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. Compare our prices and shop for fabrics.
Upholster Chairs, Sofas & Outdoor 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 cheap fabric, flimsy foam and pressboard.
These inexpensive chairs and sofas may look okay when they're brand new, but they go bad fast. They're designed to be used for a few years then tossed. In truth, this sort of junk furniture is not worth reupholstering. You can buy another cheap chair or sofa for less than it costs to fix. A sofa that's been in the family for while or an old chair from an antique store is a different story.
Restore Antique Furniture
Back in the day, skilled artisans built 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 – well build furniture or furniture with sentimental value – are worth reupholstering.
Repair Chair Frame
Reinforced Support Webbing
Repair Seat Springs
Refinish Chair Arm
Refinish Chair Leg
Restore Leather Chair
A professionally restored antique chair or sofa is usually more valuable than a brand new one. It's often stronger and has more character. What's more, repairing a vintage chair is a lot more environmentally friendly than buying a new one.
Refinish & Repair Furniture
Before restoring or 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's a lot more expensive and 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.
Select From Thousands of Upholstery Fabrics
The Latest Stain Resistant Crypton® Fabrics Now Available
You'll find thousands of upholstery fabric samples in our showrooms. Select from a range of colors and styles to match your decor. You can also pick something totally different so your reupholstered chair or sofa stands out.
Our commercial upholstery team specializes in office furniture, hotel upholstery, bar seating and restaurant furnishing. Our clients include Microsoft, the MoPop Museum, the Four Seasons Hotel, Seattle Aquarium and Washington Athletic Club.
Reupholstered Bed Bench
An ottoman bench can be a useful addition to a master bedroom. This one is large enough for an Olympic Queen or standard King sized bed. The original vinyl upholstery was torn and faded when it came to us. Just as important, the owners weren't all that crazy about the bland color and boxy stitching pattern.
Aside from a few nicks and stratches, the stained oak base was in great shape. All it needed was new upholstery and foam.
Bench Before New Upholstery
Reupholstered Bed Bench
The customer selected a medium firm foam, two inch HR45. Instead of vinyl, they chose a gray cut chenille upholstery fabric. The styish contemporary fabric features tufted abstract shapes raised a couple of millimeters above the base layer. This sort of fabric is not especially durable. In fact, we'd recommend against it in a high traffic environment, but for an occasional use bedroom bench it's an excellent choice.
Webbing for Bergére Chair
This french style bergére chair was made in 1957, so it's well over half a century old. Manufactured in Pittsburgh, the antique chair features intricate petit point needlepoint.
The petit point upholstery could use a good cleaning, but aside from that it's still in pretty good shape. The jute webbing under the spring box is another story. It's trashed; not unusual for a chair this old.
Damaged Bergére Chair
Torn Jute Webbing
New Webbing Anchored to Springs
Bergére Chair Repaired
After inspecting the damage, we determined the coil springs directly under the seat were still in good shape. They were rust free and properly tied. That's exceptional, given their age. All we had to do was realign the springs and replace the webbing.
Furniture webbing hasn't changed much over the years. While synthetic webbing is now available, the go-to webbing material remains good old fashioned jute, a natural fiber used in textiles for millennia.
When this chair was manufactured, the jute webbing was likely laid down before the coils and padding were installed. With the spring box already in place, we had to do it the other way around; install the webbing last instead of first. We webbed the chair bottom with fresh jute, then aligned and anchored the webbing to the coils. It was an easy, inexpensive fix that returned the chair to its original appearance.
Restore Harvey Probber Furniture
Harvey Probber is often referred to as the godfather of modern modular design. In addition to pioneering modular furniture, he integrated sleek, simple forms with elegant fabrics and hand-rubbed finishes; an original take on mid-century modern.
Probber's breakthrough family of modular furniture consisted of nineteen different elements that could be assembled into any desired seating configuration. His work was chosen for MoMA’s Good Design exhibition in 1951. Vintage Probber furniture is still enormously popular.
A customer recently brought us five Probber chairs that were showing their age. The plastic bases were scuffed and the fabric was ragged, but the more immediate problem was aging foam. Ultraviolet light and years of wear had damaged the foam, especially the crown of the backrest.
