New Life for Old Furniture

New Life for Old Furniture

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Reupholstering furniture is one of the best ways to get the look you love on a budget.  Old furniture usually has good bones, and typically its quality is much better than what you could buy new for the same price. 

House Beautiful 

It is a great way to update a piece of furniture that has been passed along to you.  Reupholstering allows you preserve the furniture's sentimental value while improving its style with new fabric and trim, making it relevent to your lifestyle.  

Reupholstering also is a great way to "reduce, reuse, and recycle," and make good use of existing furniture rather than tossing it only to replace with something new. 

My favorite reupholstered pieces are antique sofas that have been covered with a modern fabric and have curved legs that have been painted a glossy color like black or white.

Nick Olsen's fabulous former apartment

Entertaining with Style


Lindsey Coral Harper

Velvet and tufting are nothing new under the sun, but they make a recovered piece of furniture look completely modern.


Orange fabric with white piping is fun and fresh, while the glossy white traditional chippendale legs keep this room from looking too 70's.

Celerie Kemble

Painted white legs and lavender fabric update this pair of side chairs.

Sheri Sheridan via Material Girls

Craigslist and antique or consignment stores are full of sofas just waiting to be recovered for a breath of new life.  You can usually get ones similar to those pictured above for a song.  We think that around $50 is market rate for an antique Duncan Phyfe-style sofa that needs to be recovered and painted.

On Charlotte Craigslist, this sofa is not much to look at as/is but has good lines and ball-and-claw feet just waiting to be laquered.  And it's $100 OBO.  We'd offer $50.

Then we would paint the legs a glossy white and have it recovered with this fabric:

China Seas Florentina

In Washington, once again we would lacquer the wood trim (check out this sofa's awesome swan arms) and cover in a modern fabric.  It's listed at $175 for the sofa and rocker set, so we would offer $50 for the sofa

We'd cover it in a fabric like this:

Rubie Green

One thing we will note:  when recovering an antique sofa like these, choose a modern fabric.  You need a modern fabric to balance the style of the furniture.  Any fabric that is too traditional will make the final result seem frumpy and old-fashioned.  We also think that painting the wood trim is a key to an updated look with fussy old pieces of furniture.

If you are wondering about ballpark pricing for recovering furniture, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  My experience is that a good reupholstery job for a normal-sized sofa is between $300 and $400, with armchairs being in the $200-range.  You can look online for a guide to how many yards of fabric you need- of course it depends on the style of the piece of furniture as well as the repeat of the fabric.  And to be conservative, I always order an extra couple of yards, just in case (or for throw pillows).  Another nice thing about reupholstering a sofa- you don't have to make a big investment all at once.  You can buy the fabric and then wait a little while before you pay for the labor to have it recovered. 

Upon recommendation of my stylish new friend Laura Casey, I recently had a sofa reupholstered by Lail's Upholstery.  They are a family-run company based in Shelby, NC (home of Bridges BBQ), and they do pick-ups and deliveries to Charlotte and the surrounding areas.  Their prices are good, and they do a great job.  You can call them at 704-487-4791 (ask for Travis).

Do you have a piece of furniture you have been needing to recover?  Tell us about it!

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