before & after: reupholstered sofa with custom fabric design

We’ve seen many lovely reupholstery jobs over the years but very few in which the fabric was designed by the owner. This was Michelle’s final project for her BFA in graphic design, and it’s pretty amazingly cool for a school project. She had been wanting to do a fabric design project, and after finding the couch at an old garage sale, the rest was history. Great job, Michelle! — Kate

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.)

Read more about Michelle’s reupholstered sofa after the jump!

Time: 50 hours (40 researching and planning design, 12 selecting fabrics and planning production)

Cost: $1650 ($20 for sofa, $600 for fabric, $1,000 for upholstery work)

Basic Steps: My main goal was to create a bold, modern fabric so when I saw that sofa (while I was out jogging in my neighborhood!) I knew it would be a good fit for the fabric I had in mind. That wood! And that tufting! I couldn’t pass it up. Color was a big part of achieving the look I wanted. I chose to use the bright yellow for the material, while going with the classic dark brown on the wood. Working with the contrast of a vintage couch and modern fabric made for a really fun project.

Always get sample swatches before you buy a lot of material! Color is by far the trickiest thing to get right when you are printing material. Even if you aren’t designing your own fabrics, get a sample of what you are going to buy before you purchase large quantities of it. The material will look different when you are holding it in your hand than what it looks like on your computer screen. And, spend the extra money on large swatches if you are doing a project as big as a sofa. It’s hard to tell what an entire sofa will look like with only a few inches of fabric to hold up to it. —Michelle

Ashley K

That print is GORGEOUS. I am in love those paisley birds! I hope to see more of Michelle’s work on d*s!

Stephanie Press

The fabric is cool, but I really think the dark brown finish on the wood made all the difference! Lovely lines on the piece.


Wow ahhmazing work.. $100 for the upholstery job what a deal! Wish I lived closer and could take advantage of that price.


I am blown away. I want to be able to do this so badly, but fear that I don’t have the patience for it. Way to go Michelle!


Beautiful! Love the color, pattern, wood finish, everything.

Is $100 for the upholstery work a typo? Cause the total makes sense but the breakdown doesn’t add up.


This is amazingly beautiful! I don’t even like yellow, and I want a sunny, chic couch like that on my dream porch!

What a great project, and fabulous execution for the whole process!


Beautiful! Laura-Most likely a typo. I’m thinking it should be $1000. Gorgeous upholstery work…Just look at the double piping on the bottom edge {sigh}!


Very, very cool. I want this couch in my new house and I want to learn how to do this myself!


I want this couch! Maybe it’s time to go into furniture restoration Michelle! Sign me up for the next couch you find!

Sarah Burrows

I would love to do something like this, but where do I start? Making your own fabric? How’s this done? Great Job on the sofa!

laura evans

i want that couch! it would be awesome in my studio … i can totally see myself doing boudoir shoots with it! I LOVE IT!


Please please please tell me where I can get that kind of upholstery done for $100?!?!


Cost: $1650 ($20 for sofa, $600 for fabric, $100 for upholstery work)

What was the other $930 spent on? labour?


She didn’t actually do the upholstery, she just designed the fabric.

Judith Nigh

Beautiful finished work! But, who did upholstery work for $100? My experience says it would cost $1000!

Michelle Sorensen

Thanks everyone! And thanks to d*s for posting this.
And, just to let everyone know — $100 was a typo. The reupholstery work cost $1,000.


It’s soooo fabulous….What a refreshing and amazing piece!

nomiEnter Your Name

Is there something wrong with my eyes?Or is this a different shade of yellow?It looks like a soft orange to me..and gorgeous!

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Is there something wrong with my eyes? Is this a different shade of yellow?It looks like a soft orange to me…but gorgeous!


After you designed the pattern, how were you able to produce the fabric? I am also a graphic designer and this is a medium I have never worked in, so I’m curious how your design became a reality…


Woa, wish I could have a striking piece like this in my living space !!! Awesome !


She took a tired old looking Grandma sofa and turned it into a sofa that looks like a MILLION BUCKS! WOW! Love it so much!

Kim at SassySisterVintage

I really loved seeing this before and after! I picked up a 1920’s sofa (a really amazing one with swan neck carving, etc.) for $45. Currently, I’m looking for upholstery fabric that will suit our family and style. The upholsterer quoted me a price of $500 and I thought that was sooooo much! And our sofa is about the same size as the one being featured. I’m glad to see how well this one turned out!


These old sofa’s with the wood legs are my favorite afters!! They are just beautiful!

This Tiny Existence

Wow! (This is a totally pointless comment, I’m not ‘adding to the conversation” but I really just needed to say that . . . I’ll say it again) Wow!


Hey Michelle i love this i was wondering where did you find the sofa??? iam desperately looking for ne like this


Hi! I’ve actually been planning to do the same thing – right down to the color. What was your cost for fabric (per yard) and how many yards did you need?

It turned out beautifully!