Gran’s chair gets new lease of life
Reupholstering is back, with women at the forefront writes Katie Newton.
If you’ve inherited gran’s special armchair and aren’t sure how to make it work in a modern home, reupholstering it will result in a truly unique and special piece of furniture.
Upholsterer and fabric importer Asha Payton of Little & Fox, has noticed an upsurge in interest from people wanting to restore heirlooms and vintage finds. ‘‘It used to be that people were all about buying new but now there’s a move to restore something older and have a bespoke piece,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s about living sustainability and reconnecting with the past, and also having really special things in your home that make you tingle when you look at them.’’
Payton has started offering upholstery night classes at her Napier workshop and already has a waiting list of more than 50 people wanting to learn. ‘‘I’m trying to work out a way to keep up with demand!’’ she says. Little & Fox has clients from Auckland to Invercargill and has two other upholsterers on the team.
Self-taught upholsterer Kristina Weston of Red Couch in New Plymouth says there has been a revolution in the art of upholstery, which used to be a trade dominated by men. ‘‘Now there’s lots of women involved who don’t just enjoy the physical nature of the job, but have knowledge of fabrics, styling and how a piece of furniture works in a room,’’ she says.
Velvet is one of the most popular fabrics to reupholster with, thanks to the popularity of art deco and mid-century design, and the fabric’s practicality. Most velvet contains polyester, so it’s hard wearing and can be wiped clean, but it also has a luxe look. Florals, stripes and jewel colours are other bold choices, with the baroque designs of House of Hackney and Timorous Beasties from the UK particular favourites of Payton’s.
Both Payton and Weston take their clients through the whole process to choose fabric, piping, buttons and wood finish, and learn about the history of each piece. Old furniture tends to be made of quality hardwood and be innersprung so the quality is superior to buying new.
It’s not a cheap process however, with a standard armchair restoration from Little & Fox costing around $550, with fabric and piping extra. But Payton says: ‘‘You’ll end up with something that will really make your room.’’
Payton learnt the art herself several years ago when she approached an upholsterer named Beau Hollyman to restore some old furniture. She ended up spending four years learning from him. After Hollyman died she inherited his equipment, and now keeps his legacy alive through her work.
‘‘Once you’ve got the bug for upholstering, you’ve got the bug,’’ says Payton. ‘‘You’ll never look at a piece of furniture the same way again.’’
Reupholstering furniture is not cheap, but you’ll end up with a standout piece.
Florals, velvet, jewel colours and bold patterns at Little & Fox.