14 Reupholstery Tips From a Pro
New York City design-and-build specialist Matthew Haly doesn’t soft-pedal when it comes to his craft. Thinking of reupholstering? Pull up a chair.
How long have you been in this business?
My first job, at 15, was at an upholstery studio in New Zealand, where I grew up. So I’ve been at this for 25 years. I’ve
had my own studio [furniturejoint.com] for 12 years.
How can someone tell if a piece is worth reupholstering or not?
There’s a lot of furniture today that’s not built for a second life—it’s not structurally sound enough to invest in. If you
have a piece with a well-made frame, it’s probably worth it. Older furniture tends to be higher quality—something that was
your grandmother’s in the 30s or 40s is more likely to have dowel joints than be glued together. That’s worth investing in.
Why is reupholstering so expensive?
It’s a time- and labor-intensive process that involves specialized skills. A well-done job can include stripping a piece to the frame, reinforcing the frame and the joints, replacing coil springs and zigzag springs—and that’s all before the cost and complexity of fill, padding, and fabric. The most common misconception is that reupholstering is just about fabric.
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