The Effective Ways to Reinvent Your Furniture

Reinventing the diverse pieces of furniture like sofa, bed, futon, and even extra firm crib mattress is possible with the help of new upholstery, decor details, quality fabric, durable covers, and zips.

Your worn out old lounge suite is actually a blessing in disguise – it gives you the opportunity to update your style using the different colors and textures of upholstery.

The days of traditionally matching two- and three- seater lounge suites are gone. Creativity and individuality reign supreme as furniture, fabric, and texture take center stage – it’s time to experiment with various elements in one room without compromising on the overall look of the space.

Where do I start?

Start with the biggest piece of furniture in the room. It’s best to work with one large sofa, for instance, and upholster it in the color of your choice, as the rest of the room’s appearance will flow from that.

Then you can play with one or two chairs in a different design or fabric: go for colors that either complement each other, such as black and white, or similar shades, such as white and pale grey. Try and vary the textures – if you have a leather sofa, choose chairs with embossed velvet or chenille or another heavily textured fabric. Use accent colors such as red for an ottoman or scatter cushions and, if space allows, add a chaise longue embossed with rich motives. Remember, the upholstery you choose will let you create a unique living space that mirrors your personality.

To reupholster or not

Reupholstering is not just about recovering a furniture piece – it also includes the mending and repairing of the framework. The costs of reupholstering is determined by the condition of the furniture item, says Jill le Roux from Supreme Upholstery in Stellenbosch. Some pieces need new upholstery and extra filling, while others need to undergo the entire upholstering process because the structure and the frame (including the seat) needs fixing. The labor for professionally reupholstering a three-seater sofa will generally cost between R1 300 and R1 700. You’ll need ten to twelve meters of fabric, which will cost between R195 and R295/m – therefore the entire project will cost you approximately R4 000; this price includes the covering and the repair of the structure. But there’s more to reupholstering a piece than merely making it look and feel good: it also gives you the opportunity to put your personal stamp on your home decor.

Choose your own upholstery

Most stores such as Coricraft, Wetherlys, Osiers, and Biggie Best have a wide range of upholstery for customers to choose from when purchasing a new item of furniture. The cheapest sofa which is reupholstered in a durable fabric should cost you about R4 000. Loose slipcovers are very popular – but can be more expensive, as the structure of the furniture item must first be lined and the cover made separately. This process usually entails a three- to four week waiting period until completion. Stores usually offer loose slipcovers or different upholstery for the furniture, and most are washable. If you already own a sofa and would like to give it a new look, you can buy new covers. Some stores also offer a reupholstering service where a furniture piece can be collected from the customer, reupholstered and returned. The cost of a furniture piece is often established by the fabric that is chosen – and fabric costs range from R100 to R500/m.

Fabric for the outdoors Coverings for outdoor furniture is becoming increasingly popular, as our stoeps and porches are being decked out as an additional room. Materials such as polyester and acrylic are suitable as they can withstand harsh elements such as the sun and rain. Outdoor materials are treated with Teflon and solution dye, ensuring the color does not fade and is water, oil, mold and dirt resistant. Be careful with choosing materials for rugs too.

What is good fabric?

Many people make the mistake of buying fabric that is not suitable for upholstery. The fabric must be strong, serviceable and durable enough to handle the wear and tear of daily traffic. A mixture of polyester and cotton, 100% polyester, acrylic fiber, wool, velvet, dralon, and leather are the most suitable fabrics for upholstery, while raw silk and satin woven linen should be used for scatter cushions. Also, make sure that the fabric you buy is SABS approved as upholstery fabric. All fabric undergoes rub count tests and the minimum rub count for upholstery fabric is 10 000 – it’s literally the number of times the fabric can be rubbed until it tears. Thread count refers to the amount of thread in a 2.5cm block; the higher the thread count, the tighter the fabric is woven and the better it will handle traffic.

Oops, I spilled something!

Never use bleach or shampoo on upholstery, shampoo has a residue that attracts dirt very quickly, while bleach will leave a white mark which you will not be able to remove. If you mess, dab as much of the liquid up as possible. According to Paddu Oosthuizen from Chem-Dry, you should spray the stain with a stain extinguisher or spot remover. Then you will have to work the stain with a soft brush or the back of the tin. Let it stand for a minute or two, then dab with a towel. These products contain the same properties as professional cleaning agents. The foam attaches to the fibers of the fabric and brings the dirt to the surface, where it is removed. Seeing that the product is carbonized and doesn’t contain any shampoo, nothing is left behind. Protect your upholstery from the start with a product such as Scotchguard or Upholstery Protection. These products are prepacked and can be bought over the counter.

Professional cleaning

Have your upholstery cleaned at least every six months by a professional cleaning service, especially if you have children and pets, otherwise, once a year should do it. It will cost you between R85 and R120/seat and will depend on the size of the furniture piece and how dirty it is. The upholstery is first tested for colorfastness – if the color runs, a color fastener will have to be applied. Furniture is vacuumed and all the dirty marks and stains are sprayed with special treatments. The upholstery is then cleaned with a wet foam vacuum cleaner. Light upholstery is cleaned with a special product to prevent water marks. This product is also used to clean piping and hems. Finally, a fan is placed in front of the furniture for drying.