March 23rd, 2011

Super fresh sofa. Still steaming.

I’ve been working with some fabulous clients and helping put together their incredible desert home. Just thought I’d preview a recent sofa project since its roots are quite thrifty, and frankly, I’m obsessed with sofas.


The sofa came from a local thrift store and with its original grungy/filthy crushed velvet upholstery it looked a hot mess…

…but it had curves and comfort and was the perfect scale and shape for the intended living room…



Reborn as a red hybrid baby of a Toga and a Chesterfield, this thang is all modern and all comfortable – a bona fide TV viewing hang out snuggle up and down sofa.

For some reason my pics are making it look like super crazy neon red, but it’s actually a more toned down rusty red-orange in person. That desert sun, it’s bright – I’m telling you.

Total cost wise it was commensurate with a nice Ikea sofa and cheaper than the big decor stores like West Elm or Room&Board. Plus, this thing is built like a freaking tank, is totally unique and the hardwood frame will last forever. I just thought this idea was something to mention when folks pass on vintage sofas because the upholstery is a gross mess. It might be worth investing a few hundred extra dollars to get it recovered so that you can incorporate something totally unique into your pad.

Things are chugging along with the design projects and I can’t wait to show off more completed spaces as they get finalized. Trust me, it will blow up your face – that’s how good this stuff is coming along.

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  1. anne b. on 03/23/2011:

    that sofa looks so relieved.

  2. Jo on 03/23/2011:

    Holy snaps! That’s an AMAZING transformation! That took some real vision!

  3. Lori on 03/23/2011:

    I love love love that sofa. Are you ever worried about bed bugs with all these used furniture pieces?

  4. Blandwagon on 03/23/2011:

    The new fabric shows off the lines and the detailing so much better! It’s awesome.

  5. simone on 03/23/2011:

    Like the sofa very much. It’s fantastic!!! And it looks so comfortable!!!

  6. Brismod on 03/23/2011:

    Your philosophy regarding vintage is great. The sofa has an amazing shape and you’ve given it another, more attractive, life. x

  7. Romana on 03/23/2011:

    that sofa is crazy! I love how you can see the great shapes more clearly now, awesome!

  8. Curator on 03/23/2011:

    Love the orange!!!!

    Can’t wait to see the rest.

  9. Mr. Goodwill Hunting on 03/23/2011:

    Really amazing piece. The color adds so much life all by itself.

    I dont know how anyone can see this and not feel happy.

    I am still dreaming about the light fixture you scored.

    Went on 1st Dibs & saw the $1800 price tag.

    Whooomp Whoomp.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  10. Libby on 03/23/2011:

    that sofa is GORGEOUS. seriously i want that in my house so bad i can hardly stand it. good call on the orange!

  11. If you’d told me it was vintage Ligne Roset, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

    I bow to your sourcing prowess.

  12. Dan @ Manhattan Nest on 03/23/2011:

    WOW. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW. Looks incredible! As does everything else we can see going on in the room!

  13. Annie Bleecker on 03/23/2011:

    What material is the toned down rusty orange?

  14. Florian on 03/23/2011:

    Fabulous! Who would have thought that thing had such LINES? Not really my colour, but it isn’t for me, is it? How could you have known, it would be such a transition? I mean, look at that velvety horror! But, come on, do tell, how much did you guys pay?

  15. bri@me you and a wiener on 03/23/2011:

    Holy shit that is best after picture on a piece of furniture I have seen in a long time. Wow. Best EVER.

  16. Ashley on 03/23/2011:

    Amen to the power of reupholstery. Looks fantastic.

  17. L on 03/23/2011:

    Fantabulous! Your eye should be insured with Lloyd’s.

    BTW, “it was commiserate with a nice Ikea sofa” I think you meant “commensurate”. (I’d be commiserating with that nice Ikea sofa feeling left out by the gorgeousness of your thrifty find, too.)

  18. Heather on 03/23/2011:

    amazing–a lot of times when I see reupholstery, I kind of think, well, okay. But this one? I NEVER would have seen such potential in the “before.” I’m impressed!

