How To: “Reupholster” Your Couch

Creighton’s dad bought this couch in June 1991 at IKEA in Heidelberg, Germany:


He reupholstered it in 2002.

After 11 years, it desperately needed another facelift.


We had been shamefully hiding it under this Auburn blanket.

Because we are cheap frugal and hipsterish crafty, we decided not to buy a new couch from Haverty’s that I would have loved but would have cost an entire paycheck. Or this one from West Elm, despite my best efforts.

So, if you’re trying to take the cover off of your couch so you can dye it and maybe have a cleaner, better looking couch (i.e., some sort of improvised reupholstery), here’s what you need:

  • A couch with current ugly upholstery that comes off in one piece — or you can adapt the steps below for multiple pieces because most couches these days have CUSHIONS. (Ours didn’t.)DSCN0476
  • Scratch awl and hammer (optional)
  • Dye that you can use in a washing machine (three to four bottles; you can find it at a fabric/hobby store; we used this stuff, liquid)
  • Washing machine
  • Broom handle that you don’t mind potentially dying your chosen color (optional)
  • Gloves (latex; optional)
  • Batting (found in the back of fabric stores near the quilting section)
  • Low-temp or multi-temp hot glue gun (or sewing machine)
  • Staple gun and upholstery staples (not optional, but a normal staple gun and normal staples may work fine)
  • A plethora of patience and flexibility

And here are some steps:

  1. Strip the couch. We used a scratch awl and a hammer to get underneath the upholstery staples and pry them off. Quick story about scratch awls: When my grandfather first started losing his mind, one Christmas he asked for nothing but a scratch awl. We never figured out why, but a) they’re designed for scratching metal (so they’re sharp) and b) he was 90. It’s also wise to remember how the couch cover fits on; that will be important later.DSCN0473
  2. If you plan on reusing the couch cover that you’re taking off, don’t cut, rip or tear it.DSCN0470
  3. Cut out any excess batting that is attached to the couch cover, if any.
  4. Choose a dye color. You’ll need a lot of dye. We consciously decided on one bottle too few, and our “scarlet” came out “salmon.” (But we’re OK with it.)
  5. Wash the couch cover in your washing machine with regular detergent. Run it on a cold cycle to minimize shrinking as much as possible.
  6. When the couch cover is still wet, fill the washing machine with fresh water from a new cycle, and add the dye and salt according to the directions on your bottle of dye. We used a liquid dye that gave specific washing machine instructions — do that.

  7. Add the couch cover to the dye and agitate with the washing machine lid open. Don’t let the water in your washing machine drain until you have agitated the fabric for the specified amount of time on your bottle of dye. We used a broom handle to swirl the couch cover around a lot. We didn’t want to dye our entire forearms as well, so I’d also recommend gloves during this part of the process.DSCN0482
  8. Shut the lid to the washing machine and allow it to carry out the rest of its normal cycle.
  9. Once that cycle is complete, wash the now-dyed couch cover in a normal run.
  10. You may also want to run the washing machine through another cycle with nothing in it except bleach and detergent. We didn’t experience any problems with future laundry loads getting dyed red, and this is a good precautionary measure especially if you’re already nervous about unloading bottles of bright red dye in there.
  11. Air dry the couch cover to minimize any shrinking, and trim any loose threads.
  12. Sew in or attach a new batting liner. We did this by hand using a low-temp hot glue gun, but it was fairly time-consuming. Sewing by hand would have been far worse.
  13. Refit the couch cover onto the couch frame. Before you do that, though, you may want to the opportunity to get some fresh springs/coils/bands for the inner guts of your couch. We didn’t.DSCN0469
  14. Using a staple gun and reupholstery staples, staple the couch cover back on to the couch, remembering the way you took it off and being careful not to rip any seams.

Y’all, we ripped some seams. Despite our best efforts, our couch cover did in fact shrink in the wash and with the new layer of batting, and I thought that was it. Game over, let’s go buy the $1K couch or even a $400 one from IKEA. But, Creighton’s basically MacGyver, so: improvisation. We cut a patch out of the back side of the cover near the floor, and sewed that as a patch between the two ripped seams on the front to give it a little more stretching room as we shoved the couch back inside.

It ended up looking awesome, and now we have a pretty cool pink couch that adds an arresting splash of color to our living room.


The Burn

Creighton and I are back in Auburn for the weekend with some friends. I forgot how strange this little college town was.

Last weekend I went to Mobile to get some shit done for the wedding. My sister and mom are really taking the reins on planning. It’s going to be gorgeous. I think the less I’m involved with the details, the better. We visited the venue, and I was so pleased with it. Creighton and I also picked a song. We are in love and all that.

Love is weird. The idea of marriage is weirder. That’s a lazy thing to say, I know. On the one hand, it’s everything I thought it might be as a child whenever I thought about it, which was seldom. But I had envisioned it once — a stranger to me then, I knew what I wanted my “future husband” to feel like. Or I knew the feeling I wanted to gain from a future husband. But saying it like that sounds like I believe in this notion of soulmate or something, and I never did. I never imagined there would just be this one person who walked into my life and just changed it for me. And he didn’t, but he felt right. And maybe there are a handful of other people who could be that for me and I just met him first and we adjusted so we could start from the ground up together. I just don’t know how people meet that person — I don’t know what to tell single people other than it happened for me, not magically but practically, and it’s happened to other people before. What is the point of living if you can’t wake up one day and find yourself vulnerable to love? Well, I’m in the camp that there is no point in living in any case, but love sure as hell makes it more bearable.

