If you prefer to begin with THE STORY OF FURNITURE, click on:
JUDGING VINTAGE UPHOLSTERY
DON’T THROW GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD!
Before buying a used or vintage upholstered chair/sofa,
answer the following:
Who previously owned the chair/sofa?
Even if it’s ‘family’ furniture, answer the following questions honestly to decide if you want to incur the expense of re-upholstery! ( I truly enjoy each of the family chairs/sofas I’ve had re-upholstered!)
Is the chair/sofa frame sound?
This is critical; most of the sofas I’ve seen ‘curbside’—had collapsed frames.
If the frame is NOT sound, pass.
If the frame is sound: consider re-upholstery.
Does the chair/sofa have webbing and tied coiled springs!
If yes, this indicates good suspension.
Without webbing or coiled springs, pass.
Is the upholstery fabric worn?
This indicates only usage. Consider re-upholstery.
Open the zipper of a cushion. Is the soft filling within a cambric casing?
Shreds or lumps of fabric or polyester without casing is poor quality but
if the frame and suspension are okay, consider re-upholstery.
Lift the corner of the chair/sofa. Is it relatively heavy and stable?
Light and wiggly indicates poor quality frame and suspension system.pass.
Heavy and stable is necessary for lasting quality. okay.
Can you feel the frame through the arms, top or back of the chair/sofa?
If you can’t: good!
If you feel the frame, fillings and padding are inadequate and the frame will
eventually poke through upholstery fabric. A good upholsterer can correct this.
Do you hear squeaky sounds as you sit and move around on the chair/sofa?
This probably means springs are inadequately tied — but can be re-tied
by an upholsterer.
If squeaks come from ‘joined components’ of the frame:
the components are probably not properly joined. pass.
Is the depth of the chair/sofa right for you?
Because chairs and sofas must accommodate human frames of different sizes, chairs/sofas are made in many sizes.
Too deep, add throw pillows.
Not deep enough? Keep looking!
Is the height, width and mass of the chair/sofa right for your room?
Remember, room sizes, ceiling heights and sizes of other room furniture are variable. Chairs and sofas need to be in proportion to the room. Only you can judge this !
Be sure to carry a magnifying glass and tape measure so you can examine upholstery with the professionalism of a home inspector. If you describe inadequacies using specific terminology to explain why a price is too high for the quality, you can gain leverage for negotiation.
Pat Breen: EYEWITNESS TO QUALITY
My next post: RE-UPHOLSTERY? SLIPCOVERS?