Asked on May 06, 2014

Ideas for this vintage outdoor couch

by Sarah
This outdoor couch belonged to my grandparents. I am not sure how old it is. My guess would be late 60s - early 70s. I have painted the frame, but the cushions need to be replaced or recovered, otherwise it is in great shape. I had someone quote recovering the cushions and it was going to be $500 plus materials. I can't afford that. Does anyone have any ideas? Thank you!
q ideas for this vintage outdoor couch, outdoor furniture, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling
q ideas for this vintage outdoor couch, outdoor furniture, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling
  88 answers
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 07, 2014
    You can put pre-made chair cushions on the bottom and back and then fill in with a stand up pillow type cushions on each end to take up any left over space. Just measure careful and take it from there. Then throw pillows would add a finished look! You don't have to spend a fortune. WalMart or Target should be able to get this fitted out for under $100!

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 07, 2014
      @Sarah Not being as deep means that cushions for dining chairs should fit nicely...then add a couple of fat square pillows at each end!

  • Z Z on May 07, 2014
    Can you sew at all Sarah?

    • See 7 previous
    • Phyllis Elliott Phyllis Elliott on Jun 26, 2017
      You can actually paint furniture now indoor or outdoor .

  • Toni Teague Toni Teague on May 07, 2014
    I think something in more of an outdoorsy type of material would look good. You need to pick out a thick canvas type material. I can see a stripe of colors like brown, oranges and tans. You could make the side pillows out of large flowers in coordinating colors. Or use stripes and flowers or even use solid colored pillows in coordinating colors. Check either JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts or Hancock Fabrics. Both companies have on line ordering. If you sign up on line or in the store you can usually get 40 percent off of your fabric not on sale. They always have sales of 30-50 per cent off. Check them out. You could sew oblong cushions for the bottom seat and back cusion. Then make stips of the same material to tie them onto the couch. To make removeable you could use the overfold method in the back much like shams are made on your bed sets.. That way they covers can be removed and washed or changed out with the seasons. If you don't feel creative check Big Lots or Odd Lots they usually have a good selection of covers at a discounted price. Also Wal Mart is always and option. Happy Hunting......

    • Sarah Sarah on May 07, 2014
      @Toni Teague I am not very confident in my sewing skills, but I like the idea of a cover of sorts. The cushions are odd sizes, so I am not sure how much luck I will have finding something that will fit, but I am not afraid of modifying as needed. Thank you for your ideas!

  • Lena Campbell Lena Campbell on May 07, 2014
    Barter with someone who can sew. I'm sure you have another skill like babysitting or running errands or various other things to offer as a barter. Do a FB search for a local sewing group or ask friends they can point you to someone and then strike a deal you can live with.

  • Carol King-ricca Carol King-ricca on May 07, 2014
    Consider painting the cushions with chalk paint. Tutiorials are on line. Wonderful piece.

  • Nancy Kimbrough Nancy Kimbrough on May 07, 2014
    Paint ???? I have seen designers on TV paint fabric.

  • Nikkimaloy Nikkimaloy on May 07, 2014
    hi. don't cover those cushions they're in very poor shape and are lumpy and old. go buy some new cushions. and for the top, sew the new cushions together to make a long piece. then curve the edges by sewing the same curve from the current top cushion. then just cover the edges with edging. good luck

  • LeAnn Butcher Botts LeAnn Butcher Botts on May 07, 2014
    Try taking the material apart at the seams if possible and make your own pattern. Should be basic sewing skills to put back together. And add some new foam cut to size.

  • Nikkimaloy Nikkimaloy on May 07, 2014
    if you google cushion edging, you'll get lotsa pretty ideas, like this one:

  • SandyG SandyG on May 07, 2014
    I was thinking pre-made also. Might take some looking to find something that will fit.

  • Mimi Schumaker Mimi Schumaker on May 07, 2014
    usually when someone quotes you a high price like that, it means they really don't want to do the work. the work involved in recovering the original cushions is tedious. you could get a second opinion to recover them, or find someone to just make new ones for you.

  • Simone Royston Simone Royston on May 07, 2014
    Could you cover it in clear PVC? That way you'll keep the original pattern. Something that will mold into shape with a heat source. A bit 'out there' but it could work!

  • Diane B Diane B on May 07, 2014
    some very good suggestions here. I think this sofa is actually closer to the 50 and 60's. I seem to remember one when I was a teen ( in the 60's) on the back porch of someone I baby sat for. Its beautiful. I hope it works out and please post finished photos.

