DIY Furniture: Sofas

Updated February 21, 2017

A do-it-yourself sofa project is an undertaking for the enthusiast who desires specialised seating for a fraction of the cost for a custom-built sofa. It involves custom fitting your sofa plans to your living space and designing its style to coordinate with the room. Professional sofa designers and builders may add many details and features to a special-order sofa; however, making your own can be both simple and sleek. This is a plan for a basic sofa design.

Building the Frame

The first part of making your own sofa is to build the frame. The base of the sofa can be made of ½- inch plywood sheets and 2-by-4 inch wood studs. To get a good idea of the size of your sofa seat, consider cutting the plywood first, then building the base frame to fit your plywood seat base. Take measurements of where your sofa will be located to determine how long and wide you want your sofa seat base to be.

Build the frame of four legs and two sets of four horizontal bars all cut from 2 by 4s--one set for the top of the legs and the other for midway down the legs. Cut the legs to the desired height of your sofa base. Then cut the horizontal bars to fit the measurements between the legs. These horizontal bars will stabilise the legs and make the body of the sofa frame. The 2-by-4 framing is secured together with wood glue and wood screws 2 ½ to 3 inches long, and then the plywood seat base is secured to this frame's top.

This is the necessary framing for a backless and armless sofa. However, if your sofa design includes a sofa back, then measure the length of your sofa base and determine the desired height and style of the sofa back. Cut the back out of the same type of plywood, and attach it to the back of the sofa seat frame.

If your design includes armrests, build their frames for each side of your sofa out of the 2-by-4 studs. Attach these at the base to the sofa seat and at their back to the sofa backing using wood glue and screws as well.

Add the Foam

Use high-density upholstery foam to give your hard wood sofa frame comfort and softness. Cut the thick foam--4 to 6 inches thick--to fit your sofa seat. Use 2 to 4inch thick high-density foam for the sofa back, and use 1 to 2 inch thick high-density foam for the armrests. For extra-added comfort, cover the foam with batting and a base fabric, such as burlap, canvas or muslin. Use a staple gun on the underside of the sofa to secure the batting and fabric into place as it wraps over the high-density foam.

The Cover

Cover your custom sofa with fabric by laying the upholstery fabric into place over the sofa--wrong side up--then cutting along the lines that will make the seams for a snug, upholstered fit. Continue to lay and cut the pieces, then pin them together, pulling the fabric taut until the covering is neatly shaped to the sofa.

Use a sewing machine to make the seam stitches. Lightly press the seams flat with an iron, and then turn it onto its right side before positioning it over the sofa. Smooth the fabric over the sofa, and then pull it taut while using a staple gun to secure the fabric to the back and under part of the sofa. Check the fabric patterns or lines to make sure the covering is being attached evenly as you go along.

Once the upholstery fabric is secured to the sofa frame, cover the raw fabric edges by stapling another piece of fabric to the back and underside of the sofa, making sure to fold in its edges for a finished look.

For extra comfort, make large sofa pillows for the back using the same upholstery fabric. Decorate and accent the sofa even more with complementing pillows and throws.

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About the Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on various websites. Manal received her Bachelor of Science in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.