Should You Reupholster Old Furniture Or Buy New?

Should You Reupholster Old Furniture Or Buy New?

three ladies looking at fabrics to choose one for a reupholstery project

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It’s not easy to let go of a beloved piece of furniture. Aside from our beds, the sofa or a favourite armchair is probably where we spend most time. Happy memories of cuddling with pets or grandchildren only adds to the sentimental value. If the furniture has been in the family for generations it can be even harder to let go.

I’ve spoken before about the nostalgia attached to my grandmother’s armchair—and the horror of its nylon cover! Luckily, reupholstering can give furniture a new lease of life while preserving the memories you hold dear.

We once renovated a customer’s chair that belonged to their mother-in-law with fabric from their mother-in-law’s curtains. The piece now holds pride of place in their home and is a warm reminder of a beloved relative.

But is it always right to reupholster? Are there times when buying new is preferable?

Reupholstery can be time-consuming and pricey. If your sofa has structural issues a change of fabric won’t save it. It’s also true that some antiques were built for style over comfort. Do you want to spend a small fortune reupholstering a chair that’s nice to look at but never used?

Because reupholstery can quickly get expensive, it’s worth considering every pro and con. Our guide will help you decide if reupholstering is best for you, or if it’s time to let go and buy new.

When To Reupholster Old Furniture

You Want To Extend The Life of An Heirloom Piece

Sofas and chairs that have been with your family a long time carry sentimental value. If putting these heirloom pieces to landfill is unthinkable, then it’s worth considering a reupholstery service.

Experts restore furniture to its former glory. While ‘upcycling’ has become a popular, cost-effective way to freshen up furniture, we recommend any heirloom pieces be refurbished by a professional. Professional upholsterers are masters of their craft; their skill will guarantee the longevity and beauty of your furniture.

Your Sofa Is A Valuable Antique

If you’ve inherited or invested in an antique piece of furniture, then the extra cost of reupholstery makes sense. After making such a costly purchase its best to rely on the skill of a qualified professional to restore your antique sofa or chair. A DIY job might save you money, but you could lose the value of your investment if you make a mistake.

There’s no doubt that the look of antique pieces outweigh new in terms of adding character to a room. It’s why all Original Chair Company designs are inspired by antiques!

Have you checked to see if your piece is stamped? Turn it over and have a look to see if you can find anything interesting! These stamps are usually found on the inside of the back leg and are a sign of a real quality piece. What an incredible find if you see a makers name such as Howard & Sons, London or Gillows of Lancaster. Howard & Sons chairs in particular are very collectable and have a high value.

a reupholsted green antique chair

The Frame Is Structurally Sound

An antique sofa with good bones its worth saving. New sofas can’t compete with solid wood, unique carvings, or a distinctive frame! Plus, you might save money if all you need to do is replace ratty fabric with something fresh and vibrant.

a picture of two sofas in a room that have been reupholstered

You Care About The Environment

If you’re worried about the amount of furniture that’s sent to landfill, reupholstering might be more eco-friendly. While new materials, like cushion foam and seat coverings, will be necessary to get more mileage from your old sofa, you’ll save an entire frame from landfill.

You Feel Good Supporting Local Artisans

Reupholstery is a craft. Traditional upholstery has evolved over centuries and it takes years of practical learning for upholsterers to master their craft. It’s time-consuming, costly work but many feel it’s worth the investment to preserve a beloved piece for future generations. After all, many sentimental pieces are more than furniture, they’re precious memories that ought to be properly cared for and preserved.
Many people prefer the luxuriant, personal feeling of sitting in a lovingly hand-crafted or reupholstered chair compared to cheap, mass-produced furniture.

Reupholstered chairs

UK Reupholstery Service at The Original Chair Company

Our upholstery service has provided value to clients for many years from our base in Perth, Scotland. It’s work we love because of all the stories that come with each restoration project!

I vividly remember a unique restoration project for a client. They wanted to reupholster a footstool with fabric from an antique Persian rug. Both the footstool and the Persian rug were inherited pieces but looking worse for wear. By combining the best of these two unique pieces we created a beautiful footstool full of character that will live in the client’s family for years to come.

a picture of a patterned persian rug

There’s certainly a joy to bringing such old pieces to life and in a way that fits the mood and style of the home owner.

How much does it cost to reupholster an old sofa?

Reupholstery costs vary. Our prices below might give you an idea:

Sofa reupholstery starts at £745
Armchair reupholstery starts at £540
Dining chairs are less expensive to reupholster and start at £135

Due to the expense of reupholstering, sometimes buying new is an attractive alternative. The cost to reupholster a piece also will be higher if said piece is an antique due to the level of care and consideration involved to ensure the piece is handled properly. We will strip back an antique piece to the frame and check all of the components, so even if we start with just the clients old but quality frame, we can remake it. All of our reupholstery work is guaranteed, which is also reflected in the price.

Read on for our advice when reupholstery isn’t an option.

When To Buy New Instead of Reupholstering

Personal Taste

You might have inherited an antique that’s too bulky for your living room or simply doesn’t go with the room’s scheme. If the frame is the issue, then updating cushions and fabric might not be enough.

Loving the look of vintage furniture is one thing, but having time to scour hundreds of antique fairs and auction houses to find the right piece is another!

Buying new allows more control over the size, shape, and colour of furniture. It’s also a much quicker process!

