Ask the Expert
Considering having a favorite piece reupholstered? Start here
As a complex trade and a dying art form, upholstery may seem a bit mysterious. But for upholsterer Anthony Evans, owner of Tack in NoDa, the craft is more exciting than ever.
“It can add an element of more than just functionality,” he says. “It can be the turning point of the design of the room.”
What are the most common misconceptions about upholstery?
Upholstery is about a lot more than just replacing old fabric with new fabric, Evans says. He likes to show customers all that he does: refresh and customize furniture by giving it new padding, springs, webbing, and fabric or leather covers. Prices range from $50 for a small piece to $1,000 for large projects, including the cost of labor and supplies.
What should you consider when choosing between reupholstering and buying a new piece?
“Upholstering allows you to differentiate yourself from someone who just went to a warehouse and got a couch that everyone else has,” Evans says. “The customization aspect is what a lot of people strive for, especially in this DIY society we live in today.” If you have a piece of furniture that’s worn but holds a lot of sentimental value, Evans will do his best to find a way to reuse it. “If it’s beyond repair, though, I don’t mind telling someone that,” he says. “I’d rather not get paid than do the job halfway and [have] a customer not be happy about their piece.”
What fabrics work best for upholstering furniture?
Almost any fabric will do as long as it’s upholstery grade, and Evans says any good fabric store should be able to tell you that. Some fabrics, like those with intricate weaves, aren’t always a perfect fit for upholstery, but Evans says they just require more time and patience. “It’s the upholsterer’s job to make the fabric work with your piece,” he says.
What are some of the latest trends in upholstery fabric?
Customers are opting for bold designs, such as those with colorful triangle or scalloped patterns, as well as Ikat prints, which Evans says “have had a recent kick in Charlotte.” But classics are always in style. “We’ve had a lot of neutrals also, like grays, beiges, and tans,” he says.
What makes upholstery an art form?
Upholstery requires both heavy lifting and delicate detail work. “We’re halfway between laborers and artists,” Evans says. He hopes upholstery will live on as both a profession and an art. “I hope more kids have the opportunity to learn about upholstery, especially being in North Carolina with roots grounded in furniture making and craftsmanship,” he says. “I want to see a different generation of people who do it for the love of the business as an art.”