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Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Like an embarrassingly large number of projects I share (*cough* tulip table makeover *cough*), this mid-century sectional sofa makeover is something my longtime readers have had to wait a loooong time to see!

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Some of you might remember that I impulse bought this vintage sofa at an estate sale the day before we moved 1000 miles to the lakehouse.


It was only $200 and I fell in love with the lines and the tall back – the design is so comfortable.  It can be difficult to find a vintage sofa that beckons one to lounge.  We didn’t have the money to reupholster it after we moved, so it sat in our garage.  When we finally had enough money saved to replace the leather sofa we scored secondhand, we decided to splurge on a beautiful – even cushier and loungier – cream leather sectional sofa.  As much as I pined for a turquoise, mid-century modern sectional sofa, Hubby and I decided that we wanted a longer, bigger sectional than this.  Luckily I was able to sell the mid-century sofa for the $200 I paid – plus I was even able to help choose the perfect fabric and help guide this mid-century modern sectional sofa makeover.  Spending other people’s money on decor is one of my top 10 favorite hobbies, lol.  Without further ado, here’s the mid-century modern sectional sofa makeover some of you have patiently waited five years to see:

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

I have SO many more photos to share, plus I’ll show you the fabric choices and the cute coffee table ottoman hack I came up with – but let me share some more photos of before.  The before photo at the beginning was taken at the estate sale – before we stored it for ages.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa – Before:

Below are some photos of the “before”.  At one point, this was a really beautiful, quality sofa.  The upholstery was chic, with an ornate design that was still subtle, thanks to the tone on tone pattern in a warm wheat color (I bet that hid dirt really well – so smart!)  I think it had little fabric arm covers, but I probably ditched those before the sofa even made it into the u-Haul.  Sadly, this sofa was a little worse for wear, with a wood frame that needed repairs and refinishing, completely shot upholstery, disintegrating foam and – gift with purchase! – a mouse living inside.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Choosing the New Upholstery Fabric:

When I was asked where to bring this sofa for its makeover, I recommended the same upholsterer who did our sailboat cushions.  Even though they made a couple of mistakes – and there were a few wobbly seams – I wasn’t familiar with any other local upholsterers and this company came highly recommended by the local furniture shop where we bought our leather sectional sofa, so I wanted to give them a second chance.  For the fabric, we narrowed it down to an era-appropriate tweed and it was an easy choice because one sample book really stood out thanks to the gorgeous lustre of the fabrics.  Even on the greyest days, these fabrics glow and have a beautiful sheen, bouncing light around the room.  Of course I was drawn to the teal (I love a good mod teal sectional sofa) but we chose the more moody greyed out indigo hue (second photo) instead – only to find out it was discontinued!

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

In the end, we chose this lighter silver tweed fabric (shown above and below) and it’s the perfect neutral.  HUGE thanks to Fanny, who tracked down a link for everyone and left it in the comments: Maxwell Fabrics Tundra #02 Silver.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Once the fabric was chosen, the upholsterers got to work replacing the foam and making the necessary repairs.  The new fabric was too thick for piping, so that was jettisoned and it ended up creating a much sleeker look.  The upholsterers had a connection with a professional wood refinisher who did an AMAZING job bringing the wood back to life.  I wish I could have watched the process.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

How to Turn a Coffee Table into an Ottoman

You might be thinking that the mid-century modern sectional sofa makeover is gorgeous, but the room needs a coffee table or ottoman, right?  Ottomans are my preference over coffee tables for living rooms meant for lounging.  But it can be a challenge to find an ottoman that’s comfortable, the right height, the right diameter, and not a million dollars.  I scored an unusual vintage oval teak coffee table for cheap that I hacked into a round table.  The upholsterer then made a round zippered cushion with leftover tweed and backed it with a grippy material – like what you place under a rug.  The end result is a comfy ottoman with a little storage underneath for a book or cup of coffee.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Here’s the coffee table I scored – like I mentioned, it was actually an oval and I put together the two ends to form a nice round shape:

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Then we had the cushion custom made by the upholsterer, using leftover fabric from the sofa.  On the back of the cushion, the upholsterer sewed a piece of grippy material.  It keeps the cushion from slipping, without having to permanently affix it to the wood.  It does NOT budge!

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and After

Look how cute it looks!  The cushion can always be removed if a coffee table is needed or wanted again (I love a versatile piece of furniture).

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Coffee to Ottoman Hack

I am so happy that I could play a small role in this mid-century modern sectional sofa makeover.  It’s always so rewarding to bring a vintage piece back to life!  You can see the vintage chair I hauled from a curb and had recovered in teal velvet here, and the Ekstrom Mingo chair I really revamped with a bold new fabric here.

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterGrey Tweed Mid-Century Modern Sofa MakeoverVintage Sofa Makeover ProjectGrey Tweed MCM Sectional

What do you think of this mid-century sectional sofa makeover?  Was it worth the wait?  I love the pale grey tweed with the warm wood tones and earthy accents, like vintage wicker baskets and a brown alpaca throw (here are some similar cozy alpaca throws for fall: this brown and beige diamond design, made in Peru, this neutral alpaca throw that comes in tons of other colors – including some gorgeous blues, and this adorable design).

