How to give an old sofa a new lease of life with reeded wood detailing and new cushions

DIY reeded sofa painted green

If you find this post useful, pop over & give me a follow on Instagram or Tiktok where I share all the behind-the-scenes info about the projects I'm working on, DIY tips, tricks and money-saving techniques for creative home styling! Or come and learn my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to home interiors with my online course.

I completed this DIY reeded sofa project in 2020 and debated whether or not to write about it as I wasn’t sure there would be a big demand for people wanting to do it in their own house and I also wanted to make sure it all stayed intact as would hate to share a step by step only to find bits of wood started pinging off every time someone sat down! However, I’ve recently received a few messages from people requesting more details & it’s been well and truly tested with my children jumping all over it, so here it is… my, nothing if not controversial, DIY reeded sofa!

The why…

Old tatty grey sofa

See what I mean! It was originally a corner sofa but I'd chopped the corner off!

Firstly, please note the sofa in question was very old and very tatty & cost under £300 to start with - many years ago. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this for an expensive or well-made sofa - if you have one of these then I’d probably sell it on the secondary market and let someone else enjoy it. No one would’ve enjoyed this old sofa and I hate the idea of adding to the serious landfill issues that we already have so looked for ways to fall in love with it or at the very least extend its life by a year or two.

Secondly, this DIY reeded sofa is not a living room, snuggle in front of the TV type sofa. It’s located in our back room which doesn’t have a TV, looks out onto the garden and has a wall of bi-folds (think indoor/outdoor vibes) which means (*well I think it means) you can get away with garden/conservatory-style furniture.

So, now I’ve crowbarred in all the reasons why you shouldn’t troll me for this project (I’m mentally scarred after a brief foray onto Reddit where some people (not all) revel in anonymously posting the most offensive comments they can think of…ouch!) let’s jump into the ‘how’…

An old sofa or chair that is beyond repair

Tape measure

Mitre box and saw

Half dowel rods

No more nails

Tools and materials
tatty old grey sofa
customised reeded wood sofa (Claire Douglas)
Reeded wood sofa

  • Measure sofa arms and base (anywhere you wish to cover with half dowels)
  • Cut half dowels using a mitre box.
  • Note: use a straight cut on both ends for the based board area vs one straight end and one angled cut for the arms to allow the dowels to join neatly along the edges.
  • Glue the cut dowels into position using grab adhesive. My favourite is no-more nails.
  • Sand any rough edges paying particular attention to the angled joins on the armrests.
Reeded sofa in scandi styled living room
Reeded sofa painted grey
Reeded sofa painted green

  • I initially left the dowels unpainted for a more Scandi look but eventually got bored (a common theme) & painted various different shades over the following months. Well, who wouldn’t want to match their sofa colour to their shelf accessories right?!

Sofa cushions swapped out
Cushion close up
Pimped sofa with reeded wood and new cushions

You could just end the DIY reeded sofa revamp here, but I went a stage further by taking off the back sofa cushions and squashing the foam filling into some huge, cushion covers from H&M which completely changed the look. I then styled with tasseled throws and funky cushions (also from H&M.

Isn‘t it uncomfortable?

Nope, because you don’t sit or even lean on the dowels. The sofa cushions are still there to provide all the comfort so a DIY reeded sofa is no different to say a rattan sofa that you find in every garden centre around.

Don’t the wood strips fall off?

Nope, because no-more nails is ridiculously good at bonding materials so that wood is not going anywhere (in fact it’s going to be a chore to prize it off when I eventually decide to change it up again).

Did it take long to do?

I did this DIY reeded sofa project over the course of a couple of evenings back in lockdown but you could easily complete in a day.

Was it hard to join the dowels?

A mitre box makes light work of cutting precise and regular angles so as long as you have one of those it’s a breeze.

How much did it cost?

I honestly can’t remember how many half dowels I used but it will depend on the size of sofa (or armchair) that you are covering. I’m pretty sure the wood and glue came to under £60 though.

I'm Claire Douglas, a DIY and home interiors writer and content creator specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for work, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course which is launching soon. Subscribe to my mailing list for updates on exciting projects, course updates and money-saving discounts.

Recommended products (ad-affiliate links)

DIY Product of the week
Screenshot 2023-09-09 at 14.52.56.png
Wickes London Antique Brass Round Rose Door Handle - 1 Pair - £18

Furniture find of the week
Screenshot 2023-08-22 at 17.53.59.png
My Dusk Soho 2 seater sofa is in the sale!

Lamp of the week
M&S scalloped lamp.jpg
One of my favourite buys from M&S (£59) trendy scalloped lamp

Chair of the week
Screenshot 2023-08-22 at 18.30.55.png
Stylish accent chair for under £100
Share this post