Skip to main content

How to Design and Build Furniture for Awkward Spaces

Amanda has years of varied DIY experience, having owned and updated multiple homes, including her 1930s farmstead.

We built this folding loveseat to fit an awkward space in our living room.

We built this folding loveseat to fit an awkward space in our living room.

Build Your Own Furniture!

Do you have an awkward space in your home where standard furniture just won’t fit? We did. Our solution was to design and build our own furniture to fit the space. Read on to see how we made a folding loveseat to fit an awkward space in our living room and a loft bed to fit a short wall in our daughter’s bedroom.

Our loveseat can be folded out of the way for added floor space, or turned into a daybed.

Our loveseat can be folded out of the way for added floor space, or turned into a daybed.

Bulky Furniture Troubles

When my kids were small, I had a big overstuffed couch and loveseat in my living room. The soft furniture felt safe for my little ones, who, against my warnings, liked to use them as a trampoline and jungle gym. When they got older, I wanted something different. The overstuffed loveseat took up a lot of space in the living room, and we wanted more floor space to exercise. However, the only wall available was too short for the loveseat. I searched long and hard for something that would fit our awkward space but found nothing! We decided that we would have to build what we wanted. Since we had to build it, we decided to fit all our needs and designed it to fold up against the wall to maximize floor space.

Making a Cushion Cover

One of the tricky things about making this loveseat was the bottom cushion. Eventually, I found a bench cushion online that was the right dimensions. It did not come with a cover, so I made a zippered cover that would be easy to remove and clean. I had never made a cushion cover before, nor had I ever sewed in a zipper. I think it turned out rather well. Over time, I have decided that the loveseat needs extra cushioning on the bottom. I have a piece of 2" foam that I plan to make a cover for and place under the existing cushion.

Easy Design to Clean

Another thing I did not like about my overstuffed furniture was that it was hard to clean. I had to flip the couch over or slide it out of the way in order to vacuum underneath. The fabric could only be spot cleaned. To remedy this, we decided to go with a wooden futon frame design. The futon frame is easy to clean under and the futon cover is removable and machine washable. I made sure to get zippered pillow covers that could be removed and washed as well.

I added a matching couch.

I added a matching couch.

Adding a Matching Couch

We needed a matching couch for our homemade loveseat, so I found a used futon frame for $40 and refinished it to match. The coffee table was a $15 thrift store find, but it had been painted black for over a decade. I decided to give it a fresh coat of grey chalk paint while sponge painted the top with a lighter shade, then finished with polyurethane. I brightened up the space with a new area rug.

Designing a Short Loft Bed

My daughter's bedroom presented us with another awkward space. We needed to put her bed along the wall, but the wall was too short for a standard-length twin bed frame. When I could not find anything that would work in the space, I decided to build my own. Since we are not tall people, it was no problem shortening the bed length by a few inches. We wanted to maximize her floor space, so we decided to make it a loft bed. Short ceilings and a ceiling fan meant that the bed could not be too high either.

Building the Bed

I looked at images online to get design ideas, and then I adjusted the plan to meet my needs. I measured everything, figured out my dimensions, and made a list of lumber I would need. I shopped for good quality boards, then cut, sanded, stained, and finished them with a few coats of polyurethane. I partially assembled the bed in the garage, but the rest had to be assembled in the bedroom. We added a futon mattress and set up a book nook under the loft. The bed is sturdy enough for an adult, and I have slept up there when we have had company.

Eight Tips for Making Your Own Furniture

  1. Look at images to gather ideas and settle on a design, adjusting it to meet your needs.
  2. Measure your space and figure out the dimensions for your furniture.
  3. Make a list of the lumber you will need and go shopping. Be careful to choose quality lumber that is not cracked, twisted, knotty, or pitchy.
  4. Cut your lumber to the right length, and sand off all rough edges.
  5. Stain or paint your lumber and finish with a protective coating.
  6. Assemble your furniture.
  7. Add cushions or other accents if necessary.
  8. Enjoy and take pride in your work!

Put your creativity to work! In the end, you will have a unique conversation piece that makes the best use of the space you have.

© 2019 Amanda Buck


Lynne Samuel from Malaysia on November 04, 2019:

We have lots of miss-matched furniture for our awkward dad loves carpentry and he makes ours. Excellent read.