Mac's Upholstery has been Seattle's top reupholstery shop for generations. In addition to standard upholstery projects, we also repair and restore furniture. Our skilled craftsmen repair a broken chair, repair a table or fix a damaged sofa. Give us a call if you need furniture restoration.
Repair Chairs, Sofas & Furniture
Whether you order a new chair online or pick one up at a big box store it's only a matter of time before you realize they don't make 'em like they used to. Most furniture today is manufactured from flimsy plywood and pressboard.
These inexpensive chairs and sofas may look okay, but they're designed to be used for a few years then tossed. In truth, they're not worth repairing, let alone restoring. You can buy a brand new one for less than it costs to fix.
Restore Antique Furniture
A sofa that's been in the family for while or an old chair from an antique store is a different story. Back in the day, skilled artisans handmade sofas, chairs, settees and tables from solid, seasoned wood. Older furniture with sturdy frames and exposed woodwork are hard to find and expensive to replace. These pieces are worth repairing.
Repair Chair Frame
Reinforced Support Webbing
Repair Seat Springs
Refinish Chair Arm
Refinish Chair Leg
Restore Leather Chair
In many cases, a professionally restored chair or sofa is far more valuable than a brand new one. It's stronger and it has more character. It's also worth mentioning that repairing a vintage chair is a lot more environmentally friendly than buying a new one.
Refinish & Repair Furniture
Before restoring or even repairing your furniture you'll have to decide how authentic you want it to be. In many cases we can restore something using the original materials, but there are plenty of practical alternatives.
Old furniture is often padded with latex foam, cotton batting, wood shavings or horse hair. As you can see from these pictures, many of these padding options are obsolete. We recommend against latex foam, for example, because it crumbles to dust after a few years.
Repair Support Coils
Modern alternatives, such as soft polyurethane foam and fluffy dacron batting, are a better way to go. They feel better and last longer.
If zig zag springs or coils were originally used to support the seat deck, we will repair, replace and/or retie them. We will also repair and refinish wooden arms, legs, etc. You'll be impressed with the quality of our workmanship.
Upholstery Fabrics Galore
You'll find thousands of upholstery fabrics in our showroom. Select from a range of colors and styles to match your decor. You can also pick something totally different so your restored chair or sofa stands out.
United Club Airport Lounge Seats
Like most major carriers, United Airlines provides its passengers with a special waiting lounge in busy airports. SeaTac is America's 9th busiest airport, so the United Airlines Club Lounge in Seattle gets plenty of use. With all that passenger traffic, the chairs in its SeaTac lounge were looking pretty ragged. They needed to be reupholstered, but it had to be done without inconveniencing airline customers.
Lounge Chairs Before New Upholstery
Lots of Wear!
Handcrafted Vinyl Covers
Installing New Covers
Lounge Chair After New Upholstery
Before & After Comparison
After consulting with United Airlines we came up with a plan. Mac's would strip and reupholster eight chairs each week until all the chairs were finished. A set of newly upholstered chairs would be rotated into United Airlines' SeaTac Club Lounge every week. Based on those production numbers, the project would take a month and a half to complete.
Instead of cloth, we recommended a high end commercial grade Symphony® brand vinyl. The vinyl would be easier to maintain, last longer and look better until it was time to do it all over again in a few years.
Repair Diner Stool
The bolt down café stool evokes memories of a bygone era when roadside diners were popular, a jukebox was cutted edge technology and lunch at a Woolworth’s counter cost 25¢. You still see these old stools every once in a while.
A customer recently asked us to repair and reupholster half a dozen in traditional red.
Recovered Diner Stool
Repaired Diner Stool
The vinyl fabric they used in the fifties and sixties to upholster diner stools was stiff and not very durable. As a consequence, many of the them were covered in leather.
Today's high-end vinyls have evolved to the point where they're pretty much indistinguishable from leather. The marine grade vinyl we used to cover these stools — American Beauty by Olympus — boasts extraordinary durability. It's rated for one million double rubs; strong enough and soft enough for motorcycle seats and heavy duty commercial marine upholstery. It's also less expensive and usually more supple than full grain leather. Best of all, it looks great on an old fashioned café stool.
Reupholster Wingback Chair
In almost every case, we recommend upgrading a chair's padding during the reupholstery process. We do this for a couple of reasons. New foam is far more comfortable than antique horsehair padding. Also, old padding can collapse and turn moldy.
