Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Saving Upholstered Furniture

Many of our sales include upholstered furniture. Many times, that upholstery is outdated, worn, dirty or ugly. But that doesn’t mean you should take a pass on the furniture. If the frame of the chair or sofa is solid and the mechanisms like the rocker platform or reclining arms all work, the piece is probably worth salvaging. New upholstery and stuffing will give new life to these pieces adding value and comfort for you!
Sad, ugly upholstery!
For example, I have 2 La-z-boy swivel rockers that I call “Ladies chairs”. They are smaller than a typical recliner or oversized side chair and they have a short skirt that hides the platform rocker. A friend gave them to me about 15 years ago and they were covered in dingy velour fabric. It was the original upholstery and they were probably 10 years old at that time. But they felt so good when I sat in them and I knew they were good chairs so I lugged them home and promptly proceeded to use them as they were “for the time being”. LOL…till I decided what fabric to have them recovered in…
Cut to 2006…I happened on an unbelievable sale on upholstery fabric, really, really crazy prices! I bought quite a bit (ok, a LOT) and pretty much redid every chair in the house and made new curtains for every window including shower curtains (and closet curtains for a couple of small closets!). And I STILL have some of the fabric left! One thing I did do that made this all possible is I made sure all the fabric I bought coordinated with each other. Same colors, different patterns and shades. That way, I have been able to mix and match things and even change things out (like curtains) without having to do major remodeling. Anyway, I had those two rockers recovered and they look brand new even today. I get compliments on them every time someone sits in them and I love that they don’t overpower the room due to their small size.

Ok, I know your real question is how much to reupholster them. Kind of a lot, relatively speaking. If I remember correctly, it was about $400 per chair, including tax. That was using my fabric. So yes, it is costly but if you will allow me to, I think I can show you why it is still better than buying a new chair. 
1. Many of the chair styles that are sold at estate sales are out of production. I know the little rockers I have are no longer available. They have a similar chair but it is not as feminine as the ones I have, it is more sleek and modern. So if you are looking for certain styles, estate sales may be the only place to find them.
2. A new chair, similar style, in a solid color fabric retails for $759. Add the tax and delivery fee and you are well over $800. Buy a chair at an estate sale for $100, spend $200 on fabric and $400 on labor and you are $100 ahead. AND you have a custom chair! You don’t have to pick from the limited fabric choices the manufacturer has available, you can shop and find exactly what you want. And I quoted $40 to $50 per yard and 4 to 5 yards per chair. If you find some on sale, you could save even more.
3. Pieces you find at estate sales are perfect to practice on if you want to learn to upholster your own furniture. You can also learn to sew slipcovers for these pieces. You Tube and Instructables both have lots of video tutorials. While you’re at the estate sale looking for a chair or sofa to cover, pick up some vintage sheets and use them to practice with. That way, you don’t ruin expensive fabric while learning.  

4. Buying a chair at an estate sale for as little as $40 sometimes, then buying the fabric when it’s on sale and finally taking it to the upholstery shop allows you to pay as you go. You don’t have to come up with one big payment all at once, nor do you have to finance something that you might wind up paying for long after its useful life. This brings up my next point…
5. Some furniture today is not made as well as older furniture. When you find solid wood pieces and heavy duty springs and rockers that is almost always a sign of quality. These pieces will generally last much longer than a piece with particle board construction and/or aluminum mechanisms.
6. Finally, you get a totally custom piece of furniture when you go this route. Fabric choices are practically unlimited, you can find fabric to match paint or carpet or dishes or your eyes! You don’t have to take brown, tan or blue. So what if the furniture stores are all full of heavy velours and tweeds in dark fall colors, you’re free to go find some hot pink linen or bright orange canvas if that is what you want!

I hope you will consider used furniture the next time you need something. The thrill of the hunt for the perfect piece is all the more exciting when you get to make all the decisions instead of settling for whatever the retail stores say is in fashion right now. It’s just another way you can make your home reflect your personality and style. Most of all, it is a way to make sure that when you spend your hard earned cash it is going for something that you love! Don’t settle for something you think is ok, hold out for that vision you have in your head. All it takes is a little patience and some shopping.