How to create the perfect upholstery workshop

November 20, 2020

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When I first started in upholstery, I set up shop using my mum’s old kitchen table as a workbench in a beer shed behind a friend’s pub, freezing but happy!

Things have changed a bit since then – but guess what – I still use that same tabletop. If you’re wondering about the key things you need to have in your own upholstery workshop, here’s how I created mine…

The centrepiece: the workbench

The defining item in an upholsterer’s workshop or studio is their workbench and I’m proud to say mine has a real history. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an antique or of any real value. It’s certainly nothing fancy or expensive. But to me, it’s the centrepiece of my space. As the base, I invested in a hydraulic dog grooming table as it’s important to have the flexibility to move things up and down, but as for the top? It’s my mum’s old pine kitchen table.

Upholstery workshop hydraulic table

Upholstery workshop hydraulic table with pine top

Over the years it’s been gouged and scratched, but that all adds to the charm if you ask me. In fact, all those imperfections are the result of many hours of history – all there forever in one piece of wood. I’m not sure I could ever part with it and I love that I can see all the hard work of so many projects on mum’s kitchen table.

Everything in its place

I admit to being meticulously neat and tidy, but that doesn’t mean my workshop lacks character. For me, I think you have to be ordered and organised as it reflects back in the quality of your work. Everything has its place, so I always know where everything is. My tools are mounted on magnetic discs and lined up neatly on the wall so they’re within my eye line and always in arm’s reach. As the day goes on, they all come off at some point, but I make sure to put them back in perfect order before I leave for the day.

Reupholstery tools in upholstery workshop

My cutting table doubles up as my desk, which is a second-hand IKEA trestle desk. Two stationery cabinets contain almost all of my sundries and supplies such as tacks, staples, screws and hinges. They were originally office grey, so I painted them green, naturally! I like to add personality where I can, so for instance, my staples are placed by size in second-hand Fortnum & Mason tea caddies and my tacks sit in a used Diptyque candle jar.

Fortnum Mason tea caddies staple holder

Reupholstery design books

I like to think that when customers visit they enter into a bit of a sanctuary. Yes, it’s a place of work, but it’s also a destination of inspiration and it’s a reflection of me. I’ve tried hard to create a cocooning atmosphere where you’re surrounded by fabrics and loveliness. I wouldn’t want a dingy, dusty old workspace, and let’s not forget I’ve painted it PINK!

Reupholstery fabrics

Reupholstery tool and fabric

I like nice things to look at, so there are posters of iconic chairs on the walls and plenty of interesting bits and pieces around the place. Most things have been sourced online or gathered over the years. The only kit I bought from scratch is my compressor and staple gun.

A comfy place to sit

The upholstery projects I’m working on create a statement too, of course. Usually, you’ll find one or two pieces I’m tackling in a state of undress. There will be new items lined up and awaiting their makeover and one or two items all finished and about to head out the door. For me, if a customer comes to visit, I want them to feel comfortable and relaxed. My workshop is a place I can provide advice and inspiration. The kettle goes on for a peppermint tea and there’s always a comfy place to sit, that’s for sure.

Upholstery workshop work bench

Whether you want to visit in the flesh or line-up a call on the phone, do get in touch. Drop me a line for an initial, no-obligation quote by filling in the online contact form. Alternatively, you can email me directly at sharon@vintiqueupholstery.com or call me on 07764 182 783.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Really enjoyed looking at your workroom. I have just built a studio with my joiner and had a go at upholstery again. Love your inspiring ideas.

    Reply
    • Wonderful…happy upholstering

      Reply
  2. Retiring soon and plan on reupholstering suite. Love seeing the things you do and this has inspired me to have a go . I don’t think my sewing machine is up to the job but I am not doing it professionally like you. With your experience could you recommend what sort of sewing machine Would be suitable for sewing projects and upholstery on a smaller scale. I have an old AEG at the moment. Have been looking at some Janomes. Obviously this is a one of purchase and would like to get it right so any tips and advice would help.

    Thank you
    Sandra

    Reply
    • Thank you for getting in contact. A Janome or Bernina would be a good option, I hear great things about them.

      Reply
  3. Love reading your blog. I’m hoping to have my own workshop one day rather than a cramped corner of the garage. However, you have inspired me to change this space, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be painted a light colour to brighten it up. I was also thinking of mounting a peg board for my tools, but love the idea of magnetic discs, they look much cleaner.

    Reply
    • Hi Sue, yes it’s amazing what slick of paint can do and some storage solutions. At least you’re not having pay rent

      Reply
    • Hi do you have a stable gun that you would recommend?

      Reply
      • BEA all the way. Love my staple gun. And Omer for a long nosed gun

        Reply

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