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Apr 22

Before & After: 20's Lounge Suite

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Saturday, April 22, 2017

Clients often come to us to restore and refurbish heirloom furniture. Pieces that may have seen better days, but which retain style, quality and meaning that is far beyond what can be bought from a store. One such client was Cathy.

Cathy had searched for many years to find an upholsterer who could do justice to her much-loved lounge suite: a 1920’s era three-seater sofa and club chairs.

 

Cathy had a strong and creative vision for her treasured suite. The sentimental value of the suite meant that it was irreplaceable, and it deserved to be carefully restored. Many upholsterers turned her away because the job seemed ‘too hard’.  But Cathy was rewarded when she contacted us for a personal upholstery consultation.


Fabric selection

Cathy had spent some time reviewing our online fabric library, but wanted to touch and see the fabrics. We stock over 1000 designer and imported upholstery fabrics, ensuring that our customers can find a style to suit their taste and budget. When Cathy visited our showroom for a fabric viewing, she was excited by the range and quality of upholstery fabrics available for her to choose.

1000+ designer fabrics to choose from

David made the fabric selection process exciting and fun, allowing Cathy to browse in depth, while providing expert guidance and aesthetic inspiration along the way. After a detailed consultation, and some consideration, Cathy decided to use a mix of velvets with an aesthetic that evoked the 1920's era. This choice matched her bold vision and recollected the history of the lounge suite.

Linwood astrakhan velvets

For the seat and inner back Cathy chose Linwood Delano 'Royal' and 'Absynthe' for the piping, two sumptuous velvets that evoked the richness of the Art Deco zeitgeist. Linwood upholstery fabrics are beautiful quality, and made to last. If you look closely at the pictures below you’ll notice that this velvet is shot through with a rich astrakhan texture that appears to shimmer in certain lights. 

Marco floral jacquard

For the outside back Cathy chose to use a different fabric - in order to add interest when the suite is seen from behind. She chose a luxurious Marco floral jacquard velvet, sourced from Italy by Upholstery Solutions. Floral patterns are timeless, and this particular design paired well with the Linwood astrakhan velvets.


Craftsmanship and restoration

Once the fabrics were chosen, Cathy left her furniture in the care of David and his team of artisans.

Artisanal furniture restoration

The lounge suite was carefully stripped down to the frame and restored. All joints were re-glued and reinforced. The old legs were replaced with custom-made Fresh Polished timber legs, at the perfect height for Cathy’s comfort. All the old springing and padding was replaced.

Bespoke comfort fitting 

Cathy chose to replace the old padding with custom-made cushions using multi-density foam layers. This bespoke comfort fitting is akin to tailoring a suit, and is the only way to achieve enduring comfort in restored furniture.


Metropolis now: A fresh new look

Within a few weeks the lounge suite was transformed. The furniture that was delivered to Cathy's home was better than she ever remembered, and unrecognisable from what had come before. Cathy was overjoyed at the look of her reupholstered lounge suite. Moreover, by choosing to work with Upholstery Solutions, Cathy’s furniture was custom-made to fit her taste and comfort. The results speak for themselves.

Materials used

Fabrics: Linwood Delano ‘Royal’ and ‘Absinthe’; Marco Jacquard, Floral. 

Padding: Multi-density foam customised to the client's ergonomics. 

Timber: Handmade art deco legs with light oak french polish.

Feeling inspired? Do you have a treasured lounge suite that you'd love to reimagine? Book your personal home consultation (Sydney Metro & Southern Highlands) or drop into our showroom.


Apr 21

Before & After: Danish Furniture

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Danish Furniture - Buy New or Restore?

Today, no self respecting home-styler can rest without a few chosen pieces of Danish furniture. But many people get stuck deciding whether to buy a modern reproduction or restore an original.

Given the popularity of designers like Arne Jacobsen, genuine originals are difficult to source and costly to acquire. While modern ('Danish style') knock-offs can lack the charm and quality of vintage originals. But there is a third option.


