Upholstery repair and restoration involves several design decisions before work begins. Most antique furniture will require a careful assessment of wooden joints and repair or replacement of structural elements such as springs, webbing, and padding. It is a disservice to a good piece of furniture to not carefully assess and repair the structural elements that allow the piece of furniture to function well. Design decisions include if period materials and methods will be used in the restoration, or if modern equivalents can be substituted.
When looking at the structural elements of antique furniture upholstery, several modern materials can give a good approximation of antique elements, with some added longevity and cost-savings. Modern webbing and other structural supports and springs, as well as modern long-lasting glues can ensure the new restoration will last and the furniture can function. Antique padding, many times made of horsehair, coir, moss or grasses, can be replaced at significant cost with the same, or modern materials which will give much of the same look, with increased comfort and longevity. A horsehair sofa can be entirely too solid for comfort. Modern cotton or wool felts over thicker springs and padding, with feather or down cushions, can give much of the same look, but can add a degree of comfort our ancestors might have wished for.
Antique furniture had many wooden edgings and decorative wooden trims that need to be carefully refinished and reattached during an upholstery. Heavily carved designs tend to get damaged with wear, and older methods of attaching padding and structural support elements with upholstery tacks can, after many years, cause splitting of these wooden edgings. Modern use of staples can attach structural support elements without the degree of damage to the wood as tacks, but this is one of the elements of reconstruction and restoration that walks a line between historical accuracy and modern methods and materials.
Choosing fabric for antique furniture upholstery brings in considerations of colour, materials, methods, and the entire room design. With a wide range of restoration possibilities, from hand-dyed reproduction fabrics made on period looms, to colours and design elements that are new to the piece, but in step with the period, to something unique and modern, fabrics, materials, colours, and design are the fun part of the process. Before settling on a fabric that is good enough, consider consulting with fabric and furniture restoration specialists who can discuss the wide range of possibilities for antique furniture upholstery.
We would be pleased to discuss your upholstery and furniture restoration needs. Our expert craftsmen and restoration specialists are available for consultation.