What a transformation – preloved and reupholstered leather chair
Ali Clifford talks to Heather Maskill, owner of the littlefurnitureshop.co.uk about restoring a pair of preloved leather chairs found in a barn!
Ali – tell us Heather, why do you think more people are repairing old furniture these days, instead of taking them to the tip?
Heather – : In a world where most things are disposable these days, you may be surprised when some customers decide to invest in re-upholstering a chair or sofa. Customers do this for different reasons: sentimental value, it’s an old piece and worth it to last another 50 years, or just because the piece of furniture fits. If you have been looking to replace a sofa or chair, you may want a piece similar to what you have but a bit more up to date. It can be difficult replacing like for like so re-upholstering can sometimes be a last resort.
Ali – What’s the history of these chairs we’ve featured here?
Heather – : This pair of 1920s arm chairs came to us in probably the worse condition we have ever seen. They needed much more work than a regular re-upholstery job. Having been in the family since they were brand new, the customer just loved them, but to say they had seen better days in a bit of an understatement!
Ali – What materials did you use to repair them?
Heather – : One has been sat in a damp barn for years and the front feet were rotten. Every single joint was loose and the front rail on one of them had fallen off. When many would want to find the nearest skip, this customer wanted them restored. Because these chairs were old, they weren’t full of foam and toxic man-made materials. They were filled with hair, fibre, cotton felt and covered in leather, which means when we took all this off, it wasn’t going to harm the environment, but would naturally discompose. Foam is an oil based filling which is used in most modern mass produced furniture. The frames on these chairs were beech which meant that, apart from some serious re-dowelling and re-gluing, they were in fact in very good condition.
Hard wood lasts a long time, and these chairs certainly had had some use over the years. Two new oak feet were cut and shaped to replace the rotten ones. A sprung seat gives a firmer, but longer lasting seat, and all the upholstery was hair, fibre and cotton felt as the original, and covered with Scottish leather. The original seat cushions were velvet, so we have made new feather seat cushions and our customer is working with us to decide on the covering. When we delivered them back to her she did indeed say they were good for another 50 years or more. We think she is definitely right.
Find out more at www.littlefurnitureshop.co.uk
Follow Heather on twitter: @vintagechairs
Some old, some new sofas, chairs & footstools, made & upholstered in Shrewsbury, delivered all over the UK @TheoPaphitis #SBS winner 18/9/11
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