Monday, June 1, 2009

To Answer Your Question


Several folks have asked if having thrift store finds re-upholstered is cost effective.

I think you have to make the call each time you find a piece. Sometimes it won't be worth the price of upholstery. But here's how my chairs worked out. [Forgive me Grandmother, I know you didn't like talking money.]

I paid $5 for each chair. With a start like this, it's hard to goof up.

Upholstery has two charges: the fabric and the labor. I knew exactly what the look was that I wanted. I found a linen that was reasonable, but there wasn't enough for two chairs and the fabric that could be ordered was double or more the price. Then I went back and looked for something that would give that look, and found the mini-check and a khaki colored solid for the piping. The second choice fabric, which has ended up looking better than the original linen chairs I saw in a magazine, was less than the linen I found that there wasn't enough of. Trims, like fringe, are extra. I wasn't interested in any of that this time.

I didn't use a decorator or a designer, so there was no markup fee.

The labor was $295/chair and the fabric worked out to $60/chair. I expect that labor would be less outside a major metropolitan area. This shop had done a chair for me before, and they did a good job, delivered on time and were pleasant and helpful.

Each chair cost a total of $360.

For $360, I got a custom covered chair. In this market, a new custom covered, good quality chair can run you $750 per chair and up (a quick internet search showed $299 at JC Penney , 2 fabric choices, and $800-$1200 at Pottery Barn, +50 fabric choices). You have to take my word for it, but these chairs are very high quality, and in very good shape. They didn't have any odors, so the foam under the fabric didn't have to be replaced.

The answer is yes, you could go with a new chair and possibly save money, or break even. Conversely, your fabric selections are limited.

If you live even remotely near a trade school, you can get your upholstery done for even less. My grandmother (same one who said you didn't discuss money in polite conversation) used to get some of her upholstery done that way, unless the upholstery came with the purchase of the piece of furniture. She said she saved about 33% off retail prices. Fabric would have to be purchased separately.

One last thing: using furniture from thrift stores and antique stores saves our natural resources and keeps things out of landfills. And usually the hardwoods and workmanship from the past can't be beat.

And with that, I endeth the upholstered chair show and tell.


  1. I think you did awesome!

    (And HELLO?! Two bottles of GG? Add that to the very long list of reasons why I love ya!)

  2. What a great job and very informational. I love the part about looki g for a trade school or a off center grid store to have your work done.

    These chairs were definitely worth it!!!

  3. Wow! What great info. I thank you for sharing so much detail because, honestly, I wasn't sure about that. We have many antiques in our home and go for good quality workmanship (which is nearly impossible to find in todays market.)

    We had our cabinets custom made by a local gentleman and they are solid wood, dove tailed, etc. You just can't beat quality. By the way, his custom prices? Below retail for the shabby stuff. Amazing! He was also opinionated and only liked dealing with my husband (who worked 70 hours at the time), but he became used to dealing with me. It's a good thing too or he wouldn't have received his check. ;)

    I must go in search of new chairs!

    :) Good job on your find!




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