or if some good books and my trusty sewing machine are enough to get be started (and actually finish an easy chair).

  • OK..so I’ve been looking at all of the recent gorgeous pics or reupholstery projects – becuase I have a couch in desperate need – and I’m wondering, is everyone doing the job themselves? Or are they sending the furniture to professionals? If they’re doing it themselves, how the heck did you learn how to do it so well? Thanks!

  • oh my heavens! these make me want to upholster something! I wish my grandma had a beautiful couch like that sitting in her attic.

  • “The first step is to remove staples. Actually, the first ten steps are probably removing staples.”

    I laughed out loud when reading this! So true..I love my upholstery staple remover, I have to hide it from my uncle so he doesn’t destroy it. I loooovveee the sofa…That fabric really made the wood trim look sharp!!

  • I just love these “before” and “after”projects…they remind me of my teenage time, when it was coming up to turn old , unused furniture in something “new”…I did a lot of that for my first flat….the, I had the impression, followed years of the IKEA-age when it was too cheap to buy new modern furniture instead of taking care of the used ones…now it is fun to see that creativity comes back :)
    Greetings from Claudia in Berlin

  • Are there more pictures of the couch? I can’t clearly see the yellow on my screen. Ironically, I am about to inherit a seemingly exact match, with a chair too, my Gramma’s as well. This makeover is inspiring!

  • Thank you so very much for the lovely comments about my couch! It is indeed a very comfy place to sit, read and blog ;). When I first got the new couch back from the upholsterer I blogged about the new design, which you can read over at Neu4bauer blog.

    Thanks again!!!!

  • Good morning. I am Portuguese and I intend to move to Toronto in Canada. But, I need to find work, I come to request their help.

    I need to contact an interior designer in Toronto. I can make quilts, pillows, blankets and bedspreads for curtains made to measure.

    You can see on my facebook profile, some works done by me.

    Thank you very much for your help. Thank you /http://poupardecorar.blogspot.com/

    Candida Pascoal

  • It’s nice to see that you did something wonderful and saved this furniture and gave it a new design, most people just discard old furniture but if more people did this we could really reduce the amount of furniture going into the landfills. They are beautiful! You did a great job!

  • Both of the projects are stunners but that sofa is one of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve seen in a long time! Love, love, love the color combo. It would stay clean for about a milisecond in my house with a 2 year old ;-)

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.