Many people don't consider having a sofa re-upholstered yet it could save hundreds of pounds. At the same time, it will transform a living room - and prevent perfectly good furniture from going to landfill.
A good quality sofa can last for decades. Even if the upholstery looks a bit tatty or dated, or the cushions a bit flat, the frame usually has plenty more years of service left. New upholstery or even (less costly) loose covers can give your best sofa a completely fresh look and feel at the fraction of the cost of an equivalent quality new one.
'Updating and modernising the furniture we love has become extremely popular over the last decade,' says Sarah Page, managing director, Plumbs. 'In a bid to save money and help the environment many of us have turned our hand to upcycling our treasured furniture instead of buying new, cheaply made items and a popular form of upcycling is reupholstery.'
So how much does it cost to reupholster a sofa?
How much to reupholster a sofa
'The cost varies according to the size, style and shape of the sofa and fabric you choose but can start from as little as £800,' says Sarah Page at Plumbs.
The cost may be less if you go through an interior designer, as part of a larger refurbishment. 'Providing your existing sofa is in good condition, reupholstering it is a fantastic way to give a new lease of life to an outdated but much-loved sofa,' says Jen Choate, co-founder of Interior Fox.
'You could usually expect a task of this size to cost approximately £600 plus the fabric. It’s a great option for preserving quality furniture and doing your part to prevent household items ending up in landfill. If the sofa is a little lack lustre, then new fabric and some extra stuffing could bring it right back up to date.'
If you don't currently have the budget, learning how to clean a sofa like a professional could give your sofa a new lease of life in the interim while you save up.
Why reupholster a sofa?
The cost of some new sofas can appear pretty low, however while they might seem like an appealing new living room sofa idea, they are unlikely to last long. The old adage 'buy cheap, buy twice' tends to be true when it comes to furniture. It's likely your old sofa will outlive cheap mass-produced imports, saving you money in the long run.
'Typically, furniture frames that were made ten to fifteen years ago are generally better quality, so you can guarantee it’ll last,' says Sarah Page, Plumbs. 'You also know that the furniture you already have fits perfectly in your home, so with reupholstery, you needn’t worry about measuring up, or squeezing in a new piece.'
Additionally, Wrap UK state that only 17% of sofas are reused, yet UK households can save over £320 million per year by using resale sites such as Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle etc, rather than buying new items.
How long does reupholstery take?
Not only are you saving money and getting a fresh look, while helping protect the planet's resources for future generations. It can also be quicker and easier than ordering a new sofa, which can take up to 12-16 weeks.
'It usually takes around six weeks from first contact to ordering your chosen fabric and returning your reupholstered sofa,' says Paul Marsh, upholsterer and member of The Association of Master Upholsterers.
Which fabrics are best?
'Don’t be afraid of using bold fabrics to create a real statement piece,' says interior designer, Emma Stevenson.
'If you're looking to give your sofa a longer life, it’s worth choosing more durable fabrics, such as wool or cotton, for the seat cushions and more expensive fabrics for the back cushions. Then if something like a spillage happens down the line you can easily just change the seat cushions.
'It’s also worth choosing washable fabrics and zips for the seat cushions, so you can easily throw the covers in the wash. It's possible to make your sofa jazzy and family friendly.'
If you're not ready to embrace a bold colour change, you can always stick to a neutral fabric and introduce pops of colour with your sofa cushion ideas.
Is it worth it to reupholster a sofa?
'I always encourage my clients to "improve, not move’’,' says interior designer, Emma Stevenson. 'If your sofa is out of date, dirty or from another house that doesn’t fit with your interiors scheme, there is so much you can do to renew it, rather than replace it.
'Finding a new sofa comes at a huge cost and if it’s one you’ve been sitting on for years you are often not sure you will get the same comfort back.'
If you want to update your grey sofa living room ideas with a brighter colour it is definitely worth checking how much it is to reupholster your current sofa first.
Is it cheaper to reupholster or buy new?
It depends on the quality of the new sofa you're considering. There are many cheap sofas available on the high street, but the quality may not be as good as you're old one. If the frame is still sturdy and it's just the fabric or colour you don't like, or the cushions need plumping, it may well be worth having it reupholstered.
It may also be possible to purchase new loose covers at a fraction of the cost to update your living room seating ideas.
'If you spent a lot on a good quality sofa over 20 years ago it’s probably worth having it reupholstered,' says upholsterer Paul Marsh.
'The cost of reupholstering is likely more expensive than buying a new cheap piece of furniture but if the frame is in good condition it's worth it.'
Can I reupholster my sofa myself?
While simple upholstery jobs such as covering an old headboard can be done by yourself, tackling a sofa is much more difficult. Upholstery is a skilled task requiring specialist tools, so it is important to use a professional for a neat, hard-wearing finish. It will pay off when you're old sofa comes back looking and feeling like new.
'Reupholstery is a complex and skilled craft which is why you should always ensure you use a trusted firm with experienced craftspeople,' says Sarah Page, Plumbs. 'By using expert upholsterers you can be sure your furniture will last for many more years to come.'
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Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.
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