Despite our suggestion, the owner of this wingback chair wanted to keep the old horsehair padding and cotton batting.
It's challenging to properly reupholster somebody's old chair when the padding is lumpy, especially if the upholstery fabric they select doesn't have much elasticity. Given the circumstances, we did the next best thing. With the owner's approval, we wrapped the seat cushion, back cushion and arms in sheets of cushy Dacron. Dacron batting not only adds body to fill in the lumps, it provides a little extra padding.
The inexpensive Dacron sheets did the trick. They smoothed the rough edges allowing us to give new life to a dusty old wingback chair.
Restore Craftsman Rocker
Here's a beautiful craftsman style rocking chair we recently restored. We're not sure how old the chair is. The padding material inside — old fashioned horsehair, straw and cotton batting — suggests it was manufactured in the early twentieth century.
The chair frame was in excellent shape, but the old leather was desiccated, torn and rotted. The padding material also needed attention; it was old and moldy. We could've reused some of the original stuffing, but we strongly discourage that. In addition to being a little on the nasty side, the old stuff is never as comfortable and versatile as today's polyurethane foams.
Damaged Leather Chair Seat
Restored Rocking Chair
Replace Leather on Chair
Many of today's vinyls are nearly indistinguishable from leather, but the owner wanted to keep the chair authentic. Since leather is a natural material every hide is slightly different. On rare occasions a brand or scar on the leather will get in the way. The hide we used for this project had all the desirable characteristics: a smooth, consistent pattern with an even stain.
Upholstery nails serve a duel purpose on this rocking chair. In addition to holding the cushions in place, they're design elements. Since the original nails are discarded when the chair is stripped, we had to find about 150 3/8 inch brass head nails. Setting the nails is time consuming, but as you can see it was more than worth the effort.
Restore Old Sofa
When a customer asks us to repair or restore an old sofa they'll often take the opportunity to update the upholstery. Even if it's an antique there are plenty of ways to give the couch a fresh look by changing the upholstery pattern or color.
The owner of this sofa preferred a different approach. He didn't want a new look. He wanted his old sofa to look like it did back in the day.
Old Sofa Before Repair
Sofa After Restoration
As you can see, the sofa needed new padding, cushions and fabric, but most of our attention was focused on what you can't see — the damaged spring box under the cushions.
Torn & Damaged Spring Box
Retied Support Coils
Leveling Sofa Deck
Rebuilding Sofa Spring Box
Durable Burlap Cover
Reupholsered Couch Before & After
We began by reinforcing the frame and webbing underneath the sofa. Then we went to work on the spring box. Fortunately, the steel coils were good enough to reuse. It took some time to clean, straighten and retie the coils so they would properly absorb and distribute weight. With the coils aligned, we leveled the deck and covered it with thick, durable burlap.
While the original upholstery fabric was not available, we found a nearly identical microfiber with the same color and nap. The fabric didn't have much "give" so fitting the upholstery took a little longer than expected.
Check out the final before and after pic; hard to believe it's the same sofa.
A Softer Look & Feel
Leather upholstery is generally more durable than cloth. It also looks great. But, if you want your furniture soft and inviting, leather may not be the best choice. When this chair was brought in for seat repair and furniture refinishing, the customer wondered if we could replace the leather with something warmer.
Before New Upholstery
After New Upholstery
This repair required resetting the support coils under the seat deck, replacing the old foam and refinishing the wood. After that work was complete, we turned our attention to the upholstery.
Changing from leather to fabric can dramatically alter the characteristics of a chair like this. When covered in leather, it's ideal for an office. In velvet (Flanders Sliver from Latimer Alexander), not so much. The difference is easy to see in the before and after pics. This is exactly what the customer was after; something less formal, cozy and stylishly understated.
Rebuild Furniture Webbing
Flip over an arm chair or drawing room settee and you'll usually find upholstery webbing. This semi-elastic material supports the furniture's spring box or foam rubber padding. Upholstery webbing hasn't changed much over the years. The industry standard remains the same as it was back in the 1800s — tough burlap strapping.