Faded & Damaged Upholstery
Foam Molded to Tube Frame
New Foam & Scrim
Frame Stubs Before Assembly
Restored Probber Chair
If this were any other chair, we'd simply strip the old foam and replace it with commercial quality polyurethane. We couldn't do that with these chairs because the foam was molded into the steel tube frame and spring box when it was manufactured. The process is called cold pressing.
Fortunately, the foam base was in good shape. After consulting the owner, we carefully removed the damaged crown and replaced it with medium density HR33 polyurethane wrapped in foam scrim.
Despite the modifications, the cushions remain the same size, so we were able to pattern new covers from the old ones. The commercial grade blended upholstery fabric we used matches the original color and weave, but it's quite a bit more durable. The restored Probber chairs look great and should stay comfortable for decades.
Antique Rocking Chair Repair
Recliners have replaced rocking chairs in many American households, but they're still passed down as family heirlooms. This antique rocker was built in the nineteen fifties or sixties. When it came into our shop, the frame was loose, the seat deck was misssing and the upholstery was long gone. Restoring this rocking chair required stripping it down to the pieces.
Rocking Chair Frame
New Foam & Upholstery
The glue in the dowel joints had gone bad, so the first step was cleaning, sanding and regluing the frame.
With the wooden frame reconditioned and repaired, we turned our attention to the missing seat deck. Instead of filling the open space with slats, we built an elastic deck using furniture webbing and burlap. A traditional deck built from webbing is much more comfortable than wood.
We sculpted a new seat cushion from three inch, medium firm HR45 foam. Shaping the cushion was a little tricky since it had to fit around the arm posts and align with both the seatback and the rounded deck face. We used Dacron® to soften the edges. We kept the tie down cushion for the seatback thin to allow room for a lumbar cushion or accent pillows. The deck skirt gives the rocking chair a more finished look.
Leather Upholstery For Homemade Chair
Here's something you don't see every day; a custom made wing chair. The chair is fabricated from Weyerhauser two-by-fours, zig-zag springs, plywood and a few odds and ends from the hardware store.
Stripped of its old cloth upholstery, the frame looks a little rough. But, everything is properly aligned and reinforced. It's a solid, well built chair in need of new foam and new upholstery. In this case the owner wanted to replace the original cloth upholstery with leather. The so-called "knock down" method used to build it required us to take the chair apart before reupholstering.
Rebuilding Seat Deck
Recovering Chair Wings
Custom Made Wing Chair
Semi-Aniline Italian Leather
Diamond Tufted Backrest
Reupholstered Leather Chair
There are all kinds of leathers and finishes. The owner of this chair selected a light brown, semi-aniline Italian leather. Aniline leather is a type of leather colored with soluble dyes. It retains any variations or flaws, so tanners generally use only the finest quality hides. This leather has a protective top coating which makes it semi-aniline. In simple terms, this is a top grade leather with a gloss finish.
Thick leather – this is 1.3mm – is more difficult to work with. It also absorbs blemishes and wrinkles over time. But, a lot of people like the character an antique patina gives a chair. In a couple of years, this leather will be comfortably broken in like a treasured baseball glove.
Antique Bench Seat
Here's a lovely antique bench seat in need of repair. We'd call it a settee, but it's not quite large enough.
This piece is perfect for a vestibule, den or an odd space too small for anything else. Judging by the threadbare upholstery and battered woodwork, it's roughly a century old. The bench seat has tons of character, but when it came to us it looked destined for a dumpster.
When something is this far gone, new upholstery is never enough. You have to strip it down to the bones and build it back using the parts you can salvage.
Antique Bench Seat
Damaged Tack Rail
Repaired Spring Box
Fabric & Foam Layers
Repaired & Reupholstered
Except for the tack rail, the woodwork wasn't too badly damaged. We repaired the rail and legs, then touched up the woodwork with a matching stain.
The owners could've saved money by replacing the spring box with foam, but they wanted the deck rebuilt the proper way. Good old fashioned jute webbing is still the best foundation material for a standard spring box. The antique springs were in good shape, so we rebuilt the cushion with jute and the original coils. We anchored the coils using a traditional eight way tie.
We covered the springs with sheets of burlap and jute padding. Then we topped the jute with one inch of polyurethane foam and cotton batting. The lush velvet upholstery fabric takes the bench back to its original look.
Reupholster Outdoor Furniture
Back in the day, outdoor furniture cushions were upholstered in stiff, water-resistant vinyl. The old fashioned vinyl was durable, but slick and uncomfortable. What's more, it didn't age well, as you can probably see from the first two pics.
