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

 

 

Kitchen Remodel: Phase II

Remember the Phase I post from a few days ago?

You wonder– is she actually done?!
Done is often such a subjective word, don’t you think? It’s like perfect– can the pure meaning of those words exist in the world of paint or furniture placement? No, really– JB wants to know if done exists in someone else’s house.

Ahem. So the answer is no, I’m not done. But I’ve met the first major milestone– a working kitchen, with many, many coats of beautiful brilliant white paint.

There are handles to rehang and another coat of paint (hmmm…sharpie?) around the counter-tops. Speaking of molding– we need some around the top of the cabinets. And to add the furniture feet at the kick plates. And to paint the door (quick, no one look up– so don’t wanna paint that popcorn ceiling!)

But not tonight.

I’m also going to move two of our bookshelves to surround the big dining room window, adding cabinet doors at the bottom to mimic a built-in look. Which means more sanding/priming/painting.

But not tonight.

I want to add beadboard inserts to replace the current panels in the cabinet doors (paint the beadboard after cutting, then it’s just a simple glue-caulk-quicky top coat type of install). Yes, I did stare at a package of wood shims for 10 minutes, trying to decide if they could be turned into some facsimile of beadboard. Then I stared at the dremel kit and considered.

JB googled the instructions for involuntary commitment of spouse.

Thankfully, none of that is happening tonight.

The computer-armoire-turned-food-pantry needs more shelves. All the cabinets either need shelves or vertical stacking systems. Maybe some pull out drawers. Both the kitchen and dining room windows need new curtains.

But not tonight.

I want a new dining room table– round this time. Which would then free up the current table to be scavenged for parts. That I plan to turn into a mini-kitchen island. With a pot rack. On wheels.

But not tonight.

Why? Because last night, what you saw up there looked like:

Me? I set up a hard deadline by hosting my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner here today. For 11 people. Why? Because I’m not stupid organized enough to fall for those soft, internal deadlines. I need the adrenaline-fueled energy that can only come from a looming event requiring the use of whatever space is currently deconstructed.

I’m supposed to run–5.5 miles. Anyone want to take the over/under on whether THAT happens tonight?

But I did at least find the inspiration for the design– what great paper! Yes, it did occur to me to use it as wall paper accents in some of the panels. Yes, JB did threaten to lock me in the bathroom if I came within 10 feet of the kitchen with wallpaper paste. Now all I have to do is narrow down the accent color. Bright turquoise blue? Shhh… orange?

The Beauty of Love

This was the little story that JB and I (snort, who we kidding, it was I, all I) included on our wedding announcement. Sweet, hunh?

Now, that I rediscovered the thing a few hours after screeching for him to bring me crowbar? Just amusing.
That he brought me the crowbar, with the only comment delivered being a reminder to not accidentally knock a hole in the wall? That’s trust– trust I haven’t necessarily earned.

But, hey, when I did this to the wall, in a different room, a week later, I had it patched long before he got home!

Why is the trust so impressive? Well, I ask you all– do you know what your couch looks like under the fabric and foam?

I do. I absolutely know that most couches are made of a few pieces of wood and some really strong cardboard. Why? Because I took a reciprocating saw to our old one once, just to see.

Any-hoo. I needed that crowbar because I was doing my own version of Habitat for Humanity for the homeless stuff in our house. Mostly mine. And the Small People. Not much of it is JB’s. That’s the issue with DIY (and ADHD). A person needs supplies if they are going to craft their own environment. An ADHDer goes and buys those supplies, shoves them in a drawer, laundry basket, box, bag, or closet which promptly wipes stuff’s existence from working memory. Then, while frantically looking for a missing plastic shark for the Smallest Small Person, she opens up a box, and it’s christmas all over again.

I can’t even claim this behavior is new– I’ve always been this way. Which is probably why I hooked up with a guy who moved the totality of his belongings in a Saturn Coupe, whilst I needed a 17 foot uhaul.

