Photos courtesy of LiLu Interiors
Vintage and sustainably sourced furniture has taken center stage in the world of interior design, but there is another option that often gets overlooked. Rather than investing in “new” old furniture pieces, why not consider giving your beloved furniture a fresh lease on life? Furniture reupholstery is a sustainable, cost-effective way of making items and spaces new again. Lisa Peck, owner and principal designer at LiLu Interiors, is an advocate of this concept. “Reupholstery is a sustainable idea, [one] that keeps furniture out of landfills,” she explains. “If you have pieces that were made decades ago, it can often be better quality than buying new.”
The benefits of reupholstery are manifold. Not only can it be a speedier process compared to ordering new furniture, but it also preserves the sentimental value of cherished heirlooms. Peck points out, “Think about the chair you read to your toddler in. It’s nice to keep those kinds of things around as a reminder of precious times.”
However, there are some considerations to bear in mind. “It can be hard to find a great upholstery workroom,” Peck says, “but if you work with a good interior designer, they will have the resources for this kind of work.” Quality should also take precedence over cost: Reupholstery is most worthwhile for high-quality, vintage, and sentimentally significant items.
To get a better idea of what the reupholstery process looks like, we asked Peck for a step-by-step walkthrough. “The first step is to assess your furniture and determine if the frames are good quality,” she explains. “After you have determined you have a piece that is worthy of reupholstering, the next step is to find a fabric you like that will be a lasting choice for your chair, sofa, or bench.” Considerations for style alterations—like changing the arm or skirt style, for example—should also be addressed. She continues, “Then, you give your furniture to the upholsterer, and they work their magic.”
The biggest challenge clients typically face is staying realistic. While there is much that can be accomplished when refreshing a piece of furniture, acknowledging the limits of transformation is crucial. But with the help of a discerning eye and a skilled hand, reupholstery can unlock a world of design possibilities that honors the legacy of beloved furniture.