The Best Choice: Retro Reproductions

When customers ask us to source Danish furniture, we advise a third option: Retro Reproductions. This is our term for the wide variety of reproduction Danish furniture made in Australia and New Zealand between 1949 - 1974. Not many people know about Retro Reproductions. But if you know what brands and styles to look for, you can find affordable second-hand pieces on eBay, Gumtree and the occasional Council clean-up.

Retro Reproduction furniture combines that magnificent Scandinavian sleekness with robust Aussie hardwoods and traditional furniture craft. The result is both stylish, and high quality. Plus, being reproduction, you are not obligated to maintain the original look and feel. You have the freedom to choose any fabric, and reimagine the furniture to suit your needs.

So if you're in the market for designer Danish furniture, we believe your best choice is to restore a Retro Reproduction. It will be beautiful, high quality and uniquely you. This recent Before and After demonstrates the amazing results that you can achieve.


Retro Danish Armchair - Before


Retro Danish Armchair - After

The timber (coachwood) arms and frame were throughly cleaned and French Polished. The seat and back were cushioned with premium foam and upholstered in The Textile Company's Saragossa 'Desert Flower'. To compliment the vibrant upholstery, we added a feather down lumbar cushion in bright pink linen.


Danish Divan Lounge - Before


Danish Divan Lounge - After

The original 'loose' seat and back cushions were discarded and a replaced with 'built in' seat and back upholstery. New seat and back are cushioned with premium foam, sculpted to the client's comfort. The upholstery is the beautiful quality Dolche 'Pewter' velvet from Warwick, accented with a hot pink lumbar cushion (the same as the armchair). It is pictured here with additional throw cushions supplied by the client.

Details like hand-hammered studding create aesthetic interest from any angle.


The coachwood frame was carefully repaired and rebuilt so that the divan mechanism could open correctly. In summer, it is an irresistible day bed, perfect for a quick nap underneath the skylight.


All timber was cleaned and sympathetically French Polished (the same as the armchair) to ensure that the patina was maintained.


Inspired? Excited? Contact us to create your stunning new look

Jan 31

Egg Chair Revival

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Saturday, January 31, 2015


Background to the chairs

At Upholstery Solutions we love the whole concept of repurposing an old chair or sofa - rather than that furniture being discarded to landfill. Thankfully, one of our clients had the same philosophy. She had, for some time, sought to own a pair of iconic vintage Egg Chairs. So, when she came across two Egg Chairs in a sorry state of disrepair, she had to have them! 

The two chairs were collected separately. The first was spotted in a dress shop that was closing. A quick conversation and it was secured. The second chair was found in a dark corner of a second-hand office furniture store, unloved and unappreciated. And our client quickly ensured it had a good home. So with her pair of chairs found - the next challenge was bringing them back to life.


Fabric selection and craftsmanship

We were contacted with a specific brief: to find fabrics that not only suited the Danish era (of the chairs), but which were predominantly natural fibres. It was a challenging creative brief, but we had a vast library of fabrics to draw from and brought a selection to the client's Manly home

The client chose two lovely felted wools from Instyle. The muted colours were a natural compliment to the neutral tones of her home. Moreover, the high quality felted wool possessed a robust elasticity which made it suitable for upholstering the Egg's complex curves.

The upholstery was carried out over a number of weeks. The chairs were carefully disassembled, checked over and laboriously reupholstered. The battered padding was replaced. And the complex curves were recovered. 

It was a slow, painstaking process which challenged even our very talented Team. In particular, every concave seam had to be intricately hand-stitched to ensure their lines followed the contour of the chair. (Nothing would be less desirable, or more noticeable, than a jagged chair-length join). But the end result proved the value of such extraordinary craftsmanship.

