Couch Inspiration

We’ve almost wrapped up our couch project – the frame is complete (hooray!), but our dining room is buried beneath huge expanses of fabric, frayed and ripped upholstery thread, and the salt of a thousand tears.

For today I thought I’d show you some of the inspiration behind our couch. But first? A confession.

Do you remember back in September when I shared photos of this floral couch?  The couch that lost us a number of Instagram followers and was much maligned in the comments?
Red House West || Sometimes it ain't Pretty
Well, here’s the thing. I bought that couch. Yes I did.  Despite the gagging noises implicit in your feedback, I went in on a day it was 50% off and plunked down cold, hard cash.  Cameron was pretty stoked to come in the door one evening only to be hustled right back out as I said, “You know that couch that you and everyone else hated? Well I bought it and we need to pick it up before the store closes tonight.”

At the thrift store, we removed the cushions – dislodging a bounty of used tissues, pet hair, other hair (oh god) and assorted debris – and hefted that sucker into the truck. Have I mentioned that it was our anniversary and that we were leaving on a trip and had a to-do list a mile long? Wood may be the traditional fifth anniversary gift, but I commemorated ours with a large, dirty couch that, according to Instagram, conjured up images of culottes, the 1980s, and too many cats.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Just in case you need proof that I actually dragged that thing home

You see, dear readers, I was going to dazzle you with my incredible makeover skills.  If only the couch would have fit through our hallway, or the window we tried to cram it through, I’m very sure I would have succeeded.

The couch went back to the thrift store, and I did my best to move on. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the dimensions we needed (etched irrevocably in my brain after le soFiasco) at my usual haunts, but I saw this beauty on Anthropologie and thought, with my usual delusional confidence, pffft, we could totally make that.  And so it began.
Red House West || Couch Inspiration

I had an initial gut reaction to that Anthro couch, but when I wiped the hearts from my eyes and really looked at it, I realized it wasn’t totally practical for us.  I decided maximum lounging potential required two armrests to lean against, and more of an angle on the back.

I really loved this one by Australian designer Mark Tuckey, but decided it would be a lot of wood in a room that already has wood floors and wood trim.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

I was drawn to the cant of these arms, but not the rigidity of the back:

This dreamy sofa by Pop & Scott has neither arms nor back, yet I almost managed to convince myself that it was perfect.



The couch we kept coming back to, and ultimately the one we based much of our design on, is this one found over on Italian flooring site Marazzi.  I loved the flare of the arms and the simplicity of the style, and figured we could up the comfort factor with deep cushions.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Once we had finally settled on a design for a frame, deliberations on the cushions began. I knew I wanted a single, long seat cushion with two back cushions and squishy, narrow cushions for leaning against the armrests.  Kind of like this:

I also knew I didn’t want the shape of the seat cushion to be too boxy – I wanted it to be thick and inviting, and I got downright obsessed with the way cushions are seamed and curved. Like this one, where the fabric wraps around the front with no visible seams:

One way to achieve this look is the knife edge seam (unlike a box cushion with two seams, there’s a single seam and a T-shaped edge), as seen on a lovely Pop & Scott couch:
Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Here’s an example with a more pronounced single seam that encircles the whole cushion:

There’s something very appealing about the insouciance of flanged cushions (maybe because it looks like they’ve been moved from the bedroom to the couch?), and I gave them some serious consideration.

After endless deliberation I did make a decision, and as soon as I wrestle the fabric into submission I’ll be glad to show you everything!   For now, here’s a shot of our couch sans back:

Red House West || Couch InspirationThanks for providing me with distraction (please send me some sewing mojo!) and for reading along, and have an excellent week!

*An update on the couch project is here

17 responses on “Couch Inspiration

  1. Brittany @ white dog vintage

    I can’t wait to see how this turns out! The frame is already really impressive–it looks *just* like your inspiration. I am sending you sewing mojo for sure! I’m hoping that you like to sew. I’ve upholstered a couch and a handful of chairs, and I have to say, I’ve had some of my lowest moments at the sewing machine. The kind where if you were a cartoon, your speech bubble would be filled with only special characters, lol. I think my favorite cushion is the gray one with the single seam, though I confess I have no idea how that was put together. Every option is totally chic, though, so you really cannot go wrong.

    I’m bummed with you that the floral couch did not work out. I really would have liked to have seen what you did with it. I bought a similar couch with questionable upholstery (though mine was 90s fabric that really couldn’t be reinterpreted as any kind of retro chic by the most creative imagination). I drove it an hour out of town to a rural upholsterer in order to get it recovered within my budget. The things we do for a good couch. And yet–worth it. I’m sure this project will be too!

    1. Katie Post author

      I like sewing? I think? But I’m never as good at it as I think I am when I’m planning these projects. Your blue couch is one of my faves!

  2. Jen

    Katie, while I understand the reaction to the thrift store sofa, I think it was possible to make it work. Every time I see it, I think of this house tour: There, the wallpaper was the flowery element that they built around. You would have had sort of the opposite situation going on, where your bold floral element was the upholstery. That said, I also think it’s a mistake to try to force something, especially if you have to decorate a whole room around that element! So maybe, in the end, the couch not fitting was for the best. Your new couch is looking so good, and I am in awe of the fact that you are doing the upholstery yourself. Can’t wait to see it finished!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks for sharing that link – I looooooooooove that house! I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to at least try and make it work (the vibe in the tour you shared was exactly what I was going for).

      1. Jen

        I bought a design book in Stockholm that I can’t even read (it’s in Swedish) in large part for the pictures of that home! Eventually it occurred to me to google the name of the homeowner and I found the (more comprehensive) Lovely Life tour. It’s dreamy, isn’t it? Lovely Life has some really swoon-worthy home tours,

  3. Michelle

    Katie—I have to say that I’m glad the floral couch didn’t work out (though sorry you had to go through moving it, etc.) because your new couch is totally inspired! So looking forward to seeing the finished product!

  4. Emily

    “Wiped the hearts from my eyes” – my new favourite expression! I’ve made so many impulse purchases while the hearts were very much still in my eyes and have regretted it later… (I’m looking at you, giant wooden table lamp that’s too big for all my tables).
    Hilarious that you secretly bought the ugly sofa… I for one am glad the universe stepped in to physically bar it from your house!
    Hugely impressed that you’re making your own sofa – sending all the good vibes.

  5. Gillianne

    A tale of laughter and tears. That frame is gorgeous! I was hoping you’d give us a sneak peek of your chosen fabric unstitched. We’ll just have to wait for the full reveal. But full marks to you for the craft of this story.

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