Monday, March 23, 2009

Furniture Upholstery

I have a set of armchairs that are in serious need of an update:

They were a donation from my parents when we bought our house and while the pink and blue plaid was trendy in the 90's, it sure is killin' me now! I'd love to replace them but they are so comfy and were hardly used until we inherited them two years ago. Other than the upholstery and then skirted bottoms, I actually do love them!

My sweet little mom had matching pillows made for each chair; one of the pillows even matched their old bedspread (oh la la):
When it comes to the update, I think I have two options:

1.) Something New! - I would love to buy two new upholstered chairs with more modern lines than my current plaid chairs. I've had my eye on the Arlington Armchair from Pottery Barn, the tapered wood legs will give the illusion of more space in the room. It seems that the typical price for this type of chair (whether from PB or another furniture retailer) is between $600 and $1,000 per chair. I love the "Chunky Herringbone" fabric:

2.) Something Old! - Since these two chairs are practically new, I feel really wasteful replacing them with something new. Another option would be to reupholster them with a neutral fabric and pairing them with a set of throw pillows for a punch of color. So, I've done some research and here's what I uncovered:
  • Option A: The first option is to have the chairs reupholstered by an upholsterer. I did some shopping around and found that prices for these types of chairs range from $600 to $1,100 per chair. That price includes fabric, labor, and in most cases adding new cotton batting over the existing cushions. This option would allow me to choose the exact type of fabric for my furniture and save the time it takes to wait for new pieces to be delivered.
  • Option B: The second option is to have the upholsterer create custom slipcovers for each of the chairs. I was able to see an example of this at one of the fabric stores I visited and I could hardly tell it was a slipcover. The fit was nearly perfect. And the benefit of a slipcover is the ability to remove and clean it in the case of a mess. Ideal for a home with pets or small children. The prices for slipcovers ranged from $400 to $500 per chair plus the cost of fabric.

While both of the upholstery options would improve the look of my room, I just can't justify spending nearly the same amount on old chairs as I would for a new set. So I find myself back at square one. What is a girl to do?


Jess B said...

Are you handy with a sewing machine? You could make your own slipcovers....there are some great books at the library that can help. I just had one a couple weeks ago, but for the life of me can't remember the title. Any librarian worth her salt would be able to help you find one. Good luck!!

Jan Jessup said...

Dear Erin,
I understand your dilemma--and since reupholstering furniture was one of the original forms of recycling, if you do choose to keep your chairs, you'll be doing a good thing.

Regarding your options: a good upholsterer MAY be able to remove the skirt and install legs on your chair--this style of club chair probably wouldn't look right with straight modern legs, but might look appropriate with turned wood legs or bun feet. Here's a link to a chair with legs to give you an idea for your club chairs:

Another point: you can use a heavier fabric for reupholstery, for example, a textured ivory chenille--but such a fabric would be too heavy for slipcovers which require a medium-weight fabric.

Think about this: the fabric will cost about the same, whether you choose new chairs or keep the old to recover or slipcover. The labor costs for reupholstery are about the same or a little less than the cost of a new chair frame.

So, if you really don't love the lines of these chairs, sell them on EBay or Craig's List and put the proceeds toward new chairs that you WILL love. Life is too short to live with furniture that's merely adequate. You should love what's around you in your home! Happy decorating!

Jan Jessup, Dir. of Communications,
Calico Corners

Erin said...

I have gone the slip cover route with some pcs in my house and you are correct-- you don't even know they are slip covers. You can pick the fabric- save the earth (by recycling!) and save some serious dough... I like that option! ;)