Leather couch seating renewal - advice?

We have a leather sectional that needs help with the seating surfaces, and even as an experienced handy/craft/DIYman I am slightly stumped on the best approach.

**Long form: **we have had this Nicoletti sectional for almost ten years, and with respect to the “buying for value” threads I can say it was one of our best household purchases. Other than one corner delicately nibbled by a Great Dane puppy and moderate wear to the seating leather, it’s in excellent condition. After ten years of pounding by a large family and two 150-pound dogs that doze on it all day, the seatbacks, overall covering and frame are near-new. We would have replaced it at least twice over with cheaper versions.

However, the seating cushions are shot to the point where it’s uncomfortable to sit on (not lay on, though, according to the Danes). I have looked into having it rebuilt, but most furniture repairers are better skilled at furniture covered in sections and then assembled, and this beast is apparently ‘fully skinned’ in the last step. So cushion repair involves completely de-skinning it, and most are reluctant to do so (at all - beyond their garage/small shop skills) or without doing substantial leather replacement (driving the cost way up).

So I’ve looked at cutting through the front overhang of the cushions and stuffing in various layer of foam. Not being sure exactly how the cushion “capsules” are built, I don’t know exactly what to use or how to do it and I am reluctant to do such major surgery on spec. The foam is also heart-stoppingly expensive - around $3-400, depending on what I use.

I don’t want to buy a cheap ($1-2000) replacement that will be junk in a few years. The Mrs. is unthrilled about buying the Danes a new couch to thrash. (We probably won’t have them too-too much longer, but that’s another story.) I would like to get another year or two from this unit and then replace it with one of equal quality.

**You can skip down to here: **So now I am thinking about tipping the sections on their backs, cutting a small access port (3-4 inches) and using a funnel/hose arrangement to pour beanbag stuffing into each cushion, under the capsule if I can, over/around it if necessary. This seems like I should be able to get a nice, firm, squooshy cushion again and another year or two from the whole assembly.

I find that there are a couple of different grades of bean bag filler, from the soft stuff I remember shudder from the 1970s to some denser type used for “weighted” toys and blankets. The softer stuff varies in cost and quality, with many people reporting that their beanbag chairs squoosh back down to sagginess faster with the cheap stuff.

The really short form: Can someone advise me as to the best loose filler for this job? Will the denser stuff hold up better and give a proper cushion effect? Or should I use the lighter stuff and expect to have to top it up every six months or so?

I will be awaiting an answer with you. The two places on our sectional where we sit most often are starting to ‘sag’ and I was wondering if I could DIY something to help. Ours sounds similar to yours.

You’ve got to find a more (ahem) aged fellow to do the work for you. I was lucky enough to stumble upon an upholsterer here in my town who could do what you ask without breaking a sweat. He has a completely disorganized shop, does not take credit cards, does not have a website, and writes receipts on carbon forms.

In other words, other than just driving by and spotting his shop, I have no idea how I would have found him. But i did. And my 12ish year old leather sofa got new foam and padding, and he was able to repair some frayed piping, matching the color and texture near perfectly.

So, you need to find “that guy” near you. But no idea how to tell you to do that. :o

Thanks, leftfield6. I have found and treasured “those guys” whenever I’ve found them - but I left my collection behind in California, and oddly enough, small capable craftsmen are either nonexistent or impossible to locate here in canny old New England. (I actually still mail jewelry to a California “guy” for repair and customization. Won’t work with a couch.)

But I might try looking again rather than do a half-assed repair myself.

Ask at places that sell “home dec” fabrics, such as Calico Corners, as well as the more “upscale” furniture shops. They’ve probably got well-worn lists of “those guys” who get enough business by reputation that they don’t need to advertise.