Results

The two Egg Chairs now stand proudly in the client's Manly home. Another pair of chairs saved from the landfill heap, now ready for a lifetime of beloved service. The client couldn't be happier:

I'm very happy with the excellent job of recovering my two Egg chairs. They are my favourite furniture items and the handiwork of Upholstery Solutions is of the highest quality. 

The Egg chairs are a true test of an upholsterer's skills as they are notoriously difficult to recover with fabric. However, the chairs look better now, than they did with the original fabric, and I am very happy that I chose David's team to do this.

I thoroughly recommend Upholstery Solutions to discerning customers.

What do you think? Egg-cited to revive your own special find? Let us know in the comments!

Sep 08

A Kitchen Banquette

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Monday, September 08, 2014

The brief

A client recently came to us with an exciting banquette seating project. She was in the finishing stage of an extensive renovation of her Woollahra apartment, and sought a bespoke, fitted bench seat to complete her new kitchen-dining area.

In the last few years, fitted banquette seating has become a hallmark of architect-designed luxury homes. Banquette seating was originally found only in public and commercial spaces (like the Fisher Library) but has trickled down into residential spaces. It is often used for sensual contrast: adding permanent softness and comfort within hard, minimalist interiors. 

When our clients came to us, they'd browsed our online fabric library, and developed very specific ideas within a demanding brief. Nonetheless, we were able to assist them. By personally visiting with a selection of handpicked samples, we worked together to finalise the upholstery fabric and agree on dimensions and styling. 

Craftsmanship

Absolute precision is the key to fitted rooms. And sometimes, small but important details can be lost in production. But of course, there was no such issue here. We were able to translate our extensive sketches, notes and measurements into a work of upholstered art. 

The banquette was divided into three sections, both for portability and for styling. But each section was a variable that increased the difficulty of the project. So if one section was even slightly wrong, none of the sections would go together. Millimetric precision was required.

Results

When installed, the seat rested perfectly between two walls, precisely aligning all three segments to create a single, oversize banquette. The clients were delighted.

We love the overall look that has been achieved, and the refurbishment is a credit to the clients. The final word is, of course, theirs:

Upholstery Solutions did a wonderful job creating a banquette seat for our dining room. David made the process very easy which was welcome after we had trouble with a number of other upholstery companies not responding to our quote requests. David's work is exceptional and he had a real eye for fabric choice - the samples he recommended ended up being our first choice.
I highly recommend using Upholstery Solutions! I would not bother with anyone else.

What do you think? Would you use banquette seating in your home? Tell us in the comments!

Jul 20

Vintage Hollywood

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Sunday, July 20, 2014

Background

A few months ago, a client contacted us knowing she wanted to reupholster her lounge suite: a much-loved piece that she had inherited from her mother. As with most furniture items that are loved and meaningful, this lounge suite (a lounge and two armchairs) had a deeply personal story to tell.

In 1953 our client's mother and her mother's friend ordered the same timber lounge suite from a furniture shop in Wollongong, and both families shared many halcyon days gathered on the lounges. For the next nineteen years, it was sat upon, played upon and laid upon. However, when our client's parents separated the lounge suite was taken by her father who kept it until his death. 

The suite returned to our client's mother, who had sought it out because of it's indefinable link to her best friend. After a time, the lounge was reupholstered and recovered in a traditional fabric print that endured for the next twenty-five years.

Deciding to reupholster

Following her mother's passing, our client inherited the old lounge suite, uncomfortable and well-worn but much as it had been for more than a quarter-century. In its' favour, the lounge suite frames remained in very good order despite being over sixty years old (a testament to buying good quality). Moreover, the client didn't have the heart to get rid of the suite as it had meant a lot to her mother.

When the client contacted Upholstery Solutions she sought to have the frames rebuilt, and cushions and the fabric replaced. The start of this process was a home consultation which quickly revealed the client's adventurous spirit and distinctive personal taste. Accordingly, the client chose a luscious Zebra-stripe fabric from The Textile Co. A touch of vintage Hollywood.