Today, there are much better alternatives for reupholstering deck furniture.
Old Patio Sette
Old Patio Chair
You don't want to use natural fibers, such as cotton, wool or linen for outdoor furniture. Even a blended fabric containing a small amount of natural fiber can rot in an outdoor environment.
Synthetic fabric such as Sunbrella® is better for marine and outdoor applications. Sunbrella's line of upholstery fabric is a popular choice for patio furniture because it doesn't fade, repels water and resists mold and mildew. On the other hand, the solution-dyed acrylic fiber Sunbrella uses in its fabrics can be a little rough. Polyester is often a better alternative for deck furniture.
Reupholstered Patio Furniture & American Water Spaniel
In addition to being okay for outdoor use, polyester tends to be softer than acrylic. Choice is another plus. Polyester offers far more styles and color combinations.
The fabrics we used for this patio chair and settee are contemporary polyester prints. The owner also ordered matching pillows. Both the pillows and the cushions are welted. Welting is a nice way to dress up a cushion, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind if you like the look. Welting creates crevasses where dirt and debris collect. That can be a problem with outdoor furniture. Also, a welt usually wears down faster than the surrounding fabric; everytime somebody sits or stands their body rubs against the welt. It's something to keep in mind if your cushions are used a lot.
Patio Furniture Covers
Pacific Northwest homeowners often leave their patio furniture outside year round. But, even in a mild climate such as ours, the elements take their toll on fabric and foam. Deck cushions are exposed to everything from intense summer heat to an occasional blizzard. Because of this, we recommend upholstering your patio furniture in UV & mildew resistant materials, such as Sunbrella®. If that's not possible, it's a good idea to cover your outdoor cushions when they're not in use.
Cover for Patio Chaise
Full Length Zipper
Custom made furniture covers are an excellent way to protect your investment. We recently fabricated a set of custom covers for a home owner's patio furniture, including this outdoor chaise.
Subrella's solution dyed acrylic is an excellent choice for furniture covers. In addition to being UV and mildew resistant, it's water-repellent. Another popular outdoor fabric is an acrylic coated polyester manufactured by Top Gun®. It doesn't breath as well as Sunbrella, but Top Gun is waterproof, not just water repellent.
We fabricated these covers using Top Gun's Sea Gull Gray acrylic coated polyester. The easy on, easy off zipper in back is a nice touch.
Mid Century Contour Chaise
Today's chaise lounge traces its roots all the way back to 16th Century France. The reclining contour chaise is a clever, mid-century modern twist on the concept.
Most of these old timers are equipped with a manual, spring or electrical mechanism which allows a user to rock or adjust the reclining position. This feature is similiar to a modern gravity chair; both are designed to create the sensation of zero gravity by evenly distributing your body's weight.
Contour Chaise Before Reupholstery
Contour Chaise After Reupholstery (Dog Not Included)
This reclining chaise was on its last legs when it came to us. Fortunately, the sturdy wooden frame and zig-zag springs were in good shape, so we stripped it down to the bones and went to work.
Contour Chair Before Reupholstery
1970s Era Vinyl
Contour Chair During Reupholstery
We replaced the cotton cushions with modern polyurethane foam and a layer of Dacron® padding to soften the edges and give it a little extra body.
The chaise was originally covered in a stiff 1970s era vinyl. The pattern and color might have been popular fifty years ago, but times have changed. The owner had no desire to replicate the look of the vintage vinyl. Instead of replacing it with a state-of-the-art vinyl or artificial leather, the owner decided to go all in with genuine burgundy leather.
Leather is usually sold by the hide. Since hides are expensive, it's important to order the correct amount. You don't want to come up short, at the same time you don't want expensive leather left over. This is a large chair with lots of detail, so the project required two full hides.
The customer was pleased with the reupholstered contour chaise. His dog (top right) gave it two paws up.
Custom Office Booth
High-end apartments and Class A office towers often feature handsome built-in furnishings like this booth we recently completed for a local leasing office. Upholstering commercial furniture like this is different than reupholstering a wingback chair or living room sofa. Home furniture is built to be simple, inviting and comfortable. Office furniture is often the opposite; style can be more important than comfort.