Then the hoarder and the minimalist had two children, whereupon they realized their stuff spreads like kudzu over a southern telephone pole. And just like kudzu, you can metaphorically burn that shit to the ground, only to step on the sharpest part of a lego brick which is lying in mocking repose right next to your bed, the very next morning. True story: I threw away a plastic kazoo 17 million times– before finally crushing it to death in the driveway and throwing it in the neighbor’s trashcan. Never underestimate the staying power of a cheap (yet costly in its annoyance factor) toy.

I started with some free wire shelving and some not-so-free tracks and brackets (why, pray tell, are those damn brackets $3.50 each? Because if you don’t want the shit to fall down, you have to buy them, that’s why). And technically those shelves were installed a few months ago– just not correctly and were being held up with duct tape, which just isn’t safe.

Thus it went from this:

to this:

Ahhh— I might not be able to get a whole room of my own, but dammit I made myself a writing nook–as per my not-resolution resolution’s list to write more. And no nook would be complete without my Quixote, ready to tilt at some windmills. And all the old shoe boxes I decoupaged, thus saving them from JB’s need to throw away the things I’m saving finishing the planned upcycling project.

One mess done, one giant one to go.

Bunk Bed Tents

Before anyone starts doing the cough-laugh thing whilst whispering “bless her heart” to themselves… I know. I feel the same way about the tent portion of the bed tent. The images on the inside? I traced what they wanted from that google place onto leftover scrap material, added some acrylic paint (and some glow in the dark paint) and was done in an hour. JB did the Millennium Falcon, after he fell to the floor laughing about how my version looked like a penis with some sort of testicle disease.

I had many,many dreams for the bed tents (damn you, pinterest!) But dreams are dreams and reality is, well. Life. 😀

Dream: You wait until the last minute (December 21st…) for stuff like this, while blithely waving your hand, saying, “it’ll take me an hour– tops”.
Reality: Your youngest child will puke that night followed by your oldest, 48 hours later. In between they will seek your love and attention. You will feel like a douchebag for ditching them to sew. You sigh and sit with your children. As it should be.

Dream: You will decide to wait until Christmas night, since you know you are getting a new sewing machine.
Reality: Sixteen seconds after you get motivated to unpack the new toy, you– and the rest of the street, oy he’s loud– hear your husband vomit. He will then spend the first 2 days of vacation either holding down the couch, or sitting really still on the floor watching cars spin on a track. I must pause and give some love– he was made a strong effort to play enough with the kids that I wasn’t bombarded the entire time.

Dream: Your husband is finally well enough to take kids away from the house for a 3 hour window. You can finish the tents!
Reality: You realize that the very reinforced window is crooked as hell. You will also realize that the up-cycled bed sheet is so old that ripping out seams is not an option. You nash your teeth, figure out a way to hang the monstrosity in the living room window and stare at it for 2 days.

Dream: You’ll just start over, you think.
Reality: Your kid has already said he didn’t care about the crooked window. If you start over you are in direct conflict with the “not everything has to be perfect”** life vibe you keep preaching.

Solution: You do your tracing thing and hot glue gun the pictures over the crooked window, which will now face the wall. Then you glance at your shiny new sewing machine and the now-hated bed tent. You feel the weight of the already heated glue gun. You hot glue gun the rest of it– sewing be damned.

**will resist urge to obsess about making upgraded bed tents. will…resist…**

Don’t trash it, repurpose it!

Don’t trash it, repurpose it! This is why I am sort of a hoarder-light. There are so many things that I can look at and think, “NO, that’s not GARBAGE! It can be reused. Into what, I have no idea.”

My darling husband is more of a, once a shower curtain, always a shower curtain kind of guy. So when our dog decided to protest the Small People by eating most of the puzzle pieces JB would have tossed the leftovers.

But I saw future opportunity! Snatching up the square tiles and hiding them adding them to my craft collection, they sat patiently for 3 years.

Apparently I’m on an anti-Pottery Barn kick. Because as I flipped through their christmas decorations and saw these signs (and prices), I immediately thought about my lonely puzzle boards.

