In this day and age, many people skip straight to replacing furniture that doesn’t fit their decor or looks worn or outdated. However, we’re going to make a case for why you should reupholster furniture in your home… but also tell you when it probably should be replaced.
Here are questions you can ask yourself when considering replacement or reupholstery, and also a few tips for buying furniture in the first place that will last you a long, long time.
What is wrong with the existing piece?
This seems like a simple question, but it’s an important one! If you’re thinking of replacing or reupholstering a piece, there’s obviously something about it you don’t like.
“It’s worn out, uncomfortable, ugly, or outdated.”
Worn-out pieces generally get that way due to use. In other words, if it’s worn out, it’s probably because it’s an important part of your household! Fortunately, upholstery is a perfect solution for worn-out furniture. Not only can you update the exterior fabrics, but the internal padding can also be replaced.
If you love the frame, the style, the overall look of the piece, then honestly, keep that useful piece around by opting to reupholster it and add back in padding that’s been well-used over the years. This way you keep that favorite piece but it’s beautiful and comfortable again. You can also add additional layers of padding instead of removing all the existing padding. Get in touch with us if you want to discuss options for refreshing a well-loved piece instead of getting rid of it.
“Ugly” or outdated furniture comes with similar considerations, except for a couple things – is it the fabric that you don’t love, or the solid elements? Reupholstery is furniture magic, but it can’t change the frame or overall shape of a piece. If it’s worth something to you though, you can look at swapping out new legs on couches and chairs if the rest of the piece is still valuble to you.
A few notes on replacing foam:
It’s not quite as simple as you may think, depending on the furniture. Old padding often loses its air, starts to deteriorate or falls apart. Getting a good look at the existing padding can let an expert know if it needs to just be supplemented or replaced entirely. Disintegrated padding that is causing fabric to wrinkle in actually wears out the exterior fabric more quickly as well, so it’s important to replace worn padding at the same time as a reupholstery job.
If it’s an antique or heirloom: Antique furniture sometimes used rubber foam, which is difficult to find now. If authenticity of the build is important to you, another antique piece may need to be sourced for the replacement. Other old pieces may have even had a spring that was made by hand, wrapped in cotton, and padded with raw cotton or even horsehair. Horsehair actually is still available, but the price certainly changes when it comes to mimicking or sourcing original-style, authentic methods and materials for reupholstery. Upgrading materials, if authenticity isn’t your concern, can often give longer lasting results that are much cheaper.
Does it have sentimental value?
Some of us are lucky and have furniture we absolutely love because we have emotional ties to it. Maybe it was handed down to you by your grandmother, or maybe it was purchased as a memento on a romantic vacation abroad.
No matter what the reason, if the furniture has sentimental value to you, there’s not really a monetary value you can place on it and it’s always going to make sense then to keep it around. Being able to update the fabric (and padding) can keep that beloved piece in your home for years to come, so you can pass it down to someone else who will love it as well.
How much would it cost to replace?
The interesting thing about furniture is consumerism has changed the way we buy it in the first place – the American Furniture Manufacturer’s Association found that between 67-80% of people buying new furniture, especially couches, purchased based solely on the appearance of the fabric, with little to no knowledge about the actual quality of the furniture to begin with. When newer furniture is often mass-produced and the cheapest materials are used, you may end up out the same money reupholstery would cost and in need of a replacement in a few years again anyway.
Older furniture tends to be much higher quality than newer furniture, unless you’re paying for custom, very high-end pieces to begin with. If you have inherited or invested in solid, quality furniture, then reupholstery is a no-brainer. It will cost significantly less to change out fabrics and padding than replacing the pieces with something new that is of at least equal quality.
However, if your furniture isn’t high-quality and built-to-last to begin with, then there’s some math you’ll want to do after getting a quote on reupholstery. Is the frame of the furniture going to outlast the reupholstery, or is that going to need to be replaced as well? If so, then maybe saving the money you’d spend on replacing essentially all the pieces separately and instead invest in some new, high-quality pieces instead.
Are you just looking to match a new style?
We all have styles we prefer in our homes, colors we love and hate, and sometimes those can shift over time, or even just need an update. Fortunately, reupholstery is a perfect solution for getting a new look and feel to existing pieces.
Unlike some of the above, if changes are meant solely for style, there’s less work to do. No padding to replace, no springs to repair, etc. Instead, swapping out fabrics to match a new look keeps your existing furniture you painstakingly selected in the first place and just helps it evolve with your style.
Consider opting for adding details instead of an overhaul.
One area often overlooked is you don’t need to overhaul everything for a new style. If pieces are neutral, then custom-made additions can be an easy (and inexpensive) way of making them match your home’s new look. Add in new trim with an accent color, or even have new pillows made instead.
If the furniture’s color isn’t neutral however, then consider how often you change up your style. If it’s incredibly rare, go for the orange chair cushions in the photo above! If you change your style often, reupholster with neutral fabrics with interesting texture so you only swap out accents in the future to update instead. That’s an investment that actually makes your life much easier!
How do environmental impacts factor into your decision?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Those three words mean a lot when it comes to considering environmental impacts of your decisions. If environmental concerns are on your list of factors, then really, there’s a pretty simple solution to this question.
Buying new furniture is often much less environmentally-friendly than working with your existing pieces. However, if you really want to replace them, look for furniture companies that pride themselves on ethically-sourced raw materials, such as reclaimed lumber or upcycled materials. If built locally, then you help out there as well by not relying on emissions, fuel and other aspects of transportation of furniture as well. Foam is a huge factor as well, so look at recycled fiber fillings that are formaldehyde-free and don’t utilize plastic-based materials.
Donate your used pieces to something like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore store that sells pieces at strong discounts and uses proceeds (and even donated pieces) in the homes they build for the needy. You can post furniture online for people to purchase or even get for free, depending on if you want to make a little money off the piece or not. Being able to provide something to someone who really needs it is a great way to do some good.
If you’re considering reupholstery, give us a call.
We can look at your pieces and give you a quote, so you can decide what your next steps will be with expert knowledge. If you’re looking to add accent pieces, we do plenty of custom upholstery as well, such as pillows and more!