  19. Carlina on 03/23/2011:

    I’ve been following this site for a while now and had to chime in β€” Oh my freakin’ head! that’s gorgeous. I keep telling the man we need to move out west so I can find some thrifty goodness of my own, but then I might be in trouble cuz I have a couch/chair problem of my own and I’m only in New England, something I could deal with but my man might go cuckoo for coco puffs. Can’t wait to see the full room.

  20. Cheryl on 03/23/2011:

    That is incredible. So inviting!

  21. coletta on 03/23/2011:

    PRICE. we wants prices on here please!
    cost of couch.
    cost to reupholster

  22. rivka on 03/23/2011:

    Yes! Would love to see the entire job you did here. That is a gorgeous sofa! I never would have been able to see past the surface, but that’s what makes you- you. Is that maryam montaque mymarrakesh moroccan rug?

  23. Jennifer on 03/23/2011:

    This is insane and I am green (or maybe rusty-orange) with envy! Sadly, upholstery in NYC ain’t cheap (and my fear of bedbugs precludes me from even attempting it)…

  24. Jennifer on 03/23/2011:

    Oh, and can you share the fabric also? Looks so cushy.

  25. Love it! I’m rather obsessed with reupholstering vintage finds right now. This is great inspiration and a good reminder to look past the fabric.

  26. Tim Young on 03/23/2011:

    Wow, looks great! Who did the re-upholstering?

  27. Jen@BloggersAbode on 03/23/2011:

    I’m kinda diggin’ the “super-fly” look of the before. All it needed was some purple accent pillows. What an awesome couch. Good job!!

  28. pam on 03/23/2011:


  29. Jules on 03/23/2011:

    Every time I see a bit of another room you are working on, I worry my room will be the blight on your portfolio!

  30. ella on 03/23/2011:


  31. Anne Furr on 03/23/2011:

    Great color, great design, but that sofa cost more than a few f hundred to upholster. Year ago I took a couple of upholstery class and came away with a new appreciate for the craft.

  32. THE BRICK HOUSE on 03/23/2011:

    Oh Jules, you’re nuts, your place is going to be fabulous.

    Tim, he’s not local to you, Neff’s in Riverside is good though.

    Cost wise, it’s not my cash so I don’t feel comfortable with specifics. But just think about it, you can get a thrift store couch from anywhere from $50-$500, but normally around $200. Reupholstering can cost anywhere from $400 – $1000 depending on how complicated or big or the foam situation, and then fabric is a whole other story…you can spend a fortune on like Knoll Textiles or get some nice linen on sale for like $4 a yard. Sofas need 10-15 or more yards depending on the size.

    Get a couple quotes, its never going to be free, but it might end up being more affordable than buying new.

  33. Suzy8track on 03/23/2011:

    Holy crap! That sofa is beyond fabulous! Love the orange color used!

  34. annie-san on 03/23/2011:

    This was a stroke of genius! I am in MAD LOVE with that couch. Looks so comfy. Going to go look for some crushed velvet plushness in my local thrifty haunts from now on.

  35. Arin on 03/23/2011:


  36. Robyn on 03/23/2011:

    I Want that sofa SOOO Badly.

  37. my little apartment on 03/23/2011:

    omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg omg

  38. northern lights on 03/23/2011:

    hot damn. i just burned my sofa to the ground because of this.

  39. modernhaus on 03/23/2011:

    I can overlook a lot…but I don’t know if I could have seen past that crushed velvet like you did.

    In fact, I don’t think I could have seen at ALL for a few minutes after looking at it πŸ˜‰

  40. ACCORDINGTOMOI on 03/23/2011:

    I have been obsessing over vintage sofas lately and have been diligently scouting craigslist with no luck. Refuse to buy a new one for the space and am dreaming of the day I find one with a good shape so I can do the same! Thanks for the inspiration and eye candy this morning!

  41. Lisa on 03/23/2011:

    Morgan, you are a visionary! Your thrifty prowess enhances my life!

