New Life for Your Thrift Couch or Chair
With seating, there are a couple of options. Chairs and couches with wood frames and loose cushions are great for do-it-yourselfers. You can refinish or paint the wood frame and replace/recover the cushions quite inexpensively. Presto! You have attractive and comfortable seating at a fraction of the cost of new furniture. I re-covered the cushions on the wood frame chair in the picture.
Chairs and sofas that are completely upholstered, covered with padding and fabric, tend to be more common. If the fabric is worn but the brand is good and piece is in good shape, re-upholstering could get you a great custom piece of furniture.
Slipcover or re-upholster?
There are a couple ways to go if you want to give your thrift store treasure new life. You can slipcover or re-upholster it.
A slipcover is just like it sounds, making a cover for your sofa or chair that you can remove and clean if needed. If you have kids or pets, slipcovers can be a lifesaver. Creating slipcovers takes considerable sewing skill. If you’re strictly a sew-on-a button type, you can buy slipcovers or work with a seamstress to make custom slipcovers. For more information about making or buying slipcovers, check out About.com, Interior Decorating.
You can also have the piece re-upholstered, which means completely removing and replacing the fabric and sometimes the padding, if it is a little deflated. Check your local listing for a professional upholsterer.
For both slipcovers and new upholstery, the fabric and labor charge can be considerable. For example, a local seamstress created a slip cover for my large, 3-cushion sofa. Twenty-two yards of fabric cost $330.00. The labor, zippers, and thread were another $350.00. Not an inexpensive proposition. When you are finished though, you’ll have a custom piece with exactly the right fabric and look for your home that could give you 10 years of service. Pretty good for a do-over.
Decorative Fabrics website has useful tips for estimating fabric needs for slipcovers and upholstery.
It’s all in the fabric
Whether you slipcover or re-upholster, buy the best fabric you can afford. This isn’t the time to get that bargain fabric that you can see through. Look for dense, tightly woven fabric. For households with kids and pets, a fabric with high cotton content is great. Cotton wears much better than synthetics. I have a friend who cleaned a stain from her microfiber sofa. The stain came out okay. But now there’s a hole where there used to be a stain. Check out the eHow article on the best fabric for re-upholstering sofas for the lowdown on fabric.