How To Dye a Faded Sofa

I never knew how much I liked navy blue sofas until Pinterest came along.  I found myself pinning rooms with navy sofas over and over again.  They add this subtle drama and swank to a space and I was feeling so drawn to the look.

Of course, we weren’t in the market for a new sofa.  The sofa I reupholstered for our family room is still going strong in our new house and we had put furnishing the living room pretty far down on the priority list.

Then one day I was trolling Craigslist (probably for chairs since I am lately a hoarder of vintage chairs) and I somehow came across this Ballard Designs Griffin Sofa in navy blue twill with antique brass nailheads and legs with little brass wheels.

I mean…come on.  The price was too good to pass up so I went to see it and while the lines and details were just gorgeous, I couldn’t help but notice some major fading.

How to dye, darken, and generally freshen an old, faded sofa - from The Chronicles of Home

I took a leap of faith here, though, for two big reasons – the fabric was washable and all the cushion covers were removable, and I suspected navy blue would be an easy color to deepen with fabric dye.

I bought every box of Navy Blue Rit fabric dye my local store had, removed all the sofa’s seat and back cushion covers, and washed them in my washing machine as the Rit box specified – I used three boxes total for all the covers.

How to dye, darken, and generally freshen an old, faded sofa - from The Chronicles of Home

This method required quite a lot of salt and made a bit of a mess of my washer, but I followed the washer cleaning instructions when I was finished and it looked good as new afterwards.

The results were absolutely everything I’d hoped for – the cushions now looked fresh and new and deeply saturated.

How to dye, darken, and generally freshen an old, faded sofa - from The Chronicles of Home

For the body of the sofa, I mixed up a diluted solution of the dye – about a tbsp. of powder to 3 cups of water, and used an old sponge to work the dye into all the parts of the sofa that couldn’t be removed.  I wore rubber gloves and lay towels down everywhere around where I was working because the dye will stain anything it touches!

I wouldn’t recommend this method for the seat cushions as some of the dye might rub off, but it worked perfectly for the upholstered parts of the frame.  I even tested laying my arm on the arm of the sofa in a white shirt (after the dye had dried!) and nothing rubbed off.

This sofa has been playing musical rooms and is currently keeping the ivory reupholstered sofa company in the family room.  As soon as I reupholster my chair hoard and we have some useable living room furniture, this sofa will move back to the living room.

So go forth and buy faded sofas with abandon!  Or freshen up a tired one you have sitting around.  You’ll be amazed at the difference.

How to dye, darken, and generally freshen an old, faded sofa - from The Chronicles of Home
  • Julia @cuckoo4design

    Ooooooooh (I’m having a big moment here)…that’s what you did!!! How awesome!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Haha! You are funny :)

  • Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

    That is ridiculously awesome! It looks gorgeous and I never would have been brave enough to try it! LOVE!
    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Brave…or crazy?? ;) But it all worked out! Thanks!

  • Emily @

    Wow!!! Fabulous! I’m so glad your answered the “rub off” question because I wondered that right from the start! I love what you did! Totally in awe! I follow you on IG but am a new follower of the blog! xo, Emily

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Hi Emily – so happy to have you here now too! And thanks :)

  • TheLittleBlackDoor

    What a difference! I love this post. That sofa is beautiful.

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thank you! It’s such a pretty sofa – I feel so lucky that I stumbled across it.

  • Rachel Rardon

    Wow. I loved that sofa before – and now that I know it’s resurrection story, I’m even more impressed. Great find! I can only imagine the patience it must have taken to do this process – a true DIY asset. :)

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Actually was relatively easy – always nice to have those from time to time :)

  • Cassie Bustamante

    WOW!!!!!! you are so amazing! what a dramatic difference!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thanks, girl!

  • Janice

    Wow! Who’s a clever girl!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Haha – hopefully me :)

  • Bethany DeVore

    wow, I can’t believe how well that worked! I’ll definitely be trying this if I get the chance!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      So worth a try!!

  • thediynurse

    I would’ve never tried this but it looks amazing. What a gorgeous couch!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thank you!

  • Kristin Cadwallader

    It looks great Jen! xo Kristin P.S. less than 1 month!!!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      I know – so excited!!

  • Gwen, The Makerista

    Looks so good!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thanks, sweets :)

  • Pam @ Simple Details

    You are a smart cookie!! That looks fabulous!!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thanks, friend!

  • Danielle Driscoll

    Wow! Great tip! Looks a-maz-ing! x

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Was holding my breath it would work…phew!

  • Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication

    That sofa is GORGEOUS! What an awesome find! So glad this method worked so well!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Believe me…me too!!

  • Megan Harvey

    Just discovered you from Pinterest and knew from this Craigslist score you had to be in my area bc I too, was also eyeing this beauty this past winter! Boston CL is the best! Love your style and I’m so thrilled to have discovered your blog.

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Ha, how funny! Even weirder – the couple I bought it from wound up knowing my husband from college. Such a small, small world sometimes.

  • freckleschick4

    AHMAZING. I didn’t realize you had dyed it to give it new life. Looks absolutely stunning!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Thanks, girl :) It felt a little risky – so glad it worked out in the end!

  • Jennifer Susil Griffin

    Jennifer, this is so, so smart! I love your new couch so much! It’s been a long time since I’ve dyed anything, but the washer method has always worked well for me too. I would have never thought to use it on a sofa!

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      I’ve never really worked with fabric dye before – so glad it worked out!!

  • Katja | Shift Ctrl ART

    This is so awesome. Pinned! I used ritt dye on some curtains last year. It’s awesome stuff. Messy and awesome :)

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Oh my goodness, SO messy. But I kind of love it too. Not going to lie – I was a little nervous using it on a sofa, but it worked like a dream!

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