A beautiful couch brings your home up to date.

How to Update a Couch

by Joanna Hughes

Let's face it: Sofas take a lot of abuse. Between kids and pets, the average sofa is subject to dirty sneakers, juice stains, stray fur and other messes that detract from its original beauty. A few updates within your chosen price range can give your hardworking sofa a beautiful new life.

1. New Fabric, New Couch

While reupholstering a sofa can seem expensive, it's a solid investment in the care and maintenance of a fine piece of furniture. Reupholstery doesn't just mean new fabric -- a skilled craftsman can also reinforce the structure, replenish worn filling and add decorative details, such as studs and piping. This also lets you swap out the fabric for something more stylish or durable, such as microfiber or cotton. You can achieve this goal at a lower price by using a slipcover. These can be purchased at any home goods store or online, and come in a range of shapes and sizes to fit most standard couches and loveseats.

2. Pillow Power

If you don't want to reupholster your sofa, consider purchasing new throw pillows. Choose colors that complement your couch, or go for something bolder: a graphic pattern or bright accent color that will not only liven up your sofa, but the entire room. A new blanket or throw can have the same effect -- adding color and texture to a previously dull space.

3. Nice Legs

Not many people think twice about the legs of a sofa, but they are actually an interesting way to inexpensively update your couch. Many companies stock interchangeable sofa legs in stylish shapes and finishes. In many case, the swap is as simple as unscrewing your current sofa legs and screwing in the new ones. Just be sure they're compatible with your sofa before making your purchase. Another way to enhance your couch legs is by painting them yourself. Before doing so, make sure the furniture is not an heirloom piece that painting might devalue. If it's not, pick a color and go for it.

4. Cleanliness Counts

It's amazing how a little dirt can have a big impact -- and sofas can get pretty dirty. First, remove all the cushions and vacuum out the crevices and creases of the sofa. If the cushion covers can be removed, throw them in the washing machine or bring them to the dry cleaners. If not, head to your nearest market and pick up a sofa and carpet cleaning solution. Many grocery stores now rent handheld carpet cleaners, which you can use to make the job even easier. Read the label on the sofa first to make sure your couch can handle the cleaning, particularly if it's silk or another delicate fabric. If you're not up to the task yourself, call a local upholstery cleaning service. They'll come to your home, and the job can be done in an afternoon; the results are transformational.

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