Ways to Give New Life To an Old Sofa


Whether we like it or not, our first apartments are usually filled with furniture we came by one way or another…a friend was moving and lightening the load, a yard sale down the street, the combination of pure necessity and a chance craigslist listing. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and choosing your ideal set of furniture. Couches seem to be the thing that gets passed along from one owner to another. I myself have been the proud owner of a hand-me-down couch once or twice in my lifetime and while it’s convenient it can leave you feeling like someone else furnished your apartment.

So if you’re the owner of an orphaned sofa and you’re looking for ways to give it new life, there are strategies to make that old couch feel like your own. And if you’re on a budget this beats the heck out of shopping for a new one!

One of the ways you can improve on your old sofa is to switch the legs out for new ones. If the original ones are looking dull or aren’t the style you want, you can purchase new ones at your local hardware or home improvement store. If you’re looking for something more specific, try online as well. This simple switch can make your sofa look dramatically different.

If you have a cat who’s been picking at your sofa or its upholstery has just simply seen better days, slipcovers are a great option. Upholstery can be cleaned but if it’s beyond repair, a cover is in order. Slipcovers don’t traditionally sound glamorous, but they truly can breathe new life into a lackluster sofa.

Sometimes all an old couch needs is a little distraction from the minor flaws and picks. Oversized throw pillows make a great cover-up. Without making any dramatic changes to your sofa you can avert the eye and make a cozier place to sit while you’re at it. There’s a whole world of every kind of throw pillow you can think of out there – or you can try a website like Society 6 for a pillow design that’s more customized or alternative.



Picking the Right Light


I did not until recently fully grasp the complexities of buying a light bulb. I was looking for one of those trendy, fun looking Edison bulbs with the long filament (or an LED version of one) when I realized I needed help. I called up my dad while looking around Target to ask a few questions. My dad, being an engineer, loves explaining these types of things in great detail, which in this case helped me out tremendously. After 15 minutes on the phone talking about wattage, lumens, and Kelvin, I finally felt like I had the necessary skills to pick out a seemingly simple light bulb.

Basically there are three bits of information to know about your light bulb choice:

Type of bulb (LED, Incandescent, Halogen)

Wattage (energy usage)

Lumens (brightness)

When choosing a bulb, check the information your light fixture to determine the maximum wattage allowed. This is an important part of the process due to the safety hazard. If you use a bulb which draws too much energy, it can be a danger.

For most overhead fixtures you can choose either incandescent bulbs or LED. Incandescent bulbs tend to produce a warmer color light, while LEDs are usually cooler and bluer. The color of a bulb is measured in Kelvin (K) and a warmer white light is around 2700K while a bright daylight color is closer to the 5000K end of the spectrum.

LEDs generally use less energy and last a longer time so they may be preferable for efficiency’s sake. The bulb’s lumens, is the preferable way to determine how bright the light in your room will be. It’s a common misconception that brightness is determined by wattage, however a CFL or LED bulb may use 15 watts to produce the same amount of lumens that a 60 watt incandescent bulb does. Around 800 lumens is a relatively bright light bulb, enough to sufficiently light a small room. Generally there are charts on the back of the bulb to help you compare and choose the proper option for your light fixtures.

A Fast Way to Give Your Furniture Some Oomph


There are a lot of ways to improve on cheap or less-than-desirable furniture as proved by the IKEA hacks website and numerous other blogs dedicated to hacking junky furniture for your apartment. So with that being said, there are a million ways to make an old chest of drawers shine again. A fresh coat of paint never did anything any harm, but sometimes paint just isn’t quite enough.

Time and time again when I’m shopping at places like Anthropologie, I see the hardware bin and realize that there’s a relatively simple way to spice things up with minimal effort. They sell gorgeous decorative knobs and drawer pulls that make a huge difference in a cabinet or piece of furniture’s overall appeal. Obviously this isn’t something you would want to do with every piece of furniture in your apartment, but it works better when choosing pieces that you want to create more of a statement and highlight the room with.

Here are some really nice bits of decorative hardware that I fancied in particular

Ocean Crater Knob by Anthropologie, $10 each

Creative Coop Feather Pull in Gold from Amazon, $10 each

Dimpled Globe Knob by Anthropologie, $8 each

Leather and Brass Drawer Pull from Target, $12 each

Get That Mid-Century Mod


If you’re drawn to the minimalist, sleek, modern beauty of mid-century modern design, you are certainly not alone. It’s been one of the most prolific design trends in this century as well as the last. Its popularity picked back up partly due to the AMC show, Mad Men, which featured breathtaking Madison Avenue offices in the 1960’s with perfectly mod interiors. Mid-Century designs are stylish and chic and add a touch of glamour to any space.

Finding original mid-century furniture is generally very expensive, but there are many companies producing similar styles at affordable prices. If you want to adopt some of the mod style in your apartment, here are the styles to keep an eye out for:

The Eames Dining Chair

This iconic cafe chair has been copied over and over throughout the years and similar products can be easily found with a minimal amount of searching. Tapered legs and the single piece of plastic creating the seat are very much in the 1950’s style. World Market has a set of 2 for $140 here.