  • Diane Wilson Diane Wilson on May 07, 2014
    I wonder if you can find something through a camper or cottage supply store. It looks like it is about as thick as a camper mattress would be.

  • Kim325757 Kim325757 on May 07, 2014
    I covered mine with thin foam on top to hide buttons etc...then fabric and straight pins only...all on underside...i change the outdoor fabric for holidays too. Works for me.

  • Tish Sutherland Tish Sutherland on May 07, 2014
    We spray painted an indoor couch and it came out great. Now they make fabric spray paint as well. You might even be able to crackle the finish so that the flowers show through some then seal. Post whatever you do decide to do when you're done.

  • Joan Young-Santiago Joan Young-Santiago on May 07, 2014
    Use painter canvas as fabric. Add batting as needed. You can also use watered down paints as watercolors to deco the fabric.

  • Ellen Warren Ellen Warren on May 07, 2014
    Just buy new cushions.

  • Jackie I Jackie I on May 07, 2014
    That back cushion looks pretty tricky. Consider making it 4 cushions. The insides of them may not be usable though. You won't know until you open one up. Start saving your pennies and get some other quotes. It's a really unique piece and worth saving.

  • Alicia Gillentine Carr Alicia Gillentine Carr on May 07, 2014
    If it were me I would want removable cushion covers so I could keep them clean. I would go to the fabric store and buy thick foam to replace the current cushions (you can cut it to shape). Covering is easy, I also have very basic sewing skills, I just pin the material around the foam (think pillowcase) and then pull the foam out and sew. Attach Velcro instead of a bottom seam and you can easily remove the cover for cleaning. I would paint the frame purple and I'd cover in a solid creamy color. I would use throw pillows for pops of color and patterns. You could just give it to me! Problem solved! Lol

  • Carol Plantz Carol Plantz on May 07, 2014
    I love the squares and also the long pieces around the sides and back. I am not a great seamstress, but I would take it on. I would cut squares the size of the old ones, either out of fabric and then water proof it or keep putting them away in rain. Or I would use a flannel back outdoor table cloth and cut into squares. It reminds me of quilting. For the back and sides, I would use foam and cover it with the tablecloth. There are so many designs in tablecloths. Sometimes you can even pick them and the foam up at the GoodWill or yard sales. Just a thought. I know that I covered my outdoor furniture in sheets.

  • Wendy Barnett Wendy Barnett on May 07, 2014
    would a lounge chair cushion fit the bottom? And I like the several pillows on the back side idea. and are you going to paint the frame to freshen it up?

  • Sharon S Sharon S on May 07, 2014
    I sew for a living and that price sounds about right. Upholstery is HARD! And, the price should include new cushions, buttons, piping. If you want to try something easy (it won't last forever), try sheet foam - you can trace the outline and cut it out and cover it with a very simple pillowcase type cover - sew on some ties to close it and you're done

  • Michelle Hamill Michelle Hamill on May 07, 2014
    Such a gorgeous piece!

  • Sandpaper Vintage Love Sandpaper Vintage Love on May 07, 2014
    Paint it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® We do it all the time.

  • Sharon Steele Sharon Steele on May 07, 2014
    I actually have a similar iron piece like this. I found a used sofa at a thrift store just to use for the cushions. The foam is very expensive to buy new. It did the trick.

  • Creatively Living Creatively Living on May 07, 2014
    Paint the cushion, or buy one long outdoor cushion for the seat, and put a few outdoor throw pillows on the back

  • Robin Gilbert Robin Gilbert on May 07, 2014
    I picked up two metal chairs of the same vintage in my neighbors "free to anyone" put by the curb! They still had the cushions but needed some work like yours do. I found the cost of recovering them ridiculous! I spray painted the metal with outdoor paint. I bought outdoor fabric, thick thread, and an upholstering needle (a large curved needle). I simply cleaned the old cushions really well, wrapped them like a gift with the edges tucked in and a slight overlap, used straight pins to hold it in place and sewed it it enough places to keep it closed! I made little ties to secure the cushions to the chairs and that was it! My neighbors kind of wanted them back when they saw them! That was at least ten years ago and they are still,on my front porch, good as ever! Along with a table they threw out, too!

  • Kathy Rick-Altschuler Kathy Rick-Altschuler on May 07, 2014
    get new foam cut it to size. cover with material like discontinued sheets. make big pillow cases. tuck openings closed. with velcro or snaps. this is cheap and you can change covers with the seasons.

  • Kathy Rick-Altschuler Kathy Rick-Altschuler on May 07, 2014
    and easy to wash. keep out of sun the foam will last longer.