Busy Summer

Things we are doing right now:

  • Dying the couch: We stripped the upholstery last weekend, are going to wash it, dye it, and find a way to put it back on with some new batting. Right now, the couch is sort of torn apart and this big foam bench in my living room. Pretty fun.
  • Brewing beer: Well, we aren’t actually doing this yet, but I’m starting my first batch Saturday.
  • Training for a triathlon: I’ve been swimming every morning and we bike pretty frequently, so I signed up for a triathlon in October. I’m excited but also terrified. We bought crazy bike shorts and are going to start more long-distance biking. I feel this weird impulsive urge to tell EVERYONE I KNOW so they can marvel at how awesome and athletic and brave I am.
  • Planning for Thailand: We are going to Bangkok in September. Uh, yes. And we are staying in Cambodia for a night and visiting Angkor Wat. What? Yes.
  • Planning a trip to Auburn: August 10 & 11
  • Planning a camping trip: Labor Day weekend
  • Trying to get to New York so we can bring home The Van: this one is all on Creighton
  • Getting involved with AAF Greenville: I’m going to be the Communications Chair. Hell yes.
  • Planning, like, a wedding

So like two months ago I said we would have some details to share about the venue, but you can (finally) check it out here. It’s going to be awesome, y’all. I’m flying down to Mobile the first weekend in August to see it and to start answering some of the “tougher” questions about my wedding. Like, I know literally zero about wedding flowers.

Pick Your Fav

My Beef with “Bridezilla”

Here’s the truth: I never wanted to get married.

Something about the word “wife” makes my skin crawl. Something about wedding cake turns normal, sane independent women into teary-eyed clingy monster girls with no sense of self-identity or sexual drive.

Something about wedding porn made me seriously quiver whenever I tried to calmly browse through the stacks of wedding magazines at the salon or the place where I got my nails did once.

Plus, it’s so feminine, gawdy and expensive.

But you meet the right person, and …


Here’s the truth:

My wedding is one year and one day away.

I have been engaged for 364 days already.

I am ready — finally, maybe — to get this shit moving.


Here’s the truth:

I never thought I would be a bridezilla. I’m much to realistic for that.

But I’m already starting to feel like one.


When you’re planning a wedding, part of you knows you aren’t planning this for you. You’re planning it for your family and friends, so they can experience for a couple of hours your love — and nurture it. But things start to happen to your brain, and everybody wants something or envisions something, and the venues just want to squeeze the maximum dollar value out of you possible. And honestly, I’m embarrassed by it all, by the pressure and attention and the value I’m finding I really do place on this silly party.

I am reminded of when I was young, and I hated when the waiters would circle around our dinner table on the night of my birthday and sing their variation of “Happy Birthday,” and usually I would cry because I hated the attention and the whole restaurant staring at me and I also wanted it so badly and was embarrassed for wanting it …


But it can make you feel sort of isolated.


I know I am not doing this alone — I have a fabulous, patient fiance; a generous, wonderful mother; a brilliant, amazing sister/wedding coordinator; and the best Maid of Honor in the world.

But I can’t help cringing inside when I allow myself to be excited or overdramatic or neurotic like I am, or let my guard down — my facade of “I don’t care.”

And I hate the term “Bridezilla.” It just adds to that embarrassing isolation, doesn’t it?


(Even though it may occasionally be totally apt.)


Sometimes When We Touch …

This is how it is:

Sometimes you love a person.

jigsaw puzzle Greenville SC

Sometimes you do puzzles together.

jigsaw puzzle face

Sometimes you do puzzles with friends.

Sometimes you feel old.

Sometimes you take naps.

Sometimes you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Sometimes you purchase $30-worth of produce from a local grocery shop.

Sometimes that means you eat kale, turnips, collards, Carolina sweet onions, green onions, rainbow chard, beets, cabbage and radishes.

Sometimes you look up creative recipes for these vegetables you have no idea how to cook.

Sometimes they turn out great.

Sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes you buy a whole coconut and try to open it on a Sunday morning, and that turns out to be a disaster.

Sometimes you spend so much time playing racquetball and swimming and walking to the library and stopping for coffee and wishing it was warmer and talking about going backpacking that you forget how many weeks have gone by since you checked out that backpacking book from the library.

Sometimes you take naps.

Sometimes you do things together, but not really together.

Sometimes you have company over.

Sometimes you go snow tubing on Moonshine Mountain in North Carolina.

Sometimes you get drunk.

Sometimes you spend too much money.

Sometimes you buy awesome boots.

awesome-ass boots

Sometimes you are so happy.

Sometimes you worry about dying — or worse, him dying and you having to live through that and meet someone new and start over and detangle the mess of a life he leaves behind.

Sometimes you think about praying that that won’t happen.

Sometimes you think about your wedding, and you start planning silly things even though it’s still more than a year away.

Sometimes you wear protective goggles into a bar and really pull it off.

Sometimes things are just awesome.

wearing safety googles in a bar like a badass

Us at Blu Martini


So, Creighton and I bought a slow cooker. Slow cookers are awesome because you come home and BAM. Dinner. Slow cookers suck because you have to make everything the night before … and by “you” I mean “I.”

A side effect of our new slow cooker ownership is soup. We made a chicken enchilada soup that was only sort of OK. Yesterday, I made a ham and bean soup that was better — but I have not achieved soup nirvana.

However, for your viewing pleasure:

navy bean and ham slow cooker soup recipe

purple slow cooker from Sam's

veggies for white bean and ham slow cooker soup

You got some carrots, some onions, some celery, some garlic, some olive oil …

slow cooker ham and white bean soup


ladybug Greenville SC