The simple answer is that if you can’t live without that piece of furniture, then yes. But there is much more you should be thinking about when you answer that question. Let me explain further…
The bottom line is that with the cost of completed, upholstered furniture at such reasonable pricing, there is usually no need to reupholster existing pieces. There are major exceptions to this rule as we will discuss in a moment. The typical client who asks me this question though is not dealing with these exceptions.
My clients are often asking about re-doing a normal piece of upholstered furniture. The first question I ask is “how much did you pay for the piece in the first place?” Usually the client bought the chair or sofa at a discount price, and they want to recover the piece because the fabric is worn or the style is passé. Quite often, most people have no idea what the costs are in upholstery and, therefore, ask about reupholstering pieces that should go to a thrift store, or a deserving family member.
So, let’s get everyone on the same page and talk numbers. A typical sofa uses about 15 yards of fabric, though there are many styles that can increase or decrease that yardage. Assuming that you chose a material that costs $50 per yard (a good average cost per yardage for upholstery fabric), your cost is already $750, and that’s just for fabric. Is your pocketbook keeping up?
Then you have the cost of rebuilding or retying the piece. Some upholstered goods don’t need rebuilding or retying, but you had better prepare for the cost, or risk being caught off guard.
The next cost will be the actual labor cost of sewing and applying the fabric to the frame. This will range greatly based on the quality of the workroom and the region in which you live. In the Reno, Nevada area, the cost for workroom labor ranges from the mid $30’s per yard, to $80 and above.
Another cost is the cushions, inserts or other forms. These can add a couple hundred dollars to a typical sofa reupholstery job.
By the time you are done, even on the low end, you are probably looking at spending $1500. Compare that to the local ads that come to your house in the paper or in the mail. You can buy a brand new sofa for anywhere from $400 – $1500, and there are a gajillion choices of fabric and styles.
So, if buying a new sofa is so obvious, who is getting their furniture reupholstered? Family heirlooms, a special piece, a truly outstanding example of craftsmanship, or just because you can’t say goodbye to it are all valid reasons for upholstering.
I don’t mean to imply your furniture isn’t worth the effort of reupholstering, as I have helped many clients re-do their furniture. But I usually recommend my clients use the services of a professional designer to help them select new furniture instead of reupholstering their existing furniture. However, reupholstery WILL provide some solutions that new pieces will not. For example, you have the opportunity to select ANY fabric that is conducive to your design plan. You also can verify that the craftsmanship of your work is perfect, and that you are supporting a local company.
While many people believe that reupholstering their existing furniture is more cost effective, the truth is that it is rarely cheaper than buying new and donating that old piece to someone who will enjoy it more.