  • Nurse Ratchet Nurse Ratchet on May 07, 2014
    place foam over the top amd have someone that is a saavy seamstress make covers that either zip or velcro on and off. You can make a pattern by tracing the cushions on newspaper. Good luck, great piece

  • Rhonda Hagloff Rhonda Hagloff on May 07, 2014
    As long as the fabric is in decent shape, why don't you just paint it for a near-instant and economical update? There are good tutorials on how you can paint fabric out there.

  • Elizabeth E Elizabeth E on May 07, 2014
    I would look up instructions on how to make a slipcover so you have a idea on how to replicate what you have measurement wise. I think though that Jeanette has the right idea!

  • Elizabeth E Elizabeth E on May 07, 2014
    What a lovely couch though BTW! Score!

  • Wanda F Wanda F on May 07, 2014
    Try buying 3 or 4 (depending on the size) lawn chair cushions (the thick ones). The ones with back & seat together. Tie the ties together to form one cushion & tie the outside ties on the ends to the couch. Let the ends of the couch (arms) shows. You can get them on sale if you check the ads. When covering old cushions that have been outside, you may have mildew inside that can ruin your new material.

  • Terri Brodfuehrer Terri Brodfuehrer on May 07, 2014
    Sarah? just throwing this out there, but walmart has LOTS of cushions,, and lots of prints, as far as cushions go.. I looked at JCP and wasn't that impressed.. this would fit (it looks like anyway) and as someone else mentioned, just use throw pillows for the back maybe?

  • JS JS on May 07, 2014
    Go to a marinr supply shop. They have cushions that resist being outdoors. You could get the material, then recovery ysin duct tape to hold it until you can afford to have it reappolsterd. Although for what you have $500 is a good deal.

  • Natalie MamaBear Cohrone Natalie MamaBear Cohrone on May 07, 2014
    Paint it and make new cushions. It would be Awesome in a sun room!

  • Terri Brodfuehrer Terri Brodfuehrer on May 07, 2014
    Wayfare also has some curved ones, decent prices.. much cheaper than having someone make one from scratch anyway..

  • Kate Gibson Kate Gibson on May 07, 2014
    Seeing slipcovers is not very difficult. I barely know how to use a seeing machine and I've made fleece car seat covers and replacement covers for sofa cushions. If the existing material is in good shape, you can remove them and use them to trace patterns on newspaper or brown packing paper. Get weather-proof material in some funky, retro print, and buy some foam cushion material online from a trusted source, of course. Love the couch. Please share your results so can all see them. Please tag me if there's a way to do so on Hometalk. Good luck! Have fun!

  • Dixie Roll Dixie Roll on May 07, 2014
    Futon's can be found cheap replace the cushions in that way. Or check for loft's @ the end of the college year around the dorms. Great place to go shopping by the dumpsters. Hey they are in excellent condition never know what you can find.

  • Kate Gibson Kate Gibson on May 07, 2014
    *Sewing* slipcovers is not very..,

  • Sheila Haines Sheila Haines on May 07, 2014
    Whatever you do, don't get rid of it! It's fabulous!!

  • Thom Brandt Thom Brandt on May 07, 2014
    You could do two cushions for the seat and then do large throw pillows for the back and ends. Would be simple square sewing and you could choose whatever fabric you wanted this way.

  • Greta Swanson Greta Swanson on May 07, 2014
    I would go get new foam and that looks more like a vinyl covering over the foam. Go to a fabric store or Hobby Lobby, see what fabric that they would suggest, and cut your foam and fabric and use that stitch witchery for the seams. Love that stuff! Good luck.

  • Barbara Walker Barbara Walker on May 07, 2014
    Have you thought of maybe painting the cushions. I've seen where people have painted their couch cushions. Just a thought

  • Kimberly Kimberly on May 07, 2014
    Cut them apart and make a pattern of the cushions, then buy some foam to replace the old if its not any good. I would add a zipper to the backs so they can be replaced if needed.

  • Watch for sales on bench cushion the correct length, one long or two smaller. You can find cusions for the back. Of course if you sew, buy foam and fabric.

  • Tammy Hart Tammy Hart on May 07, 2014
    I would make slip covers in a banana plant with a red bloom on a banana and a black background . I have this fabric but haven't used it yet .then paint the frame in shiny black . Act sent with throw pillows in red . Maybe in black ...

