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Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

Posted by mlweaving_Marji (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 5, 13 at 18:11

I have the Baker churchill dressmaker sofa that I purchased in 1983. They still make it, and I've checked it out and now it's over $6,000 w the basic fabric choice.
I love the size, it's always been the most comfortable sofa. I had it reupholstered in 1994. In 2005 I gave it to my son who used it for several years in their home.
Now I've got it back, and it will fit perfectly in the living room we are building.
Do you think it's worth reupholstering? It's gotten continuous use for close to 30 years.
What are the considerations I need to know about if we decide to reupholster it?
A new $6000 sofa is not in the budget. If we buy new we won't be able to spend much more than the $1500-$2000 I've budgeted for reupholstering this one.
What are your thoughts?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

Quality of manufacturing has gone WAY down since 1983. To get a sofa with the equivalent quality of your Baker, you will likely have to spend $5,000 - $10,000 because you'll want a hardwood frame, among other things. There may be exceptions, but I think it will be very hard to find even a half-way decent sofa for $1500 - $2,000.

I would say that, if the frame of your Baker is still strong and in good shape, you're better off reupholstering. Do good research on cushions (don't ask furniture salespeople. They just read the script they were given to read to you). Look into natural Latex or Bayer Ultracel foam for cushions.

It's really, though, about the frame. If it's a heavy sofa and in good shape, hang onto it! As they say, "They don't make them like they used to."

I had a very heavy antique sofa, from the 1920s or something like that. It really started having problems, and I weighed for a long time whether to buy a new sofa or repair and reupholster the antique. Since the arms were separating from the frame (which was about 100 years old!), I decided to get a new sofa. What a disaster. Oh, I went with the 8-way hand-tied North Carolina thing. Salesperson yes'd me to death about the cushion. What I got was just awful, for $1700! I hate it so much that, I did my homework (because the old sofa was long gone by now), and now I'm spending $6,000 for a Hickory Chair sofa! Friends are coming on Monday to look at the other one to possibly put in the foyer of a business.

Buying new (just about everything now, not just furniture) is so risky, I think. Materials used are cheap and flimsy, workmanship is all but gone, and they cut corners everywhere they can to increase that profit margin by every penny they can.

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

I agree with Tibb. We just bought a Hancock Moore sofa and we are very pleased with it. The quality is great and the leather is beautiful but it was expensive. As long as you find a good upholsterer you won't be sorry that you kept your quality piece.

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

Thank you. The frame is still good, it's been well taken care of and not abused, just normal wear and tear.
Originally it was a down wrapped cushion. I'm sure when it was reupholstered in the 90's the down wrap went away. Is it possible to get that again? I need to figure out a.) how to find a good upholsterer in a new area - not metropolitan and not a lot of choices, and b.) where to research about cushions and what questions I need to ask.
Do the springs wear out?

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

When you get the answer to the question about down wrapped cushions let me know, too. I've re-upholstered my Baker sofa and Henredon chairs multiple times, but the cushions are now some sort of foam wrapped in something or another......the cushion question is the most difficult to solve.

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

out of lurkdom to add my 2 cents worth on this topic. I have a Baker sofa bought c.1980 with down-covered dense foam seat cushions and feather&down loose back cushions. About 18 years later, I had it re-upholstered (new colors for new house) and the cushions rebuilt with the same down-covered foam and feather&down. A local upholsterer who did exactly what I wanted, happily. The "new" cushions and fabric are still in prime condition, as is the sofa carcass -- Baker really did make an excellent product, so there was never any question in my mind whether to re-do this piece or buy new. At the time of purchase, the sofa cost $2000, a hefty amount back in the day! It certainly was worth recovering, and I believe I could do so again in the future if warranted, if I live long enough! Otherwise, I fully expect my kids/grandkids to inherit the sofa and for it to still have years of good use.

If you communicate carefully with your upholsterer, you should have no problem getting the down-covered cushions you want. Be specific and stand your ground if he/she wants to substitute something else!! And good luck (if you haven't already solved your sofa problem).

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

You can't beat good quality. Like the others are saying, I'd definitely reupholster it. Talk to a few different upholsterers in your area, letting them know what you want. See if you can see any of their work, as well, to make sure you're getting good quality work. Good luck. Post pictures when you're done, if that's the way you go.

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

Vedazu is exactly correct: the cushion issue nowadays seems to be the most difficult to resolve. I suspect you have a much greater chance of getting a very good, quality cushion via a really good re-upholsterer than by having a new custom sofa built. In fact, ideally, I would advise people who are buying new sofas to forgo the cushion and have that made separately and privately, not via the sofa manufacturer. It's so obscene because not being able to get a really well-made cushion, dense, resilient, doesn't sink, comfortable, etc., for a sofa is like not being able to get good tires for your BMW or Mercedes or something. Cushion is the most important part! I just bought two custom sofas - first was an absolute nightmare, and I took a total bath on it. Second one a Hickory chair, incredible frame…but both, cushion fails. And what was most maddening was that both companies acted like I, the customer, was supposed to be the cushion expert and they just followed my orders. Really backward and frustrating.

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Where are you located? I know a bunch of upholsterers throughout the US and Canada.

Here is a link that might be useful: why reupholster

RE: Reupholster Baker sofa or buy new?

Get an estimate from the upholsterer so you know where you stand.

You can get a good fabric sofa for $2000. I might look at the new sofa offerings and see what you can find. As far as cushions. You can also choose good cushions and they are available.

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