After my 3 year stint working at my local Urban Outfitters, among some of the treasures I brought home was a victorian sofa that made its living as the shoe-trying-on couch. When Urban started making its change-up and moving away from the grungy Victorian thing they began throwing out their old stock. Ol’ couchy was destined for the dumpster out back! Seeing as there was nothing really wrong with it I thought I’d take it home. We didn’t really have space for it but I couldn’t leave it. It moved from apartment to apartment with us and even made it off to college in Santa Barbara with my sister where it was deemed “granny couch” by her roommates. Eventually after getting its own kind of college education it came back to live with us where we had even less space for it. Into storage it went.
The upholstery on the couch had a few small stains on it but was in great physical shape so I always wanted to try painting it. I saw some super cool DIY projects online where people re-stained and painted their stuff. It seemed you could really only go from lighter to darker though, but since the upholstery was a lighter yellow I thought it’d be a good candidate. In recent days I had been experimenting with my new splash dyeing technique on tees when my husband came up with an idea. Why don’t you try it on the couch? The idea intrigued and scared me all at once but we had to try it.
With splash dyeing I needed a white base to dye one but I wasn’t sure if I could take the upholstery to white. I knew darker had been done but never lighter. We decided to go for it anyway. So I bought a bunch of white paint and fabric medium and went to work. My husband and I both worked on it for a few weeks… coating, letting dry and repeating. It needed about 4 or 5 coats to bring it to an even-enough tone of white. Then came time to add color. I was scared, I’d never done anything on this large of a scale before but we just jumped in. It was terrifying. Every color I added ran like crazy. The white coats of paint basically waterproofed the upholstery and vinylized it. So my husband, armed with the hairdryer, dried after every color dyed. The technique wasn’t turning out at all like I expected, it was better! It was kinda making a graffiti effect on the upholstery. The colors were holding too! Couchy had finally come into his own!
After letting it dry for a day or two we did a photo-shoot and couchy went up on Etsy. (Check out the listing on Etsy here: Splash Dyed Sofa – Painted Victorian Couch – ONE of a KIND Avant Garde Street Art Graffiti Artistic Rainbow Upholstered Masterpiece. Sounds pretentiously awesome, right? My husband came up with that one.) Immediately couchy blew up! Everyone loved it and within a few weeks we were contacted by MTV. They purchased it a few days later. We wrapped up couchy and sent it off to be shipped freight to New York. (Thanks to Orange County Crating for their excellent packing and shipping service). We wished couchy luck on its trip to the Big Apple, hoped it had a good life ahead of it!