How do I find the right upholsterer?

Your furniture is precious to you, so getting the right person to restore it or transform it is vital. Getting that perfect fit can seem a bit of a nightmare, though, can’t it? Who can you trust?

So, here’s our essential guide to finding the upholsterer who will be the best for your job:

  1. Get a great testimonial – You can’t beat word of mouth recommendations, whether they come from friends and family, a local directory, or online from trusted sources. Look for online reviews of past work, as they will give you the assurance your upholsterer has all the skills you need. The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishings is a good start. Here is the link:
  2. Find a responsive upholsterer – If someone doesn’t return calls or emails or it is difficult to track them down, that’s a warning sign. Look for someone who responds quickly and positively.
  3. Get down to the nitty gritty – When you meet the upholsterer, they will display their passion for their craft by asking all the right questions about what you need. They will take detailed measurements, come up with ideas which make you think. You’ll feel they understand you and connect with you. If that isn’t there, or the ideas they have just won’t work, don’t worry about looking elsewhere. This isn’t a good fit for you.
  4. Go and see their workshop – You’ll get a real feel for their work by a visit. If they encourage you to come along, that’s a great sign. They’ll be looking to show you their skills in person. If not, beware. If they’re secretive, move along to the next option.
  5. Ask for fabric books – The best upholsterers will carry them, even though they can be expensive and take up a fair bit of space. They allow you to build an image of what your piece could be like. Although this isn’t a deal breaker, it can help you make decisions.
  6. Ask for the project details – How will work be carried out, what is the timescale, and what assurances on delivery and collection will they give you? Get precise dates. Be wary if the upholsterer is vague.
  7. Get technical – Does your upholsterer know his or her stuff? In the 38 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve found one thing to be true: If the workshop is a mess, so is the work. Here’s a simple tip – Have a look at a scroll arm with equal pleats on both sides. If the pleats are tight and neat, this is a fair sign they know their onions. If the workshop if full of foam and your furniture is traditional, ask about their more traditional skills.
  8. Look for passion – If an upholsterer does not enthuse about his or her work, or shows little interest, they will not have traditional skills. They may suggest using foam or rubberised hair. DO NOT GO THERE. If they can’t stitch, they can’t do traditional upholstery. In all probability, they will give you a much cheaper quote, but the results cannot last as long. Remember the old saying: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”
  9. Ask about protection during delivery – This is the time when your furniture is most vulnerable to damage. It is very important that your furniture is covered in some way, and we use plastic bags and padded bags for delivery.

There are a lot of upholsterers out there and many have niche, outstanding skills. Others, sadly, have very little in the skill department. This guide will make it easier to spot those who aren’t right for you. Good luck!

Need advice or help? Call our friendly Richardson & Paige team on 01380 578012.