How to Repurpose a Crib into a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Small Sofa? Settee?  Large Chair?  I’m going with sofa.  This post will show you how to repurpose a crib into a mid-century inspired sofa.  Taking trash to treasure ranks in my Top 10 of all favorite things.

How to Repurpose a Crib into a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Not even an expensive, convertible crib.  Nope, nothing but the least-expensive-but-still-safe sleep prison for my precious darlings.

Wait, maybe not safe since it was one of the drop-side cribs of death, so it had be repurposed or get tossed in the garbage.   The crib spent some time repurposed as a lego table– but the boys prefer the floor.  How else does one plant lego brick landmines to maim the parents?  JB suggested we just throw the thing away as he watched me haul it back down to the basement.

One does not simply throw things away.

When I realized that my basement fort couldn’t be a permanent office and moved myself back upstairs, I justified the expense of my time with a low $50 materials budget.   Our basement overflows with items waiting for new life, and I’m trying really hard to live the life of an anti-over-consumer.

I ended up spending $80 total– for a gallon of paint, two new brushes, and $30 bucks a yard upholstery fabric (then 50% off!) and some extra foam.  To date, I’ve spent a max of $7 a yard, it took me several days to work up the nerve to even cut the fabric!

Here’s the crib in the so-clean, pre-Zach nursery.  Those hand-painted sea creatures would eventually cause night terrors in my babies— MOM WIN!  I still miss my giant goldfish (which you can see if you click the link).

Sea Creatures

My office needed a chair, but not an overflowing monstrosity like the one above. Something comfy, but practical.   Something, um, free.

I’ve seen many crib-into-bench ideas and since the mattress also sat in my basement, I decked it out at a little couch.

It looked like a crib and crib mattresses aren’t particularly comfortable to sit on when one weighs more than a baby.

I poked around the internet, looking at couches, choosing a few mid-century modern couch designs as inspiration.  Nice clean lines– furniture whose footprint matches its function, nary a superfluous poofy cushion in sight.

IMG_6512_large

Inspiration Couch

I’m going to tell you the truth- if you’ve ever cut a piece of wood with a power tool; sewn a semi-straight line; and used a stapler– this project is doable.

Step 1:  Shape the arms of your sofa.

Our crib had those high, arched sides.  No good.  I used a jig saw and cut down at an angle.  I like easy, so the highest point of my incline meets the back of the sofa.

Step 1  Cut the round sides

Step 2:  Let’s Get Stable!

You weigh more than a baby; is the crib sturdy enough?  You can see the original bottom of the crib under the cedar bunkie boards (yup, had those in the basement; I got them for $5 at a thrift store 3 years ago).  If you don’t have random bunkie boards, cut 2 x 4s to length, and screw them into the frame.

2 Step 2 Bunkie boards

Glue and nail a thin piece of wood to stabilize the wobbly spikes to stabilize your arms.   This also gives the flat, mid-century modern form when you start to shape with the foam.

2 Step 2 Assemble

Step 3: Foam strip, a lot of glue, and even more tape.

3 Step 3 Lots of Glue and Tape and Foam

Sidebar:  Some 13ish years ago, adventurous friends helped me take a reciprocating saw to an over-stuffed couch, which is when we all learned that even pre-made furniture is largely shaped with cardboard.

Step 4: Cardboard for shape. Cardboard for stability. Cardboard 4 life.

Your goal here is to give a solid foundation to shape the cushions.  I had a few heavy duty shipping boxes (see above about not throwing things away).

4 Step 4 Add Cardboard for Stability

Step 5:  Padding

Turtles? What the what?  So. My mom made custom crib bumpers for the still-gestating first grandbaby.  I tied them so tight– no choking!– that they had to be sliced off with a very sharp knife, rendering them useless as crib bumpers. For years they’ve hung out in my scrap fabric project box just waiting…  to be put back together with the crib.  I used the bumpers to fill in the padding on the sofas arms.  Reunited, and it feels so good.

5 Step 5 Building up the cushions for the sides

Step 6:  Assemble the first layer of padding. 