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofa Makeover | Before and AfterMCM sofa makeover before and after



  1. Oona
    September 12, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    This story is absolutely worth the wait! So gorgeous, and so inspiring to see a really good makeover. We have inherited a teak-framed MCM soda that I’ve been dreaming about redoing, so this is just the motivation I need. Can you give us a link to the upholstery fabric?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 12, 2018 / 10:19 pm

      So happy you like this makeover! I’d love to see you team sofa if you redo it. I did a quick look when I wrote the post and didn’t find the fabric online but I included a photo of the back of th swatch which I hoped would help identify it if someone brought it to an upholsterer. But let me do some more searching…

        • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
          September 13, 2018 / 2:17 pm

          Amazing! Thanks for finding that I really appreciate it.

        • Oona
          September 13, 2018 / 2:23 pm

          Thank you so much! Looks like a great winter project for the rainy Pacific Northwest.

        • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
          September 13, 2018 / 4:25 pm

          I think you’ll love this fabric. We chose it because even on our dreariest days (I do live in a place called “Thunder Bay,” lol) it just had such a nice glow. Some fabrics turned dull and flat the minute the sun hid but this entire line was luminous. So if it’s rainy there, you’ll like this a lot!

  2. cathie
    September 14, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    My first reaction was you paid $200 for that thing?! They saw you coming. However, the end result is beyond lovely. But, what did it cost? That’s the big question. I’ve read time and time again that re-upholstering is not worth it unless its an expensive, well-made frame to begin with and if not, then buying new is the way to go. I am not loving the coffee table/ottoman, its just too matchy-matchy and too much of that same fabric. Instead I’d go with a white marble-topped one with a metal base in the same colour as your side table, or at least a different (patterned) fabric if you really love that ottoman thing. But that sofa, its stunning, well worth the wait. Enjoy.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 15, 2018 / 10:19 am

      I think the cost/worth really varies and that’s a complex answer. I have two chairs I had re-done years ago and I still LOVE them – it was such a good decision for me because I could get exactly the fabric/style I wanted and know it’s a solid piece. I’ve had bad experiences with furniture I bought that I thought was good quality but came apart at the seams. With re-upholstering you’re often getting better quality/craftsmanship than mass production – but for people who change their decor often and want cheap and cheerful then it’s not the right choice. Upholsterers charge wildly different rates so the cost can vary from city to city. Here, it’s really affordable, so it was worth it (somewhere else it might not be), but you have to think about availability too. We live in a small city, where we have so few options for furniture here. Some bland big boxes, one or two local shops (one of which, where I bought my sofa, just closed). So for the person I am helping with this living room makeover, it was worth it for them to recover this sofa because they could sit in it, and know it was comfy, without the stress of online shopping/shipping/duty (we’re in Canada). It also fit the space (and up the narrow apartment stairs) really well, which was a struggle when we were sofa shopping because so many styles we liked just would not fit up the stairs! This was a quality piece at one time and now it is again – ultimately for less money than similar ones we looked at which were new. I think weighing whether to upholster something is a case by case decision and a good upholsterer will be honest and say whether something is worth it or not.

      So happy you love the sofa transformation and hopefully these thoughts about upholstering are helpful. This is the fourth time I’ve used a professional upholsterer and I definitely would again – but for the right piece. Thanks for your suggestions about the coffee table/ottoman – a coffee table is out because of comfort and we think a mismatched ottoman fabric will just look like a hodge-podge in an apartment that already has an eclectic mix of furniture and textiles, but you never know with leaving opinions – sometimes there’s a gem of an idea, so ideas are always welcome 🙂 My little hack was meant to be a temporary solution but she’s really digging it, so who knows? It might last forever, we might find something better… I’m always on the hunt, lol.

  3. ShellyP
    September 21, 2018 / 8:12 pm

    My parents married in the late 50’s and had all new furniture — mid century modern stuff — including a “sectional” sofa with a curved center section. I adored that sofa! They also had a large wooden coffee table and a groovy planter with hairpin legs and a knock-off George Nelson clock. I loved everything about furniture! When I left home for college my mom ditched everything to refresh her space (something awful from JCPenney’s — no offense to Penney’s). I still long for that sofa. You did the right thing buying that sofa and restoring it and giving it another 30+ years of life!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 21, 2018 / 9:42 pm

      I am drooling over your descriptions of you parents’ furniture!!! Hopefully those pieces are still somewhere, enjoying life in a cool loft or something. So glad to hear you like the sofa! I was so thrilled to see its makeover happen.

  4. Oona
    September 23, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    Just noticed this on Apartment Therapy. Congrats on popping up yet again where the big audience can see. I confess to feeling smug about already having seen the Original Post. Lol.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 24, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      Oh yay, they shared it! I didn’t realize, I’ll have to go check. Thanks for letting me know, I appreciate it 🙂
      I love your reaction – I totally feel that way too when I see something pop up somewhere and I’ve already seen it.

  5. Vanessa
    September 24, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    That is fantastic Tanya. I always say I have an upholstery problem, am I am happy to drive all over looking for someone to do work for me. It’s so much more interesting to know that no one has the same thing I have.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      September 24, 2018 / 8:54 pm

      Thanks Vanessa! I love hearing that someone else loves getting upholstery done too. I don’t consider it a problem haha. This is my fourth time hiring this kind of work out and you’re right, it’s so nice to have something one of a kind.

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