Building a sofa: pros, cons, vague instructions, and valuable lessons

Guestpost by Rachel Buse on Mar 8th

We needed a new couch. Wanting to build my own, I found this how-to instructional scanned from a vintage home maintenance encyclopedia. It took (a lot of) time, but the results are good!

Here is a pro/con list detailing the fruits of my labor — it'll help prepare you, should you decide to build your own couch.


  • Bragging rights. Building your own couch is badass.
  • Fully customizable. You choose your materials, where they come from, and what they look like. It's all up to you.
  • Following this vintage pattern sorta means you are making vintage. You definitely get vintage style.
  • I don't care if my cat scratches and snags this couch. But I would if it were real vintage.
  • As far as custom furniture goes, CHEAP! Approximately $300 — my biggest expense being fabric.
  • Replaceable parts. No need to throw out the frame out when the springs in the mattress go bad.

    Click here for big instructions!

  • Couch is made from a bed, which will be awesome for overnight guests who may sleep there.
  • Fewer crevices, less dust.
  • Challenging! Will build construction and sewing skills you never knew you had.


  • Time consuming. This is a multiple-weekend, many-late-nights, multi-phase project.
  • Compared to "could have just gotten a cheap gaudy couch from craigslist", this was EXPENSIVE. I did not know I'd spend close to $300 in materials.
  • It may just always look like a bed.
  • Because it is a bed, it's possible you will fall asleep during movies, missing all the good parts.
  • I don't know how to tell you how to make this couch. The original instructions included are FAR from detailed. You will have to wing the upholstery completely.

Other features:

  • My dad has offered comments complimenting its structure and firmness.
  • Child-jumping safe (so far).

The back is fashioned after Thai triangle floor pillows.They provide a comfortable angle and height without being too bulky. Panels were constructed for the front of the panels to mimic a mid-century modern Danish daybed.

We like our new couch. If you've got an itch to build, just make sure you've got enough patience and extra cash. It's worth it.