July 29, 2015


At some point while you are decorating or shopping you find that piece you want to turn into a DIY. It seems like a quick solution to an aged piece of furniture. I am here to break down all you must consider and be aware of before embarking on such a journey. I’ve had many clients  say, “oh, that should only cost this amount” or “I want to be budget conscious, so I will just hold on to this and get it re-upholstered”. If only it were that easy my friends. This article will break down all of the layers and dimensions behind re-upholstering a furniture piece as well as the steps your designer is making in order to get this project “just right” for you.  Grab a pad and start taking note. {Or you can just print out this list, photos included}

Take into a count ALL costs. They’re three prices to pay attention to.

1. Cost of the antique
Certain period pieces carry a certain price based on demand & availability. Knowing and understanding makes you a more informed and educated buyer while on your voyage for that vintage conversation piece.

2. Cost to re-upholster
You should also understand the price associated with re-upholstering certain piece. An all wood mid century dinning chair with a fabric, cushion over wood panel seat will cost considerably less money to re-do that a Victorian settee like the one in my project. Take a look at your piece and try to get a light understanding about the structure of the furniture. Look to see where the fabric meets the wood {or metal/plastic] part of the furniture. This will give you a better idea of how involved and detailed the upholstering aspect may be. Clearly the more detailed the piece is, the more money it will cost to re-upholster.

3. Cost of fabric
The size of the piece will dictate how much fabric is needed while your decorating plan & desires will determine the type of fabric along with it’s price.

Considering and understanding all of these dynamics makes you well prepared for the lovely journey down re-upholstery.

You want to make sure the furniture piece has great bones. Ensure the construction of the piece is strong along with the springs & coils. Knowing these things will determine the price, it’s worth and if it’s worth the cost & time to re-upholstered.


Make sure the person who will be re-upholstering the piece has experience with this type of furniture. The last thing you want is a bad re-upholster job and a damaged antique. Give them the specifics about the furniture piece, send them pictures along with a description and they will let you know if they are the best person for the job, the cost and the time frame for completion.

Think about where and how you plan on using this piece of furniture. Is it going to be an accent piece or a piece you want people to feel comfortable enough to sit back and relax. Is it going to be in a high traffic area? Do you want it to be functional for your children & or pets? These are things to consider regarding your antique & re-upholstering job. This will also help you determine #5.

When choosing a fabric for your re-upholstery project here are a few things to consider.

  • Style Of Furniture: What is the style of the furniture?
  • Traffic & Use: how do you plan on using this piece and will it be in a high traffic area? Do you want to use a light or dark color? Do you want to use a velvet or micro suede?
  • Color Palette: What is the color palette of the space it will be in?
  • Other Pieces: What are the other pieces in the space? Do you want this piece to blend in or standout as statement piece?

 Remember these tips when you plan on re-upholstering an old piece or if you go shopping for a period piece to re-up holster. Take a look below to see how I applied these rules to one of my projects.

Now I’m going to show you how I applied these rules to one of my projects.  I was working on a project in Miami for an entertainment company called RWU Entertainment. As I was woking on their lobby I wanted to add a period piece a mid all of the awesome modern elements within the space. You will see the amazing Victorian Settee I selected for the lobby of this awesome company & it's commercial space.

The cost to re-upholster my piece was in the $500 range. The Victorian Settee itself cost about $500 as well. It may seem high for some, but I strive to give my clients the best particularly when working with a period piece like this settee. Always remember you pay for what you get.

The wood & frame of this Victorian Settee was not only very much intact, but the springs within the cushion were amazing as well. They still had much spring and bounce within them. Perfect for a high traffic commercial space.

I knew I would be using this for a commercial space, which gets more traffic than a home, but the furniture is used differently in a commercial space than in a living room. {No one is going to lay back and watch hours of TV} We made a design plan accompanied with a color palette for this project. Below you will see the color palette. The combination of the location & use of this settee helped to direct us to  our budget & fabric.

Based on the color palette above I chose an eggplant micro-fiber to cover the settee. I wanted it to not only be a statement piece but I also wanted it to stand out in an unexpected way. How many people can say they have seen a Victorian Settee re-upholstered with an eggplant colored fabric? {Not many, that's how many!} I played it safe by choosing a micro-fiber fabric, but I got risky by choosing an eggplant color. We purchased about 5-6 yards of fabric at approximately $30/yd.

I found a great guy in Miami who had over 20 years experience re-upholstering furniture & period pieces. He wasn’t cheap and the turn around time wasn’t as quick as I would have liked. But hey, the most important part is the end result. The turn around time was about 30-60 days. {I don’t remember exactly, but it was somewhere in that area} I was able to give him creative direction and instructions on how I wanted the back of the Settee to be tufted. He was highly experienced working with these delicate aged pieces so it helped to make that part of the process less stressful. 

This is the end result of the process. I decided to only tuft the back of the settee and not the seat cushion. By not having any tufts on the seat it allows the tufts in the back of the settee to stand out without competing with anything else. 

Here you can see how the color palette was materialized 
to the completion of the lobby.

This is the entire view of this part of the lobby. Yes, that’s a vintage TV Bar to the far left. To read about that process click HERE. To learn more about the company RWU click HERE.
If you have any other tips for this process, of course leave them in the comment section below. I would also like to see images of your reupholstered projects. Check out more articles on this  commercial project below. 

For those of you looking for vintage period pieces, you would love this new app. YardSailr is an  free app which allows you to shop & sell your treasures online. Yes, you heard correctly a virtual Yard Sale from your phone or PC. Check it out and please give me your feedback. I love hearing different perspectives of new products & trends. 

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