Q: I am working on fixing up my living room, and I don’t know what to do with my couch: supercomfortable but bad shape and color. It has a rounded back, big rounded arms and the leather is forest green, à la the 1980s! The rest of my living room is white walls with brown wood chairs and turquoise/light blue and rusty red accent pillows and floor cushions. What can I do to make this couch fit in better? I can’t afford a new one.
A: In the fashion world, the ‘80s are sort of coming back. In fact, some looks have never gone away, including denim jackets and Ray-Ban sunglasses. Others... well, there is a reason they didn’t last too long. Home decor trends often do follow fashion, though that doesn’t mean you have to embrace those styles — or any style no matter how trendy — if it’s not your thing.
The important thing is to create a look you love, as best you can. If you have complete control over everything in your living room, it’s best to start with the biggest pieces, such as the sofa. But when that major piece is gifted and replacing it is currently out of the question, consider some ideas that minimize that piece’s flaws and accentuate the positives.
If the sofa was good quality to start with, it will last a long time, whether you want it to or not. And leather is a classic choice for durability. Seeing how hard it is for you to get the forest green color to work with the rest of your decor is a good lesson for sticking to more neutral colors when it is time for you to buy your own sofa. Black, dark-to-light browns, grays, tan, and brownish reds including cognac tones are all examples of timeless leather colors that will look great for decades.
It is possible to re-dye leather furniture, though it could be a very messy DIY project that is best left to the professionals. Unfortunately that process might cost as much as buying a new sofa. Surprisingly, so would a good quality slipcover! Either way, you’d be out some money and still be stuck with the same shape. Instead, minimize the color with layered throw blankets, or by draping your sofa lengthwise with some inexpensive upholstery fabric. You might need two very long pieces, one for the back, and one for the seat and cushions. Tuck the fabric in around the cushions for a more finished look. If you know how to sew, adding some pleats or ties to the corners will help keep the fabric in place.
Hang in there until the time is right, and then, consider shopping in consignment shops and floor sample sales to save money. Unless your sofa is truly uncomfortable, the wrong size or unusable, it’s better to save your money for your dream sofa instead of buying an interim one that still isn’t exactly what you want.