  • Oki307805 Oki307805 on May 08, 2014
    Join a upholstery class at your local votech school

  • TJ TJ on May 08, 2014
    send it to me.......................... 8-)

  • Diane Arnold Diane Arnold on May 08, 2014
    You are very lucky to have such a great piece and in such good shape.Your cushions are in great shape to make patterns from. Even with minimal sewing experience you should be able to re-cover this yourself. Most fabric stores have fabric for outdoor use,if that is your plan. Measure the length of each of the seat cushions and measure the total length of the back cushion. Add all together and divide by 36,this should tell you how many yards are needed.I definitely would replace the foam in the seat.The back looks like it is stuffed more with a heavy cotton batting. Personally I would use a thin foam and wrap it in cotton batting to get the effect, but have a bit sturdier pillow back. You can add thin cotton batting over seat for comfort also. Buttons can be done with kits that are reasonably simple, but they are a matter of taste.I would add some complementary throw pillows to finish the look. Good luck in whatever you do, it will be fabulous. Oh,for the seats, I'd use velcro to be able remove later to clean, zippers are such a pain.

  • Pamela Pamela on May 08, 2014
    make covers for it bright. colors spray paint metal base

  • Breedeen Nulty Breedeen Nulty on May 08, 2014
    Don't recover the existing foam - it may not be up to your current fire and safety standards.

  • Judy Martin Judy Martin on May 08, 2014
    you need to use some good outdoor stuff to recover them if you can sew & buy new foam or sew with paint tarp its strong ..

  • Felicity Woodruffe Felicity Woodruffe on May 08, 2014
    Unpick the existing cover to use as a pattern purchase new foam that conforms to current safety standards cut foam to correct size and fill the newly sewn covers.

  • Erika W Erika W on May 08, 2014
    You could buy new straight cushions and use bolster cushions at each end instead of trying to reproduce the rounded cushion effect. If you have a Garden Ridge store near you, they offer very affordable patio cushions.

  • Cut your fabric using the cushions for the pattern and either use buttons or a zipper to close each piece. No need to add cording. It will still look great.

  • Susan Sherman Susan Sherman on May 08, 2014
    Yes, I agree with some of the other posts. You could do this yourself. The sofa frame is open not upholestered, so it shouldn't be too hard. Take the old cushions apart and use them as a pattern. Good luck.

  • Lucia B Lucia B on May 08, 2014
    You can paint fabric! :)

  • Amy Pettit Brown Amy Pettit Brown on May 08, 2014
    Recover it yourself

  • Vicki Pemberton Vicki Pemberton on May 08, 2014
    maybe get a flat cushion for the back and then use colorful coordinating pillows along the back for support, it's a good way to add some color

  • Pat Denneny Pat Denneny on May 08, 2014
    Look for patio cushions, they come in so many different sizes. You may have to get someone to adjust them to fir the back but at a minimal cost I'm sure . good luck .

  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on May 08, 2014
    From the look of the age and condition of these cushions, the foam itself may or may not be salvageable. Peek inside the cracked area. If the foam is still smooth and supple, you can carefully pick apart the seams and recover them with indoor/outdoor fabric you pick up on sale. If the foam is dry and crumbly, however, your hard work will be wasted, so then I suggest you sign up for the email list for a large fabric store chain such as JoAnn Fabrics and then watch for one of their coupons for 40%-50% off all upholstery fabric and supplies. You can buy 2"-4" foam, use the old cushions to trace out a pattern using a sharpie marker, and then use an electric meat-cutting knife to cut it out (the kind you use to carve your turkey ... use the larger-toothed 'bread' blade). Then use the cushions to trace out a pattern and cover it. To stay on a budget, you will probably have to snag fabric in two separate coupon-outings (or put in a second email address for you spouse). Good luck! It's a beautiful couch and deserves to be updated.

  • Cheryl Long-Odell Cheryl Long-Odell on May 08, 2014
    Do you know someone that sews that could make new covers to put over the existing cushions?

  • Pam Giles Pam Giles on May 08, 2014
    I recover my outdoor cushions each year using FABRIC SHOWER CURTAINS for material. I can usually find bright patterns and designs that add color to my deck. Sometimes I replace the foam, but often I just sew the shower curtains like pillows and stuff the old cushions inside.

    • Stephany Trott Stephany Trott on May 08, 2014
      @Pam Giles What a great idea for using the fabric shower curtains. I see so many pretty ones but they would not work in my bathroom as it is really small. But now I can purchase them and use them on my outdoor furniture.

  • Sheryl K Sheryl K on May 08, 2014
    How about fabric paint & some flashy pillows.

  • LuLu Dyes-Morris LuLu Dyes-Morris on May 08, 2014
    I have the same couch with matching chairs. I had new cushions made about 6 years ago and need to replace them. I investigated the cost and it is expensive. I am going to try painting them...If that doesn't work I am just going to buy the seat cushions and try to make it work. Again,, thanks for all the previous recommendations. I like the SHOWER CURTAIN IDEA!

