Your favorite chair looks old. It’s dirty. You can still see the stain from that time you spilled salsa on it, even though you scrubbed it and even tried to “Shout” it out. The skirt on the bottom is chewed from when Rover was just a puppy and still teething. The fabric is faded and worn on the seat and back from where you sat to watch the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Masters. But this is your favorite chair. You don’t want to get rid of it.
Sure, you could go out and buy a new chair, but it would never replace this chair. And besides, it’s still a good, study piece of furniture. The springs are still firm, the frame is still strong, and most importantly, the chair is still comfortable. Why throw out a quality piece of furniture when you can reupholster it?
Prior to making a decision to reupholster old furniture, make sure you research what you need to know before you reupholster, including checking the frame, springs, and fabric options. Also, sentimental value often comes into play when deciding to reupholster old furniture.
While a new piece may be less expensive and easier to acquire, it may not last as long as quality antique furniture. And it will not have the sentimental value that many pieces of furniture have.
Costs for reupholstery services vary across the country and are dependent on fabric choice, item condition, and project details. Most quotes from professional upholstery services are for labor only, and do not include the price of fabric. Cost for upholstery fabric usually starts around $40 per yard with designer fabric beginning at around $70 per yard. Luxury, top-quality velvet fabric can cost as much as $200 per yard.
A single chair typically takes about seven yards to reupholster while a couch will use approximately sixteen yards of fabric. A full reupholstery job on a couch that requires restuffing, reupholstery, and repairs to the springs or frame could cost between $700 and $1200.
The amount of fabric required affects the labor costs, simply because there is more to do. Labor costs can increase due to special circumstances including:
- Attaching, replacing, or fixing fabric cords that outline the seams of cushions or pillows
- Making sure that the fabric aligns correctly on fabric with specialized designs or patterns
- Tufting, which is forming patterns by threading through the fabric and tying the ends, sometimes with buttons or ornaments
Older furniture tends to be well-built, as is custom- or hand-made pieces. However, newer pieces may never have been built well to begin with. Manufacturers have lowered their standards in recent years, using engineered wood like particle board rather than kiln-dried hardwood. The frames of newer pieces are often assembled with staples and a fast-drying epoxy rather than with firm-holding screws.
If the item that you are considering having reupholstered has a sturdy, quality frame, strong springs, and a comfortable feel, then it is probably worthy of being reupholstered for a high-quality, custom piece, particularly for furniture that has sentimental value. However, if the frame seems damaged, springs are popping out, and the chair or couch is simply uncomfortable, reupholstering it will not be enough to save it.
Many people look beyond the condition of the piece due to sentimental value. Perhaps it’s a chair passed down from a great grandfather or a lounger sofa from the Civil War era or maybe even just a couch that you really, really like. Regardless of what makes the piece special, sometimes we want to keep something because we’ve grown attached to it.
Reupholstering furniture that has a sentimental value is a common practice. Oftentimes, people do more than recreate the original piece. Instead, they add their own touch or style to a piece in the hopes of passing it down to their own children.
For instance, beyond changing the fabric style or color, you can add contrast welt or mingled cord to define the lines of a sculptural piece. You can also change the skirt, either by raising it, adding one, or removing it completely. You can add banding to the bottom of the skirt or take the channeling out for a more modern look.
Making the decision to why reupholster furniture is not difficult. Determine the quality of the piece, ensure that it still has a sturdy frame or has sentimental value to you or your family. If the chair is comfortable or means something to you, it is probably worth getting it professionally reupholstered rather than simply replacing it.