Sometimes the frame of a piece of furniture is in perfect condition, but the cushions or material have worn to the point that it’s at risk of going to landfill.

Many older pieces of furniture have frame aesthetics that can’t be matched. So, if you can’t change the frame how can you rescue your chair or sofa when other parts are in need of an overhaul?

These three things can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of your sofa:


Material and Fabric

The cushions often cover the largest area on a chair or sofa. Even where the chair has a wooden back the cushion material is often the thing that stands out the most.

Furniture by its very nature often gets a lot of use. The sofa in a family home gets wear and tear like no other. That said the chair of a bedroom dresser may get very little.

That means, if you’re upholstering a sofa you’ll need to consider the durability of any fabric you choose. You certainly don’t want it to become threadbare within a few months.

Generally speaking a higher thread count, that is the number of threads per square inch of the material, the more durable and longer lasting the material will be. You will also want to consider whether the material you want is a man made synthetic or a natural fibre, from an animal or plant

Natural material includes things like cotton, leather, wool or silk. Synthetic or man-made weaves created through a chemical process include nylon, polyester and microfibre.

Man made fibres are often more hard-wearing than natural fibres, but lack the feel and aesthetics of natural fibres.

But it goes without saying that changing up the material, even if what’s already there is pristine, will have a dramatic effect on the appearance of your furniture.

Furniture Legs

furniture legs

The legs of a piece of furniture go well beyond supporting the main show. Swapping out the furniture legs for something more modern, more ornate or something that’s pared back will instantly alter the way your furniture looks.

Different legs can make a dull sofa look like an antique, or twist an old sofa into something modern and upbeat. Hand-painted legs could transform a room.

The different woods play a part here too.

So when choosing legs think about the feel you want, because in furniture terms the wood you choose makes an aesthetic difference as well as a strength difference.

Hardwoods such as oak or mahogany are denser and take longer to grow, thus increasing their price. Softwoods aren’t actually soft, but grow quicker so are less dense. Think pine, cedar or spruce.

The natural grain of the wood plays a huge part in how it looks and different woods have different hues attached to them too.

For example cherry wood is a hardwood that looks stunning when finished. It’s also one of the hardest woods around and its appearance only gets better with age. The beautiful grain makes birch an incredibly aesthetic wood too.

The knots in pine give it a rustic, farmhouse feel. It’s lightweight and inexpensive compared to hardwoods.

In wood terms the relative newbie is actually a grass. Bamboo grows super fast, it’s three times stronger than building grade wood, and resistant to the shrinking and swelling that accompanies other wood types.

If you are building a frame from scratch, you’ll want to take these and the ease of use of your wood type too.

Upholstery Nails

Again, little details like swapping out upholstery nails can have a massive impact on the appearance of a piece of furniture. Decorative tacks add subtle but striking accents to furniture. The studs around a Winchester sofa are a great example.

Decorative nails and tacks come in a variety of finishes and are also available as strips, where for example, every fifth tack is a real nail to be fixed to the sofa and the rest are purely decorative. The most common finishes are bronze, pewter, nickel, brass and enamel. These tacks also come in a range of shapes and sizes, allowing you to truly customise your sofa.

You can also use decorative nails or tacks to disguise the standard nails and tacks that you may need to use in certain places.

You might be surprised how easy it is to update the appearance of an old sofa or chair, and with a few well placed additions, you can change the look of your furniture and revitalise it too.