  42. Erin on 03/23/2011:

    Thank you for opening my eyes to the amazing possibilities regarding reupholstering…
    Any tips when looking for someone to do the work? Things to make sure they can do? Any kind of sofa to stay away from that reupholstering would be a nightmare?


  43. katie on 03/23/2011:

    The before pic looks like a dirty Sharpei. I like @modernhaus, I don’t know if I could have seen past that. Awesome job! Love the result.

  44. ben smithson on 03/23/2011:


  45. Jackie on 03/23/2011:

    Pass the popcorn

  46. Megan@Shelterrific on 03/23/2011:

    Just send it on up to Seattle. I already have too much orange furniture, but I’d start over for this baby. Love the color, the lines, EVERYTHING.

  47. Kimberj on 03/23/2011:

    You are a girl after my own heart! Every sofa we have is a mid cent gem reborn with new upholstery. I could never have talked the hubs into that gorgeous color (he’s mister neutral) but we’ve seen good lines under butt ugly fabric and made them whole again. We got a fabulous chair and sofa for $5 each and bought the fabric at a store closing. Spent less than $600 total for both, including furniture/fabric/labor. The upholsterer tried to buy the chair to send to a client in Manhattan! Gotta love that πŸ™‚

  48. molly on 03/23/2011:

    Holy %$#^! That sofa looks %^#%# fantastic!

  49. avimom on 03/23/2011:

    Also, remember the re-upholstery costs usually include new webbing, springs, ties, down, foam, etc. The whole insides of the piece are brand-new and you get to pick EXACTLY the fabric you want. I love my upholsterer.

  50. lz on 03/23/2011:

    THE best sofa makeover ever seen to date. bravo. love that little marble topped coffee table peeking out…

  51. jennifer in sf on 03/23/2011:

    Wow. Seriously, looking at the before all I can see is a hot, heinous mess. But it’s so freaking awesome now!

  52. MidCenturyHome on 03/23/2011:

    It’s really cool!
    A Chesterfield Pop Edition! Great idea…but not for all kind of spaces as well…
    Around here the prices for a new upholstery are crazy but sometimes, like this one, it can worths it πŸ˜‰


  53. THE BRICK HOUSE on 03/23/2011:

    I got the OK to break down the costs:

    Couch: $250
    Reupholster: $600
    Fabric: Robert Allen – Oh my Woven in Ginger (wholesale at $25 a yard. It took 17 yards): $450

    Total: $1300

    Also, the couch is 8.5 feet long – its a big one.

  54. Beck's Chic Life on 03/23/2011:

    What an amazing redo, and the price is awesome! I totally agree with you about older pieces holding up like a tank. Thinks were just built better way back when. I don’t think I will ever buy a new significant piece of furniture again…

  55. Karen on 03/23/2011:

    Long time lurker, first time commenter. Amazing make-over. Appreciate your incredible eye, as well as your generousity in sharing the details – I know it can be a touchy subject.

  56. Christine on 03/23/2011:

    Wow, I’m loving that shade of red. That’s a fantastic transformation!

  57. chairsmith on 03/23/2011:

    Ding dong delighful!

  58. Lunaluna on 03/23/2011:

    yowza! Super hot!

  59. sopatel2000 on 03/23/2011:

    I’m really having a hard time finding an upholsterer in my area. Everytime I google, I either get a dry cleaner are a car body shop. Is there a way to find one in my area?

  60. Alice@AliceinDesignland on 03/23/2011:

    Saving that couch definitely took vision, not many folks could have seen its promise. For $1300 the homeowners definitely got major bang for their buck.

  61. Central-Portugal on 03/23/2011:

    Totally awesome! Someone has a great eye.

  62. Elizabeth on 03/23/2011:

    my God that is good.

  63. Ilissa on 03/23/2011:

    Just Brilliant!

  64. Megan on 03/23/2011:

    Oh god yes.
    That couch is wonderful.

  65. alice on 03/23/2011:

    totally agree – redo a vintage couch before you head to a big-box store!! this is hot.

  66. mady on 03/23/2011:

    what a fabulous transformation, i am totally in love… i am still looking for the perfect couch without spending too much money.