Craftsmanship and reupholstery

After the lounge was collected our expert Team stripped off the original upholstery padding and disposed of it. The frame was extended in the leg, raising the seat height by 50mm, and making the suite furniture easier to get in and out of. The legs were then stained and polished to coordinate with the selected fabric.

The upholstery was completely replaced. The frame was painstakingly resprung, with coil springs hand-tied into position then upholstered with new foam padding and the Zebra fabric. In addition, the cushions were replaced with new feather wrapped pillows on the seat and back. So in short order, the beautifully restored lounge suite was ready for delivery.

Testimonial

The result is beast summed up in the client's own words: 

"I miss my mum so much but this lounge is my childhood reclaimed, it is a symbol of love and continuity. It is now a stunning piece of artistry that everyone falls in love with. Mum would adore it, and be happy that I did it. ... Thank you Upholstery Solutions I am loving everything you did, you have created so much pleasure." 

What do you think of this Zebra fabric? Do you like the Vintage Hollywood look? Let us know in the comments below.

Jul 13

Upcycled Art: Gentleman's Armchair

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Sunday, July 13, 2014

Recently, a young male client came to us with a very particular brief. The idea of 'upcycling' (a kind of recycling where an object is repurposed instead of being confined to the rubbish) appealed to him, and since he was looking for an armchair, he approached us to find an old chair which could be reimagined with a funky modern twist. These are the requests we love!

The chair

Providence is a funny thing. Just six months before our client came to us, we'd purchased a number of pieces from an old client who was moving to smaller home. At the time, this armchair had piqued our interested because it had 'good bones': an interesting curvy profile, coil-sprung suspension and well-made hardwood frame. It was the right candidate for this exciting upcycling project. 

Styling and design

As part of the brief our client asked for our input into the styling and fabrics that could be used. Our expert consultants presented him with three alternatives, demonstrating how they could be applied and how the rebuilding process would tailor the whole chair to his needs.

The client chose an exciting combination of Linwood fabrics. He loved the feel and texture of both the Jacquard weave and plaid-patterned fabric.

Craftsmanship

The old chair had given thirty years of stellar service, and needed thorough restoration. The chair was completely stripped down to the frame, all joints were tested and reglued. Extra blocking was added to ensure that frame would not twist and become loose over time.

New webbing and springs were hand-tied, and a foundation layer of cotton fibre was teased into position over the springing. The fibre layer was then anchored down via a series of stuffing stitches through the padding. This is the traditional (and best) method for long-lasting upholstery padding.

Outer layers of padding followed so we could sculpt the final shape and determine the overall balance of the chair. At Upholstery Solutions, we believe that furniture should be as much sculpture as a functional piece. And when both can be achieved it is a beautiful moment.

Overall, the shape of the chair combined with the striking visual appeal of the fabrics has created a piece which is truly something special. Moreover, the upcycling project has saved a beautiful old chair from prematurely ending up in landfill.

What do you think? Was it a success? Tell us in the comments below.

Jun 09

A Fresh Egg

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Monday, June 09, 2014

From time-to-time clients come to us in despair. They have furniture they love. They've found a beautiful upholstery fabric. But someone has told them their furniture cannot be reupholstered. 

Thankfully, at Upholstery Solutions our great passion is bespoke furniture upholstery. We specialise in perfecting what others cannot. Like this reproduction Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.

The Egg Chair was designed in 1958, originally to furnish the Radisson Hotel, Copenhagen, though the iconic shape has been widely reproduced over the decades. Yet while the design is often celebrated by architects, it is equally loathed by upholsterers. 

The Jacobsen Egg Chair is marked by dimensions, girth and intersecting curves which make it very difficult to upholster. This small design flaw has meant that Egg Chairs are typically seen in stretchy felted wools, in flat plain colours, which consequently are more forgiving to the fit and finish. 

