Can't Reupholster Your Sofa Right Now? Try One of These Alternatives

If you're not quite ready, we've got temporary solutions.

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For most of us, getting a sofa reupholstered is a pretty big deal. It might seem like a fairly easy undertaking, but ... it’s not.

First, you have to find the perfect fabric. Then, you need to figure out exactly how much you’ll need. Then, you need to track down a reputable upholsterer in your area, figure out how to get your sofa over there, then live without it for weeks while the job is being completed. This doesn’t even cover all the money you’ll need to come up with to accomplish all this (fabric, labor, moving costs, oh my!).

If you’d like to reupholster your sofa but can’t quite afford the pricetag or the hassle, I have a few good ideas for you. Don’t worry, you’ve got some good options.

Add a Sheepskin

Modern Sofa with Orange Pillows

Modern Sofa with Orange Pillows

Orange throw pillows are just what this setting needs to break up the brown. Paired with the white throw, the two help the couch stand out in a room full of neutrals.

Photo by: Regan Baker Design

Regan Baker Design

Sheepskin rugs and pelts work well on most sofas. You can choose smaller pieces, such as the very reasonably-priced RENS Sheepskin at Ikea, and drape them on the back of your sofa to create a bit of texture and interest. Or, you can even try larger sheepskin rugs and drape them across the seating area of your sofa to better cover up your cushions, if needed. Design by Regan Baker Design

RENS Sheepskin, $30,

Cover With Textiles

Living Room With Bay Window and Orange Velvet Sofa

Living Room With Bay Window and Orange Velvet Sofa

The inspiration for the living room came from the classic, Victorian architecture and bay windows that faced the street. A custom light fixture made of blue glass can be seen from the sidewalk. The sofa was a vintage find that was re-upholstered in a velvet orange fabric. A highlight for this room is the custom designed fireplace made out of hot-rolled steel.

Photo by: Matthew Millman Photography

Matthew Millman Photography

Textiles, such as knit throws or larger pieces of fabric, can be added to your sofa to help soften the look. They're also great to use in strategic spots to cover up stains or distract from larger patterns. If you find a throw you love, you might want to buy multiples so you can use several on your sofa at one time. Design by Geremia Design

Add Throw Pillows

Eclectic Living Room With Gray Sofa

Eclectic Living Room With Gray Sofa

The artwork series above the sofa brings zip and movement to the the living room, as though the butterflies from the accent pillows have taken flight!

Photo by: Heather Hawkins

Heather Hawkins

Adding an eclectic selection of throw pillows can often completely change the look of your sofa. Try adding just a few for a more subtle change, or go all in and load up your sofa. I prefer to mix up my pillows and add a variety of colors, patterns and textures. Different shapes also help to create a distinct look; think round pillows, bolsters and a variety of square and lumbar pillows. Design by Studio Ten 25

For some inexpensive options, check out the selection at a few of your local discount stores such as HomeGoods, T.J.Maxx, Marshalls or Ross.

Switch Out the Back Cushions

When you remove the back cushions, you can replace them with other cushions that better fit the color palette and vibe you're hoping to create in your space. Here, the larger velvet pillows bring a fresh, new look to the sofa, as well as adding some gorgeous jewel-tone colors.

Reupholster Just the Cushions

If you're willing to spend a smaller chunk of money than an entire reupholster job would require, simply reupholster the cushions on your sofa. This would require a smaller amount of fabric, and it would be much cheaper, as well. It’s also the type of job that can usually be completed much more quickly than an entire sofa.

Add Artwork (Behind the Sofa)

Colorful Eclectic Living Room With Floral Wall Tapestry, Mustard Yellow Sofa and Faded Red Rug

Colorful Eclectic Living Room With Floral Wall Tapestry, Mustard Yellow Sofa and Faded Red Rug

A distressed rug gives a nice faded element to the pigmented furniture pieces surrounding it. A mix of patterned pillows decorate the mustard yellow sofa situated in front of the floral wall tapestry with complimentary hues. Deep red cushioned wood chairs and a shaggy faux fur seat surround the remaining sides of the clear, plastic contemporary coffee table.

Photo by: Breeze Giannasio

Breeze Giannasio

While this technique won’t really do anything to your sofa, it might help to take away some of the focus. Try hanging either a rug or another large piece of art behind your sofa to draw the eyes up when people walk into your living room. If you combine this with one of the other hacks on the list, it could really make a difference in your space. Design by BGDB Interior Design

Get It Professionally Cleaned

Vintage Flags Hanging Above Living Room Sofa

Vintage Flags Hanging Above Living Room Sofa

Gallery walls will always be timeless and classic, but interior designers continue to find new ways to decorate spaces above living room sofas. From flags and rugs to oversized art, many options are low cost and involve very little effort.

Photo by: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Rustic White Photography, LLC

If your sofa is looking a bit dingy, you might be able to bring it back to life by getting it professionally cleaned. This is a great option for anyone who has pets or kids. Look on Yelp or Angie's List for local spots with good reviews, and price out a few to make sure you're getting a fair deal. The upholstery cleaner should be able to let you know up front whether they think your sofa is a good candidate for professional cleaning and answer any specific questions about your fabric. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Choose a Slipcover

Blue and White Living Room With Slipcovered Sofa

Blue and White Living Room With Slipcovered Sofa

This slipcovered sofa is covered with a handsome shade of navy blue. Should juices or messy hands come into contact with the slipcover, a quick toss in the washer will have it looking new. An aqua patterned throw pillow provides contrast and ties into the wall art in the background.

Slipcovers have come a long way over the past few years. If you have a standard-shaped sofa, you'll likely find a large selection of slipcovers that would cover your entire piece. The best part? When your slipcover gets dirty, you can easily toss it into the wash. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Move Your Sofa

Eclectic Dining Space With White Tufted Sofa Seating, Spoon Chandelier and Burnt Orange Chairs

Eclectic Dining Space With White Tufted Sofa Seating, Spoon Chandelier and Burnt Orange Chairs

A long, white tufted sofa creates cozy and stylish seating along one side of this wood dining table. A blue throw pillow adds a pop of accent color while a dark orange pillow matches the burnt orange coloring of the chairs. A spoon chandelier adds a unique element and antique style to finish the design.

Photo by: G CRAWFORD


Try moving your sofa to a different spot in your home if you're not in love with it anymore. Using it at a dining table, like in this example, can create a cozy dining nook. You could also try moving it to a family room, office or even putting it at the end of a bed in a large bedroom. Design by Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design

Our last idea will help you figure out what to do in your living room once you move your sofa to a different spot in your house.

Buy a Used Sofa

Purchasing a used sofa is a great way to replace your existing sofa without spending as much money as you would if you bought a new one. A good trick is to find a sofa whose style you love somewhere online, such as West Elm, Crate & Barrel or CB2, then search for that exact style sofa on your local Craigslist.

8 Unique Ways to Fill the Space Above Your Sofa

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Play With Symmetry

If you've got a large mirror and classic oil paintings, then why not group them together?
Get the Look: Play with symmetry and scale by centering an oversized mirror directly above the sofa, then flanking it with similarly scaled art.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Repurpose an Area Rug

Handed-down tapestries have been a wall decor mainstay for centuries. Add a similar look to your living room with an area rug.
Get the Look: Choose a rug that's the same length as your sofa (or slightly shorter). For a custom look, use a quilt hanger and attach the rug to its clamps. Or, for a DIY approach, fasten the rug to the wall using upholstery tacks and allow it to droop in the center for a more relaxed look.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Perfect a Sofa Table

Here's a smart idea for renters or homeowners with walls that can't take nails or screws: place a console table behind your sofa to display your favorite artwork.
Get the Look: First, determine the height and length of your sofa. Next, search for a console table approximately one foot shorter in length and no more than two inches lower than your sofa. Create a collection of art, arrange it on top of the table, then lean it against the wall.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Paint Your Own Artwork

Looking for the perfect piece of oversized abstract art but can't find exactly what you want in your budget? Create the art yourself with bold acrylic paint and a massive canvas.
Get the Look: For texture and a shadowed effect, pick up gesso then apply it to the canvas with a brush or burnisher before painting the entire piece a solid color. We chose the color Yves Klein Blue, which was made famous in the 1950s by the French painter who often covered entire objects and canvases with his trademark hue — a mix of blue, purple and black.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Embrace the Boho Trend

Boho-chic style is making a huge comeback this year. Incorporate this laid-back trend into your current design aesthetic by hanging a large, handmade macrame statement piece above the sofa.

Let Your Vintage Flags Fly

Bring a casual and collected look to your living room with a suspended grouping of vintage flags.
Get the Look: Gather nautical flags in similar colors that vary in size and shape. For each row of flags, add two hook eyes to your walls and fasten aircraft cable in-between. Next, loosely hang the flags on the cables, and secure them in place with twine or clothespins.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Map It Out

When paired with a black leather sofa, a large, sepia-toned vintage map gives this room an upscale, masculine feel.

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images

Turn Wallpaper Into Artwork

Add the look and feel of wallpaper to your living room without the commitment.
Get the Look: Order a single roll of wallpaper for less than $20, cut it to size and place inside several frames. For a larger impact, stick with oversized frames and keep the pattern repeat consistent.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

Mirror Mirror

Easily sourced from local thrift stores or antique shops, vintage mirrors add gorgeous depth to a small space. Choose a mix of gilded and matte-painted frames, stunning starburst and oval shapes, and varying sizes for an effortless designer look.

Ditch Nails for Wooden Hangers

Many collectors find themselves with groupings of objects that can be difficult to hang on walls or require expensive mounting, matting and framing. We have a chic alternative.
Get the Look: Take the DIY approach by clamping beloved posters, pennants, maps and charts to wooden pants hangers, then hanging them above the sofa in a random order.

Basket Wall Art

Add a pop of natural texture and handmade detail to your space with a tight collage of large woven baskets. Get the Look: Choose round baskets in varying sizes and patterns for a visually-stunning arrangement.

Photo By: Jacob Snavely

Turn Art Into Your View

Here's a trick made popular by urban designers: if you don't have a lot of wall space in your living room, consider hanging your artwork directly in front of windows. This is an especially useful tip for windows that don't offer beautiful views. Not only will this help add personality, color and charm above your sofa, it can also create an extra layer of privacy between you and your neighbors.

Photo By: Rustic White Photography, LLC

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