  67. Samara@ metalista jewelry on 03/24/2011:

    I love it! I always see sofas at the thrifts for around 200 but I do get scared about bed bugs. I love the red orange + I’ve always dreamed of owning one of those Moroccan rugs.

  68. Coletta on 03/24/2011:

    THANK YOU for putting the total costs.

    Also….as much as I dig this couch…it ain’t got nothing on your striped one that I dream about every night!


  69. susie on 03/24/2011:

    So amazing! Just fabulous! You’re a genius!

  70. Lesa on 03/24/2011:

    Love it…looks so bloody comfortable

  71. Sarah on 03/24/2011:

    When you die, they should study your brain. Or upholster it in mid-century fabric.

  72. Lee on 03/24/2011:

    Sha Zam is right, Dude, you are a genius.
    Very bril.

  73. Julie @ Chapman Interiors on 03/24/2011:

    Yessssssss I love potential + motivation = radicalness. Because my garage is full of ‘potentials’ that i haven’t been motivated to actually DO it yet… hot hot hot.

  74. Gwen on 03/24/2011:

    looks like they are loving your couch transformation over at Apartment Therapy too……..

  75. Chad @ First Born Vintage on 03/24/2011:

    That sofa is BANANAS!

  76. Danielle {fresh quince} on 03/25/2011:

    Holy crap…that is incredible! Totally can’t wait to see the finished results, but hoping they won’t blow up my face ;). Seriously you’ve got mad style!

  77. Justin on 03/25/2011:

    looks incredible, love it. nice work!

  78. Pistachio on 03/25/2011:

    That looks fantastic. Great before and after!!

  79. erin@designcrisis on 03/25/2011:

    I am renaming that couch “Hot Shit.”

  80. Alex on 03/25/2011:

    Love the orange =)

  81. carol on 03/26/2011:

    wow. wow. wow. that looks freaking amazing. it’s great to see the transformation of great reupholstering. fantastic.

  82. Josh on 03/26/2011:

    I cringed when I saw this pop up on Apartment Therapy. I knew they’d find some way to turn it into a controversy. Sigh.

  83. The brick house on 03/26/2011:

    Yeah, well, no one asked me if they could repost this. I feel that without context some folks may not get what’s up and make some wrong assumptions. And they did, but the sofa is still rad but defiantly not for everyone.

  84. Tonia on 03/27/2011:

    Orange Rust whatever the color!!! It’s hot!!

  85. Deb on 03/27/2011:

    Gorgeous! I’m not sure I could have seen past that godawful “fabric” that was seemingly sprouting live from the original, but I’m particularly myopic that way. I had a picture of a sofa from a magazine in my “WANT!” files for ten years, dreaming of the day I might find something like it. Only to FINALLY realize I had the exact same sofa in my basement – the same sofa that sat in my parent’s living room the entire time I lived at home, but dressed in an indestructible and very-boring taupe brocade instead of the canopy black and white stripe of the sofa of my dreams.

  86. laguna dirt on 03/27/2011:

    thanks for being a design pioneer in allowing us mcm junkies to include some comfy, commodious, cushy furniture in the mix–and which looks beyond amazing, too!

  87. Anne Hj on 03/27/2011:

    Love love love love love this. Great job.

  88. emily henderson on 03/27/2011:

    that is unbelievable. i love it more than ketchup.

  89. David on 03/27/2011:

    No way. Is it really the same sofa? It looks completely resurrected. The original skin was poor, however. The new one is brilliant!

  90. Nina on 03/28/2011:

    what an awesome transformation!!! love the color.

    the before picture reminds me of a giant turd πŸ˜‰ am i allowed to say that? this is my first comment on your blog and i don’t want to be rude or anything πŸ™‚

  91. Lucy on 04/01/2011:

    MORGAN. This is the greatest. Thank you for consistently bringing it.

  92. saara on 04/01/2011:

    wow, thatsΒ΄s lovely!

  93. Sarah on 04/02/2011:

    Anyone want a sofa like that in Austin, TX? Just found this on Craigslist.

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