The Sofa Plan (Reupholstering With Contrast Welt)

Matt and I don’t have a t.v.  Instead, we watch all of our shows on our computers on Amazon Prime, and we try to only watch shows that have already wrapped up on t.v. so that we can go straight through the series and not have to get to a certain point and then wait for new episodes each week.

Since we’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed that I have a bad habit.  I have a hard time waiting patiently to see how the story unfolds.  Instead, I get anxious, and I’ll get online and find out what happens in advance.  I basically want to skip past all of the middle part and get right to the end.

That’s silly, right?  When I rush right past all of the character development, the minutia of the plot development, the climax of the overarching storyline, and I skip right to the dénouement, I always find myself disappointed.

So what does this have to do with a sofa?

Well, I realized that this character flaw of mine isn’t limited only to watching television shows.  I was about to do that with my living room also.

I’ve worked so hard to get this room from this…

living room before

…to where it is now.

Living room makeover with diamond tufted ottoman and painted antique credenza

I’ve made Roman shades, built a coffee table ottoman, made new Greek key side tables, refinished an antique credenza, made a lotus flower mirror, painted the walls and added some trim, refinished the hardwood floors, and added a new chandelier.

And after all of that, I was about to throw away the details of my vision for this room by purchasing a cheap sofa from Pier 1, just because I was getting anxious to rush to the ending of this story.  I know for a fact that would only lead to disappointment on my part, and the storyline of this room would be missing a big chunk of its plot.

I can’t let that happen, so I’ll press on.

Here’s my sofa now.

thomasville sofa purchased for 100 dollars at a consignment store - 1

That’s the picture I took at the consignment store where I purchased it for $100.  It’s a Thomasville sofa, which is a great brand, so it’s a quality sofa.  It has beautiful arms and unique details, but unfortunately it’s covered in this very distracting and incredibly overpowering navy blue and white floral fabric.

So I will rescue it from it’s floral prison and give it a classic, neutral look.  But because I don’t like things to be predictable, and I don’t like boring, I’m going to add a little unexpected twist — striped contrast welt.

I saw the idea first in this room by Sarah Richardson.

Sofa with striped contrast welt - room by Sarah Richardson

I love that striped detail.  It’s an unexpected touch on an otherwise plain (although very pretty) sofa.

And so it will be on mine also.  🙂

The fabric that I’ve decided to use for it is actually the striped fabric that I had pinned to the lamp shade a couple of days ago.

striped fabric on lamp shade

I decided that that particular striped fabric is a little too overpowering for the lamp shade, but that fabric is too perfect to not use in this room somehow.

Striped fabric for contrast welt on reupholstered sofa

So contrast welt, it is!  In smaller doses, like that on welt cord, the stripes won’t be quite so over powering.  In fact, I used two pieces of MDF (since they’re basically a neutral color, even if they’re the wrong neutral color) to demonstrate what the striped welt would look like.

Striped contrast welt for living room sofa

See what I mean about small doses?  I think it’ll be perfect!

Now I’m actually excited about reupholstering my sofa.  Or really, I’m excited about ending up with a sofa that’s basically custom covered to go in my room.  I love for things in a room to look custom, but I don’t love spending a ton of money for it.  So the trade off is that I have to do it myself.

So I’m almost ready to jump in with both feet.  Almost.  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I can recruit my mom to help me so that it’ll go quite a bit faster.



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  1. So excited to see the final result! I love the idea. Now would using the same fabric on the shades be too much? Or would it pull the look together? Also I love your use of BIG words. LOL You are so fun to read. I am heading home this weekend. (I live in one state and my work is in another.) I am going to begin my 1st chair makeover. I will be checking your archives for tips. Thank you again for this blog.

    1. I think there’s just something about that particular fabric that I don’t like right up close to the floral fabric. I’m thinking it’s the dark brown stripes that just look so harsh. I found another fabric — a blue geometric pattern — that I’m going to try on the lampshades.

