I’ve had a lot of people ask me whether they should reupholster a piece of furniture or buy new, so I thought I would give you some food for thought on the topic. There are a few questions you should ask yourself when you are deciding whether to reupholster a piece of furniture…
1) Do you love the piece of furniture?
Vitra Heart Cone Chair by Verner Panton via
If you are going to invest in re-upholstering a piece it has to be because you really want to keep that piece. Whatever reason that is; it’s comfy, it was given to you by a close relative or friend, you love the shape, or it just speaks to you in some way. Or maybe you have an amazing vision of what you want it to become. Regardless, you gotta love it.
2) Does the quality of the piece warrant re-upholstering?
via Blondie from Spaghetti Western Style
Let me start by saying, I love IKEA. I have bought many things from there in my day and will likely continue to do so. However, spending the money to re-upholster one of their chairs or sofas (or any other low-cost, lower quality piece of furniture ) may not be your best choice. To start, if you are happy with something that is uber affordable but perhaps not a long-term investment, for the price of re-upholstery, you likely could buy a brand new sofa. The frame quality would not be as high as it would be with older, better built furniture, so investing in a piece of lesser quality would not be the best value. Unless you answered yes to the question above and you love the piece far too much to get rid of it, I would opt to have lesser quality pieces slip-covered instead. On the flip side, because it is getting harder and harder to find long-lasting, well made furniture, if you already have a piece with a high quality frame (perhaps an antique) then it makes perfect sense to invest in re-upholstering it.
3) Do you want something truly custom?
photo via Karen from Sew Many Ways
Re-upholstery gives you the rare opportunity to create something unique and specific to you or to your space. You can choose fabrics, wood finishes, paint colours, trims and even how soft or hard you want it to be when you park your tush on it. It’s the ultimate in custom furniture. Also, if you have an interesting piece of furniture that you would have a hard time finding retail in stores, re-upholstery makes it possible to reinvent that piece to suit you.
4) Do you like the idea of recycling and reusing?
Making old new again, its my favorite part of upholstery. (Wrapping my head around the same concept with my own aging face is more of challenge, but I digress.) I truly love the idea that furniture can breathe new life with the right effort and care. And reusing/recycling furniture can help keep pieces from ending up in the landfill. However, don’t go calling David Suzuki yet, re-upholstering existing pieces doesn’t necessarily mean you are being “eco-friendly” or “green”. Depending on the stuffing, fabric, or finishing being used you may not be totally green. It’s a complicated topic but if you want a little more information, I wrote a post last spring about eco upholstery fabrics (which you can find here). And also check out this piece written by Jo Alcorn of Whitewash and Co on Verdigris Vie.
5) Are you prepared to spend potentially as much you would to buy new?
People tend to assume that having an existing piece and re-upholstering will be cheaper than buying new. Sometimes this is true, for things like dining chairs or small chairs with very little fabric to be replaced. However, in many cases you will spend as much as if you were buying new, and maybe even more. Some factors that will affect the price of your re-upholstery project are:
- Fabric choice: upholstery weight fabrics can be anywhere from $15 to $250 per yard. Your choice will significantly affect the cost.
- The size: if you have a large piece that needs a lot of fabric you are going to spend more on both fabric and labour. You can find information on shopping for upholstery fabric from a previous post here.
- The condition: if the stuffing, springs, and cushions all need to be replaced, new materials will have to included in the cost to be replaced. Also if parts need to be refinished or painted that will increase costs as well.
- The details: if there is a lot of detailed work on the piece that you want maintained such as tufting, buttons or complicated piping that will affect the labour cost.
I hope this information helps people with the decision making process. These are just guidelines, but ultimately, you have to weigh what is important to you. I will say that you should get quotes from various upholsterers before making the decision. If you have any other questions about re-upholstery or would like a quote on a piece you are considering taking that route, don’t hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Have a great day!