Lucia Sofa in Colefax & Fowler Paisley Leaf

Your Sofa Creaks and Groans

If your sofa grumbles every time you sit down, take that as a warning sign. It’s likely that the structural integrity of your sofa is gone. Repairing structural issues in furniture can be as expensive as buying new, therefore only consider this option if your piece holds sentimental value (or if money’s no object!).

It’s No Longer Supportive or Comfortable

If sinking into your sofa or chair feels more akin to sitting on the hard ground, then it might be time to buy a new sofa. If you plan to lounge on your sofa for hours, modern cushioning and adequate lumbar support is crucial.

Even if you love the look of an antique piece of furniture, it needs to serve a function within your home. If you can’t get comfy no matter what position you wriggle into, a vintage-inspired sofa with all the modern comforts might suit your lifestyle better.

When buying new, it is possible to find a chair that’s stylish and comfortable!

Your Sofa or Armchair Has An Unpleasant Odour

A smelly sofa isn’t a pleasant place to take a nap. If you’ve inherited a musty odour along with your sofa, then know that some stains and smells are impossible to get rid of.

Old pieces of furniture can also come with other hidden nasties like woodworm infestations or bedbugs. Bedbugs like to hide inside furniture joints, seams, and crevices. They lay their eggs in screw holes and once established can be hard to get rid of. A pest control service can sometimes get rid of unpleasant mites and insects, but if you’ve got the shivers then it’s time to buy new.

Antique Furniture Doesn’t Suit Your Taste

Just because a piece of furniture has been in your family for years, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to keep it. Large pieces like sofas and armchairs can throw off the balance of a room. Sometimes its better to buy new and get exactly what you want. New, vintage-inspired furniture can offer the best of both worlds.

Chadwick Sofa

Reasons to Buy New Sofa or Armchair from The Original Chair Company

British-Built Quality

Sophisticated and timeless design is at the heart of the The Original Chair Company. We craft custom upholstered furniture for creative people who want elegant, lived-in homes that reflect their individual style and personality.

Our custom furniture is British made and our studio holds a wide range of high-quality fabric from luxury companies like Mulberry and Morris & Co. Our ergonomic designs are based on classic shapes and use luxuriant Qualofil cushioning as standard.

We pride ourselves on offering the highest quality furniture—right down to the castors!

Champagne sofa with two feature floral cushions in a room setting with lamp and wall art

Supreme Comfort

All our sofas and chairs are made with solid hardwood frames, which are triple dowelled, glued and screwed for maximum strength and rigidity. Coil springs, and traditional horsehair in some upholstery, ensures that our furniture is built to last.

If comfort is your top priority, sink into one of our luxurious coil-sprung bases, topped with plush feather and down cushions. Explore your dream custom chairs and sofas.

Elegant Lounge Scheme by William Yeoward

Tailored To Your Taste

We believe that every inch of a home should be functional, beautiful and tell a story about the person who lives there. That’s why we offer a bespoke design service with every purchase.
The Original Chair Company’s made to measure service lets you pick from hundreds of luxury fabrics. Bold and bright or country house charm? Do you prefer a dark, masculine wood finish or something light and modern? Everything is customisable because we know that beauty is in the details.

Browse over fifty sofa styles to design your dream sofa today.

Modern Luxury Inspired By Classic Designs

From curling up with your latest book club read in the Library Chair to reposing in the timeless elegance of a Howard sofa we pride ourselves on delivering hard-wearing designs in classic shapes.
If you love the look of vintage furniture but don’t want the stress and cost of upholstery, we can build you a sofa, chair, or footstool that will be part of your home for many years to come.

a picture of a white howard sofa with blue geometric pillow in a room setting


We are proud of our family run business. Customer care and attention to detail is at the heart of what we do. We enjoy getting to know our clients and their stories to ensure they get the furniture of their dreams. We believe our service is second to none— and our customers seem to agree!


“We were very happy with the service you’ve provided throughout and are delighted with the result. It’s amazing what a difference the refreshed chair and stool make to the room.”

Steve Bruce, Perth, April 2022

“We are delighted with our ottoman.  It really looks like a new piece of furniture and the fabric is stunning – exactly the colour we had been looking for.  Moira was so helpful and patient in searching for suitable fabrics within our budget and the end result is lovely. The seat pad for our storage bench is also excellent.

We would like to thank you for the really excellent customer service and we would definitely come back to you for any future work we are considering.”

Udo & Pauline Pausch, Perth, May 2022

“Thank you so much for the beautiful Ladies Howard chair you have just delivered in my own choice of fabric.  It looks stunning and sits very happily alongside the antique chair you re-upholstered for me.  I searched a long time for a traditional-style armchair that would fit into a period-cottage setting, but just as importantly, one that is comfortable, well-made and doesn’t cost the Earth.  Your Ladies Howard chair fits the bill perfectly!”

Sue Harrison, Cumbria, February 2022

Reupholster with The Original Chair Company

Choosing whether to reupholster an old piece of furniture or buy new is a personal decision, and one that can’t be rushed. If you’re struggling to decide The Original Chair Company is here. Whether you’re looking to restore an heirloom piece or want to buy a new sofa that lasts a lifetime, we’d love to help.

a cream sofa with green cushions in a modern room setting with navy blue walls, picture art and a warm lamp

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