Booth Frame Before Upholstery
Upholstered Office Booth
Comfort is largely determined by the density of the cushion foam. We use the cushiest foam -- HR33 & HR45 -- for home furniture. Office furniture usually requires a stiffer foam, something called HR55. A Dacron wrap (below left) softens the look and feel, but the seat is still stiff compared to something you'd find in a living room.
Foam Padding & Dacron
Custom Vinyl Cover
Perfect Fit Cushions
Shaping The Fabric
Building Seat Backs
Upholstered Office Booth
After cutting and wrapping the stiffer foam, we fabricate the covers using a durable, tawny colored vinyl. Choosing the correct vinyl is important. Some expensive vinyls, such as Ultraleather®, look and feel like rich leather. Unfortunately, many high-end vinyls are stretchy. Cushions made from Ultraleather® may look good at first, but they can warp and lose shape over time. These cushions were fabricated from a slightly rigid vinyl that looks good and wears well.
Another difference between home and commercial upholstery: commercial projects often require concave cushions. Keeping the fabric cover in place is tricky when the foam is cupped. Buttons are one way to hold the fabric in place. This booth required a smooth face, so instead of buttons we shaped the fabric to fit the curve.
Reupholstering a Wingback Chair
It's difficult to part with a favorite chair even when it's on life support, like this one. Often times you discover that repairing and reupholstering can be more expensive than buying a brand new one from Ikea or some other discount furniture outlet.
But, if you like the chair and it's well built, it makes sense to repair and reupholster.
This fifty year old wingback is a great example of something worth saving. The frame was manufactured with solid wood and the spring box is still in good shape. Beyond that, there isn't much worth salvaging.
Old Wingback Chair
Removing Back Rest
Repaired Spring Box
Newly Upholstered Back
Reupholstered Wingback Chair
When a well built chair is this far gone, the first thing we do is strip it down to "the bones". That means removing all the old upholstery, padding and fasteners used when it was manufactured. We're left with the wooden frame, webbing and spring box. The burlap webbing was still in pretty good shape, but just to be on the safe side we reinforce it with new webbing.
Next, we straighten and retie the coils. The finished spring box may look like an over caffeinated cat's cradle (above), but the cords are actually aligned in a specific pattern to keep each support coil locked in place. We cover the repaired spring box with deck fabric, then pad the arms and shoulders with sheet foam and Dacron®. The foam and Dacron replaces cotton batting used when the chair was built.
We use medium soft HR45 foam for the seat cushion and back rest. Then we wrap the cushions and chair in a durable tweed upholstery fabric accented with a stylish welt. As you can see in the final pic, the old wingback looks brand new.
Reupholster Stickley Morris Chair
You may have seen one of these in a living room or den. It's called a Morris chair. Most consider it the forerunner of the modern recliner; sort of a Flintstones version of the La-Z-Boy®.
The first one was built way back in the 1860s when an English carpenter dreamt up a chair with an adjustable, reclining back. To adjust the back, you simply lifted the arms and pushed back to lock the chair into a reclining position. The chair also featured plush cushions for the back and seat, which weren't common at the time. It was revolutionary by Victorian standards, and people loved it.
By the early 1900s Gustav Stickley began manufacturing an American varient of the Morris chair. The Stickley Morris chair is a simplified version of the original, with a rectilinear shape, flat angled arms and thick cushions. Most have reclining backs.
Original Stickley Morris Chair
Original Stickley Morris Chair
Reupholstered Stickley Morris Chair
Reupholstered Stickley Morris Chair
This one's been used as a combination reading chair / cat bed. The original upholstery wasn't too bad, but the bottom cushion was shot, so it made sense to reupholster the whole thing, including the stool.
Under normal circumstances, we'd recommend replacing the cushion with a medium density polyurethane foam such as HR33 or HR45. In this instance the owners selected something quite a bit stiffer, three inch HR55.
Before reupholstering a chair, we typically wrap the foam in Dacron® to "plump" the cushion. This gives it a slightly softer feel without sacrificing support. You can see and feel the difference. As always, we use the finest quality upholstery fabric and foam. This restored Stickley Morris chair should be good for another fifty years.
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 the original.
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
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 pic; hard to believe it's the same sofa.
