Supporting the Arts in Montana

Before & After: Funky 50s Flexsteel Sectional Sofa

Low slung mid century sofa - before restoration
2-piece sofa - no arms

Funky 50s Sectional Sofa project before beginning the project

You just can’t go wrong with a low slung mid-century sectional sofa with kidney bean cushions and good solid ‘bones’.

low slung sectional sofa with kidney bean cushions

Retro-weave turquoise wool with flame orange velvet piping adds ‘pop’ appeal to the finished sofa

Fifteen volunteers came to learn deconstruction upholstery, fabric layout, planning and reconstruction during three workshops between January and October, 2014 at the Shane Center in Livingston, Montana. The result is a fantastic and comfortable lounging addition to the art center’s lobby.

The beginning – photos from the January workshop:

Group of students prying upholstery tacks

Working from the bottom up, upholstery workshop participants remove the old fabric from the frame

Upholstery workshop participants prying upholstery tacks

We found this awesome nubby original PINK fabric underneath!

Participants learned basic upholstery skills & techniques while working together with instructor Carla Pyle to restore this Funky 50s Sofa to be installed in the Shane Center’s lobby.

Flexsteel Northome Label - Dubuque, Iowa

The original Flexsteel label

upholstery students cut from a bolt of fabric

Measuring and cutting the new turquoise wool retro starburst fabric

March workshop progress:

mid-century sectional sofa re-upholstery progress

mid-century sectional sofa re-upholstery progress - student stitching

October workshop:

Flexsteel's unique spring system visible from in this bottom view of the sofa as a workshop participant staples the fabric at a corner

Laurel ‘finesses’ a corner as she staples the bottom edge

Working on the back panels in the final stages of reupholstery of the two sofa sections

Kelley gets ready to attach burlap to the outside back in the final stages of the sofa reupholstery

stapling the outside back of the sofa

Laurel & Kelley working on the finishing touches – attaching the outside back to the sofa

Retro-weave turquoise wool with flame orange velvet piping

Bold & sassy: a perfect example of how complimentary colors can be used in upholstery: blue-green & red-orange (turquoise/flame)

diagonal view of freshly reupholstered Flexsteel sectional sofa

The completed sofa in the lobby of the Shane Center

If you missed these workshops, and would like to learn more while working on your own upholstery project, sign up for our mailing list and stay connected with the globally expanding upholstery community. You’ll receive upholstery tips, stories and updates on classes.

About the Author

CarlaHey there! I'm Carla Pyle. I love the stories that our furniture tells. For me a picture of my Granddaddy Milton's green upholstered arm chair brings to mind the vivid rhymes & colors of 'The Cat in the Hat' and his soft low voice in the telling. I love too that there is always an element of nature in furniture - the warm-toned curving grain of a walnut leg or the reflection of life in a mid-century chrome piece. The best part of teaching & sharing natural upholstery is that it ties all of these things together. Stories - of individual experience and of the planet - help us build happy & healthy homes.View all posts by Carla →

  1. Belinda Van NurdenBelinda Van Nurden01-18-2014

    Just wanted to say that the funky sofa you’re talking about used to live at my house!! I love that you’re giving it a facelift!

  2. CarlaCarla01-19-2014

    Hi Belinda – it’s an awesome sofa! I love that it was originally pink bouclé. Really solid, too… it will have a great home at the Shane Center!

  3. MillieMillie01-13-2015

    Hi … I have this exact sofa and I’m looking to get it reupholstered. Do you know how many yards of fabric it took? Thanks!

  4. CarlaCarla01-13-2015

    Hi Millie,

    I believe it took about 12 yards of the main fabric, and about 2 yards of the contrasting fabric for the welt (cut on the bias). This would be the yardage for a solid fabric. For a patterned fabric you would have to adjust for the whatever repeat you’re dealing with. This is a sturdy piece of furniture – well worth the investment to reupholster – enjoy!


  5. Skye KimSkye Kim12-03-2015

    Hello! This couch looks great!

    Do you by chance have the dimensions? I’m looking to build something similar for the lobby at my salon. If we get it built I’ll definitely send you a photo!

  6. CarlaCarla12-03-2015

    Sure, the measurements are 27h x 108w x 32d. I’d love to see your sofa when it’s done!

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