Working With A Furniture Upholsterer

Upholstered Arm ChairA good upholsterer can be one of the most invaluable pros on your home improvement list.  Not only can he or she give a threadbare or dowdy piece of furniture a stylish new face, but an upholsterer also can craft one-of-a-kind decorative elements that make your space look polished and pulled together.  A nicely textured upholstery fabric with an attractive pattern and tasteful color is merely the outer layer.  A tight deck, robust spring work, smooth padding, resilient foam, and lofty stuffing all contribute to comfortable and durable upholstery.  If you’re in the market for re-upholstering some of your furniture, keep these tips in mind.

What An Upholsterer Does

An upholsterer covers furnishings, bedsprings, cornice boards, pillows and other interior elements with fabric.  Depending on the job type, upholsterers also add or replace padding and batting, attach fringe and other trims, create decorative details such as piping and tufting, make slipcovers, refinish wood and more.  Many can repair or even build furniture.  An adroit workroom regularly upholsters antiques as well as more modern furniture – from foundation spring-work and padding through to special cushions and final treatments.  The details on seemingly simple projects can be extensive.

Upholstery FabricFabric:

Upholsterers are knowledgeable about different fabrics and will help clients choose the best type for the project at hand.  Many represent  multiple fabric houses and will help you select from their sample books.  Some ask that you provide your own fabric.  Ask them to determine the yardage before you order.

When to hire an upholsterer:

Although simple upholstery is within the reach of many DIYers, complicated jobs are usually best left to a pro.  If you’re working with expensive fabric, multiple patterns on a single piece, or a valuable antique, it can be worth hiring an upholsterer to make sure the job is done right.  And many homeowners simply prefer to outsource upholstery work than attempt it themselves – the specialized equipment, knowledge and space is difficult to do without.

tuftedfanbackWhat it will cost:

Upholstery prices are affected by a few details like:

The degree of upholstery (completely upholstered or with wood surround)
Treatments such as buttons, tufts, channels, and pleats
The quality of the existing padding and springing
Finish treatments such as decorative nails or fringes.

You’ll also need to pay for the fabric of your choice.  Here is an  Upholstery Price Guide showing the typical labor cost of re-upholstering many types of furniture. It also shows the typical fabric yardage for those pieces.

Is your item is worth upholstering:

In some cases, an old sofa, chair or stool is so far gone that it makes more sense to replace it altogether. Upholstered items are often embedded in a setting with many other furnishings and accessories. It can be difficult to replace a single piece without revising the entire setting. Upholstered items with outmoded or worn textiles can be easily re-tasked into a new theme with alternate fabric and treatments. If you have any doubts about your piece, contact us about it. Here’s a short article for people grappling with the question Is Re-Upholstering My Furniture Worth It?

Thanks for reading!



3 thoughts on “Working With A Furniture Upholsterer

  1. An upholsterer is one of the most valuable assets a good interior designer can have. Reupholstering furniture is only one of the many jobs I will call on an upholster to do…upholstering walls and creating custom banquettes, headboards, or sofas are repeatedly among the tasks I have my upholsterer complete for my clients. Thanks for this post!

    • Thanks Kristine. Textiles offer such an array of options. I wish I had a photo of the dresser we painted … and upholstered the top for a ‘soft touch’ piece. Adventuresome client – great result.

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