  2. oh so glad you decided on doing this, in the end you will be much happier and won’t be kicking yourself for buying a cheap sofa that won’t hold up and EVERYONE else has. I knew in the end the sofa would get redone.

  3. Ya know? I really wasn’t too sure about that fabric but when I saw all the other elements pulled in together..it’s going to look fantastic! Come to New York when you get bored!

  4. So glad you decided to re-upholster yourself. It is going to be stunning. I also felt the fabric on the lampshades was a bit overwhelming.

    P.S. Where on earth do you find the time to achieve all you do AND still watch tv

    1. Well, I’m not really the kind of person who can just sit and watch a t.v. show. 🙂 I get so bored and restless. So my t.v. time is always combined with something else, like sorting and editing pictures for a project I’m about to post about, or searching for some specific inspiration for a next project, or something like that.

      1. I can personally attest to the fact that Kristi is NOT a single-task operator. My little sister puts the rest of our family to shame when it comes to “getting it done!” 😀

        1. Kristi, I just love when your family chimes in to support and praise you! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! Rodney, your little sister puts the rest of the *country* to shame when it comes to “getting it done”! I wish she could bottle her enthusiasm and her ability to see projects through to a great conclusion, I’d buy that stuff by the case. The best part is that she not only gets stuff done quickly, but her finished projects are always so precise and professionally finished. Some bloggers I read get their projects finished in good time, too, but sometimes their end result leaves a lot to be desired …

          Kristi, I love this contrasting welt, the sofa is going to be gorgeous after you work your magic on it. It’s got good lines and is a well-made piece. Do you think you will do pillows for the sofa in the striped fabric as well? Maybe pillows with one side in the stripe, and the other side in the tufted ottoman fabric? Just a thought.

          1. Aren’t they sweet? I’m blessed to have such supportive people in my life. 🙂

            I love the idea of using the striped fabric on sofa pillows. I think I didn’t like it for the lamp shades just because it’s such a bold stripe to be sitting right next to the floral, but if it’s on the sofa, that’ll give it some distance from the floral fabric and it’ll work much better. I like that idea!

  5. Love the idea of using the striped fabric!! For a long time, I’ve been thinking that the chairs need some pillows, a throw, or something. They look so lonely and empty. What about creating some pillows, in a blue color and putting that striped fabric as either a border or even piping around the edges of the pillows? It will tie everything together.

    1. Oh, they definitely need something. I’m still on the lookout for the perfect fabric…or the perfect plan…for those pillows. So far, my search has come up empty. I know (or at least I think I know) that I want a geometric fabric. I’ve found a couple that are just okay. But “just okay” isn’t really what I’m going for. 😀 So my search continues.

  6. That will be pretty, can’t wait to see it. 🙂 And I’m so glad you decided not to use that fabric on the lampshade!

  7. As an upholsterer, I can tell you that if you cut your 1 1/2″ strips of fabric for your cording on the bias, it will corner much smoother and lay flat. It will give a spiral effect to the cord instead of a linear effect. With all of your straight lines in this room, I think it would be pretty!

      1. Kristi, I know from personal experience that placing your welt cord fabric on the bias will make it easier to work with, especially around the curves, and give a much more professional look when it’s finished. I too think the diagonal stripes in the cording will add just the right variation to the stripes in the room to coordinate without looking matchy-matchy, if you know what I mean! Have you considered using a beautiful chenille throw draped across the backs of those chairs? I always find it so uncomfortable to have to remove a decorative pillow before I can sit back into a chair, and have used chenille throws folded neatly over the back of the chair as a workable alternative. Just a sujjestion! Finally, what color did you decide to recover the sofa? Enquiring minds want to know!

        1. After going back and looking more closely at your inspiration sofa for the contrasting welting, it looks as if that welting is on the bias.

