Looking for an upholsterer can be a difficult process; so much of it is about personality and trust. Now I do appreciate that I’m writing this and it may seem a bit of a one-sided view. Being as objective as I can and only talking facts. I will give you a clear as possible picture of the things to be aware of. Look for someone who has a love and understanding of his craft. This is a fantastic start, yet don’t confuse that with a sales man pushing for work. So, here’s my list of 9 simple things to look for from an upholsterer:
- Where are, you looking? most enquires are online or a local directory or recommended. My advice here is to start with the one that most appeals to you. Looking for a testimonial and an assurance of their skills is an obvious thing to do. The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishings. is a great place to start. Here is the link http://www.upholsterers.co.uk/
- Making first contact: Your first response will determine what to expect. If he or she is hard to get hold of. Look elsewhere if they love their job they will be talking to you very quickly and arranging a visit.
- Your first meeting: this will tell you about their knowledge and enthusiasm. Looking for an upholster who measures your furniture in detail. Who displays an understanding of your requirements? Who comes up with suggestions that make you think. If they give ideas that don’t work or have nothing to offer look elsewhere. You should connect feel immediately they understand your requirements. It may sound obvious but skill is in the detail.
- What is their work like? Now this is the point when you will know the upholsterers worth. If your encouraged to come and see his workshop, if they are keen to show their skills in the flesh. I recon you found a good one. But, if they are secretive and discouraging well……………
- Do they have Fabric books? This is an interesting one. It’s fantastic if pattern books are available as it can help to build a good picture. Not all upholsterers carry books as they can be expensive, and take up a lot of space. so, this is less of an issue it’s the skill your looking for others can help with fabric choice
- Getting to the nitty gritty: Ok so now were getting the point. How will your work be carried, out what time scale have you been given? What assurances on delivery and collection have been given? Big questions these, a precise date should always be stated. If not ask why if their vague or non-committal be a little (if not a lot) wary.
- So, let’s get technical: Let’s get down to what this all about. Does your upholsterer know his stuff? This can be difficult but in 38 years I’ve found ONE thing to be true. If the workshop is a mess, then more often than not so is the work. A very simple guide to how good an upholsterer can be. Have a look at a scroll arm, if there are equal pleats on both sides. The pleats are tight and neat this is a fair sign they knows their beans. Another thing to look for. If the workshop if full of foam, then a reassurance of traditional skills should be sought. Do bear in mind that most upholsterers at some point use foam. If your furniture is modern, then this is not an issue. I go back to my point about pleating and I can’t state how important this is.
- Traditional Traditional Traditional: so, good I named it twice (or was it three). If an upholsterer does not enthuse about his work, or shows little interest, he will not have this skill. Usually you will be given a suggestion to use foam or rubberised hair. DO NOT GO THERE, if they can’t stitch, they can’t do traditional upholstery. in all probability, it will be a much cheaper quote and cannot last as long. remember the old saying. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”
- Delivery of your furniture: This is so important. Delivery is the time when your furniture is most vulnerable to damage. It is very important that your furniture is covered in some way. We use plastic bags and padded bags for delivery.
I hope this will help you in some way. There are a lot of upholsterers out there
Many have niche and outstanding skills. whilst others have very little in the skill department. With this guide, it should at least give you some pointers to make it easier to spot. good luck.