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How To Revive Dreary Upholstered Furniture

When you're ready for a new chair or sofa, consider having the piece revived with new upholstery. Learn about things you can do to make an old piece of furniture look like new.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:
Don't choose an upholsterer from the yellow pages. Get recommendations from friends who have had furniture upholstered. Be sure to look at the work they've had done and confirm that it's up to your expectations. Have the workman look at your piece of furniture, make suggestions about styling, and estimate how much fabric you'll need to purchase.

Look in magazines and catalogs for pieces similar to yours. What do you like about the look? Is if the skirt, special trims, exposed legs, complimentary fabrics? Find a look you like and confirm that your upholsterer can duplicate the details.

Select your new fabric based on the style of the piece and your home. Bring home swatches of fabric to see how it looks in your home. Compare colors with walls, draperies, and accessories that you already have. Be sure to purchase enough to match patterns from section to section or from the frame of the piece to the skirt.

Decide on changes you might want to make. This is the time! Consider eliminating a skirt on the bottom in order to expose decorative wooden legs. Or perhaps arrange to have the skirt made deeper for a longer and taller look on the piece.

Don't even think about a ruffled skirt. Keep things neat and simple. A plain front or box-pleated skirt will look more sleek.
Decide if you'll have complimentary pillows and have them made at the same time.

If your sofa is long, reduce the number of seat cushions for a more pleasing look. Consider having a single seat cushion span the full length.

The workman can change some of the design of the sofa. A straight back or arm can be softened with additional padding. Cushions can be rebuilt for added support and a softer look and feel.

Add fashion touches with coordinating welting or cording at the seams and around the edges of the piece. A row of 8" fringe around the base of the sofa or chair is a luxurious touch, though very exensive.
Camouflage an outdated furniture frame by throwing coordinating or complimentary pillows and cushions on the piece.

If your piece of furniture is too low and uncomfortable to sit on, add longer legs prior to reupholstering. They can be camouflaged and hidden by the new skirt you'll select.

Select fabric that will hold up well under the conditions in your home. Though cotton velvet is very durable, it might not be practical for your home. Floral cotton chinz prints add color and pattern to your room, but may not survive an active family. Choose what will look good in your room and be sturdy enough for your needs.

Get a commitment from the upholsterer that he'll repair any scratched wood trim or broken frame pieces. With the covering off, this is the time to repair any elements that need it.

Look for examples of updated furniture and try to have your old piece brought into this century.

Reupholstering a piece of furniture can, and probably will, be more expensive than buying a piece off the floor of a furniture showroom.

If you love the new fabric, consider buying enough to redo the piece after this new look wears out. Then when you get the piece covered again, you can have the same look that coordinates with your space.

Buy the fabric, complimentary fabrics for pillows trim at the same time. It will be easier to coordinate colors, textures, and pattern size.

If you want this to last, consider having a slipcover made in the same fabric.

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