  8. This looks fascinating. I’m interested in re-doing my sofa (kind of like yours, but with a camelback). Like Nancy Settle said, you’ll be so much happier with a “bespoke” sofa. 🙂

  9. Oh, good. 🙂 I didn’t comment the other day because I ultimately decided it was none of my business (since you didn’t ask us if we liked the striped lampshades or not), but I, too, felt like the striped lampshade idea was a bit overpowering. :):):) I can’t wait to see what your couch looks like with contrast piping, and I’m so excited for a full reupholstering tutorial!! I have a chair that is screaming for a makeover, but all the quotes I got were well upwards of what it would have cost to just go buy a new one, and my old one is just so comfy. Have a great weekend, Kristi!

    1. I know Kristi’s tutorial will be fabulous but you might want to check out Miss Mustard Seed also, she has some upholstery tutorials.

  10. Oh, much better. I thought the lampshade idea, combined with the striped drawers was turning your nice room into busy pattern paradise. Love the welt idea and re-purposing the excellent sofa. Think you will be much happier with the end result. I’m afraid you are not alone in your desire for immediate gratification. If there is one thing I’ve noticed, most decorating blogs by “you youngsters” lean towards the fastest solution. I’m one of those “old gals” that’s used to waiting and saving and patiently going the longer route. Different strokes for different folks.

  11. I admire your gusto! I feel like if a person wants to take something old and give it new life then go for it! I have taken so many items and painted, changed and Wow! the difference is awesome! I had recently painted some old tables and my Dear Husband said “where did you get those tables?” I like those” When he learned they were the same wood tables he had thought were ugly, He couldn’t believe it. I’m getting ready to use some nailhead trim to add some POW!I know if I can do it anyone can 😉

  12. Count me as one who wasn’t crazy about the fabric for the shades – but then again, my girls tell me I dress boring – most of my clothes are solids. And when I saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to use the striped fabric for the whole couch! I WAS wondering why you didn’t show us the piping on the bias, being the sewist that I am. I like the stripes running horizontally, but I’ve always liked them diagonally as well. Just hope you don’t have too much trouble with the piping if you decide to go horizontal.

  13. I do the same thing Kristi- I get impatient to ‘get it done’ and then settle for something that is less then what I actually wanted. And usually for something cheaper then what I actually wanted. I love that you are going to power through that tendency and stay true to your vision – the contrasting welt is going to look fantastic!!

  14. Hi kristi. I think that is a great idea. And I learnt a new deign term. I was wondering when you are finished this fabulous room if you’ll be doing a cost breakdown. I would love to know just how much you spent and what it would have cost you if you bought everything and hired out things like refinishing floors and painting etc. cheers
    Lesley Ann

    1. I think the stripe will go great with the credenza . I love it I have been looking for one similar to it that I can afford. I love yours

  15. Oh thank goodness you said striped WELT cord! I thought you were going to try to upholster the whole dang couch in that fabric, and I was gonna shout, “NOOOOOOO!” Stripes are one of the hardest fabrics to use, because of all the matching that must be done. And especially on your FIRST big upholstery project!!! But a contrasting welt cord sounds great. My father was an upholsterer, and I never had him teach me how to do it. I think I gathered SOME of it just from osmosis…but I kick myself ALL the time now for not paying even more attention. Sighhhhh…

  16. I love the idea of welting with the stripes, I also hope you re-think the strips on the lampshades, I think it really ties the colors together now that you have finished that fabulous antique credenza with green. with the stripes on the couch and the lampshades….oh I can’t wait to see the finished room.

  17. I made a slipcover for a loveseat and that was quite an experience. I hope your more talented than me. Ha! who am I kidding, the answer is a definite YES….Go for it….looking forward to seeing the steps in the event I am brave enough to tackle the project again. BTW love the idea of stripe in the welt.

  18. Oh yeah, baby… excellent idea. What will the solid color of the couch be? The credenza and that striped pattern were made to go together, and by bringing some of that stripe over to the other side of the room will make it POP! Are you going to do a step by step tut so us upholstery dreamers can learn how it all happens?

