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Let’s start with a situation which happens quite frequently : You have just been given a chair, couch or lounge suite which you have loved for years, but is now more than a little tired and saggy, and the colour simply does not fit in with your own decor. (Who remembers the sitcom “Frasier”, in which his father Martin refused to part with an old, patched chair in the living room which was at total odds with the otherwise modern, sleek and sophisticated furnishings of the apartment?). Let’s assume you really want the gifted item but are not sure how to incorporate this into your own home. You need to adapt it to fit your lifestyle, other furnishings and existing colour palette. This is where the services and expertise of a furniture upholsterer are an absolute lifesaver.
Wikipedia defines Upholstery simply as : “...the work of providing furniture, especially seats, with padding, springs, webbing and fabric or leather covers.” Upholsterers are able to re-pad and plump up old seat cushions and arm rests, repair broken carpentry on the frames and professionally re-cover the furniture in a fabric which tones in with or accentuates the surroundings in which it is situated, according to the client’s specific choice. Upholsterers have a wide range of fabrics, colours and designs to choose from, and are able to provide advice on the best type of fabric to use for any specific purpose.
For example, to extend its lifespan, outdoor furniture needs to be upholstered in fabrics which are UV-resistant and relatively weather-proof, able to withstand rain, cold and heat. On the other hand, indoor furniture which is exposed to hard daily wear and tear from young children, pets and a busy household should ideally be upholstered in fabrics which will withstand being spot-cleaned and washed fairly regularly. In addition, furniture upholsterers also design, construct and upholster specific household furnishings such as headboards, ottomans, padded stools and other small unique items according to the wishes of the client.
Furniture upholsterers are the specialists who bring life back to old, worn-out upholstered furniture by repairing or replacing the coverings on furniture which is otherwise still good but no longer fits into the colour scheme around it. For instance, if an office has rebranded its identity and changed the colours of its logo, an upholsterer may be employed to recover the existing chairs and couches - especially if they are still in good condition - with materials which match the new company colours. This is certainly a more economical and practical way of updating furniture than simply replacing it with new items.
Antique furniture which needs to be updated yet still retain its character and appeal should be sympathetically upholstered in materials which suit its age and style, such as replacing worn-out seating on a riempie chair with a similar material and following the original style of workmanship. On the other hand, one way of using an antique piece such as a single chair would be to bring it up to date with vibrant colours or a pattern which emphasises its ornate lines and turns it into a focal point in a room.
Marine upholsterers specialize in the repair or replacement of seating, cushions, cabin furnishings, headliners and carpeting on boats. This type of upholstery has to take into account factors such as dampness, harsh sunlight and hard treatment.
Automotive upholsterers are responsible for the seating and trim upholstery in motor vehicles, and are particularly valuable in the stitching, assembly and fitment of leather seating, which is highly specialized work.
Industrial or general upholsterers are responsible for the workmanship on covered and padded seating in trains, buses, aeroplanes and other forms of public transport, something which many of us probably never even think about. They are also involved in the fabric seating in cafes, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc.
These specialists may be found through advertisements in home magazines, home catalogues, furniture expos, newspapers and the Yellow Pages. Internet search sites such as Uptasker also list these companies. Uptasker itself is an extremely useful resource when searching the internet as it provides the names, contact details, links to websites (if available), online ratings and customer reviews of the furniture upholsterers in your geographical area.
An additional bonus is being able to request quotes from different companies for comparison, although this may be difficult since such quotes are often dependent upon the choice of fabric to be used, and it is best to actually view these samples in person. If at all possible, try to obtain word of mouth referrals for really honest customer reviews and feedback on reliability, service delivery and overall satisfaction with the finished product.
Your home or business brand is unique to you, and reflects your individuality, either on a personal or commercial level. You want to surround yourself with furnishings which reflect your own style and attitude, and which set you apart from the rest. Furniture upholsterers will help you to achieve this by allowing you to showcase yourself by customising your furnishings with colours, patterns and materials which are unique to you. For more tips, see our furniture upholsterer articles.