At Red Works we do a lot of reupholstering for our clients and we are regularly asked "is it worth it to recover or should we just buy new" ? We have also been asked the same question by feature writers at Brisbane News so I thought I would share my thoughts on the topic with you here.
How can you tell if a piece of furniture is worth reupholstering?
As long as the furniture piece has good bones and is well constructed, it is generally worth reupholstering. If you like the style or shape of the piece, or it has sentimental value, it is definitely worth reupholstering. If the piece was inexpensive to buy (eg: cheap Chinese import), you would probably find that it is not worth investing in reupholstering.
Is it possible to do it yourself with no previous experience, or is it better to take it to someone?
If you are keen to have a go at reupholstering something, I would suggest to start with something simple like a stool or a dining chair base so that you get a feel for pulling a piece down and then putting new fabric on, getting the tension of the fabric correct, and the grain of the fabric straight whilst stapling it in place. My biggest piece of advice would be to take care pulling a piece apart so that you know how it is going to fit back in place (and in which order), and more importantly so that the fabric that comes off the piece can be used as a template for the new fabric going back on to the piece. Get yourself a good quality staple gun and perhaps start with a plain fabric or something with a small pattern so that if you don't get it on 100% straight, it won't be glaringly obvious like it would if it were say a stripe.
I would most certainly recommend taking a good piece to a professional to do. Or, if the fabric you have selected is expensive, I would be fairly hesitant to DIY in case you end up having to buy a second lot of fabric to cover a mistake.
What advice do you give to people who come to you wanting to transform a piece of furniture?
We do a lot of reupholstery work for our clients, and I always think that if it is a good piece, if you like the style, shape and comfort level and/or if you have some sentimental attachment to the piece, it is worth investing in recovering it, as a piece can really be totally transformed with a fresh cover of fabric, some repairs to the webbing or springs and some new foam.
If someone comes to me and they "sort-of" like the chair or sofa but they want things really changed (eg: shape of arms, height of back, seat position etc) I always recommend that they are probably best to find a new piece that they really love as trying to re-work a piece they don't really like is never going to end-up being something that they really love (years of experience has taught me that).
How do you choose the right material – is there a right material?
Absolutely there is a right material.
- 1.It must be appropriate upholstery grade fabric for one. And you must consider the use of the fabric to determine what grade upholstery fabric is needed eg - will the sofa/ chair have light use or heavy use ? Are there small children and so does the fabric need to be easy to clean, perhaps even washable ? Will the sofa/ chair receive a lot of sunlight so therefore some fade resistance is required.
- 2.I believe that chairs and sofas can often lend themselves to a particular type of pattern or texture in the fabric. Eg: dining chairs or small pieces look better with a small pattern on the fabric, not a large pattern, which is best for a larger chair or a feature piece. Some sofas look good covered in a stripe fabric, others, because of their shape, are best with a floral or plain or small pattern.
What does Red Works offer in the way of furniture upholstery?
We offer a bespoke reupholstery service and I believe our process makes it really simple for the customer. We get our clients to send us an image of their piece/pieces to be reupholstered, some rough dimensions and then we are able to provide them with an estimate to reupholster their pieces, this way they can select fabrics with us according to their budget as they know how much the labour will be and how many metres they need – whether it be 5m or 25m.
Our Interior Decorator then meets with the client in our fabric room at the shop and assists them with selecting one or more fabric options. We obviously chat with the client about what else is in the room, what they like/ dislike, colours, textures, patterns etc to guide them with their selections (most people are a bit overwhelmed when they see all the fabrics in our fabric room, so our job is to ask all the right questions and narrow down the options for them so that the find "the" perfect fabric). We then quote for the entire job for the client based on their fabric selection. When the client is ready to go ahead with their job, we take care of everything for them, we order the fabrics, pick the furniture up from their home, strip it down and reupholster it and then drop it back to the client looking brand new. Easy !
If the piece requires stripping and polishing of the timber we can also coordinate that for our clients at the same time - our upholsterer and polisher have been working together for over 30 years.
How do I arrange for a quote to have my reupholstering done?