Rebuild Restaurant Booth
Restaurant booths take a ton of abuse, especially in popular neighborhoods like Wallingford near the University District. This booth bench is from Kate's Pub on 45th. Kate tells us the previous pub owner was sort of a cheapskate. Instead of upholstering the benches with something durable, he used cut-rate vinyl. In fact, we found a spot were the crappy vinyl was stapled over a layer of older material which was held in place with a piece of petrified chewing gum!
Old Booth Stripped to Frame
Rebuilt Suspension w/ Burlap Backing
New Padding Wrapped in Dacron®
New Vinyl Cover
Rebuilt Restaurant Bench
After stripping it down to the bones, we discovered the booth was in worse shape than we thought. Most of the zig-zag supports were broken or rusted. Instead of repairing the suspension, the previous owner had jury-rigged the zig-zag supports. We had to replace most of them, then retie the entire suspension. During that process, we added a burlap barrier to protect the interior of the bench.
With the suspension repaired, we installed brand new polyurethane foam and Dacron® padding. Instead of cut-rate vinyl, we covered the bench with blue marine grade vinyl guaranteed to last a lot longer than the cheap stuff.
When it left the shop, the old booth looked and felt brand new. Check it out next time you're at Kate's.
MoPop Minecraft® Exhibit
Minecraft® has been a big hit with gamers for more than a decade. In fact, at ten years old, the computer game is already ancient by Internet standards; not quite that old if you're counting in dog years.
Seattle's MoPop Museum and the folks who designed the game are curating a special exhibit to celebrate Minecraft's tenth anniversary. These are pics of a bench we built for the exhibit. It's a replica of a "bed" block used in the game.
What's a bed block you ask? According the Minecraft, "A bed is a block that allows a player to sleep and to reset their spawn point to within a few blocks of the bed. If the bed is obstructed, the player spawns at the default world spawning location." Get it? Neither do we. But, based on the game's popularity, a lot of people know all about the bed block.
Now, they'll get a chance to sit on one instead of just clicking it.
Custom Booth for Apartment Lounge
Thanks in large part to Amazon and other high-tech outfits, Seattle's population is growing like crazy. Fancy new apartments are popping-up all over the place; a lot of them with less than 800 square feet of floor space. Constrained living areas may help keep rents down, but they can also turn tenants into sardines.
To compensate for smaller sized units, some apartments now provide additional amenities such as fancy activity rooms.
Lounge Booth Frame
Kerf Cut Corners
Booth Seat Pad
Pad & Back Joined
Apartment Lounge Booth
We fabricated and upholstered these bar style booths for a new highrise apartment in Northgate. They're built to fit seamlessly into a small "speak easy style" lounge for young adults. With tough marine grade vinyl and sturdy polyurethane foam, these custom booths not only look good, they're built to last.
Upholster Dining Room Chairs
Before recovering a seat cushion we're careful to ask how the chair is going to be used. Knowing its purpose helps us reupholster a seat the right way. The seat deck on a dining room chair, for example, should be rigid with a little bit of give. Vice versa for an easy chair.
Old Seat Cover
Donut Hole Frame
New Burlap Webbing
The seat deck on this dining room chair was way too squishy. We discovered why after taking the cushion apart. As you can see from the second pic (above), the frame was little more than a donut hole; no wonder the cushion had too much give.
Polyurethane Foam Cushion
New Seat Cover
Before building a new cushion we rebuilt the frame using burlap cloth and jute strapping. Jute is perfect for a chair deck; it's a strong, natural fabric with just the right amount of give. Once the deck frame was rebuilt we went to work on the cushion itself.
We used a couple of different foams for padding, then a plump Dacron® wrap to add a little extra body. As you can see by comparing the first and last pic, the upholstery fabric closely matched the original. A welt around the bottom provided the final touch.
Nichols & Stone Antique Dining Chairs
Nichols & Stone is a venerable New England furniture manufacturer. The company traces its roots all the way back to 1762 Massachusetts. This dining table chair was probably manufactured in the early 1900s. It's been reupholstered a number of times the old fashioned way using jute padding, copper tacks, cotton fabrics and leather.
Even a chair manufactured with solid wood doesn't last forever. The seat deck on this chair finally splintered and collapsed.
Nichols & Stone
Antique Dining Chair
Jute & Cotton Padding
Damaged Seat Deck
Repaired Antique Seat
Sitting on a chair with a wooden bottom is like sitting on a stadium bench. So, instead of switching out the damaged wood, we upgraded the bottom to flexible burlap webbing. Webbing is a lot more comfortable than wood.
