Chair Repair — Upholstery Makeover

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Turning flea-market finds and cast-offs into up-to-date furnishings typically requires an expensive and extended stay at an upholstery shop. So when I discovered that The Furniture Joint, in Manhattan’s East Village, offers a 12-hour, experience-based upholstery course that teaches a thrifter to rehab a tired chair, I signed right up.

After the class, I attempted my first project: a worn Louis XV-inspired chair with carved fleur-de-lis details and pretty cabriole legs that were overpowered by a dowdy fruit-patterned fabric. With help from the shop’s owner and course instructor, Matthew Haly, and interior designer (and fellow student) Jennifer Eisenstadt, we made over the chair in a single day.

Price point: For the average DIYer, upholstery will prove itself a challenging but rewarding activity that can save on decorating costs. Look for classes at local trade schools, or consult a book that details the basic techniques, such as Upholstery: A Beginners’ Guide (Guild of Master Craftsman). Projects that require tufting, pleats, or major restoration are best left to professionals. To strip and reupholster this chair, a pro would charge about $350, in addition to the cost of materials.

Fabric facts: Selecting upholstery fabric involves several important steps. First, consider function: This side chair won’t receive as much use as a sofa, so a more delicate material, such as this 100-percent silk “Poppea” fabric from The Silk Trading Co. (shown on the reupholstered chair, above, right), is appropriate here. Next, the amount of fabric comes into play. This type of chair requires a small amount of yardage, so we splurged on this more expensive fabric that makes a big statement. When estimating fabric yardage, remember to take the repeat into consideration. If a repeated pattern is centered, add half a yard to your estimate. Finally, be sure to smooth out and center the fabric, iron out wrinkles, and then “make nice and measure twice” to avoid costly mistakes.

Brought to you by Upholstery New York via CountryLiving

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