Pottery Barn Hanging Signs

In two nights of half-watching South Park and Robot Chicken with the husband, I made these. Not perfect, not totally done. More importantly? Definitely not $100 worth of once-a-year-signs. I’m going to guesstimate my cost at $10 bucks, because once upon a time I had to buy the puzzles, the paint and the brushes. But they were all in-house when I got inspired. Which is why I don’t throw anything away.

Scattermom version

Do normal people finish things?

Do normal people actually finish things? Is my fantasy of this place where projects are completed and all of the stuff has a predesignated space just a myth. Are there more people like me, who have a dozen projects residing in either the plan or execute phase and–very rarely–the finished phase? Stuff makes me crazy. Disorder makes my brain hurt. Paying retail prices for just about anything makes stomach hurt. My heart aches over the creative things that I never get to, because it takes too long to shift, dig, and sort through all of the stuff.

I’d like to take this opportunity to blame my piles and unfinished-ness on my ADHD, thankyouverymuch. Impulse begets purchasing things that you aren’t ready to actually start yet. Random, creative thinking gives second lives to otherwise landfill-bound stuff. Which means that I have a hard time letting go of things.

And even as I cognitively realize that there are people who have control of their lives, I have to wonder if it is actually the norm. Mostly I just hope it’s not because that means I would actually be closer to normal.

For those of you that can actually take a package to the post office and mail it before the dust accumulates, well you’ll think I’m a moron. Whatever.

I have problems following a linear path even with the lines drawn out in the road. Well, here, let me try and explain with a recent example.

Since Memorial Day weekend, I’ve been in one of my “get rid of, put away, finish” things. I’ve been freecycling, craigslisting, and goodwilling. I started with the baby clothes in the basement. Which motivated me to clean out the playroom–they have too many toys, they can’t even decide what to play with. The storage system just wasn’t working, the cube idea is cute and all, but the bins don’t stay sorted. I upcycled one of our leftover cabinets from 2008’s kitchen makeover (of course I kept them! I might need it for something!) into a book shelf so I could switch over to the clear, plastic bins. My brain got away from me during the process and I ended up trying to make the bookshelf look like a house, but it just didn’t look right outside of my brain. The cabinet/shelf was fine though. Yes, I have pictures. Yes, I’m too lazy to get up and go download them off of the camera right now. I’ll post ’em later.

By cleaning, sorting, and purging through too many toys, I reclaimed a line of wall space in my bedroom where two rubbermaid tubs had become toy boxes. But three little projects before I finished the playroom, I got distracted and started cleaning through the piles in the bedroom. And, once again, before I was done with either the playroom or the bedroom, I decided to clean out the top of the boys’ bedroom closet. Until yesterday, that closet space was the home to several random glass antiques, a broken coo coo clock, Joel’s ski bibs, and a korean hand fan. Now it has a giant box of kid winter and hand-me-down clothes, so at least the contents are appropriate and those clothes are off my floor. Of course, the clothes were replaced by previous closet residents. My piles are like an elaborate game of tetris. I do not have the high score.

Even now, I’m blogging because–thanks to the great bedroom re-org–I got motivated to finish the floor pillows I planned for the playroom. And by finish, I really mean start. I found all of the necessary items–pillow forms, fabric, thread–under my bed. The project was fresh in my mind after spending 7 hours in the hot, hot NC sun at the Spencer Transportation Museum today. Like the Grouchy Ladybug, at 6pm I looked at the unfinished project and said, “do you want to fight?” and got started. Everything is cut and pinned for three pillows, because if I was going to do one, I might as well do all three of them. In truth, all I’ve done is make a giant mess in the middle of the bed right…….before…….losing……interest.

Now it’s either:
1) finish the pillows, because otherwise I need to unpin the fabric and will have wasted all of my time investment.
2) create a new pile (mess) in a new place (top of dresser) to finish (not to be seen for another 6 months) later.

Decisions, decisions.