In-laws and a Staple Gun.

Over four months ago (back when it was still freezing), I received a frantic text one afternoon with this image attached.

sofa before

Obviously I dropped everything, put on my tights and cape, and flew right over with my upholstery gun in hand.

Not really. I was busy. She was busy. There was no emergency. We planned a time for me to come look at the sofa and see if it was a project that we could tackle together. In a matter of two weeks. While completing a few other projects also.

It was my husband’s cousin (I’ll call her K2). They were planning to move out of state in a few weeks and she wanted to knock a few items off her to-do list before then. Made total sense to me. I always start upholstery projects when I’m moving out of state in three weeks, planning a birthday party for my son, and haven’t yet packed a single box. Duh. (No really. That’s totally me. I thought I was the only one, but nope.)

K2 grabbed the sofa off the curb during OKC’s bulk trash days. She also snatched up a couple of chairs that needed some TLC. She had a mirror she wanted to refinish, a bed frame for one of her boys that needed painting, and a cubbie-style storage unit that needed some work.

Yep. We were going to finish all those things amidst the stress of her moving. But then the move got pushed back, but not before we completed most of the projects.

finished projects purple chairs

We knocked out all of those projects in a couple of hours two different afternoons. And then the hard part…

remove fabric

We spent forever pulling staples. In the garage. In the winter. Our hands were numb! We gave up in a few spots and just ripped the fabric off. Whatever. It worked out fine. That’s where K1 comes in.

old fabric

Before we knew K2 would be in town for a few more months, we involved K1 (K2’s mom and my husband’s aunt) so this project would go a bit faster and because she loves to do piping apparently (or maybe she’s just a perfectionist or wanted to help her daughter??). Whatever the reason, we now had K1 on board which was great! She was going to do all the hard work. 🙂 She was tasked with making a new cover from all the pieces that K2 and I had removed. We were to reconvene when that was finished and put this baby back together.

Then K2’s move was pushed back so we all kinda just went on with our busy lives as normal for a while. But I got this image in a text in late March.

sofa cushion

K1 did an excellent job recovering the cushion, including piping it! She found a local upholstery shop that recovered the buttons for not much money at all just so we wouldn’t have to spend forever doing it ourselves and wearing out our thumbs with one of those little button kits.

And then another couple of months passed and it was almost time for K2 to move. We had to get this thing done. No way was I letting her leave the state with an unfinished sofa. (Or maybe she wasn’t going to let me let her leave the state with an unfinished sofa.)

I wish I had more pics, but since this was done by three people over the course of nearly five months, and since I wasn’t even present for some of it, I have very few pictures of the actual process. But I told K2 that I reserved the right to blog about it, and I think it turned out great and I’m proud of her find, so I wanted to share even without many pics.

K1 added some batting (the sofa was old and needed some more padding), which she applied using spray adhesive. That stuff works really well. Just spray the piece of furniture or existing batting and spray the new batting and stick it together. It bonds pretty much immediately, so put it on straight the first time.

Someday I’ll reupholster something and explain the process better. At this juncture in time, we had a house full of antsy boys (she has three also) and wanted to finish before dinner (I didn’t even go over until after we finished school). So we only had a few hours and we had lots of work to do. I didn’t take many pictures. They claimed to be standing around while I did all the work, but that’s ridiculous! I was in control of the gun, but they had already done the hardest work.

remove arm panel unfinished arm attach arm panel

We pretty much just did the reverse of the removal process. We stapled the fabric back on and nailed the arm covers on. How’s that for a quick explanation? Ha.

tuck fabric bottom side

So glad K1 insisted on the piping. It looks great, and notice that the pattern on the cushion lines up with the pattern on the sofa perfectly.


The fabric was a steal at only $2/yard. I think the final total was around six yards. So that’s $12, plus $42 to have the buttons covered, upholstery strips, spray adhesive, and batting. Maybe another $3 in staples. Not bad for a custom sofa. Plus my $300 in labor. 😉 And I think K2 owes her mom at least that.

I’ll be honest, it was sometimes a three-cooks-in-the-kitchen kinda thing. I’ve covered a few different arm chairs before, but never fully reupholstered a sofa. And this one had a curved back and rolled arms that added to the difficulty. K1 was excellent with the sewing parts, but also had never done any reupholstery, nor had K2. So we didn’t really have an expert to advise us. We were kinda just making it up as we went along (which is how I’ve learned most things, but when it’s someone else’s item, y’know…you don’t want to mess it up).

Some of us are OCD and one of us is not. (I’ll not mention names, but it starts with a K and ends with a 2.) We discussed different ways of going about it and didn’t always agree. We made some mistakes. We had to pull out some staples and readjust some things.

pull staples

We aren’t professionals, but ultimately K2 let us be OCD and she ended up with a great sofa for super cheap. She is going to repay me with room and board and babysitting when we come visit her in her new, fun city. She just doesn’t know it yet.

sofa after

K1 and K2 are pretty amusing. They have different approaches to things almost always. They’re sometimes just fun to listen to. 😉 Seriously though, I really lucked out in the in-law department. Not only do I adore my mother-in-law, I even like her siblings and their kids. Lucky me! Now if I could just talk them out of this sofa.


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