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Revive Your Furniture with Fresh Upholstery

Your tired sofas and chairs can gain new life with newly painted frames and bold, durable fabrics.

Chair before
Before Photos: Martha Williams

In February, with business booming, Amy Kartheiser opened a brick-and-mortar studio for her namesake Evanston interior design firm. To furnish the place, she started hitting flea markets and eventually found this antique bergère chair in France. “It was the rattiest thing,” she says. “No stuffing, pieces missing—but I fell in love with it.” She shipped it back to the United States for some TLC from Rogers Park–based Chicago Upholstery & Drapery Co. Behold, the transformation.

Chair after

1 Don’t bother with poorly made pieces that have rickety bones.

“You’re going to end up paying more for upholstery than you would for something new,” says Kartheiser. For a chair, expect $325 to $425 for labor and $40 to $110 a yard for fabric (you’ll need five to nine yards).

2 Spruce up the frame while you’re at it.

Kartheiser left the chips in the wood but painted it a creamy white with a semigloss finish.

3 Pick a durable fabric.

Kartheiser went with this polyester and cotton blend by Brochier but recommends even sturdier high-performance fabrics for homes with kids.

4 Keep it simple on the back.

“It’s not the part of the furniture you should pay attention to,” says Kartheiser, who chose a solid velvet to set it apart from the front.

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