    1. I still haven’t found the perfect fabric for my sofa. I’m hoping for a light brown/tan/khaki color, but I don’t necessarily want it to be one completely solid color. I’d like to find something with a very subtle texture and various shades of threads, kind of like you see in linen, but I don’t want to use linen.

      I’m not sure if I’ll do a step-by-step tutorial, but I’ll definitely take loads of pictures and share my process and any tips that I learn along the way.

  19. What if you used that same striped fabric to do the top and bottom edges of the lamps? …Not sure what those little border strips are called. But it’d be a similar detail to the couch. 🙂

    1. Yes, I can see this idea! Make the trim at the top and bottom of the lampshades about twice as wide as the cording, and run it vertically so you can see the variations in the stripes. The same fabric used in various ways would tie things together without being overbearing, ya think?

  20. Love this idea and I can’t wait to see it completed. However, I am just like you in wanting to see the end product. I always have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the process – or at least take my time and do it right. Especially when painting!!!

  21. Have you thought about using this fabric for curtains? I think it would look beautiful against your paint and next to the dresser you redid. You might want to buy extra of this fabric for later when you might want to change your curtains.
    About the welting… I think it will make your sofa look really dated really fast. Why don’t you try it on something small like a pillow first and see if you can live with it? Also, it doesn’t look as durable as the blue fabric, so it would possibly wear away a lot faster than the blue and I think this would drive you nuts.

    1. No, I think it’s a little too bold for curtains for my taste. Also, the wall color is just temporary, so I don’t necessarily want to make any decorating decision based on the wall color. 🙂

  22. It is a huge job, but once you jump in, it will go fast and you will love the result. I know you already know this. I love the contrasting piping. I’m going to be reupholstering an old wing back, and I’ll be using two fabrics and a contrasting piping. I can’t wait to get started.

  23. I love contrast welting! It’s what sold me on my purchased couch. I have that striped material (an indoor/outdoor one so very durable and easy to clean) and used it for some small pillows in the living room. They are quite loud in spite of being small!!! What main color will you use on your couch?

    I wanted to ask…on occasion I am of a different opinion than you. Would you prefer no comment or an honest opinion? I do not want to offend you, but know that sometimes a different perspective can be helpful.

    1. I want the main color to be a light brown/tan/khaki color, with just a subtle texture to it.

      I’m perfectly fine with people sharing their opinions with me as long as it’s done in a tactful way. On my Facebook page lately, I’m getting lots of people who share their opinions with comments like, “That’s so ugly!” or “Yuck! Why would anyone want that?” Thankfully it doesn’t seem like those tactless people have been able to find their way from my Facebook page onto my blog….yet. 🙂

      So differing opinions given in a tactful manner are always welcome. And of course, I do also want everyone to realize that at the end of the day, this isn’t a community decorating project. It’s my home. So while I love input, and often ask for it directly, I’m essentially going to make the decision that works best for me, for my taste, and for my home. 🙂

      1. Thanks, Kristi. My current sofa is a taupe-y / tan with a brownish welt microfiber (had teen boy at home when purchased – lol…now mid- 20s – not much difference!- Raymour & Flanigan http://www.raymourflanigan.com/briarwood-microfiber-sofa-200213623.aspx

        As far as comments, I was thinking along the lines of “have you thought about…”, “what about…”, “here’s another thought…”,
        “on my computer screen those don’t seem to go together…” precisely because it is your home! I recognize that computer screens show colors/hues differently so I just trust your judgment and great eye.

  24. I am so glad you are using that great sofa. Can’t wait to see the finished product. I can’t picture that fabric on the bias as cording but it certainly would make a more professional finish. You will make it look fabulous I am sure. Good luck!

  25. Small lumbar pillows made from the stripe would be nice on the chairs. The sofa has a great shape and as long as the frame and the springs are in good condition, then by all means reupholster. In a new sofa, you get what you pay for. Cheap is cheap and won’t last very long at all. You can also farm out some of the work to an upholsterer and do some of it yourself.