Padding inserted, everything’s nailed or glued down.  Incidentally, this is about when I headed downstairs to look for a heavy-duty stapler.  That stapler is my new BFF.  Get a good stapler.  Tack nails and tape cannot replace a good stapler.   If they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire*…

6 Step 6 Building up the Arms and Back

*Dude! Officespace!

Step 7:  Estimate your fabric needs by making a pattern.

Large sheets make great slipcover/upholstery pattern pieces.  Unless, like me, you choose a fitted sheet. You can’t fold fitted sheets into neat squares because they are the devil’s work. Therefore, if you can’t fold it into a square, they will not make nice rectangles. But it did help me estimate my yardage (a king sized sheet is about 3 yards; I bought 4).

I ended up asking my first grader* about vertices and then drew out the geometry.  At the most basic, most furniture is nothing more than a simple quadrilateral.

*I’m only sort of kidding.

7 Step 7 Estimate Fabric Yardage and Measure your Shapes

Step 8:  A little more cushion, please.

Cardboard and thin foam isn’t very snuggly.  I intended to make a padded cushion with extra lower back support using scrap “mom, that’s too babyish for us” fabric and some of the 5 pound box of fiberfill I got on sale– 2 years ago.  THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER HAD I JUST BOUGHT FOAM*. Unless you are trying to prove something to yourself, just buy the foam.

*That deserved a yell.  I overstuffed the back cushion only to really notice the lopsidedness when I dry-fitted the upholstery fabric.  I’m not a perfectionist, but it was bad even by my standards and I had to rip out some of my precious staples to adjust the cushion stuffing because sofa Spanx doesn’t exist.  Lumpy is neither mid-century modern, nor comfy. When I reupholster other furniture, I will just buy the foam.

8 Step 8 Create a Back Cushion from Scrap Fabric

Step 9:  Embrace flexibility.

Remember how fitted sheets can’t become rectangles?  This is when old patterns come in handy.  Speaking of– have I mentioned that I can’t sew by following a pattern?  I can take stuff apart and make new things from it; I can look at an object and determine how to make the fabric piece together, but patterns– with their darts and seam allowances– make me all sorts of weepy.

9 Step 9 Old Patterns and Present Wrapping

Step 10: Foam on top

Take coupon and buy 2 yards of foam to smooth out the pillow.  Hey– they DO make soda Spanx! I stapled this stuff on top of my scrap-fabric cushion.

10 Step 10 Add Foam

Step 11:   Attachment

Staples– too many is not enough; so many 3/8 inch staples in this bad boy.  The fabric on the arms took the longest.  It’s in two pieces– the inner trapezium* meets the flat top of the outer trapezium.

*Seriously, that one I did learn from 1st grade common core math.

11 Step 11 Add Upholstry Fabric

Step 12:  Remember

You’ll say to yourself, naw– I’ve pulled the fabric too tight (you didn’t), and I’ve got enough staples (you don’t).

As for the edges? I found it helpful to think about neatly wrapping a present (not something I do much of– the neat part).  It’s the same sort of concept when wrapping a sofa.

12 Step 12 Wrapping the upholstery fabric

Step 13:  Details

I found button making thingys (that is the scientific name for them– my brain is spent after trapezium) on clearance for 97 cents.  I find absurd joy in making buttons.  I could make buttons ALL DAY LONG.

13 Clearance make your own buttons

Step 14:  Get a mascot and “borrow” your oldest child’s sonic screwdriver.

I haven’t put the knob back on the TARDIS door yet, which means you can’t get in without a flat-edged tool.  It’s funny until you actually lock yourself in there without a screwdriver one evening.

A few weeks ago I locked myself in on purpose as the boys left for karate.

Elliot: “Daaa–aaaddd! Mom locked herself in her TARDIS again!”

Zach: “Mom’s just gone to another dimension. She’ll be back by breakfast.”

Which would be hilarious enough, right?  Until several hours later, when this happened:

Elliot on his way to bed whispers through the door: “Breakfast is at 7, Mom. Don’t be late.”

Pure childhood memory gold, right?  Yes– except Elliot, at 5, has a grasp on reality somewhere in between  loosey and goosey.  A few days after my dimension field trip, Grumpy Cat (aka Tartar Sauce, aka TARDIS Sauce) showed up on my sewing table. Why?  BECAUSE I NEEDED A COMPANION.  Hard not to love that kid; he thinks JUST LIKE ME.

