Our Apartment Redecoration Project Part I: Living Room

I mentioned a few posts back how busy I was. Things have mostly settled down, our redecoration is complete, and now I have time to share pictures!

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The redecoration project was rather unplanned. It all started because we were gifted two very nice couches. When Mr. Q suggested that we take the couches I will admit that I was dubious. Our purple Ikea couch has supported us well over the last few years and I didn’t know if the new ones would be that much nicer. But they are much nicer… higher quality foam stands up much better to use over time and deeper cushions are just more comfortable–there’s more space to tuck your legs up on the couch or surround yourself with blankets and pillows!

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Our before and after pictures aren’t quite at the same angle, but you get the idea. The dining area didn’t change a whole lot, so I didn’t feel it needed to take up as much space in the picture. You can see that we’ve gained furniture and “stuff” over the last three or so years (and that before picture was very early on, but I thought we’d go for the most drama in terms of change).

Those white couches you see came to us with country-farm style red covers on them. It was the right sort of color but not at all the right style for our modern jewel tone living room. After lots of stressing about the potential of having to recover the new couches, I realized that the shape of them wasn’t much different than our ikea couch. And that led us to Ikea-hack covers for our new couches.

We bought 3 white cotton twill Ektorp couch covers (a 3 seater, a 2 seater, and one extra 3 seater for extra fabric), chopped them up as needed so they could expand to fit the new couches, then chopped up the extra fabric cover to fill in the gaps, and finally sewed all the unusual seams to create a new couch cover that would fit. It’s not a beginner level sewing project, but it’s certainly do-able if you have an idea of draping and are creative about problem solving how to expand a couch cover to fit a larger couch than it was intended for. I think this will all be easier to show in pictures.

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Thankfully, the cushion covers fit our new couch cushions pretty perfectly! (Mr. Q notes that he wouldn’t say “perfectly” but maybe “with some coaxing.”) The foam is a little stuffed in, but it was so much better than having to make the cushion covers from scratch. The prospect of doing it from scratch was just overwhelming!

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Here’s our new 2 seater couch with the chopped up Ikea cover on it. You can see that there is a significant gap between the pieces along the seat seam and around the back of the arms.

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But that’s why we purchased an extra cover, so that I could chop it up and piece it in where needed. I’ve got my sewing tools out: seam ripper, snips, pins, sewing measuring tape, tool-type measuring tape, sharp fabric scissors, more pins, pencil, and a ruler. And you can see that I was in the process of measuring out a section to piece in.

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It’s very clear in this picture that the ikea cover was not deep enough for the new couch. So we have a seam that runs over the arm of each couch and down the side, but with the cushions on you really don’t see them at all.

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It’s hard to see in the last picture, but I also had to adjust the top corner of the cover on the 2 seater couch. The Ikea covers have darts along the back that you can just make out in this picture (I’ve unpicked them), but the back of this couch was shorter than the cover (odd, because the 3 seater fit perfectly). So I needed to reposition the darts differently for this couch.

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I also needed to take in the center seat section on the 2 seater couch. It was between 1″-2″ too wide and looked sloppy. I made a fuss but decided to take it in the right way, on the seams between the seat and the arm section, and I’m glad I did, because you can’t tell at all on the finished couch that I had to do that alteration.

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Now on to the 3 seater couch. It needed the same addition for depth that the 2 seater did. You can see that I’ve sewn the addition to the bottom seat section but haven’t sewn it to the top/back yet. I had to do some interesting piecing over the arm, which is what I’m doing in this photo.

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Here’s another view after I’ve attached that depth extender to the seat/back and am working on the seams to piece in the weird bit over the arm of the couch. If you look closely you will see that there are actually two oddly shaped pieces near my hands.

It was a long Saturday of shopping at Ikea and sewing until late into the night. Mr. Q doesn’t have the sewing skills to help with that part but he was engaged the entire time in positive encouragement and occasionally seam ripping or other assigned jobs.  He also put all of the cushion covers on while I was madly seam ripping and taking large white bundles to my sewing table.

I didn’t take the time to nicely serge or finish the new seams. We actually had to wash the 2 seater cover one day after finishing it (oops! but at least the stain came right out along with the wrinkles!) and the seam allowances frayed as you would expect, but not enough to cause any alarm. So I’m not worried about it. There was also nice velcro on the old red cover that held the cover to the couch under the curve of the arms and also along the back seat area. We kept the velcro but didn’t get around to sewing it on. I think it would be nice under the arms, but I’m not inclined to do it anytime soon. The bit along the back doesn’t seem to have made a difference–our new cover stays in place without a problem.

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Ta da! Finished ikea-hack couch covers, with all new pillows and throws (that make such a fuzzy mess on our white couches… we definitely did not think that one through!).

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About quinnmburgess

Quinn M. Burgess creates reproduction and costume historic clothing. Her inspiration has a strong foundation in history: historic dress, social history, and material history. With the addition of clothing construction knowledge, her passions converge in an imaginative world of creative history that she loves to share with others.
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10 Responses to Our Apartment Redecoration Project Part I: Living Room

  1. Sabine says:

    Wow!!! Looking really great! You are very talented…looks elegant and comfy at the same time 🙂

  2. Helen Fratena says:

    You are clever. Mr Q should thank his lucky stars every day! You’ve gone to a lot of trouble, but very custom results. I could have, and probably would have done, a similar project if the need had arisen, but I seriously doubt I could have done it in one day. Kudos to you!

  3. Supah!! Looks wonderful Reminds me of another sofa-covering adventure. Love you. ~ Mom

  4. Patt Ayers says:

    And now she’s doing upholstery…good job,Quinn!

  5. Ruth says:

    You are a braver woman than I, Madame Q (to paraphrase a Kipling story). I helped my mom cover a couch when I was a teenager and that was one time too many! (Over 40 years ago, and she used her little black Singer that still works today!) I do plan on doing one late next year, but it may boil down to buying a cover for it instead, depends on my energy level at the time.

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