  26. Oh, my, I looove that couch and am so glad you are going to use it. It looks in perfect shape and I still can’t believe you got it for $100. I keep thinking I’d like to take an upholstery class so I can snatch up some bargains like that. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. I agree with those who suggest cutting your fabric on the bias- I did a pillow with straight cuts for the cording, and it was a bear getting around the curves.

    1. I have to agree with all of the comments about about cutting the fabric on the bias, i am sure there is no other option. It has to go around corners with ease. It will still look brillant. Great score on that couch for only $100.

  27. Beautiful!! Great idea!! Can’t wait to see the finished project!! You are amazing and I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog recently!!

  28. Gee, the contrasting stripe will look great with the neutral fabric. Can’t wait to see the end product and it will go so much quicker if your Mom can come and help out for a day or two. Way to go Mom!

    As for the striped lampshades, I really liked the idea but maybe a neutral would be better overall. I do hope that you will have enough of the striped fabric to make a couple of pillows for your chairs or sofa because I LOVE that stripe and would like to see it used in another place in the room.

  29. I love what you plan to do with the sofa and what a steal for a Thomasville sofa. It will be beautiful I am sure. Sarah Richardson is my very fav designers – I love everything she does. You are amazingly talented. There must be very little you can’t do. Where did you learn all your incredible skills??? I wish I had just 1/10 of them. Gosh, I have so much to learn and I don’t know where to begin – any suggestions, please?

    Love your blog and just discovered you recently and so glad I did.

    1. Debbie, I’ve pretty much learned everything I do just by doing it. I haven’t taken any classes in any of this. One thing that I do have, and that I’m very thankful for, is a fearless attitude when it comes to trying new DIY things. And I’m not really afraid to make mistakes. I think the fear of making mistakes holds a lot of people back.

      So just decide on something you want to make, and jump in with both feet! 🙂

  30. I love the striped fabric and how it looks in the welt. I am a fan of repeating fabrics for continuity, so if there enough , consider a pillow or two as well.

  31. I would do the couch in sage green and the coffee table (ottoman) in the stripes if it were mine. Then many more options to change up the room later. Plus the ottoman is a little too dark for my tastes. Just my opinion. But everything else looks great. Love your site.

  32. I love how you are so … Precise! You explain everything so clearly and I enjoy watching you plan! Because I plan and know that since it can take years for me to get something finished, I end up doing the shortcut skip thingy. Good for you for resisting the urge. A quality sofa is so hard to find and I can’t wait to see the finished piece! I slip covered an inherited quality sofa and it’s not perfect but I do love it!

  33. Wow, you are BLAZING through projects. Here I am, all excited to be tackling a very simple one, lol…I’m making a second (hubby did half the work on the first one, I did this one all by myself) chalkboard coat/scart/hat rack.
    Its pretty cool, because it costs hardly anything to make, and then I saw one on a makeover show just like it, I wanted to yell, “Hey, it’s MY rack!” lol…no one was around to be excited with me:) I thought it though.
    I found a rack in a store I liked, then found one similar online, got the dimensions, copied the info on outside measurements, counted the pieces, etc. and have been thrilled that though not perfect as your projects, it’s not bad looking and is very useful. This was one of the inspiration pix…it’s easy to make http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=+7+day+chalkboard&id=3ADADCC3DD5BE6BA9C3A4D4D81BD5BFE47EDB85F&FORM=IQFRBA#view=detail&id=3ADADCC3DD5BE6BA9C3A4D4D81BD5BFE47EDB85F&selectedIndex=0

    1. Oh, and I am amazed you are tackling the couch and can’t WAIT to see it…I love seeing you create beauty from ingredients so to speak…

  34. Thank goodness you came to your senses and decided to reupholster. If you had really bought that cheap sofa I would have had to catch a plane to Waco and ‘jerked a knot in your tail. 🙂

    Joking aside, I too am one of those who thought the stripped lamp shades were too much, but I am learning that when you have an idea, you ‘perk’ on it a little while before you take action; so I was not really worried about stripped lamp shades becoming a reality. And to be honest, I was not worried you would buy the cheap sofa either. You have a vision for how you want the first room your visitors will see is going to look. And the vision is as much emotiional as visual. You want it to be beautiful, yet comfortable; colorful but not overwhelming; but most of all you want it to reflect who you are. You are not going to risk your vision on a cheap sofa, stripes that overpower the room or side tables that do not have the weight you are looking for. I look forward to seeing each and every project. The stripped welt cording is a wonderful idea, I can’t wait to see the final product.

