“Is my sofa or chair worth restoring?”

before & after images of chair restoration

Before & After: repairs on this Mid-century Club Chair include replacement of a split board & addition of a new bolt attachment to reinforce the frame

This is a question we hear often – in reference to vintage finds or family heirlooms. The answer is important because restoration is really an investment, whether you’re doing it yourself, or paying a professional to do it. You want to know that you are investing in something that will last.

Here’s my checklist for determining the potential of a piece of upholstered furniture.

  • First and Foremost: How do you feel about it – whether that feeling comes from a memory, the pleasing shape, color, or style? Perhaps it recalls a certain era or person in your life.
  • Metal frames may separate at weak points, and can usually be repaired with a tack-weld.
  • Connecting hardware (screws and bolts) can be replaced and tightened anew.
  • If it is a wood-frame antique, chances are the frame is hardwood and worthy of revitalization. Even if the joints are loose, they can be re-glued, and even broken parts may be easily repaired by a woodworker.
  • If the age isn’t obvious, carefully remove one corner of the fabric covering the underside to check for solid wood framing. Particle board & chip board are not repairable once the material has been compromised.
  • Parts that are compromised can be replaced with something stronger and more permanent. For example, a splintered dining seat platform that is not part of the supporting frame can be easily replaced with new wood.
  • Springs that are broken or ‘every-which-way’ can be replaced or re-tied.
  • Webbing or other platform material may be replaced.
  • Stinky upholstery padding and fabric can be replaced – the old parable “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” applies nicely here.
Broken down upholstery can be replaced to create a completely new look

The solid construction of this “ugly duckling” holds great promise for rehabilitation

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