Three Layers of Webbing
Here's a sofa with the original webbing (1) plus a second layer of webbing (2) added later. During the reupholstery process we'll often add a brand new layer of webbing (3) even if the other layer(s) look good. While this may not be necessary, fresh webbing steadies the base and provides an additional layer of support. It's the sort of detail that makes us Seattle's top upholstery shop!
Restore Wing Back Chairs
Often times when you strip away the tattered upholstery of a vintage chair you find a hidden gem. These 20th century treasures were concealed under jute, horsehair padding and sun-bleached upholstery. The owner didn't even know about the decorative woodwork on the shoulders and arms until we stripped the chair.
The handholds on these wingback chairs appear to have been added long after the chairs were built. They're also a different style than the original. Because the styles don't match, the owner had a decision to make.
Old Velvet Fabric
Jute & Burlap Edge Roll
Misaligned Back Support
Different Style Handhold
Dacron Replaces Burlap
After Padding Replaced
New Upholstery Fabric
Restored Wing Chairs
Rather than restoring the whole kit and kaboodle, the owner chose to repair the original woodwork – the legs and shoulders – and cover the parts that were added later. In short, she wanted the chairs restored to their early 20th century spendor.
The restoration posed some technical challenges. Fastening the new upholstery was tricky in places and the jute edge rolls along the front had to be rebuilt. By the time we were finished, the two chairs looked the way they were supposed to look. And thanks to modern Dacron and polyurethane foam they were quite a bit more comfortable.
Restore Claw Feet Furniture
Some call them "Claw Feet", others prefer "Paw Feet". Either way, this style of furniture -- with ornamental animal feet carved into the leg bottoms -- were most popular during the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and North America. They're often found on "Queen Anne," "Chippendale," "Victorian," or "American Empire" furniture.
This set of antique furniture -- two chairs and a settee -- features lion paws. The owner brought them in for new upholstery, but they were in such bad shape we had to do some serious restoration work first.
The first two rows show the antique chairs before, during and after restoration. The final two pics show the settee before and after restoration.
Based on the materials used to build this furniture set, we estimate it's nearly a century old. After stripping off the old cover, padding and burlap we went to work on the damaged frames. We glued together cracked sections and added support blocks in critical places (red arrows in first row).
The old fashioned coil springs were still in good shape, so we cleaned and retied them. Then we touched up the woodwork, replaced the cotton padding with foam and covered the cushions in a durable blue fabric. This is another example of why you should think twice before junking old furniture.
Early 20th Century Furniture
Reupholstering old chairs can be expensive; it's often cheaper to buy a brand new one. On the other hand, well made antiques such as these early 20th century chairs are gems. When properly restored they become more valuable. The owner was willing to spend the money and she wanted the job done right, so she called us.
Rebuilding Chair Deck
If you ever question the authenticity of an antique, take a look at the padding. Most old furniture cushions are padded with some combination of horsehair, straw or wood shavings. In rare cases you'll find latex, an organic foam manufactured from rubber tree sap.
Straw was the original padding material in these. The owner wisely chose to upgrade to modern polyurethane. After rebuilding the cushions we upholstered the chairs and bench with a fabric like the old one then added decorative tacks similar to the originals.
Masking Flaws in Antique Settee
There's a fine line between a valuable antique with "character" and a damaged old couch destined for the junkyard. This lovely 19th Century settee is a diamond in the rough. Careful restoration and attention to detail transforms it from junk into a jewel.
Antique Settee Before New Upholstery
Antique Settee After New Upholstery
While our designers are careful not to sacrifice an antique's "character", the restoration process often requires repair. For example, this settee's seat cushion is shot. The horsehair padding is salvageable, but the old latex foam has deteriorated into dust.
We toss the old latex and replace it with custom cut polyurethane foam.
Reattaching Broken Leg
Gap Below Headboard
Custom Headboard Welt
Welt Fills The Gap
Repairing and reattaching the settee's broken leg is trickier. The leg snapped off years ago, leaving shards of the old dowel stuck inside both the frame and leg. After removing what's left of the old dowel, we anchor the leg with a new dowel, wood glue and putty.
As often happens, the old wood is warped in places. When we attach the headboard, a crooked gap appears between the headboard and seat back. Our designers solve this problem by attaching a welt to the base of the headboard. The fabric welt nicely fills the gap. It's a small thing, but attention to detail can be the difference between something you save and something you eventually toss.