    Have a great weekend!

  35. Your room is looking fabulous!!! I love how your credenza turned out! I think painting it green was the perfect solution! You should be so proud! And you are SUCH an inspiration!

  36. I can’t wait to see your finished couch! I have a couch and chair/ottoman that I am wanting to recover. I can’t wait to see yours! I love your blog !! Thank you for taking the time to share

  37. I like the striped fabric on the lampshades! Love a stripe and floral together so the stripe on the shades in front of the curtains is pretty to me.

    It will look beautiful as welting & like some others said, maybe a touch of the stripe on the shades would make the stripe feel less overpowering to you. Room is looking great, you’re using all my fave colors.

  38. The stripes as contrasting welt on your couch will be beautiful. A perfect accent to pick up the colors (especially the awesome green of the credenza). Love how this room has come together, it looks amazing!

  39. I too like the end results first…lol Now that I have been following a few blogs I’m learning to take my time and be more patient. Since I have been doing this I have completed a few projects, small ones at that, nothing like yours Kristi. Someday I plan on getting to that point but for now I am re~using and re~doing what I already have.in order to make room in my garage for the bigger projects…!! Can’t wait to see the re~covered sofa…!!

  40. I love the idea of striped welting. I made a quilt for my granddaughter and I also wanted to use a stripe, but I wanted it to be even more different. I found this tutorial for making it on the diagonal: http://quiltsnkaboodle.blogspot.com/2011/04/quick-bias-binding-tutorial.html. The quilt I made had tiny white paw prints on one side and little white dog Silhouettes on the other. The binding (or welting) was done with a black & white stripe. It was very interesting, a real compliment to the rest of the crib bedding.

    Love your ideas and helpful hints. It makes me feel like I, too, can do anything.

  41. Gosh, Kristi…you had me going for a minute there, when I spotted that huge floral print on the sofa. Reminds me of a sofa we had about 25 years ago. Roses. Lots and lots of hideous roses. At the time I thought it was the most beautiful thing.

    I can relate to your wanting to skip through the middle part.
    I think that’s the way creative people are wired.
    I like that so much of what you write leaves the rest of us nodding. We can understand.
    I love your style of writing, too. Down to earth and I don’t have to run for the dictionary.

    Most of all, I love your enthusiasm, and your willingness to share your projects step by step. I know it’s very time-consuming to add photos and write about your projects, but it’s what keeps your blog at the top of my list. Thank you so much.

  42. It would be really cool if you could use the fabric for the lampshades or pillows in a muted or white washed affect. I don’t have a clue how to go about that, but the bold stipes and colors are perfect if they could be tamed down a hint or two! Love the room!! You’re such in inspiration!!

  43. Not being a fan of the “everybody is doing it” trend, I’m not huge on nail head trim, but I like the idea of this table being a deep chocolate “leather” with the nail head trim on the inside edges of the scallops, rather than on the surface. Alternately, the soft blue in your striped fabric, also “leather” and if you insist on nail head trim, the same suggestion: inside edges, allowing them to accent those scallops without being on the front and ‘in your face’.

    ‘Course, it’s not MY house and you do like that sort of trim, so…on the outside edges would work for you.

    Stripes, argyle, diamonds…probably too busy and detracting for the scallops to look elegant. The scallops are kind of the focus of the table, right?

  44. You do great work, Kristi. I wish I had the talent and the energy required to do this fine work!!

    I really enjoy looking.