To reupholster, or not to reupholster…that is the question.

May 29, 2017 | Anoushka's Blog, Interior design and decoration

How often have you thought about upholstery, as it relates to design?

If you know me…you’ll know I like to buy / source quality items.  Which means you don’t just throw them away as design tastes change or as they wear.  Rather you adapt, update and repurpose to ensure items evolve with you, your needs and the ever-changing design environment… within reason of course.

In a time when so many of us live far from our families, and when so much is disposable, it’s also nice to have really personal pieces of furniture in our homes.

So it’s a shame to throw something out just because it looks a bit tired, and as I mentioned in my Revamp, rework, recycle post, upholsterers can re-cushion and plump up inserts, repair rickety frames and even have tired looking frames reinvigorated.

SmartSpace Project, reupholstering a wing-backed chair to fit in with a new decorative scheme.

So that means that the upholstery game isn’t just about making things look as good as new, or changing colours and patterns.  Within the limitation of the piece and the upholsterer’s skill, you can change the look and feel of most pieces.

This also extends to outdoor furniture, where often the fabric and foam are affected first and more heavily due to the weather. A simple fabric upgrade and the use of proper outdoor inserts and you’ll get longevity out of the piece.

SmartSpace Project, updating external furniture, improving aesthetic and working it into an overall design concept

Whether external or internal, cost can often be a factor.  That’s not because reupholstering is expensive, more that people often feel it will be the cheapest option.  But remember, it’s about the quality of a very time and labour-intensive process, which involves specialised skills, training and tools.

It’s also not just about the fabric, which is a common misconception.  A well-done job can include stripping a piece to the frame, reinforcing the frame and the joints, replacing springs etc — and that’s all before the cost and complexity of fill, padding, and fabric.

SmartSpace Project, reupholstering tub chair into a more contemporary piece.

Choosing to reupholster an item is about value for money, in terms of both the piece(s) and job. Look at it like this… you can always find a cheaper chair but will the quality be the same?

It’s also great from an environmental perspective.  Every year thousands of pieces of furniture are abandoned on our streets or thrown into landfills.  Not only is this a waste but it is also unpleasant to view and harmful to our environment and wildlife.

SmartSpace Project, reupholstering a chair and footstool into a piece that tied in with a traditional room design

Reupholstering your furniture is an effective direct action that you can take to reduce a global problem, whilst also reducing the production and transportation resources needed when we buy new items. There’s less resources required, less chemicals used, fewer textiles, reduced transportation…and the list goes on.

SmartSpace Project, reupholstering a bedhead to fit in with a new decorative scheme and the bedhead was damaged

So, when it’s comes to the question of, “to reupholster, or not to reupholster?”; here are the five factors I use at home and with my clients:

  1. Are we restoring or redesigning “quality pieces”?
  2. Is this a style change?
  3. Does the piece hold a sentimental value?
  4. The Environment / can we reduce our footprint? And
  5. Will this represent value for money?

Purchasing household furniture can be expensive, and should be looked upon as an investment. As such reupholstering is not necessarily expensive, considering the cost of many brand name pieces plus delivery charges.

When a furniture piece is reupholstered, you should expect to receive at least 15 to 20 years of use, assuming normal wear and tear. And I’d consider that a very good return on your investment.  If you’d like to discuss a design project and where reupholstery can play a part, contact SmartSpace Interiors today.

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