14 Repurposed Crib into mid-century inspired sofa

 

I even went and linked up at other DIY places this time.  Like My Repurposed Life and DIY Showoff

 

 

Ways to Repurpose Cardboard Boxes into Storage

I told y’all about that time I took a reciprocating saw to my living room couch, only to discover that the bulk of its shape was formed by cardboard, right?

That moment changed my life– and not just from listening to the myriad of excuses from JB on why I can’t have a reciprocating saw. For all his concerns, you’d think he’s afraid that I’m going to cut a hole in the wall, or something.
The real life changing moment came when I started considering how often I paid considerable amounts of money for products that could be disposed of in curbside recycling. Which led me to all the various ways one can repurpose cardboard boxes.

Thus began my love affair with repurposing our heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

These repurposed cardboard diaper boxes lasted Z at least 6 months.

15 month old Z rocking diaper box covered in contact paper.

66 month old Z rocking his box fort.

They’ve been building various forts, beds, and hotels from these boxes all summer. Finally, a common interest.

He and E intend to grow up to be hotel typhoons (tycoons).

This has also been the summer (for me) of committing to using what’s here before buying from the store. Homeless clutter needed clearly labeled homes.

Liquor boxes are perfect– separate compartments and very strong.

So many boxes and some left over spray paint… I do love to paint.

I do love to paint.

See, the clutter just needed someone to believe in it again– to look at what-some-would-consider-trash and find future purpose.

I dig it.

I mean some of these boxes were just another brick in the wall, you know?

I had to take down a few parts of the hotel.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, *weep* look at him, cleaning his brush!

Double imitation, double flattery, mega cheese.

You’re with me so far, right? Nodding your head, and considering all the various storage things that can be made from a leftover shoe box.

Liquor boxes, being designed to hold large glass bottles full of liquid courage are made from some really heavy-duty cardboard. Then the separate compartments? Begging to be a felt storage unit!

The best is the cost– NOTHING.

And then? Well then I saw these rough edges and thought: bias tape. But I didn’t want to use my good bias tape, because well… I have no idea. Ah-ah! Homemade bias tape– can’t be that hard!

This is where I entered the Ridiculous Zone.

Normal people don’t end up in these creative places.

At this point, the only remaining option was to:

Ideas for Repurposing a Crib: The Lego Table

I allow– nay, encourage — both kids to get down and dirty with the building projects. I want to pass the family tradition of DIY and hoarding repurposing common household items. Thus I started collecting ideas for repurposing an old crib about 2 years ago.

I love pinterest– I really do. However, long before wireless internet access and 4G networks, Good Housekeeping showed up in the mailbox. Women like Heloise shaped how I thought about housekeeping– and pantyhose.

Playing with Barbie to the background music of This Old House and Victory Garden adds up to more than a decade’s worth of subliminal suggestion. Mixing that with Wrath of Khan and the Shaolin Monk and… yeah, my formative years molded me eclectic.

Teaching children to see the world through the lens of creativity? Sort of my thing. The satisfaction of using real tools, of touching real wood cannot be replicated by Little Tyke.

When I repurposed the crib into their lego table, I had two very willing helpers.

Sand is a verb and the paint isn't crayola

An admitted side bonus of having them enjoy my hobby means that they are usually tolerant when I say “no, you can’t help paint with oil-based primer”. Usually.

Both of my babies slept in this crib–and my oldest starts kindergarten on Monday– but the Dropside of Death meant sending it to a landfill. Landfill? No way.

This past January, when I was deep in the swamp of kitchen cabinet painting, the boys and I did a side project on their crib.

Here– let me detail the steps:

    1) find your crib.
    2) wipe it off
    3) sand
    4) paint
    5) assemble three of the sides, leaving the 4th one available for a mystery project

Legos were assembled, children were happy, mom went back to being covered in white cabinet paint.

Then this started happening.

Picture showing a lego table made from 3 sides of a repurposed dropside crib

Granted if you replaced Legos with sticky notes, receipts, and pony tail holders their table looks a lot like my desk… still.

I used to feel like this each time I walked past the room.

Now, thanks to my handy Lego Storage System I: