How to reupholster an armchair with Sharp & Simpson

How to reupholster an armchair with Sharp & Simpson

Micaela Sharp in her element

Finding ways to add character in the home doesn’t always need to come from preexisting designs and styles. Sometimes we find a piece of furniture that just has a certain something missing, or needs a little extra love and attention. This is where reupholstering comes in. Reupholstery is the perfect way to add a personal touch to your home furniture. It also helps to learn more about furniture structure and design. Based in South London, Micaela and Steve of Sharp & Simpson Upholstery, have a wealth of expertise when it comes to knowing how to reupholster an armchair. We spoke to founder Micaela Sharp of the reupholstery team extraordinaire to find out how to upholster an armchair and some tips and tricks for making the most of recovered furniture pieces. 

How do you recover an armchair?

There are so many variations with armchairs – so many shapes and sizes – and some are more complicated than others.  I would recommend picking a relatively square, simple shape to start with. If you don’t have a sewing machine, choose a style without loose cushions or joins.  

A good trick if you’re trying re-upholstery for the first time is to keep the old cover so that you can use it as a template. That way when you need to cut and sew your new cover you have a guide for your reupholstery project. 

If the shape is more complicated I recommend using your local upholsterer who will be able to navigate the shape professionally.


What is the process behind reupholstering an armchair?

We start reupholstering an armchair by stripping the old fabric and any degrading layers underneath.  Then we replace webbing, tie in any springs and recover with hessian to give a firm foundation to the required shape. 

An armchair in its original state


Stripped and ready for reupholstery


Nearing the end of the process now


Beautiful restoration!

Once the hair or foam is on we usually start by adding fabric to the back. Make sure your pattern is central and the pile of the fabric is running the correct way. Then move onto the arms, followed by the seat and finally the outside back. The key with upholstery is always pulling the fabric as tight as possible so when you think it’s tight, pull a little more and then staple.  

What are the essential tools and materials needed to reupholster an armchair?

You’ll need some basic tool such as a tack remover, mallet, scissors, pliers, a web stretcher and a very good staple gun. If sewing is required you’ll need a machine. 

tools needed when learning how to reupholster an armchair
Tools of the trade

In terms of raw materials, as a beginner, it’s best to go for modern techniques using foam.  Webbing, hessian, foam and polyester will be all you need for basic shapes when reupholstering an armchair. 

Are there any specific techniques you would need to learn to take on a project like armchair reupholstery?

Determination!  Upholstery is usually a bit tougher than people expect.  Take it slowly and start with simple shapes. There are loads of great video tutorials online so for each stage so I’d recommend finding these before you start.  Techniques for webbing a chair, making cuts in the fabric around the frame and where to pull when stapling your cover on can all be watched online.


How much does it cost to reupholster an armchair?

Reupholstery for an armchair usually starts at around £250 and will depend on the shape and the labour involved.  Deep buttoned chairs and shapes with flutes usually cost more.  Then you’ll also need to budget for a fabulous fabric to make it stand out and to make your design totally bespoke.

Is it worth the cost to reupholster an armchair?

Reupholstery is your chance to create a totally bespoke piece of furniture. It allows you to perfectly match colour schemes whilst standing out and being creative.  Experimenting with bold colours, vibrant patterns and playful trims will make the upholstery journey totally worth it!

A huge thank you to Sharp & Simpson Upholstery for their time sharing their expertise and imagery.

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