Interior Design Masters semi-finalist Micaela shares the biggest upholstery mistake people make

If you're embarking on an upholstery project this weekend, take notes

We have LOVED settling down to watch Interior Design Masters every Tuesday night with a comfy blanket and sweet snack. If, like us, you've been inspired by wallpaper king Paul's willingness to learn how to upcycle chairs when he'd never done it before, you've come to the right place.

Related: DIY novice upcycles stunning black sideboard – saving herself £530 in the process

Ideal Home spoke to upholsterer, interior designer and IDM semi-finalist Micaela Sharp (opens in new tab) for some beginners' upholstery advice - plus the one mistake to avoid.

woman with blue background

(Image credit: Micaela Sharp)

Micaela's upholstery tip

Unsurprisingly, Micaela's top tip is the exact opposite of going in all guns blazing and tearing off the old fabric.

'Always take the original cover off carefully so that you can use it as a template,' Micaela says. 'If you're redoing the foam, you might want to cut your new fabric a little bigger to give you enough to pull against.'

'Often people rip the old cover off and bin it but then you have to make a template in order to cut your fabric out,' she adds. Micaela also recommends taking lots of pictures as you strip the piece of furniture down, so you can remember how to recover it.

chair with wooden flooring

(Image credit: Getty / Jasper James)

The biggest upholstery mistake people make

Mistakes will inevitably happen, because you're trying something new, but here's a simple one you can avoid. 'The biggest mistake people make is not to pull the fabric tight enough,' Micaela says. 'You don't want to be able to see the corner of the foam, so it's best to pull it as tight as possible.'

So don't be afraid to use some force with the fabric, as not only will this make the end result look better, it'll also prevent issues down the line. 'This will also stop any movement which can result in creases when used,' Micaela says.

So, what's an easy piece of furniture to upholster?

Micaela suggests opting for small pieces like dining chairs and footstools, to begin with. She says headboards are another great option as they're flat. The key thing is to go for square shapes rather than curved shapes while you learn the basics.

table with hammer and nail

(Image credit: Alamy)

And if you've got an old piece that looks beyond repair? 'Nothing is ever beyond upcycling,' Micaela says. 'There are always reusable elements.'

'I try and avoid ever taking a piece to the tip because it goes to landfill. There is always a skilled craftsperson who would use something or save it. That's also why it's so important that we invest in good quality furniture (with good frames) when we're buying it the first time around.'

We couldn't agree more.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.