Benefits of Reupholstering Furniture

Written by Angie's List Staff
Updated September 25, 2013
a tan fabric chair with a house plant
Reupholsterers typically offer hundreds of fabric types, colors and patterns to choose from. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Reupholstering is a great way to revive aging furniture without having to clean it or throw it out.

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So, you’ve inherited a sofa from Grandma and you want to keep the warm feeling you get from having it – just maybe not the plaid pattern that goes with it. Or, maybe you have a nice set of furniture but one piece is damaged and you don’t want to break up the set or have to buy new.

A professional furniture upholsterer can give your old furniture new life. But be prepared: quality reupholstering can be expensive, so you want to be sure your original furniture is solid, structurally sound or that the sentimental value is worth the investment. And of course you need an upholsterer with local reputation as solid as Grandma’s sofa.

“If you have good quality furniture and you like the style, there’s a big advantage to doing upholstery, because you (can keep that) better quality furniture,” says Scott Worley, namesake of Scott Worley Upholstery in Indianapolis. “A lot of times, people think that if something breaks, they have to replace everything. One thing about repairing something is you can keep the sets together.”

Reupholsterers typically offer hundreds of fabric types, colors and patterns to choose from. Worley takes fabric samples to his customers’ homes to allow them to see the samples in place and offers free pickup and delivery of furniture he reupholsters.

Larry Hughey of Hughey Hartman Upholstery in Carmel has a showroom where customers can view his full assortment of fabrics. Hughey says his customers are mostly looking to update their older furniture.

“It just gets dated and they want to freshen it up,” Hughey says. “They’re just tired of the fabric. It seems like interior design goes in waves of what’s popular at the time; whether it’s the mauve era, or now, it seems to be more microfibers, Ultrasuede and things like that.”

A reupholsterer can often save a damaged piece of furniture by seamlessly, and sometimes creatively, making a repair.

“If there’s a repair needed on the front, say where a cat’s clawed a cushion, we’ll suggest using the outside back (fabric) to make the repair and then put something else on the outside back,” Hughey says.

Hughey cautions that reupholstering is best done on quality furniture made from hard wood.

“I have to decide if the furniture is worth recovering or not,” Hughey says. “If it’s not expensive, it may not be cost effective. We’re mostly dealing with furniture, maybe a sofa, that (costs) $1,000 to $2,000. Those are more apt to be recovered than a $500 sofa.”

That’s because reupholstering can be pricey. Reupholstering a sofa, for example, can run between $700 and $1,200 depending on its size, the type of fabric, and foam and padding needed if the cushions need replaced. Larger chairs can cost around $500, while smaller chairs typically run less than $200. Check the upholsterer’s reputation before you hire. Ask for samples, photos of previous work done and references from other clients.

“If you’re expecting upholstery to be cheaper than new furniture, it’s probably not going to be most of the time,” added Worley. “But what you get is attention to detail and a more custom fit. You can address certain issues if you like the furniture you have. You’re going to get something more customized to what you want. You have a wider selection of fabrics you can pick and choose from so you can get the look you want. You get a selection of fabrics, pickup and delivery, and a much more personalized service.”

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