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Should I Reupholster or Buy New?

Reupholster or buy new?

“Should I reupholster or buy new?” is a question I hear a lot. There are as many reasons to reupholster an existing piece of furniture as there are to replacing it by purchasing something new. But how do you decide? When someone approaches me for a new upholstery project I always ask, “have you considered buying new”?  There is a misnomer that reupholstery is less expensive than buying new, it’s quite often not the case at all. I like to ask this question first to make sure the project is not about price. We do a lot of upholstery work and our clients are thrilled with the results despite the cost.

When it comes to reupholstering, price should be the last consideration in my opinion. Below is a list of reasons our customers choose to reupholster instead of just replacing a piece of furniture.

Size Matters

You’d be surprised how often furniture stores send clients our way because they just can’t find a piece that fits. If you have an awkward or tiny space, the furniture you are trying to replace might be the perfect solution. If it fits, chances are you will be better off having it reupholstered in a fresh new fabric. Quite often we can change more than just the fabric to make it feel new. We often change legs, add or eliminate a skirt or make a boxed edge vs. a waterfall edge. Any of these changes can make a piece feel brand new.

A light-colored window seat with contrast banding at the edge and two pillows in blue and brown patterns
This window seat had seen better days, but a quick refresh with new fabric, a uniquely patterned band and a couple of new pillow covers is all that was needed for a brand new look.


Sentimental Value and Period Pieces

If you’ve inherited a piece of furniture from a family member or stumbled upon a great mid-century find, reupholstery is definitely an option! These wonderful treasures can be turned into something truly special with careful craftsmanship and attention to details.

A good example are these vintage womb chairs we recently revitalized for one our clients. The chairs have been in the family since the early 50’s. My client’s mother was an interior designer and his father an architect. He would build homes and she would furnish and design them. These particular chairs were featured in House Beautiful spread showcasing their combined talents. The chairs have been well loved and used over the years until recently they discovered the foam was disintegrating into powder.  We selected a new fabric that suited the era of the chairs and took it from there, creating a treasure that will hopefully last another half century or more.

A set of rust colored vintage womb chairs before reupholstery next to the newly upholstered version in a red.
The original chairs on the left with worn fabric and crumbling foam along side the newly upholstered chairs at our shop, just waiting to have the legs re-attached

It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts

You know the saying, but it applies to furniture too! Let’s face it, not all furniture is created equal. If you purchased a piece of furniture more than 20 years ago, the chance of the frame being a better quality than what you can buy now is real. That’s not to say everything new is poor quality, but manufacturing based on volume has a reputation of finding ways to cut costs, decent frames being one of them.

And what of the foam? Have you ever experienced buying new furniture only to discover that the foam crushes down in a short period of time? It’s another area that saves on costs but that you can’t see on the show room floor.  Our reupholstery process includes a quality foam and choices of soft medium or hard density to make a newly upholstered piece comfortable and durable for many years to come.

Endless Material Choices for a Unique Style

Unlike buying new furniture with a limited fabric selection, reupholstery allows for unlimited choices of quality fabrics and leathers. Even vintage Kilim rugs or other unusual textiles are options that make the revision uniquely yours. The sky is the limit when it comes to choices, and we always consider the suitability of the fabric and how it will be used. This can include performance fabrics and even some that can withstand bleach if your family needs that. (Think white bar stools or dining chairs!) We carry the best designer fabric brands so we can help you get just the right look and color.

An Array of fabric combinations from Fabricut
The possibilities of fabric, trim and detail is endless. This tiny sampling from Fabricut is a good example!

Reverse Engineering

Here is a more unusual situation, but consider you’ve found the perfect chair. You love the color, you love the shape, it’s definitely going home with you! However, you really, really wanted an ottoman, but it doesn’t come with one. Do you have to give it up and keep looking? Definitely not!

Here’s the thing, we can also fabricate complimentary furniture to your specifications as in the case of one of our customers whose 90 year old mother lives with her. The chair my client found was perfect for her mom’s tiny frame, however, she really needs to keep her legs elevated. She needed an ottoman short enough to allow her to swing her legs up and onto it.  No problem! We designed the ottoman you see below with a slight concave top, so it looked right with the chair but still fit her mother’s needs. We were able to purchase extra fabric from the manufacturer, so the two pieces look as if they were made to order.

A blue chair in a contemporary style with an ottoman made with a slight dip at the center
A comfy chair with a custom made ottoman in the same fabric
A blue chair in a contemporary style with an ottoman made with a slight dip at the center
A side view of the chair and ottoman


What about you?

Do you have a furniture dilemma you are trying to solve? Maybe buying new is right for you, but maybe you already have something perfect that needs saving with a refresh. Why not schedule a discovery call with us to find out?




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Meet Myrna

Myrna Everett is the founder and lead designer of San Diego-based Home Vogue Interiors, a provider of custom window fashions and designer soft goods. She is known for her fresh yet timeless design perspective and her commitment to opening her clients’ eyes to the endless possibilities available for window fashions and other finishing touches in their homes.

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