Natural Linen and Special Walnut

That ugly, dirty, orange thrifted sofa isn’t so ugly anymore.  Over the past week, I’ve given it a makeover and new life.


I started by removing the cushioned section from the wooden frame.  The back middle leg was loose, so I glued the plugs and clamped it overnight.  Then I started pulling away the dated fabric.


When tackling an upholstery project, I like to take pictures of pieces as I go.  If I get stuck or can’t remember how things went together, I have pictures to go by.


Back sections always go on last, so it’s the first to come off.


Followed up with the arms.


See all that nasty stuff that was stuck in the crack?  Eeew.  I also found old gum on the under side of the frame.


When I pulled the fabric off, I saw the arms were barely padded.  Underneath matching solid oak arms.  I opted to leave the arms open because I liked the look better.  A few screws, accessible from the underside hold the arms to the main frame.  I’ll skip the refinishing steps, because I didn’t really follow the rules.  Also, my hands were busy, so I couldn’t take photos.    Basically I sanded the entire frame with 220 grit paper until I was down to bare wood.  To give a rich finish, I applied one coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain, followed up with two layers of Teak Oil.


As for fabric, I fell for a natural linen.  I’ve never had linen upholstery, so I’m hoping this hold up.  If it doesn’t, I’m only out the cost of fabric and my time.  Because my fabric has a little more stretch than thicker upholstery fabrics, I decided not to sew box cushions for the back and seat.  This way, if the fabric stretches or looks saggy, I can give it a stretch without it looking strange.


I also replaced the old worn out seat foam with a 3 inch high density foam for extra padding.


Leaving the arms open is my favorite change.  With little padding, the arms weren’t soft and comfortable, so this is just a better looking version.   That’s one of the super Western and manly leather pillows Ben made, too.



Simple lines on the back are my second favorite thing about this sofa.


To keep it simple, I stapled a strip along the top for the fabric to fold over.


On the sides, I had to improvise.  I couldn’t find a tack strip to stuff the fabric into.  And nail heads looked too cluttered.  Instead I stapled along the top of the fabric, then made strips to hide the staples.


Sleek and simple with a slightly rustic look.  The crazy oak grain is fun and the linen compliments it without drawing attention.


Also, I’m not sure what main couch will stay in this room so I want a go with anything neutral.  Ben wants leather and I most like the look of the camel toned Foxtrot from Flexsteel.

Wouldn’t the camel and linen look great together?  Problem is, local stores don’t have this in stock.  We don’t know if it’s comfortable, if we like the look in person, or a price.  Clearly we still have some research to do before we can make a solid decision.

32 thoughts on “Natural Linen and Special Walnut

    1. Hi Hevel House!

      Thanks, lovely! Right?!? Totally couldn’t pass it up. And I’ve got less than $100 into it so it should leave room if I need to upholster it again down the road.


  1. I think it looks really good. I’ve had linen slipcovers and I’m not confident it will work well long-term for upholstery, but who knows? Like you said, you’re only out the $$ for fabric and your time if you have to change it.

  2. Woah, that turned out amazing! Great call on leaving the arms out, would have never thought of that. It’s seriously so beautiful and like you said, it’s neutral enough to go with whatever other sofa you pick out.

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      Thanks, lovely! After sanding the frame, I set the unfinished cushion on it and loved the open look. Luckily, it was a super easy swap because the arms were nice and only needed a few screws to keep them in place. 🙂


  3. Dude. This would sell for THOUSANDS in the West Elm catalog. Excellent work, you have succeeded in making me jealous!

  4. I’ve seen dozens of sofas reupholstered on blogs, and this is the first one that looks professional grade. Really nice call on leaving the arms bare, and the finishing touches are very smart.

    1. Hey Ameila!

      Well that just made me beam with pride. 😀 I had to improvise to keep it simple and uncluttered, but I’m so, so happy with it now.


  5. This is stunning! Oh how I envy your free time to tackle such projects. However, I still have a little love for the orange, too. Great fabric choice and great eye, as usual!

    1. Hi Trina!

      Oddly enough, Ben was actually excited for this piece. Usually he doesn’t care much either way, but he thought it was super cool.

      And I’m glad your couch purchase went well. I’m too afraid to order something without seeing/touching/sitting on/smelling it in person.


  6. The wood on this piece is actually solid elm (not oak). Elm has a beautiful “zig-zag” grain in between the main rays, where oak does not. It’s a wood that was used a lot in the past (especially on Victorian chair legs) and it isn’t used very much these days.

    1. Hi JC!!

      I hadn’t considered Elm, but after looking up pictures, I’m 99% sure you’re right! I assumed it was oak because that’s pretty common, but the graining is different. Thanks for pointing that out!! 🙂


  7. Wow. It’s amazing, and I love the changes you made to open up the arms and how you covered the staples! What a great find, and I think the leather sofa would look great with it.

    1. Thanks, Susan! The open arms make it so much better, right?! I too think a leather sofa will look nice with the simple linen and wood. Just have to find the right one.


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