  • Donna Marie P Donna Marie P on May 08, 2014
    Use lounge chair pads and don't worry about the wrap around sides

  • MaryJean MaryJean on May 08, 2014
    cover the existing cushions with extra foam and batting then cover in fabric

  • Carolyn Doherty Carolyn Doherty on May 08, 2014
    I just bought a great shower curtain at Target for $15. It's a navy and white stripe. The fabric is good. I look at it and think it would be great for pillows or cushions.

  • Joan Dingeldein Caughlin Joan Dingeldein Caughlin on May 08, 2014
    Just buy inexpensive cushions in the hardware or outdoor dept of your local store--shouldn't be $500 and you can change them every season--hit the end of the season sales!

  • Rosa Marie Rosa Marie on May 08, 2014
    Thanks, @ Pam Giles. Great idea. The out door material is high. Do you use the CLOTH SHOWER CURTAINS ?

    • Pam Giles Pam Giles on May 10, 2014
      @Rosa Marie ... Yes, I use the cloth shower curtains. I usually have enough fabric to make small pillows to match.

  • Dana Myrick Dana Myrick on May 08, 2014
    This has great potential! Good luck :-)

  • Kathy Snyder Kathy Snyder on May 08, 2014
    I would suggest using newspapers taped together to trace out the pattern of the cushions first. If the foam of the cushions are basically in good shape you can give addition comfort by covering them in batting first before recovering. Patterned shower curtains can be found inexpensively at discount stores such as Old Time Pottery or even places like Big Lots which are discontinued merchandise stores in my area. Good Luck! it looks like a great piece to bring back to life.

  • Sarah Sarah on May 08, 2014
    Thank you for all the great ideas! I have some good direction and think I can actually pull something off! I will be sure to post "after" pictures.

  • Jocelyn D Jocelyn D on May 08, 2014
    What about some nice pet beds, and have stay with ribbon tied.

  • Betty McCalip Betty McCalip on May 08, 2014
    I buy my material online at a huge discount. I prefer Sumbrella because it lasts for years. I found a great site called Fabric Guru online and purchased a remnant. Normally 26.00 per yard for 7.00. Just took old cushion apart and used it for pattern. Turned out amazing

    • Tracey T Tracey T on May 08, 2014
      Thanks Betty for the info on where you buy materials. I'm going to have to check it out today!!

  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on May 08, 2014
    Oh my what a beauty, hold on to it. I would try painting it as many on here have done a great job painting over fabric. If you can sew, just cover them with the tuft buttons to make it easier. Or have them cleaned, maybe it won't be as much, but remember it will save you tons to have someone recover them. Good luck, hope you post pics of the afterwards.

  • KAREN P KAREN P on May 08, 2014
    When I recover my cushions,I usually use the old material as the pattern.that way they are an exact fit to the old cushions. Easy easy!

  • Tracey T Tracey T on May 08, 2014
    I can't wait to see what you have decided to do with it..I love it and wish it were mine!! :-)

  • Connie Brady Connie Brady on May 08, 2014
    I have the same couch and a matching chair. I painted the frame a rich green color and used remnant Sunbrella fabric to slip cover it in a muted green pattern. The fabric shower curtain idea sounds like a winner as well!

  • Pam Pam on May 09, 2014
    You might also consider using drop cloths for the material to cover the cushions.

  • Patricia McDermott Patricia McDermott on May 09, 2014
    IF they are dirty. Use a trash can fill it with soapy water and a box of Oxyclean and then put the cushions in and let them soak for a few days. Amazing results.

  • Rosa Marie Rosa Marie on May 10, 2014
    Thank you Pam. I hope it doesn`t fade to much in the sun. Mine is in the sun full strength for awhile in the hottest part of the day.

  • Kara Spurlock Kara Spurlock on May 10, 2014
    Clean the cushions and paint them! I paint fabric frequently, and it is great and budget friendly! If you do want to re-cover them , Jo Ann fabrics sells the outdoor sunbrella material. Also if you can't sew you can you fusion fabric glue!

  • Renata Renata on Feb 10, 2015
    Honestly sewing new cushions isn't that hard. Just time consuming. Take cushions off and use a seam ripper and take them apart , use a sharpie and write on each piece what it is . Then use ur pieces as a pattern. U can get new fabric on Craigslist pretty darn cheap or go to an upholster shop and c if they have bolt ends they want to get rid of cheaply. That's my 2