Sep 13, 2013 - Recycle & Reuse    12 Comments

Retro Outdoor Furniture Makeover

I am excited to share my retro outdoor furniture makeover!  When my husband’s grandmother passed, we inherited her retro patio sofa.  It had seen better days, probably in the 50′ or 60′s when she purchased it.  It was upholstered in a funky green floral plastic, similar to an outdoor table-cloth.  The foam of the seat had torn and tiny chunks of deteriorated foam came cascading out.  My husband duck taped the worse of the two cushions to help keep the mess to a minimum.  It was a very funky upholstery job to say the least.  BUT, the sofa had such fun retro lines and was quite comfortable so I decided to give the whole thing a makeover.

Retro Outdoor Furniture Makeover

I started by looking at outdoor fabrics.  There is a huge selection of fabrics made for outdoors but they are still quite pricy.  Most were between $12-$25 a yard.  I knew I wanted something with green to keep in styling with my green umbrella, the trees, grass, and overall nature feel I was going for.  Also, since the sofa had soft rounded lines, I knew that any geometric design would mean a very difficult sewing project that I wasn’t up for.  I hit my local Home Fabrics and found this Robert Allen outdoor fabric for only $3 a yard!  It was organic, green, and the perfect price.

Retro Outdoor Sofa Makeover

Then it was time to search for the foam.  I thought the fabric was going to be the expensive part, but no.  My search for outdoor or indoor foam was a bust until….I remembered seeing a large “sleeping” pad for camping at Home Depot this summer.  It was larger than I needed, about the right thickness and for just $20 bucks.  I wasn’t sure it would work since it isn’t the fancy “OUTDOOR” padding, but it has been fantastic!

Retro Outdoor Sofa Makeover

Because of the funky and irregular shape of the cushions, I laid them on top of the foam and traced them with a marker.  Then I cut them out with a sharp kitchen knife.  I set them back up on the sofa frame to make sure they would work and they did.

Retro Outdoor Sofa Makeover

The sofa frame was in decent shape.  It had started to rust slightly and I felt that the creamy white paint needed a change.  Since the railing on our deck is black wrought iron, I thought a black paint would be best.  I chose Rustoleum Ultimate Black Hammered spray paint.  It turned out better than I could have imagined.  It is VERY easy to use and gives a bright, shinny, black paint finish right over the rust.  All I did was wipe down the white base (this is NOT a paid post, I just LOVE this paint).

Retro Outdoor Sofa Makeover

For the back of the sofa I just made a slip cover for the existing cushion.  It wasn’t coming apart and I had a hard time finding one that was thin and pliable like the original so I went with it.  The bottom cushions were covered with the Robert Allen fabric too.  I made them so they could be easily removed and washed if needed.

Retro Outdoor Sofa Makeover

So there you have my updated Retro Outdoor Sofa!  I love how comfortable it is, inexpensive it was to recover, and the drama and depth that the black paint added (and how it looks with the black background in the new fabric).  I was nervous to tackle outdoor furniture but since working on this patio sofa, I’m ready to tackle more outdoor projects.  And, since I actually finished this months ago, I can tell you, it has held up fantastic in the summer sun, and fall heavy rains.  The foam dries out in no time, especially since the outdoor fabric repels so much of the water that falls on it.

Retro Outdoor Furniture Makeover

Have you made over any outdoor furniture?  How did you do it?

Share in the comments below.

Linked Up: Tatertots & Jello, Funky Junk




  • WOW your outdoor sofa looks brand new, what a wonderful job you did. Love the fabric. Smart to recover back cushions. Paint, fabric, great you got the foam at such a great price. Smart gal, saving money when you can. Glad it’s held up for the summer and thru rain storms. A very good job well done. Happy weekend.

    • Thanks for getting it JaneEllen, and making my weekend with your sweet comments :)

  • It’s posts like these that make dark thoughts creep up in my head like- “I wish someone with cool stuff would die and leave me stuff… or not ’cause that’s messed up, nevermind nevermind!”

    Yeah, uhm, haha. It looks seriously cool. You’ve done an amazing job restoring it :)

  • This looks fabulous. I just saw the matching chair for sale at an Antique store this weekend. Too funny!

    • Kathy, Are you serious? That is hilarious! Any idea how much they were asking?

  • I was given the same style furniture in a glider and swivel chair when I was unable to pay the garage sale price. The original cushions were a similar design to yours, colors of orange & yellow, with foam turning to dust. I used the old cushions for a pattern, made new cushions and have painted them hammered black also. After15+years later, it’s time to refreash the pieces I have and you’ve given me the inspiration.
    There is also a chaise lounge in this style , that I spied one day for $75 and really wished I had splurged. The style had a a very, floaty, curvy structure. Very groovy!!!

    Thanks and best wishes from Kansas, z

  • Hello! A friend just gave me a vintage Homecrest glider sofa and rocker barrel chair. I’ve been looking all over the Web for instructions on restoring them. First, you just painted over the rust? Second, how did you make the he covers easily removable? Zipper, velcro?

    Thanks, you did a terrific job!

  • Love, love, love this! Please email me , I need more info. I have a whole set of this furniture and need to get more info.

  • Oh my goodness! I have this exact same sofa AND the matching chairs and footstool! ! I also inherited it from a super stylish lady with obvious great taste. My cushions are in sad shape too- and in looking for fabric to redo them— I stumbled across your blog! I’m so glad I did- the foam tip is greatly appreciated. Your sofa turned out great!!!

  • looking good

  • nice post

Got something to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!