“Be the start of the change, as well as a part of the change,” says upholsterer Sonnaz Nooranvary of BBC One’s The Repair Shop which follows a team of skilled craftspeople as they rescue pieces of furniture their owners fear are beyond saving.
“The way I see it is, if you’re able to purchase good quality now it’s something our children and grandchildren can restore and reupholster later.”
Fellow expert on the show Will Kirk, who specialises in restoring woodwork, agrees: “I always try to encourage people to buy second hand.”
Watch: The Repair Shop - Season 7
“A lot of old furniture has been made to last, compared to new and cheap furniture where the inside of a chair, for instance, might be made of chipboard and you can’t really fix it — an old vintage piece of furniture is made of sturdier wood. And worth restoring.”
What to rescue
Try using mayonnaise to get rid of watermarks on tables, or use ketchup to clean up your brassware if you’re happy to have a go before calling in the experts.
“I’m not against upcycling furniture, sometimes people can be a bit snobbish when it comes to upcyclers, but if it’s going to prevent a chair or table being thrown in a skip then go for it,” says Will.
“Start with a lick of paint, you can always sand it back and start again. Although, if it’s a nice Chippendale piece, I wouldn’t just start painting it…”
Sonnaz recommends dipping your toe into the water of restoration — and upholstery — with the statement armchair in your living room.
Or try an oversized footstool, which works for putting your feet up, setting down a tray or big pile of books.
Depending on the home, upholstered coffee tables can double up as a seating area too, she says: “With one piece, you could have the fabric toning in with your interiors or really go to town with a fabulous, wow-factor design.”
If you’ve a wobbly chair and you don’t want to do the gluing yourself, taking it to a specialist will cost from around £60 — but it depends on how tricky or simple a project is going to be, and whether there’s upholstery involved.
The sky really is the limit with upholstery. Fabric is an important consideration as you get what you pay for, but a plain fabric is going to be more economical on time whereas pattern-matching will take longer.
A small workshop might cost more but a product could last two to three times longer than something bought off the shelf.
New episodes of The Repair Shop start tonight, 8pm on BBC One
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