How much to recover funiture?

brutusesMay 24, 2007

I don't know if any of you can help me on this. I'm looking at different pieces of upholstered pieces of furniture that are used and thinking about buying them, with the intention of having them recovered and repadded or whatever that is called when they refurbish an upholstered item. Can anyone give me a ball park figure on what it would cost to redo a wing back chair? It would be with plain seat and back, no tufting. Thanks for any assistance you can give.

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Generally its not cost effective. Wing chairs take about 6 to 7 years of fabric, depending on fabric repeats. Figure about $ 45 per yard and you have around $ 300 in fabric, maybe more. In the Wash DC metro area, that chair will cost $ 350 to have reupholstered if it needs NOTHING more (cushions extra, spring re-tie extra, etc). So as a minimum job in this part of the world its $ 650 plus your chair that you are paying $ 200 or so for? Maybe you have $ 900 in the job, total with delivery and hauling expenses.

Consider that you can get a brand new Flexsteel Wing Chair in their top grade fabrics for $ 679 and there is no economy in reworking an AVERAGE old chair. However, if the old chair is a Kittinger, Baker, Southwood, etc., there may be some merit to it.

Also, local upholstery shops do a front and back match, but many do not do the side pattern match. New chairs will be correctly pattern-matched on all sides.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 12:10PM
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I always think it's worth recovering a good piece of furniture. I've had great luck buying wonderful fabric on ebay and at various fabric outlets here in LA. I'd rather have a unique piece than something out of a shop or catalog. Most older furniture--think 30 to 50 years--is much better made than the junk sold today. I had a wing chair done for $500 for the labor, but the chair cost me $75 at a yard sale and I got Italian corduroy on sale for under $15 a yard.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 3:24PM
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If the furniture is good to begin with it can be well worth it to reupholster. It depends on what you're buying, what you're paying for it, what type/cost fabric you want for it, what type of filler you want in the cushions, whether or not their is structural work that must be done on the piece, and what it will cost when you're done with it.

The problem with most upholstered furniture is that it doesn't hold its value. The exception is when you buy a designer or brand name piece -- a Baker sofa, f.ex. or something like my Donghia loveseat which I purchased when the designer was alive and cannot be replaced now. George Smith upholstered pieces hold value somewhat.

Most everything else doesn't. It's worth a fraction of what you pay for it.

So, I say reupholster if it's a distinctive piece, a piece that will be worth something for resale when you're done, or if it makes sense money wise vs what you could buy new.

Crate and Barrel carries Mitchell Gold and Lee furniture which is decently made mid-priced stuff. It's a good place to use for such comparisons.

Personally, I mostly buy used or antique furniture. I agree with ideefixe on that.

I've paid about $350 for a simple upholstery job on an antique framed armchair. A sofa can run in the $900-1000 range depending on size and work. This is for excellent upholstery work, perfect with everything matching, even difficult fabrics to line up like stripes.

But there are no generalizations because, like everything else, upholstery costs vary around the country. It could be much less for a comparable job where you are.

Mr. Collie, you carry some very nice furniture. Flexsteel is not something I'd give as an example to someone who's talking about reupholstering a "find". IMO it's like telling someone who feels like eating French toast to try potato chips.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 4:26PM
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I tend to agree with the above.

Good pieces are worth reupholstering. It will not necessarily be cheaper than buying new, but you can get a good product.

I talked with an upholsterer today who opened up a new piece to replace an outside back that was upside down. The frame was plywood, butt-joined, glued and stapled. That piece will be lucky to see 5-7 years and is not worth reupholstering, and may not have been worth buying in the first place. Likewise, I regularly get inside newer furniture for repair work and shake my head at what I see.

But the average consumer is looking for "low prices always" and jumps at the less than $1000 sofa, loveseat and chair combo.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why reupholster

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Funny...this a.m. I just purchased 2 Sherril chairs for my living room specifically to reupholster. I ended up paying $5 a piece for them and even though the fabric is horrendous, the chairs are in perfect condition. I haven't gotten a quote yet, but the guy that I will use does a wonderful job and is very reasonable. I'm planning on making a trip to either JoAnne's or to Calico Corners who are both having sales now. If he ends up quoting me more than I want to spend and I feel it just isn't worth it...I'm out $10 and will be able to sell them easily...or I'll just keep them for when my son goes away to college, they'd be perfect.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 3:25PM
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That's not something I'd want to sit in to watch a movie on the DVD. ;)

I am a kerbside shopper; I love old furniture. As several have said before the quality of the framing is oftentimes vastly superior to that which is presently commercially available.

The "thing" about reupholstery is that it's all about TIME and MATERIALS. And skill. You are, in effect, paying someone to rip down the piece and then rebuild it. It's dirty, smelly, time-consuming work and any upholsterer worth his salt is charging you for it! "Ripping down" is the hardest part, it sucks. Rebuilding the piece is the fun part.

How much you are charged depends on the difficulty of the piece, the detail involved, and the requisite repair to the frame that may be required. Also the "match" the new fabric dictates... all those things require TIME.

