AT HOME MAGAZINE

Behind the seams: give your upholstery a long life

Add a pop of color to your space with a great pattern. This green upholstered chair adds freshness. (handout/TNS)
Add a pop of color to your space with a great pattern. This green upholstered chair adds freshness. (handout/TNS)
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A lot of thought, care and creativity goes into picking out and designing your upholstered pieces. It is a labor of love. Once the piece is in your home, you want to be able to enjoy it for many years to come. While disaster can sometimes strike (in my case, I’m referring to my almost-3-year-old with a warm chocolate chip cookie in hand), there are steps to take to extend the life of your beloved furniture.

IT STARTS WITH THE FABRIC

While this one might seem a bit obvious, you must pick a fabric that fits your lifestyle and needs. However, knowing something and knowing how to do something are two different things.

We are big fans of performance fabrics. These are fabrics created for pieces that get a lot of use. Crafted for easy care and lasting beauty, they are perfect for family use (yes, even toddlers and fur babies). But how do they look?

Don’t worry, durability doesn’t take away from style. Performance fabrics come in a wide array of patterns, colors and textures. Whether you are after a light, airy cotton blend or a luxe, velvety feel, you can find a long-lasting fabric that fits the bill. When in doubt, ask the experts. Communicate your needs and preferences to your designer and they will help you narrow down your options.

Designer tip: Once you decide on your fabric, ask for some sample swatches to take home. That way, if a stain does happen, you can test recommended removal products on your swatch before risking your piece.

KNOW YOUR CUSHION TYPE

All manufacturers use different terms and products do vary, but overall there are three cushion types. Each sits differently.

An all-foam cushion is going to be the firmest option. It requires the least amount of maintenance when it comes to fluffing and adjusting.

The second option is often referred to as a spring down cushion. Made of a mixture of materials with a core of coiled springs and comprised of a mostly down and polyester blend, it is the second-softest cushion option and helps give the user an extra spring when getting up from the seat. This cushion along with the third option both require more fluffing, but make up for it in comfort.

The third option is the luxurious down plush, comprised of thin foam and down — it feels and acts as a pillow. I love the way down feels and think it is worth the maintenance of fluffing regularly.

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Many manufacturers offer cushion options that combine one or more of the elements above to achieve different results. Regardless of cushion type, I always encourage customers to ask for eight-way hand-tied springs in their furniture. It helps make sure your furniture is soft, supportive, flexible and comfortable. Communicate the look and feel you are going for and your designer will help point you in the right direction.

Designer tip: Our designers recommend picking a monthly bill and fluffing/turning every time you pay it. This way you don’t forget, and it becomes part of your routine.

PILLING AND PET PREVENTION

Sometimes all the preparation in the world doesn’t prevent problems. We get a lot of questions from pet owners on how to animal-proof their furniture. In short, you can’t completely (if only there were a pet hair-resistant fabric!). But to add longevity to your upholstery, we recommend getting a coordinating throw blanket to drape over your pet’s favorite spot. That way, oil and hair stay on an easily washable surface and not the sofa.

Designer tip: If you have a pet that sheds, try using a shower squeegee to get their hair off your furniture. It works better than vacuuming!

Another issue clients sometimes have is fabric pilling (those tiny balls of fiber you sometimes get on sweaters and other textiles). A common misconception is it means you have a bad or low-quality fabric, but that’s not the case. Most fabrics pill due to the natural loosening of fibers and tangling of threads. Since upholstery fabric is so tightly woven, shaving the pills off once should do the job for the remainder of your piece’s life.

Designer tip: Use a sweater shaver for a quick way to de-pill a large upholstery piece without sending it to an expert.

RENEW AND REFRESH

You’ve taken the required steps to ensure a long lifetime for your chair or sofa, and now you are tired of the pattern or color. Furniture fatigue is a real thing. Luckily there is an easy and cost-efficient solution, and it’s all about accessories. Instead of reupholstering or getting a bulky cover or entirely new piece, try incorporating fresh throw pillows to spruce up your furniture. You might be surprised what a big difference a small accessory change can make.

Designer tip: Try changing your throw pillows and accessories seasonally. That way you always have a fresh look throughout the year.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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