How to Reupholster Furniture

furniture upholstery

Reupholstering a piece of furniture not only prolongs its lifespan, but can also instantly refresh your entire room. It can also be a relatively easy DIY project if you choose the right fabric. This is especially true if you use a pre-existing piece as your template, but it’s important to get the measurements and fabric exactly right to avoid costly mistakes.

Before you start the reupholstery process, it’s important to know what your goals are for the piece. Do you want to transform it into a statement-making focal point, or revitalize a piece that gets used all the time? One might require a bolder fabric, and the other might do better with something that’s durable and easy to clean.

The actual origins of upholstery aren’t clear, but humans have been covering and padding seating since they first began creating chairs and other pieces of wood furniture. The earliest upholsterers, from ancient Egyptian times to the beginning of the Renaissance, simply nailed animal skins or dressed leather across a rigid frame. They then stuffed the leather or skins with hair, feathers, sawdust or other material for comfortable padding.

As the craft of upholstering became more refined, the craftsmen who worked on furniture were known as upholders. These skilled tradesmen set the standards and practices for what was acceptable, and were even granted a royal charter in 1360 to search out and seize upholstery that was unfit or incorrect.

Modern upholstery has taken on many forms over the years. From the early days when upholders nailed animal skins over a wooden frame, we now have coil springs and polyurethane foam to create durable and comfortable seating. Some of the most popular choices of material for upholstered furniture are cotton, linen, silk and leather.

Natural fabrics like wool offer a cozy feel and are perfect for cold weather. Linen is another natural, and it’s tough and durable enough for high traffic areas. Fabrics containing a combination of natural and synthetic fibers tend to be more durable than those that are all natural.

For those who don’t have the skill or patience to do the work themselves, a professional upholsterer can be hired. However, before you go this route, make sure to shop around for the best prices and quality. It’s important to remember that the quality of the workmanship will have a direct impact on how long your reupholstered furniture lasts. A shoddy job can result in a short lifespan, so it’s important to choose a company with experience and a solid reputation. It’s also a good idea to request samples of your potential fabrics before you commit to any. This will help you gauge how they look and feel, and whether or not they fit in with your existing decor. Also, be sure to work slowly and carefully when removing staples, tacks or screws from the old furniture. This will prevent damage and will ensure that your new fabric is properly attached to the furniture frame.

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