Reupholstery is all about TIME and MATERIALS.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 2:35PM
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Before you buy fabric, check with your upholsterer. Some do not work on COM (Customer's Own Material), some charge additional for using it (known as a cutting charge) because fabric sales subsidize their labor rate. Lastly, if you walk in with your own material, you may have too much, too little, or inappropriate quality. The upholster will only warrant his/her labor and if your fabric falls apart in short order, well, you bought it. If you are only looking for patterns and colors, then I'd say go ahead.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 5:15PM
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It sounds like you are looking for a creative outlet by doing a project and it can be a lot of fun! If you are trying to be economical recovering is not probably your best choice. Another point I would like to make is designer or high end furniture is pretty much useless if recovered. It is like an antique wood piece that if you refinish it loses much of its value. I have a baker by barbara barry chair that was over $4,000 new and a guest spilled a red based drink on the fabric. Long and short....the fabric is stained and when I recover it the chair is worth about $100 if I am lucky.

take care!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 9:51AM
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I don't agree with Bellamay, at all. Barbara Barry designed a collection for a particular furniture company, Baker. Those pieces were mass produced by Baker. They're effectively "a dime a dozen", even though they're lovely and stylish (it's a handsome collection; subtle and graceful).

Antiques, on the other hand, are now old enough that in all liklihood, not many of their number (IF they're "new" enough to have been mass produced!) survive in good, let alone "pristine" condition. If the piece was made as "one of kind" to a particular client's specific order, then it will retain its intrinsic value because it's rare in the marketplace. Barbara Barry for Baker has many years to go before it attains that status, regardless of the price paid for it or its grace and subtlety.

I believe the quality of "old frames" merits reupholstery. But that's my opinion, and is also a reflection of my personal taste in furniture. I regard upholstered pieces as "time capsules"; bits of by-gone eras that drift through the generations and evoke memories of long-dead forebears, social mores, etc..

I have an Empire sofa I adore (note that it shows the emergence of the Roccoco influence favored by the early Victorians; c. 1840):

and several other nice pieces not nearly as old. I get a genuine kick out of seeing something old and saggy brought back to life. I wish I had a scanner to show you how the Empire beast looked before it was reupholstered (and yes, I reused all the original horsehair!).

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 6:00PM
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Another myth that won't die:
It is like an antique wood piece that if you refinish it loses much of its value.

If the furniture is in poor shape and need of repair, not doing anything will accelerate its demise.

Only pieces that have survived in pristine, museum quality condition or perhaps some great historical value (those types that are by definition, rare) fall into this category.

Here is a link that might be useful: Too much antiques road show?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 11:06PM
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I can't wait to read that article when I get home today!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 5:12AM
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Here is a photo of a job a friend of mine did. I can pretty much guarantee that you could obtain a new sofa from a big box furniture store for much less. And that he did not trash the value of this heirloom piece. (This was one of many pieces he did on this project.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Upholstery restoration, step-by-step

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 8:54AM
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I absolutely agree that one can purchase low-end furniture for less than the cost of reupholstering an old, tattered piece. Not all old, tattered pieces are really worth the time, effort, and expense. But, generally speaking, the framing of older pieces is of a quality considerably higher than that offered on most "new" pieces.

I do several yacht interiors in the course of a year and know well how much rebuilding goes into the open cockpits of power cruisers. I deal with rotten wood, rusty staples and bolts, degraded foam, dried out vinyls, etc. every few weeks. Customers are routinely shocked at the prices quoted them; until they see what has to be done (my favorite story is the customer who freaked out when a 1 1/2" centipede ran across my hand as I was removing the old, sodden foam from the plywood base... ;) ).

As I've said, my preference in furniture tends toward the more traditional and I've never hesitated to rip down and reupholster pieces that pleased me aesthetically when it was time to do it. I live in a home and every piece of furniture works; I have no use for chairs that can't support a tired backside in comfort. Perhaps it's my tradesman background, but I am loathe to buy low-end furniture... planned obsolesence isn't part of my mindset.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 3:51PM
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No argument here. In fact, I'll toast to that!

Chelone said: "but I am loathe to buy low-end furniture... planned obsolesence isn't part of my mindset."

Somewhere in that long thread, I think my friend mentioned he found some newspaper clippings or pencil scribblings on the frame regarding then-president Hoover. I'm sure his work will last 75 years and outlive both him and his children.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 4:27PM
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I am in the process of slipcovering a sofa. In my internet search of information I found this great inspiration:

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 12:44PM
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Great link! it's A LOT of work to do upholstery/slipcovering/drapery work. And many people who don't "work with their hands" simply don't "get it", at all. And others "get it" instantly, go figure.

It's not rocket science, but it takes time, patience, and attention to detail... just like "lawyerin'", "doctorin'", or "sipherin'".

Skill is skill, it's only the medium that differs.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 5:18PM
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This is a good thread with lots of worthwhile comments on both sides of the issue. I don't frequent this Forum, but I would bet this topic has been hashed over more than once here. LOL!

I am having my Sherrill sofa, purchased 1990, reupholstered. After almost 18 years, you can imagine what it looks like. I think it is a good brand and worth reupholstering, at least I hope it is! I know I need to talk with the reupholsterer about the structural and support work that will be done.

One thing I don't think was mentioned in this thread is the importance of trying to re-use things instead of just throwing them away and getting new.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 5:17PM
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