Keep it or Curb it: Is Your Furniture Upholstery-worthy?

What makes furniture upholstery-worthy furniture?

Diane Von Furstenberg, Kravet

Quality furniture is designed to be re-upholstered. Once the original furniture upholstery’s seen better days, it’s just a matter of bringing in your beloved sofa or ottoman and selecting new upholstery fabric. Et voila: instant makeover! That said, not all furniture is upholstery-worthy furniture. Here are 10 tips for spotting the difference.

It’s reupholstery-worthy if…

  • It’s got good bones. If a piece is structurally sound and has a well-constructed frame, you’ll know it. Even if the springs sag and the cushions have seen better days, those can be replaced. Hold onto this piece: it’s a keeper!
  •  The frame is hardwood. A solid investment.
  • It’s a family heirloom. Grandma’s dining chairs come from an era when pieces were built to last.
  • It’s quiet. Sit and listen: hopefully you hear nothing because the joints and springs are in good working order.
  • It was made by a craftsperson or a quality fine-furniture company. Both are good indicators of longevity, particularly if the furniture is in good shape after 10 years of use.


It’s not worth the trouble if…

  • It’s not comfortable. There’s only so much replacing springs and foam can do. If the pitch, backrest or overall design of a seat, setee or sofa is uncomfortable, don’t bother with the expense of furniture upholstery.
  • The frame is softwood. Or cracked or broken. Not worth the cost of quality furniture reupholstering.
  • It’s from a cheap-and-cheerful big-box retailer. Low-budget furniture is affordable because it’s constructed from low-quality wood or even particleboard and features staples and glue instead of dowel joints. Don’t try to extend its short lifespan.
  • You sit down and hear creeeee-eeeeeek. Yes, springs can be replaced, but it’s expensive, so assess if you deem the investment worthwhile.
  • You put the piece together yourself using screws and an Allen key. Furniture that you complete yourself isn’t built to last.