One of the biggest furniture investments people make is in upholstery and it’s probably one of the least understood too. Usually people can justify skimping on good upholstery with:
“I’m just going to get the cheapest sofa I can buy, because the kids, dog, or flat-mate are just going to jump all over it.”
A more considered approach is to spend a little more and get a well-constructed piece, which will stand up to all sorts of abuse and last you almost a life time.
So what makes a good upholstered item? Here are a few things to look for.
First of all, the frame. Look for one made of kiln-dried hardwood. The process of kiln-drying makes the wood more stable & less likely to swell or warp. The frame also needs to be well padded & wadded so it doesn’t cut through the fabric and is comfortable.
While we might like to sink into a full feather cushion, it needs almost daily fluffing to maintain its shape. I prefer to specify seat cushions with a foam core and feather or fibre wrap – it doesn’t need as much maintenance & the cushion holds its shape better.
When it comes to the upholstery we enter into that that age-old debate of fabric versus leather. Take into consideration who, what, and how the furniture is going to be used to arrive at the best solution. Personally, I love fabrics – cut velvets especially. But they’re not going to suit a family with children and a messy dog! Apart from plastic wrapping everything (although wrapping the kids might be a good alternative), I think you need to have the attitude that nothing is too precious and all the furniture is there is be used. As an alternative to linen or cotton look for a versatile indoor/outdoor fabric, or a fabric with a blend of man-made fibres & natural.
Beautiful aniline leathers that are supple & breathe won’t repel even the simplest of stains like water, let alone body lotions & worst of all, hair products, but these leathers will patina beautifully over time. Leathers can be coated with polyurethane they will offer more protection, allowing you to wipe down life’s little mis-haps. Take note that the more treated the leather, the less it breathes & becomes sticky in summer & cold in winter.
So now you’ve decided on your sofa, and the fabric – do you want to go Loose Cover of Fully Upholstered? Choice of fabric can sometimes determine this. Some fabrics, like linen & cotton, drape nicely & suit loose cover sofas. On the other hand, cut velvets don’t drape, so these always look good fully upholstered. It’s all about the look you’re going for – loose covers always look a little more relaxed & perfect for that ‘Hamptons’ look and great when it comes to cleaning but do need regular adjusting.
Then finally, there are sometimes those little details which are available that can beautifully finish off your sofa or chair – piping, studding, buttoning & fringing. They act like a pair of diamond earrings for that special outfit and its these final details that complete the full effect.
If it’s a family heir loom or op-shop piece that you’re getting recovered, do you research and finding a highly skilled upholsterer is key. Usually an old guard, small family businesses that on the whole take great care and attention to detail and ensure that your well-loved piece is returned with a new lease of life and looking a million bucks ready for the kids, dog or flat mate to jump all over it again.
If you need professional advice Uocmas Interior Design can help. Click here to us.