Mx Lauren

The frugal decorator, a tan leather couch DIY Tutorial

The dream, a trendy tan leather couch. What eclectic home could be complete without the tan brown couch?

But uh, I’m on a budget mate. Nothing about my life wants me to spend more than $500 on a couch, I never have, and I doubt I ever will. But I like the treeends! And a tan leather couch? Minimum $700 for a cheapie up to $3000 for a lux one!

Champagne taste on a grape juice budget… So what am I going to do…. da da da…. Im going to DO IT MYSELF!

I did some Googling and found out about painting leather, that’s right, you can paint leather! Now I don’t buy leather goods anymore, for ethical reasons, but I also am into sustainability and recycling, so I decided I would buy a second hand leather couch. It’s all about balance baby!

So, in a funny twist of events, after hunting on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for a few weeks, I ended up with the EXACT same couch that the DIY blogger used! Haha wow, I guess we both have good taste.

Full credit to Katie Steuernagle who did this in 2016 and you can see her original blogs about it on Apartment Therapy and

It must have been subliminal, my criteria was really just a slimline, modern, leather couch.

I ended up paying $200 this one, it was in good condition and it’s an IKEA leather couch. It was only after I got the couch I went and Google’d the blog again, and realised I’d bought the exact same couch as Katie! Haha. Oh well.

I drove to all the key cutting and shoe repair shops near me and bought a few small bottles of the Angelus leather paint mentioned. I couldn’t get the tan colour in store, so I bought one online from a sneaker shop. Turns out handbags and shoes is what leather paint is usually used for.

I tried some samples.

I decided on the tan, and found another shoe repair shop that would custom order the larger bottle, a 750ml bottle, in for me. This took a week to arrive and two more weeks for me to go pick up haha.

Finally, I was ready to start.

Before, nothing wrong with this couch except for one worn away patch, and the gross dark dark brown!

Getting started:

The original blogger Katie used a sponge, so I tried that, a paintbrush, a rag, a roller, I wasn’t particularly happy with any of the options.

My least favourite was the roller, I have this theory that the paint “pulled up” as it rolled and was leaving little popped like bubble craters. Where as my Dad loved this method!

The hardest part about this whole process is that:

is that it will be unfinished, right until it’s finished.

I had to wait for the paint to dry, before I could really go further, so it was a little slow, and when I didn’t wait long enough, I fucked it up.

I used a rag for a while, I had a theory that I need to “smodge” in the first coat into the grain, so I tried really hard to do thin coats using a rubbing motion.

I also decided to do the steam first, I felt like the thread and seams might take more coats, and it was trickier in these areas so I thought better to do it first, same like painting, cutting in the edges.

It was easier to paint the cushions so I was doing them in full while doing cutting in on the couch, and finally starting the see what it would look like.

Pretty happy with that finish!

Work in progress:

I was waiting at least a day between coats, and then I didn’t.


And then I started layering it again, and FAAAARK!

I’m not too sure what happened, I didn’t wait for it to dry, and then I tried to wipe off the excess, and that took off more paint.

Oh well. Just more time and layers.

I started using the hairdryer to dry the paint as I went along, doing the bit under this cushion was very tricky, my arm muscles got a workout, that’s for sure, as I had to pull up the cushion, paint the inner seam bit, and then hair dry it so it didn’t stick together and pull off. I did start using baking paper in the seams so the cushions didn’t touch each other, that worked well.

I was pretty close at this stage. I moved into my new house and finished it off in my garage. Another thing I found out the hard way, is that too much heat is also bad. On 40 degree Celsius day with the couch in my hot box garage, two pieces touched, paint melted, and pulled off all layers perfectly. Aaaaaaagh. I’ve now decided that imperfection gives it character and have left it lol.

So how much did it cost?

Second Hand Ikea Leather Couch: $200
Angus Leather Paint: $90 (big bottle) $20 in sample pots
Painting Tools (Brush, sponge, bag of rags): $15

Total: $325

(and a lot of labor!)

So, the grand reveal…

Worth it?

Hell yes! This is meaningful spending to me! I don’t want to follow fast fashion, I avoid a lot of trends, don’t consider myself super stylish, but I was drawn to this style of couch and I wanted it! Would I do this again? Hell yell! Saving anywhere from $600 – $2600 on a couch is fine by me!

It’s been a few months now, it’s comfy, large enough to lie down, I spend a good amount of time there. Spending that $200, which was more than I wanted to originally, was worth it to get a good quality couch. I plan for this couch to be in my house for many years to come!

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