Thursday, September 16, 2010

Designer couch on a dollar store budget (and Swagbucks)

I used to call this a sofa but in order to blend in with the natives I now call it couch (Swedes are raised on British English as opposed to American English). Whatever you call it - here's my "designer" version of our tired old workhorse - all blinged out for $3.

Not too shabby, eh? :)

I know it's not perfect but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. If you don't look to closely it can pass for a designer creation. And if someone complains I'll soo play up the handmade (i.e. more valuable, custom) aspect of it all :) That's the best part of DIY to me. "Sure, everything's uneven and made out of junk, but that's what people pay mucho dinero for at the pricey store and I made it for pennies".

This is what the couch looked like before I got to work, or should I say just after I had started working on it, because true to form I forgot to snap a real before picture and only remembered when I was in the middle of it all.

Yes, I hammered away at the couch with the sleeping babe on it. He passed out from exhaustion after he in prime 2 year old stubbornness refused to go to sleep when he was supposed to..

Just your average beige piece of furniture bought off the curb years ago for $150 and it's spent the last 4 years of it's life being abused by little kids. It deserved a little something :)

So last week at the Dollar Tree store I found some ordinary thumb tacks in a silvery color that I liked. I was going to use them for another piece of furniture but inspiration struck late one night and the couch got it first. This is an idea I know other people have used as well but I did come up with it independently a few years ago. So it's original but not :)

Last time I did this thumb tack thing I didn't yet have any bent-nose pliers and let me tell you it was a lot easier this time around :) Your fingers will thank you for going through the trouble of purchasing a pair of said pliers before attempting this. I just grasped a tack with the pliers and hammered away.

There is a certain technique to getting the tack in straight without bending or breaking and I did get better at it as I went. I used three of these boxes of tacks for this couch but my guess is about a third of those were discards because they bent or broke (usually happened if I wasn't holding it exactly straight, not hammering straight on it or the wood underneath was harder in spots).

Halfway through this project I realized I didn't have to lay flat on my belly on the floor to do this, I could just tilt the couch on it's back! That was a true light bulb moment and my chest and neck were much the better for it :) I plead late night crafting confusion on that one because I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner.

I should mention that before I made the pattern on the front I drew my pattern onto the couch (in pen, most of it is covered up by the tacks anyway but in places like below where I changed my mind mid-project it's still visible. I know from experience it washes right off with carpet cleaner so no worries).

Ask me how I got that experience with the carpet cleaner and pen markings on the couch... This is the current artwork on one of the seat cushions and I assure you this was not parent approved or modeled in any way (the artist did this before I marked out my pattern).

Below are some close-ups of all the irregularities of the pattern. You could probably get it all to look just so and straight as can be, it'll just take you a lot longer to get it done and you'll go through more tacks :) This was good enough for me so I left it that way.

And as you can see in the below after pics, taken as a whole it really looks ok (except that it still needs a cleaning. I was going to clean it and show you the spot and art free wonder but looking in my cabinet I realized we were out of carpet cleaner. And since I was on a deadline I just left it the way it was for now, no time for store runs, cleanings, drying time and new photo session). The arm rests look straighter because there wasn't as much batting there and the wood was softer.

Don't mind the fire truck, I managed to get the kids out of the pic before snapping but the truck snuck in there somehow :)

I do have plans to spruce up the couch further, it may be a while before that happens so consider this the first installment of that raffling tale.

And I just winged the pattern. I tried a Moroccan inspired one first but it was too detailed and didn't look good. It seems the simpler the pattern and the more spaced out (leave plenty of breathing room between shapes) the better it looks in the end. If your pattern is too detailed it just looks messy, here with the simple pattern, even where it's uneven, your eye can still "read" the pattern and it looks pretty good.

The run down. Couch, pliers and hammer - on hand and free. Tacks - $3. New couch - priceless :)

So what do you guys think? Is it cool or just tacky (pun intended)? The husband and I concluded that it was still an improvement and really, how much can you expect for that price?

Before I let you go I also want to brag about Swagbucks. Another frugal blog got me started on this one, I downloaded the Swagbucks toolbar and now whenever I search the internet I use their toolbar to do it and win random swagbucks for it. When I go to check my email or to my blog I search for the page instead of using short cuts and I've won A LOT of swagbucks just doing that.

Search & Win

As I type Amazon is sending me a cool crafty book I ordered on their web site FOR FREE courtesy of Swagbucks. So it works :) It's free, it's easy, I don't have to go out of my way to win and I get some extra money to spend on presents for myself (or others if I'm feeling generous:)) You should try it if you're not already on it. Just click the banner above and get started, I don't think you'll regret it.

That's all for today :)

Ps. Linking up with
Someday Crafts
Funky Junk Interiors
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  1. Love this idea!!!! You always THINK BIG, one of the reasons I love your blog so much. I can't believe you got that cool result with ordinary tacks. You can call it a sofa or anything you darn please, it is TOTALLY charming.

  2. Just when you think the sofa is clear, it magically presents toys as offerings! This is ALWAYS the case at my house though usually it's LEGO's or a pencil and paper :)

    Looks good and for the price...awesome! But seriously, it was a bit of a pain in the neck :) Late night craft confusion...I have to remember that excuse next time I have an incident. Yeah, I've had many of those...

  3. Awesome! I can't believe you did this with thumbtacks, how very creative~

  4. very cute! Sadly, my couches need far more help than what thumbtacks can do! LOL

  5. Clever idea, well done! I found those thumbtacks at the Dollar Store, too. My project is much less ambitious involving styrofoam balls in 2 sizes. Love your project.


I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
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