Upholstery Lessons Learned


 Though I watch HGTV I hate that it dooms real life interior designers by creating the impression that an entire room can be properly redesigned over a weekend.   I do believe a weekend redo can happen IF:


  • The clients agree to disappear and chuck their opinions.

  • You live in a place like LA where quality materials stores are on every street corner.  And they have a million selections, all of which are in stock. 

  • You have a traveling troupe of carpenters, painters and upholsterers following you waiting for something to do.

   But for us schmoes living in the Midwest trying to do it ourselves or with a single professional who has several other projects on the table it takes much longer. 

  And here is a perfect example of how it happens for the DIY’er like me. 

I’m trying to redesign our bedroom on a budget, actually on almost no budget—2,000.00. (The 500.00 you see on Design on a Dime never takes into account labor costs.  How does that sweet Joan Stephan sleep at night?). 

  I’d hoped to use fabrics leftover from other projects for the three chairs I’m having upholstered. 

The two fabrics above will go on the front and back of a rocker and a Victorian arm chair (large print on the front) I have. 

  John’s mom gave me a perfect wingback auction find from her garage.  It’s beautiful and this is the fabric I was GOING to use.  It’s a light gold matlasse. 

Fabrics 2


   Here’s the snag I ran into: Not enough of the gold fabric.  4.5 yards is all I had.  I forgot I originally bought it to cover an ottoman I was going to have made. 

  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 1:  When having a custom piece made, have the piece finished or at least ordered before you buy fabric for it.   If you are not at that stage, you may not be committed to the project, and obviously I wasn’t.  So I still don’t have that ottoman, but I do have fabric I can’t use.  


  Learn from Troy’s Mistakes Tip 2:  Know how much yardage you need.  My upholster says it will take them 7 yards of a small print or 9 yards of a large print to finish a wingback chair.  Don’t think I won’t be filing this away for future reference.


  So in addition to the 250.00 it will cost to reupholster the chair.  I will spend probably another 110.00 (conservative estimate) for 7 yards of a small print fabric. 

Some of you may be asking, “Troy, at  $360.00 (before tax), why not just buy a new chair?“  Good question and one I always ask myself before I pay to recover something. 

  To match the quality of the chair Linda is giving me I would probably have to spend a minimum of $1,200.00 (upholstery included).  The construction and form of the auction chair are that good.  It isn’t fancy, but a good, classic chair costs that much.  

  So there you have it.  Now I have to find time to go fabric shopping, something I love to do, but not something I have a lot of time for right now.  Oh well, Calico Corner, here I come. 

2 Responses to “Upholstery Lessons Learned”

  1. 1 gunstreamgirl
    May 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    you need some marshall’s (in b-ville) therapy.
    i had a handful of swatches cut the last time i was in town.
    my problem is that i have all of my fabrics picked out, but no room or furniture pieces upon which to place the fabrics.

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