Rehabbing leather furniture with Jill of All Trades

This week on Jill of All Trades, our Jill Washburn shows us how she rehabbed her leather sofa and gave it new life, so that she could get several more years of family use out of it.  

Jill’s sofa was originally a good brand name sofa that has been used and abused by family and pets alike. The cushions had lost their “cush” and the leather was scratched, scuffed, dried out, and fading.

Jill started with the cushions. She pulled out the foam filling and had new foam inserts made-to-measure, so that they fit perfectly. She also had them wrapped in Dacron batting. The Dacron makes the cushions a little more rounded and robust-looking. It also makes them a little easier to insert into the covers.  

Jill chose a medium density foam. With normal use, medium density foam should last another 6 to 7 years. Higher density foam would last longer, but it will feel firmer to start. Some people don’t want that for the place where they like to “Netflix and chill”. Lower density foam will give a super soft feel to the cushions, but it will also shorten their lifespan. Jill says that you can always replace the cushions again down the road, as long as your sofa’s in decent shape.

Many craft stores and sewing stores sell the foam that you would need to make the cushions. Jill chose to have the cushions made at The Foam Factory in Macomb Township. Ultimately, it was slightly cheaper (and much faster) to have them do the work, as opposed to buying full sheets of the materials and doing it herself. The cost for the new cushions? $123 and change.

Once the cushions were replaced, Jill says that her sofa had the feel that it had back when it was new.

Next, it was time to tackle rehabbing the leather.

First, Jill recommends a quick cleaning, maybe vacuuming or even a quick wipe-down with a damp rag.  

Next, a conditioner. Jill says that many products are available to renew leather, but she prefers the ones that have a creamier texture, compared to the liquid ones or spray-on ones.  Her favorite leather product is Howard’s Leather Conditioner. (If you can’t find it locally, it’s available at multiple places online, and should cost no more than $8.00/bottle.) She found that it gave her the best result, by far.  

If you want to use something that you already have around the house, Jill says you can try a little bit of olive oil on a soft rag. It will give you some improvement, but she found it didn’t work for her as well as the products specifically made for leather. Jill cautions you to test any product you choose in an inconspicuous place before you use it on the whole piece.  She even recommends using the leather conditioner occasionally on your leather furniture that is not in need of a rehab, just to keep the leather in good shape and to help keep it from fading.  

If your leather is really dried out, like Jill’s was, it may take multiple applications of leather conditioner to reach the desired effect. It’s really quick to apply, and to dry. Just give it a little time to soak in and dry between coats.

Total cost for Jill’s sofa rehab? About $138.00. Not bad when you consider what it would cost to replace a quality leather sofa.


To watch Jill describe how she rehabbed her sofa, click on the video player above.