Do I reupholster?

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This question arrives at my door almost daily:  “Should I reupholster my existing furniture or purchase new?”  The answer is always a definitive, yes and no!

The answer is a decisive yes when the piece in consideration is an antique in good condition or a family piece with sentimental qualities.

The answer is an unequivocal no when the furnishing is from a chain store that excels in marketing a lifestyle but falls short of offering quality. The engineered wood and plastics used to fabricate such furniture doom it to a short life span.

Everything else falls into the other category, it depends.

Even when a piece of furniture is manufactured by a quality fabricator, there are still a multitude of variables to be considered.  The style of the piece is the obvious factor.  If a chair looks like an early American glider with a plaid fabric, it will still look like an early American glider in a new linen blend.  The age of the piece is a critical factor.  While a frame may be intact, foam that has broken down will add considerable cost to the final product.

If all the factors about the piece are favorable, reupholstery offers you and your designer more control of the creative process.  Mixing fabrics and adding details such as fringe and gimp for a truly custom look is far easier to manage if handled locally.  There is a wide world of fabrics appropriate for upholstery available that you will not find hanging in the upholstery area of most large furniture stores.

When a client is looking to reupholster as the economical solution to furnishing a home, we encourage them to total all the cost factors.  Reupholstery for a sofa can run easily upwards of $1,200 for labor alone.  A good upholstery fabric can run $50 per yard. Multiply that by the 20 yards you’ll need!  Repair materials such as replacement foam, batting, and new springs can cause the final bill to soar.

When it is realized that a quality hardwood sofa in a medium grade fabric can be purchased for a comparable price, the decision scale begins to wobble.

The choice between reupholstering or a new purchase has a tipping point that must be addressed on an individual basis.


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