We had to toss the tattered cotton batting; it couldn't be salvaged. We replaced the old padding with soft, state-of-the-art polyurethane foam.
With the seat deck rebuilt and padding upgraded, we reupholstered the cushion with a floral fabric similar to the original material. When we were finished, the chair was the spitting image of the original and a lot more inviting.
Repair Club Chair
Here's an overstuffed club chair with matching ottoman. When the owner dropped it off, the chair frame and back support were in good shape, but the padding needed some attention.
A single layer of Dacron® did the trick. With the padding back to normal, we turned our attention to the upholstery.
Original Club Chair
Repair Club Chair
Reupholster Club Chair
The customer wanted to replace the old flower print upholstery with something completely different. She selected a solid color fabric called "Knock on Wood" from Avant Garde. It's manufactured from polyester and boasts a very high durability rating of 100,000 double rubs.
We upholstered it in the original style, with simple Turkish corners (pleats) and no welting. The chair was manufactured decades ago, but with upgraded upholstery and additional padding, it almost looks contemporary.
Repair Channel Back Chair
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when this channel back chair was made. The padding was horsehair and cotton batting, so you can bet it's at least 70 years old. The frame is manufactured from sturdy hardwood held together with dowels — another clue this chair is an old timer.
Original Horsehair Padding
Chair Stripped to Frame
Burlap Webbing Support
Repairing Deck and Springs
Dacron and Fabric
Overstuffed Seat Cusion
The chair was in bad shape when the owner dropped it off. The frame wobbled and the upholstery was torn and faded.
The first thing we did was strip it all the way down to the frame. Then we repaired the deck and spring box. Burlap webbing is still the best material for most chair bottoms. In addition to being a natural material, burlap is tough and flexible. The support coils were still in good shape. All we had to do was clean and retie them.
The owner wanted to recreate the overstuffed feel, so instead of polyurethane foam and dacron we used old fashioned cotton batting to pad the cushion. The cushion edge was also scalloped to fit into the channel back slots. The loose padding doesn't retain its shape the way foam does, but it's got that luxurious, overstuffed feel the owner wanted.
Repair Louis XIV Chair
The classic Louis XIV chair is heavy and thronelike with upholstered high backs and 'H' or 'Y' shaped stretchers underneath. Armrests typically extend to the front edge of the seat with straight and upright seat backs.
This one came to us with its original upholstery and antique excelsior padding. The tattered upholstery made it look like something from the Addams Family. The owner wanted it to look more welcoming.
The chair frame was solid, but the spring box and back needed repair. After the rebuild, we fabricated new cushions and recovered the chair in a bright, silky print. As you can see, the upholstery "softened" the chair's heavy, austere woodwork just as the owner wanted.
Mid-Century Swan Chairs
The Swan Chair is among the most distinctive Danish designs to emerge from the Mid-Century Modern movement. Unlike some creations from that era, this chair possesses an enduring appeal. Sixty years after the original one was built, Swan Chairs and Swan Sofas are still in production.
These two are nicely made knockoffs.
Reupholstered Swan Chairs
The chairs were in bad shape when they arrived. Before fabricating a new cover, we had to rebuild the padding.
Looks Great in Customer's Home!A foam rebuild is usually pretty straightforward. Most cushions are square; all you have to do is cut a new square of polyurethane foam and switch it out. A foam rebuild for this sort of chair is much more complicated. Rounded edges and odd angles are defining characteristics of the swan chair, so you can't just cut a square of foam and slap it on. Repadding a swan chair requires shaping the foam by hand.
Upholstering a swan chair can be just as challenging. The owner selected a rich wool for the new cover. She also wanted the cover sewn in the original manner. Since the primary surface is concave we had to glue the wool directly to the foam then hand stitch the whole thing. Hand stitching the unusually shaped corners required extra fabric and extra attention.
We made sure the finished product was faithful to the original design.
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!
Installing New Covers
Lounge Chair After New Upholstery
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 vinyls we used to cover these stools — Olympus American Beauity & American Spirit Forest Green — boast extraordinary durability. They're rated for one million double rubs; strong enough and soft enough for motorcycle seats and heavy duty commercial marine upholstery. They're also less expensive and usually more supple than full grain leather. Best of all, they look great on old fashioned café stools.
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.
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.