Tables with Hairpin Legs

The hairpin leg is telling of mid-century style. It gives a sleek, clean look to any side or coffee table. There are a multitude of tables in this style available in stores or online. You can also order just the hairpin legs and add them to a tabletop or other material of your choice to create your own unique piece, like this dining room table from A Beautiful Mess.

Sleek and Low Loveseat

Organic shaped sofas and loveseats that are low to the ground, with short tapered feet/legs are perfect for cultivating a mid-century mod style in your apartment. Effortlessly stylish, one of these sofas can immediately pull the room’s style together. This one from Overstock is affordable as well as good-looking.

Boomerang / Organic Shaped Side Tables

Nothing says mid-century like a funky shaped table. This was the point in interior design where furniture lost its square edges and moved into more free-flowing forms. This little IKEA side table is inexpensive and captures the flair of the 50’s and 60’s.

Tulip Tables

Another quintessential design from the mid-century mod era was the tulip table, which was introduced in the late 1950’s. It eliminates the three or four legs most tables have, streamlining the design down to one central stem beneath the table top. Its gorgeous silhouette is still very popular today. Apartment Therapy provides a list of ones to choose from here.

Sunburst Wall Clock

No mid-century space is complete without one of these funky wall clocks. They scream 1950’s and can add a great deal of flair to your walls. Numerous types of these clocks are all over the internet and in stores, even discount places like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Take a look around… if you’re thrifting you may even find the real deal at a good price.

Making Your Furniture Work Harder


Small space living forces residents to be creative. Problem #1: You have x number of belongings and a comparably small amount of space to put them in. Thankfully this is not a new problem in the world and many innovators and companies have dedicated their time to solving these kinds of spacial issues. One of the easiest ways to combat limited space is to acquire furniture that works harder for you – furniture which has storage or organizational space built in.

Chairs –

Seating can be one of the easiest and least expensive areas to replace your traditional furniture with something more efficient. One of the simplest options for social seating is to use ottomans with storage space under the cushion. These range in price, but very affordable options are easy to come by, like this one carried by Target. Many retailers also sell benches with similar storage space underneath the cushion. Another creative way to boost your chairs’ workload is with ladder-backed chairs, such as this one from small-space giant IKEA. This particular chair has an extended back which creates a towel rack (there have to be a million ways to use this thing!), allowing it to do double duty.

Beds –

The route I’ve taken with the bed is definitely the least expensive – risers and under the bed storage. But there are other, more aesthetically pleasing and efficient routes. Bed frames with built in storage underneath, like this one with inconspicuous drawers, are a smart choice for a renter. Better yet, frames or headboards with shelves are fantastic for storage. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you could even opt for a lofted bed with a workspace or storage area underneath. Oftentimes in a small apartment, the only direction to go is up! See a good list of storage beds put together by Apartmenttherapy.com here.

Tables –

Coffee tables are a great place to store the odd pile of books, dvd’s, or cd’s (people still have those, right?!). If your coffee table has open shelving, consider getting baskets to help organize belongings in. There are also special coffee tables which open up to reveal a larger storage space inside. Then you don’t need to worry so much about making it pretty! This coffee table from Crate and Barrel may not be the most cost effective, but it is both an attractive table and one that works hard for your storage needs.

Once you find some hard-working furniture, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can fit everything into your cozy apartment!

To Chair or Not to Chair?


When I first moved to my current apartment, there were a grand total of three chairs in tow: one normal sized, wooden, half broken chair, and two plastic 1970’s kindergarten chairs. While I have no qualms about sitting in a little orange kindergarten chair, apparently most people do. So I found myself with a little bit of a dilemma: the few times I had people over, there was nowhere to sit! I’m not much of a believer in couches unless they’re one of those $3000 midcentury mod numbers, so there was never much of a possibility of a couch in the picture.

Living in an apartment without chairs never really bothered me, but after several embarrassing chairless experiences while having guests over, I eventually started my search for seating. I found the lovely armless armchair I’m currently sitting on at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store and it has been a great comfortable reading/working/lounging chair since. I also purchased two white wooden folding chairs at IKEA for $15 each, which are awesome because they can be easily packed up when they’re not needed. They also have a very clever circular hole drilled through the back so you can hang them on the wall if you really need to free up space! Finally, I ended up inheriting a small dining room set, complete with four chairs. They’re not the loungey sort, but they work.

Here’s the crazy thing: I liked not having chairs. I enjoyed sitting on the floor at the low coffee table eating meals or having tea with friends. This is why I wanted to offer some chair alternative solutions.

floor cusion

Zabuton – These Japanese floor cushions are an aesthetically pleasing alternative to chairs and go especially well with a low coffee table.

bean bag

Love Sac – The name sounds silly, but these high end “bean bag chairs” are comfortable and versatile. They offer a wide variety of amorphous furniture to fit a cozy lifestyle.


Poufs – There are tons of poufs out there right now. Basically, they are overstuffed ottomans to sit on.

dog bed

Dog Beds – don’t judge. There are some comfortable dog beds out there! This one has memory foam. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it… and if you don’t want to buy one, you could always make this super cute little number here.



(photo credit: oomaiga.tumblr.com)