Our client had fallen in love with a decidedly non-stretch Linen weave. To complicate matters further, the Linen weave featured a large pattern which would need to be centred and aligned continuously on all sides, even across curving joins. No easy feat. But we relished the challenge. And the client was delighted to learn that their vision could be created.

Results

The reupholstery process required painstaking attention to detail. The fabric had to be precisely cut so as to ensure that the pattern would be repeated right across the chair. (It was not possible to re-use the old fabric patterns because that cut had relied on the fabric being stretchy). Moreover, each curve had to be fitted perfectly, to avoid unsightly bunching or stretching. However, as you will see in the images that follow, this skill and patience was ultimately rewarded.

We'll leave the last word to the client:

"Choosing Upholstery Solutions was the best decision I ever made. From first contact, they made me feel comfortable, took the time to listen to my ideas, and throughout the whole process gave excellent advice. Best of all, they were able to translate my vision into reality. Although I am quite a perfectionist, every detail exceeded my expectations. In the end, my refurbished Egg chair took my breath away." 

- A. Rolfe, Razorback, NSW

What do you think? Do you love this refurbished Egg Chair? Tell us in the comments below!


Apr 27

Leather Sling Dining Chairs

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Sunday, April 27, 2014

Here at Upholstery Solutions, we're no strangers to doing interesting things with leather. So when we were asked to restore a set of stylish leather sling dining chairs, well, we saddled up.

Background

This set of italian leather sling dining chairs had been purchased in the 80's, then used and loved for more than 20 years. However, even the best quality has a lifespan (though 20 years is a fair old innings) and the leather was beginning to crack and tear. 

Like any treasured item, the owner simply couldn't bring himself to part with them. Such quality is so hard to find today. Having scoured furniture stores throughout Sydney, the owner was despairing of finding a way to restore his beloved chairs. So he was delighted to discover that we could help.

Process

The chairs are essentially layers of leather stitched one-on-top-of-the-other around a chrome frame. It is a robust and classic design. 

The chrome frame, being exceptional quality, had not tarnished despite the heavy use. This could simply be cleaned and buffed to restore its lustre. However, the leather slings were another matter. 

Since it wasn't possible to repair the slings, we replaced them with new ones. The new slings were cut to the pattern, carved from 3.2mm black bridle leather. We selected this premium English bridle leather because, although stiff, it was flawless: perfectly tanned with a breathtakingly rich sheen. 

To join the slings to the frame the leather pieces were layered together and then carefully hand-stitched with heavy leather-working thread. (The stitching was done in white thread to create dramatic contrast and draw attention to the precision of the handwork). 

Finally, the leather slings were rived into position to prevent them sliding down the frame. It was a labour-intensive but ultimately rewarding commission. The results speak for themselves.

What do you think? Do you love these leather sling dining chairs? Tell us in the comments below!


Mar 02

Old Civic Cafe

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Sunday, March 02, 2014


Upholstery Solutions were recently commissioned to develop custom banquette seating (often called booth seating) for the Old Civic Cafe, Frenchs Forest. The name is a nod to the prior tenant, a Civic Video store, and is a brilliant shorthand for its location in the Forest Way shopping precinct. 

The cafe interior, designed by Giant, is inspired by the iconic style of American diners, matched to the rough simplicity of Mexican saloons - lest it become too kitsch. And just so, the fittings include exposed copper, tiled mosaics, a huge light-up arrow, tarnished metal chairs and neat timber grain polished to warm sheen. Equal parts faded glory and upmarket retro. 

Within this broad brief, the Upholstery Solutions team were challenged to develop an upholstered banquette (a nostalgic reference to the classic diner booth) tailor made to a custom size and shape. 

To match the rawness of the copper and brick, the seating was upholstered in textural materials. Waxed Italian leather on the seat, and a subtly-patterned textured fabric for the back. Waxed leather was chosen because, over time, it builds a patina that speaks of age and long service. Much like a old Vaquero's saddle. Of course, being a high quality European leather, it is able to withstand heavy use for many years. 

