Today I want to give you 5 tips to update your furniture on a budget. And when I say budget … I am serious. These tips are magical – I have used them for years to stretch my dollars and make my worn out furniture last just a little longer. Without looking like we picked it up on the side of the highway and brought it home.
Every year when I start decorating for the fall season (my fave!), I look around my house and am reminded of every single thing that needs to be fixed or replaced. It’s the curse of living on one income, really – there are always things that need to be taken care of before a new sofa or bed or whatever can be had.
I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that have allowed me to satisfy my need to decorate & nest, and still fit into my tiny tap water budget. (Some people have a beer budget, but I can’t even spare that much cash! lol) With the holidays fast approaching, and my (ill-advised) decision to once again host the family gatherings, my
downright shabby, worn out outdated furniture needed serious help. (My parents complain every. time. they. visit. how uncomfortable our furniture is.) Plus, it’s so much fun to have new (or at least new-ish looking) stuff – am I right?
So without further ado … here they are …
5 Tips to Update Your Furniture On a Budget
Tip 1: Get Between the Sheets
Yes, well, that always makes things look more appealing, doesn’t it? (wink, wink) But that isn’t exactly what I mean. Sorry.
What I’m talking about here, is making a new comforter cover for your bed! If you’ve priced comforters and/or duvet covers, you know they are insanely expensive – especially a really nice quality one. They are often not machine washable (a big negative in my house) and it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for.
A comforter cover is actually nothing more than a giant pillow case, when you think about it. I decided to make my own, custom cover that fit my decor and my budget. After pricing fabric by the yard though, I was still not happy with the total cost, . I decided to look … in the bedding department … at flat sheets. Genius.
I bought 2 king size flat sheets, put them right sides together and stitched around three sides. I used two contrasting sheets so the cover is reversible and did not add closures at the open end. It works just fine. Voila! I have a custom duvet cover that matches my decor, is totally washer/dryer friendly, and makes my frugal heart so happy.
It totally changed the look of our room and cost me around $30. It took me about 15 minutes to sew the entire thing – and honestly, most of that was wrestling the large sheets into position in my machine.
I use sheets as fabric for so many things around my house, y’all. Curtains, pillow covers, comforter covers … I’ve even been known to make pajama shorts for my kids out of sheets that are worn out in the middle but still good elsewhere. You cannot beat the price of that much fabric in a single piece, they wear so well and wash beautifully. Plus, you can find them in an amazing variety of colors and patterns.
Tip 2: Duck (Tape) and Cover
A few months ago, I scored a cool, vintage sofa for FREE from a local auction house. It was leftover after a sale, and no one wanted to deal with taking it away … except me. It was in pretty good shape, except for a couple of small tears in the faux leather seat cushion, but I wasn’t worried because my throw pillows covered them. Unfortunately, I momentarily forgot I had kids. And you know what kids do? They pick at stuff. Like small tears in furniture, until they become BIG tears in furniture. Pretty soon, the dog was tripping over the gaping wounds in the fabric and no amount of strategic pillow positioning would cover them.
Enter the duct tape. Or, if you’re my son, ‘the only tool you’ll ever need’. My husband used the tape to cover all the tears and holes in the cushions. It looked … really, really bad. I mean, I had planned on making some cushion covers anyway, but I was waiting until I found just the right fabric and just the right price. Now, I was going to have to do something fast because the silver tape on the mustard yellow sofa was even uglier than the holes themselves. Also, the 5 year old started picking at the edges of the tape while he was lying on the couch watching ‘Octonauts’. Ugh.
I priced duck fabric by the yard – for heavy quality fabric (is there any other kind when it comes to kid-proof furnishings?) the cost would run about $30-50 for both cushions. Hmmm … not really in my budget after 3 birthdays in a row and this close to Christmas. And then I found, online, a canvas dropcloth … for $9.97. I could afford that.
Y’all!! It was perfect! The dropcloth washed and dried into this beautifully soft, thick fabric that made up into lovely cushion covers. Oh, they are so gorgeous and I am so anxious to get another dropcloth to make into … something. I just want to work with it again because it’s beautiful. My oldest son even asked if I would get him one to use as a summer blanket! lol
I flipped the cushions over so the taped side is on the bottom and therefore will hopefully not rub and come loose. For less than $10, I have a stylish sofa that is much softer and more comfortable than before.
Tip #3: Wrap and Hide
The same policy you employ for kids’ Christmas presents can be used on old, ugly pillows. Or new, ugly pillows. Throw pillows are quite pricey, but they add incredible warmth, character, and color to any room. What to do when you can’t afford $15 a pillow? Make your own for a lot less!
