We’ve all been there. You’re looking at your sofa one afternoon, and maybe it’s the light at that time of day or maybe you’re simply, magically able to suddenly recognize its truest state of being and you realize it’s beyond haggard, like an exhausted, overworked shoe, a bit busted open in spots, worn through in others, and has hollows where none ought to rightfully be. Maybe it’s time to invest in a new sofa. Or maybe it isn’t? Maybe it’s time to find a bitchin’ fabric and buy yourself some yardage of said bitchin’ fabric and get that glorious, bitchin’ fabric on your sofa/chairs/settee/ottoman rather than buying all new furniture and needlessly adding to the environmental fiasco that is the 8.5 million ton annual trash problem otherwise known as “f-waste.” If Deb and I are standing in your house with you, we’ll let you know what the best course of action is, because there are several variables, which we’ll cover below. Oh, and we can also help you find that aforementioned bitchin’ fabric, but I digress.
1 - THE PIECE IS A FAMILY HEIRLOOM OR HAS SENTIMENTAL VALUE
Obviously, if that 18th-century settee belonged to your great-great-aunt’s and it traveled to America by transatlantic barge in the late 1840s is looking rough around the edges, you don’t haul it off into the back alley (or the front sidewalk, for that matter). These sorts of pieces are truly irreplaceable. We’d even go so far as to suggest you honor the piece’s history as best you can in the reupholstery and refinishing process, which is to say maybe don’t paint the walnut fainting sofa Rock n’ Rose pink because that’s pretty much irreversible. Bring the wood back to life and select a new, gorgeous upholstery sure to revive the sagging, listless life of a nostalgic treasure you’ve long considered a part of your family.
2 - THE FRAME ITSELF IS IN FANTASTIC CONDITION
Maybe your modern Holly Hunt dining chairs are a mere three or four years old and rock solid, structurally speaking, but their sexy grey-pinstriped fabric you initially loved is no longer eliciting heart-eye emojis when you enter your dining room. Get those seats reupholstered, babelette! It can cost anywhere from $40 - $200-ish per chair, generally speaking, depending upon the amount of re-upholstery labor and padding materials needed for the job. Buy the yardage on your own, but know that the more intricate the pattern, the greater the labor cost in order to align complicated pattern elements and give the chairs congruity (should there be a mandala design that needs to be centered perfectly within each chair’s seat and back, for example).
3 - WEIGH THE COST, PROS, AND CONS OF NEW VERSUS RE-DO
I recently gathered some quotes regarding reupholstering a couple of our vintage chairs, heavy, well-made, fantastic old chairs we got for a steal many moons ago. One of the quotes for reupholstering a single chair in leather was $1200 - and that’s strictly the labor alone. Needing at least two hides would likely cost me another $600 or so. At some point, spending nearly $2k on reupholstering an existing chair rather than purchasing a new (potentially leather) chair for half that amount began to seem totally ridiculous, but poking around at new leather chairs on the market for that price point began to sway me away from going new altogether as I found myself disenchanted with the shape, proportion, scale, and design of the leather chairs I was unearthing. We opted to have both vintage chairs reupholstered, purchasing the (non-leather) yardage ourselves, and hired our trusted Lily Spindle upholsterer to do the work because the loose math showed going new versus a re-do (in non-leather upholstery!) shook out to fairly similar costs. (*Will excitedly share those pics on our Instagram once the chairs are finished!)
4 - YOU THINK YOUR DOG OR CAT CAN’T LIVE HAPPILY WITHOUT IT
Deb and I have had more than a few clients outright refuse to let go of a specific chair, chaise, or ottoman because said chair, chaise, or ottoman belongs to the the animals of the house (to any clients reading this, you know who you are and we’re not passing judgment! We see and honor you!). In some cases, the style and shape of the piece they refused to relinquish was classic and timeless, so we recommended new fabric options and the piece was given a beautiful new lease on life. And the dog/cat got his/her original snooze spot back, more gorgeous than ever! Other times, when the piece-in-question didn’t quite fit the client’s space or the furniture’s design was significantly dated, we’d recommend a brand new chair/ottoman/sofa altogether, as there wasn’t much to salvage and build upon. Is there a third option, where we don’t concern ourselves with our pets favorite sleeping spots? I guess so, but what kind of monsters don’t concern themselves with their pets favorite sleeping spots???
XX - REBECCA