How to revamp your tired-looking couch

Has your sofa seen better days? These expert tips will help breathe new life into your slouched couch and give you the info to make the best choice for your household the next time around.

Years of little feet, dirty paws, toast crumbs and drool (whether that’s your fur baby’s or your own), will have an impact on the appearance of your couch. After a while, it’s natural for the hero of your living space to start looking a little worse for wear.

Here to help your sofa see in the next decade are interior stylists Jessi Deakin and Sarah Yarrow from bohemian styling studio, Black Arrow Co.

What’s the most-durable sofa fabric?

There are many factors you need to take into account when choosing your sofa fabric: Do you have pets? How naturally lit is your space? How clumsy are you, really?

Ask yourself these questions before making your living room’s biggest investment, to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Of course, some fabrics are more durable than others and each has a varying life expectancy. Here, Sarah and Jessi break it down.

Soft furnishings can detract from a lacklustre sofa. Picture: Black Arrow Co.

Leather couch – 10+ years

This really depends on the leather. For example, an aniline leather couch (while it’s the most raw and beautiful of the leather types) is far more susceptible to wear and tear than a fully treated/coated leather couch. A coated or pigmented leather couch is both pet and kid friendly and it can be wiped down easily, so it lasts for decades!

Linen couch – 10+ years

This is often due to the fact that many linen couches are slip-cover couches. This means you can remove the covers and wash them, for many years to come. Be sure to get them cleaned by a professional, though, or else you risk your covers shrinking. Linen is also highly resistant to pilling and fading.

Microfibre – 10+ years

A forgiving fabric thanks to its durable texture, microfibre couches are easily cleaned and maintained. This means they’re pet and child-friendly, too.

We love TV cuddles with our fur babies, but pets will impact your couch’s look. Picture: Local Capture

Velvet couch – 5+ years

Velvet is not the most forgiving of fabrications for upholstery. While it looks and feels beautiful, it’s more of a challenge to maintain. Marks and spills require steam cleaning and a sofa that receives high traffic will see wear and tear much sooner than a leather or linen option. Velvet fabric can also stretch out of shape and sag faster than other fabrics.

Wool couch – 5+ years

A wool blend is always going to be easier to maintain than a 100% wool couch – which can be very hard to clean. It’s not ideal for pets.

RelatedHow to disguise couch rips and tears

What makes a sofa appear ‘tired’?

While wear and tear will naturally occur during your sofa’s life, Jessi and Sarah agree a lack of regular cleaning and maintenance will bring about the first, and most obvious, signs of distress.

“Couches begin to look tired when they aren’t regularly looked after. A quick vacuum every week or two to get rid of crumbs, pet hair and dust will make a huge difference.

“Also, attending to spills as they occur will give your fabric the best chance of a smooth recovery. Other factors such as pet scratches or chew marks, kids’ marker stains and fading in areas due to direct sunlight can make a couch look like it’s in need of a revamp.”

A regularly maintained couch is a happy couch. Picture: Few and Far

5 ways to revamp your couch

1. Give it a deep clean

Be clear on which cleaning methods are appropriate for your fabric type, then implement them to improve the condition of your couch. This may require a professional, but believe us when we say it’s well worth it.

2. Decorate it

If you’ve given your sofa a good clean and there are still signs of imperfections, add some colourful, patterned or textured cushions and a throw. Not only will this help cover any problem areas, but it’ll also distract the eye from the couch itself.

3. Plump the cushions

Give them a good massage to move the filling around and get it looking less ‘lived in’ and more alive! If you have cushions that detach from the frame of the couch and are covered in the same upholstery front and back, you can flip them over to give your couch a whole new lease on life.

4. Customise it

If your sofa is sporting any dated features, such as a skirt, removing it to show the legs will make the couch feel much more contemporary. Even adding a button press detail to saggy back cushions, or studs to the arms will make a huge improvement and impact.

5. Reupholster

If all else fails and you can’t stand the thought of parting with your couch, get it reupholstered in a new fabric for a complete visual refresh. If it’s the timber legs that your cat has torn to shreds, you could either replace them or sand them back for a smooth finish.

Adding buttons or studs can make a huge difference. Picture: Go Modern Furniture

Jessi and Sarah’s tips for helping your couch survive and thrive!

  • Educate yourself on how to care for your couch properly based on your fabric type. Find out the products and methods you can and can’t use to clean it when accidents occur. Have the appropriate products on hand and ready to spring into action.
  • Consider ways to protect your couch from direct sunlight day to day. Whether it’s with window dressings, or covering it with a throw if it gets hammered by the sun.
  • Get your couch professionally cleaned every year or so.
  • Keep pets off it (although… who can resist a furry snuggle on the couch after a long day? Not us!)

Originally published as How to revamp your tired-looking couch by Katie Skelly.