ASK A DESIGN QUESTION? Should I reupholster the old, or buy the new?

Q. DEAR TONI: We have a sofa and chair that have seen better days and we're considering reupholstering them. Is it smart to invest in reupholstering or just buy new? Colleen.
A. DEAR COLLEEN: Reupholstering is a great way to refresh your sofa and chair, but you need to take a couple things into consideration first. Reupholstering most times is less expensive than buying new. I say most times because there are a couple price factors involved in reupholstering that will affect the total cost to reupholster a piece. First, are the pieces you're considering the style you want to keep for the next 10 years? If you're going to invest in reupholstering pieces, you'll want to keep them for quite a few years in order to recover the costs.
Were they good quality pieces when you bought them? Are the frame, springs, and cushions still in good condition? In my opinion, unless the pieces were good quality pieces to start with, I would NOT suggest reupholstering them. An exception to that thought is if the piece has sentimental value to you. Today you can purchase fairly inexpensive sofas and chairs, so if you paid less than around $1,500 for the two pieces to begin with, they are probably not worth reupholstering because you can buy new.
In estimating how much it will cost to reupholster, let's look at your sofa and let's assume it is an average size sofa of 86 inches long by 36 inches deep, exposed feet, loose back cushions in good condition. The two costs that you'll have are fabric and labor. If you select a plain solid fabric that is 54 inches wide, you'll need approximately 15 to 17 yards of fabric depending upon the style of the sofa. If you're looking to select a print fabric that has a pattern repeat, you'll need to add another 10% to 35% more fabric depending upon how large the pattern repeat is. Now fabric has a very wide price range, from just dollars per yard to over a hundred. Let's take an average price of $35.00 per yard which will give you a good selection to choose from. Along with the fabric, you have your labor costs. Reupholsters range in price also from about $50.00 to $80.00 per labor yard.
So let's do the math, using the average yardage needed, fabric and labor costs so you can compare reupholstering to buying new. If your sofa needs 16 yards of solid fabric, the fabric costs $35.00 per yard, the reupholster charges $60.00 per yard; it will cost $1,520.00 to reupholster your sofa. If you only paid $1,000 for the piece and it does not hold any special memories, I would suggest buying new. But if you originally purchased a good quality piece for a couple thousand dollars or more, that still has a good tight frame and the springs and cushions are still in excellent condition, YES you should reupholster it. I have many clients that have reupholstered a piece two or three times because it was a good piece or has special sentimental value to them.
Reupholstering is a wonderful way to transform a piece of furniture and extend its life, but do the math first to make sure you're investing wisely!
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