A cheap king sized pillow from Walmart (or a dollar store) costs around $8. Cut it in half and sew (or glue, if you aren’t sew-savvy) the open ends shut and you have two pillow forms for $4 each. You can purchase fabric for as little as $3 per yard at places like Walmart or Hobby Lobby (where you can use your 40% off coupon for extra savings, too!) and with a yard or two of fabric, cover both pillows.
I love making these simple, easy envelope covers – they sew together in a flash, use very little fabric and remove easily for washing and changing with the seasons. Often times, you can find polar fleece blankets for as little as $5 each (I actually found leopard print throws for $2.50 at Walmart the other day!!) and by cutting them in half, you have the perfect amount of fabric for making TWO pillow covers!
Again, if you don’t sew, you can use fabric glue – but either way, this is a phenomenal way to get custom throw pillows on a budget. If you’re crafty, you can customize your covers with all sorts of embellishments – the sky is really the limit here. The covers pictured here are ones I made for fall – I’ll be switching them out with some wintery covers I’m making from a fleece blanket I found at Old Navy for $5. I’m also thinking about getting some of the white micro-fiber cloths from Dollar Tree and stitching them together to make a soft, fuzzy cover, too. (Can you tell I love this tip??) Go crazy and make your home super cozy!
Tip #4: Add Support
We all need a little lift now and then, don’t we? Your furniture is no different. After years of
abuse wear, my little couch was looking – and feeling – like it needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, that isn’t in our budget right now.
This tip isn’t new – in fact, you’ve probably heard of it, if not used it before, already. But I’m mentioning it because it works, it’s cheap, and it is e.a.s.y. Placing a piece of plywood or some boards under your furniture cushions will help add support and prevent that ‘my couch is trying to eat me!’ feeling. We used pallet wood boards because we have a lot of them around the place, but you can use plywood, too. It’s not expensive and most lumber stores will cut the wood (or boards) for you. Even if you spend $20 on the wood … well, that’s less than a new sofa, right?
I knew our little couch was uncomfortable, but I was shocked at how much of an improvement adding the support boards made! Coupled with the next tip, it’s almost like we do have a newer piece of furniture, which is awesome!
Tip #5: Padding is a Good Thing
Adding the support boards under the cushions made a huge difference in the comfort of our little couch. But the cushions themselves were still, well, shot. After years of sitting, bouncing, fort-building – they were just not as firm or ‘cushion-y’ as they once were.
To solve the problem, as economically and easily as possibly, I knew I wasn’t going to be buying new foam and cutting new cushions. This is certainly an option, but it was too much cash and time for me – I like cheap and easy. (Which doesn’t reflect on me well, huh? lol)
Instead, I purchased a quilt batting from Walmart for around $8. I got the ‘loftiest’ bat I could find (and the cheapest) in a king size. I unrolled it, cut it length-wise down the middle so I had two ‘strips’ about the same width as my couch cushions. While the cushion covers were in the washer on gentle, I gently wrapped one strip around each cushion. I got one full wrap and a half or so from each strip of batting. When the covers were dry I carefully put the them back on the cushions … and they looked like they had been magically plumped! It was incredible!
I did this project while my husband was gone one afternoon and didn’t tell him when he came home. He noticed how different the couch looked, right away, and when he sat down, he said it was almost like sitting on a new couch! In fact, the trick worked so well on the couch, I bought another, twin size batting the next time I went to the store and used it on my chair cushion. Such a cheap and easy fix that makes a big difference!
Now, the other problem areas of this little couch were still apparent — namely, the fabric is old and tearing in some places, and, the padding on one arm is completely gone, leaving just the fabric stretched over the wooden frame. Not comfy.
I have a slip cover for the couch that will cover all the worn, faded fabric and look nice. Slip covers are a fantastic, affordable way to stretch the life of your furniture if the furniture is worn but still in decent shape. I bought mine from here. But the arm thing … well … the slip cover isn’t going to help that.
What will help, though, is this easy little fix … I carefully cut the fabric on the arm starting in the middle in both directions to make an opening about 6 inches long. Then I tucked some poly-fill into the areas where the padding had been worn away. I smoothed it all out and hand-stitched the opening shut. Once i put the slip cover on, this won’t show – only the nicely padded arm!
So. Here they are … 5 tips
that will change your life to update your furniture on a budget. I hope you will use them to make your house more comfortable and stylish, while feeling like a rockstar because you’re saving so much money! I’d love to hear from you, too – what are the problem areas in your home? Maybe together, we can solve them … and save money, too! I love that! Happy decorating, my friends!
Love & Blessings,
That Farm Mama