Furniture reupholstery

Here you'll find a wide range of discussions on old-house topics.

Moderators: oldhouse, TinaB, Don M, Schag

Post Reply
Hoosier Foursquare
Posts: 108
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:40 pm
Location: Bedford, IN

Furniture reupholstery

Post by Hoosier Foursquare »

When we bought our house, the P.O. left behind a myriad of items with one of them being an antique couch/sofa/setee. It has a wooden frame with ball feet and has 3 cushions. During our resto/reno, the couch made it's way from room to room to get it out of the way of impending work and finally found itself out in the Carriage House where it sits today.

Has anybody here ever had anything reupholstered or done it themselves? I have a gentleman that owns an upholstery shop within 1/2 mile of our house coming over this afternoon to look at the couch. Are there any questions that I should ask him?

BTW: I know next to nothing about antique furniture and determining age so any thoughts or comments are greatly welcomed. I've attached a picture of the couch for reference.
Old Couch.jpg
Old Couch.jpg (48.94 KiB) Viewed 2062 times

Posts: 1497
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:42 am

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by PowerMuffin »

I have reupholstered many chairs and my settee. I found the settee with the curved arms to be a learning experience, but the two wing chairs that I did next were quite fun. It looks like your settee is in great shape as far as cushions and the stuffing in general, but you are better able to judge that. If they are in good shape, then the upholsterer should have very little to do. If he needs to replace horsehair, foam or whatever, then you'll want to discuss replacing with like-kind materials. The face fabric should be high quality and have a tight weave so that it doesn't stretch out. Of course he should remove the existing fabric as part of the job.

I would ask about the pricing if you buy the fabric vs. him supplying it. I don't know anything about the age of your piece. Good luck.

Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:42 pm

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by catfeathers »

Ask to see some of his recent work, if possible. Check how well he matches patterns and how straight the seams are. I work with an upholsterer and some of the things he's redone from other so called upholsterers were pretty bad.
That's a very nice looking couch, by the way. It will be beautiful in the right fabric.

Kansas. 1911.
Posts: 848
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:56 pm
Location: Junction City

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by Kansas. 1911. »

I love that sofa. Ultimately, once you have a good piece recovered, it will be better than anything you can afford retail. Plus, you get to choose your colors.

My sofa has been done twice. My chair has been done three times. They once belonged to my grandparents. Thus, I've picked cloth five times. My only mistake, early on, was not realizing that swatches were like wallpaper. When they are small, you can't judge the scale. Then you are a bit surprised when the piece comes back and it looks different than you pictured in your mind.

One way to remedy this is to choose a solid. My sofa is now a white on white stripe. The chair that matches it is now in leather and I saw the entire skin beforehand. I even got to take the skin home on approval to see it with my lighting.

Your upholstery person can made a decent guess as to the age of the sofa.

I can't wait to get your update.
American Foursquare with Prairie and Colonial Revival influences


Posts: 441
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 8:10 am

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by cadrad »

I can't say much about the upolstering side, but I would put that couch somewhere in the late 1920's- 19'30's.
Steven R.
muskegon MI
Charles E. Johnson house
1916 prairie style
visit my new profile at

Nancy W
Posts: 1273
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2003 12:21 am
Location: Chaptico, Maryland

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by Nancy W »

An upholester I sometimes work with wants to replace old cushions with foam. He thinks it is an improvement (and it is easier for him), but a faom cushion has a totally different look and "sit" to it and won't look of feel right in an old piece..
Lower Brambly circa 1895
"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain

Posts: 695
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 4:24 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by artfox »

Nancy W wrote:An upholester I sometimes work with wants to replace old cushions with foam. He thinks it is an improvement (and it is easier for him), but a faom cushion has a totally different look and "sit" to it and won't look of feel right in an old piece..
That's true about foam cushions. A good upholstery shop will suggest cushion options based on the period and style of a piece of furniture, plus the degree of firmness that a customer prefers. There are cushions with a thin foam core wrapped in polyester fibers or feathers that look like those used when the furniture was new. I think the circa 1930's sofa my folks had when I was a kid actually had tied coil springs in the cushions -- wish I had it now as it's increasingly difficult for this old gal to get up gracefully from ultra-soft seats.

Posts: 624
Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2006 3:22 am
Location: Indiana

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by sundine2 »

your couch is gorgeous and will be beautiful when done. I hope you post a pic when it is finished. I have done 4 chairs when I took upholstery classes back in Louisville. It is fun and scarey when you have to do "the cut". Good luck. This couch is better than anything you can buy now a days.

Don M
Posts: 6965
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:35 am
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Re: Furniture reupholstery

Post by Don M »

We have had a number of old pieces reupolstered & have been very pleased with the results. As others have said as long as the original construction was well made you won't be able to purchase new replacements that are as good as the originals.
1840 Limestone Farmhouse

Post Reply