Throughout my time of revamping pre-loved pieces of furniture, one thing I’m sure of is that investing in upholstery is ALWAYS worth it. As with any service that involves spending cash, there is always that question of value for money. But I’ve seen enough satisfied customers to know it’s an expense you’ll never regret.
It’s not only the history, story and personal connections of a treasured piece of furniture that make it priceless. I also believe that the most interesting furniture is re-done or pre-loved. I’ve never really felt inspired in a squeaky-clean shop or showroom, and there’s rarely anything remarkable about something that’s ‘brand new’. Plus, when you start to consider that old fashion adage of ‘price per wear’, breathing new life into a well-made vintage item is better value than forking out for a bland, manufactured equivalent.
So, first things first, why doesn’t upholstery come cheap? The answer, in my opinion, is due to three things… Time, skill and choice.
The average sofa can take between three to seven days to complete, depending on whether it’s an antique, vintage or modern sofa. Different skills apply to different sofas. There’s the stripping back, frame repairs, maintenance if any parts need fixing, getting the internal stuffing’s and structure right, plus the final step of meticulously fitting the fabric and finishing it off to perfection with piping, studs or trim. If I’m working on something that requires traditional methods – fitting springs or stitching in stuffing by hand, for instance – or something extra complex like a Chesterfield with its deep buttons – the process can take longer.
The point is, every part is hand done. There are no production lines or hardcore machinery to help out in my workshop. The price you pay reflects the time your upholsterer spends on that piece and the attention to every detail it requires. It’s incredibly labour intensive but so, so worth it to deliver an impeccable job.
I’ve talked in a previous post about what it takes to train as an upholsterer. Upholstery is not an easy craft to learn and it takes years of graft and practice to master it. It’s that knowledge and experience you’re really paying for when you hand over a much-loved piece of furniture – plus, the trust you can have that it’s in safe hands.
Over the years I’ve also become even more pedantic about the design process. Part of my job is to offer guidance towards making the right fabric choices. That can be a creative detail or the critical decision of which fabric to go for. It’s not always about what looks good. I also advise on the technical aspects and durability of a fabric – what will suit the piece and how the re-imagined version will best suit your interior. That’s not to mention recommendations on adjustments that can be made to improve a piece of furniture.
When you sign up to have a piece upholstered by Vintique Upholstery, a design consultation and estimate is all part of the fee. You get a completely personal experience and a bespoke service. That’s because I want you to be 100% happy with the result.
When you buy a piece of furniture from a shop, your choices are limited to a pre-determined selection of styles and fabrics, whereas when you get an item reupholstered, your options are literally endless. You’d never get the same variety and choice on the high street. Upholstery can give you exactly what you want, but it also has the power to stretch your imagination.
I love the initial part of the process where we discuss a brief and explore all kinds of brilliant ideas. For me, this is where the magic happens.
“Upholstery can give you exactly what you want, but it also has the power to stretch your imagination.”
When you work with an upholsterer, you can also modify a piece any which way you like. One of my biggest bugbears is that there isn’t a single furniture manufacturer out there that stuffs a cushion generously enough. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the structure or condition of a sofa, but it’s just uncomfortable. I change and re-fill cushions for customers all the time, making them firmer, softer, fuller or more structured depending on what you find most comfy. While the amount of stuffing may be measured by cost margins in a factory, I simply go for one thing: COMFORT. Just like having a custom-made suit commissioned, reupholstering a favourite chair puts all the choice of every detail entirely in your hands.
So, upholstery is an investment, but always worthwhile. If you fancy revamping or reinventing the furniture you already have, rather than fork out on brand new, let’s have a chat. Life’s too short for ordinary furniture.
Credits: Fabrics & Wallpapers – Linwood.