The fabric upholstery on the back was diamond-buttoned to create an extra layer of visual texture, and to make the upholstery look soft and inviting. The red leather matched to various red elements throughout the interior, and the patterned beige fabric coordinated with the white walls. Taken as a whole, the banquette seating frames the room and creates a 'destination' for patrons. 

One acute challenge was the size of the banquette. It ran the entire length of the far back wall, then turned into an 'L' shape along the perpendicular wall. To facilitate seamless installation, the seat and back were sectioned into smaller rectangles: each precisely fitted to form the whole. This sectioned design also helped to reduce fabric 'pooling' uncomfortably in the centre of the seat. Each section was fitted (within millimetres) under a top timber railing, such that the seat and rail appear to be one solid piece. This degree of precision is all but impossible without careful handcrafting.

To compliment the banquette, each table was paired with metal and piped vinyl chairs.

We love the uncompromising detail of this design. Each element is a piece of art in its own right, even down to the full copper tap.

Do you love the Old Civic Cafe? Tell us in the comments below! 

Inspect our handiwork (and the menu) at:

Sh 15, Forestway Shopping Centre

Cnr Forestway Rd / Warringah Rd

Frenchs Forest NSW


Jan 25

Before & After: Heirloom Bench

Posted by Upholstery Solutions on Saturday, January 25, 2014

Every piece of furniture has a story and a meaning for its owner. You can't live with something for so long, and not build memories around it. But, now and again, we're privileged to work with items that have been so long a part of a family, they're almost a relative. This lounge is one of those.

 

Recently, a client had us restore and upholster a suite of two chairs and a two-seater lounge. The suite, which has seated and served the clients' family for almost a century, was a much-loved but long neglected restoration project. 

The story

The suite was purchased in the late 1920s. The upholstery was originally a blue and gold striped velvet. But, sometime in the 30s, the suite was upgraded with a (far more fashionable) brown and orange floral fabric. It remained until the suites' most recent refurbishment (see above).

The suite passed to the clients' great-grandfather in 1958. He had a temper, and would often pick up and throw the two-seater in fits of rage. (Furniture was made to last in those days). Remarkably the suite was able to survive, and passed to the clients' grandfather in the mid-90s. Soon the two-seater fell into disuse, and was inevitably hidden in the back shed. Then one day, tired of stepping around it, the grandfather had a brainwave. He laid a sturdy timber board across the arms and converted it into a workbench. Genius!

The client saved the suite from the rubbish heap in 2001. The two-seater furnished a local church hall, with the proviso of immenent refurbishment. After a decade of seating newlyweds and spoiling under a leak in the vestry roof, it could be put off no longer. And we were only too glad to help.

The process

The old upholstery was stripped off, the joints cleaned and carefully re-glued. The springing and padding were replaced (see below). After 50 years, it was comfortable again!

The timber was polished in a walnut colour and edged with strips of decorative nails. For upholstery, the client chose a shimmering gold jacquard: a contemporary floral design from Linwood.

 

In addition, we handmade a slender footstool and assorted cushions to compliment the suite. The footstool was made to double as a coffee table - allowing the client to de-clutter the room. 

The stool was upholstered in a felted wool (see below) featuring a pattern woven through with the text of a handwritten letter. This not only added an aesthetic interest but gave a quite nod to the heritage of the furniture. The accent cushions were upholstered in  daring coordinate patterns - to add splashes of personality. (Look carefully and you'll see one fabric has duck feathers physically quilted into the design).

Today the timber lounge suite is enjoyed in a parent's retreat. The suite is beautiful, comfortable and personal. The suite is once again part of the family - and the client loves it. Best of all, the restoration means that it should be around for the clients' great-great grandchildren too.


What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!