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Why Does an Upholsterer Charge So Much?

What does it take to make a piece like this…
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…turn into a piece like this?
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It’s certainly not magic, even though it might seem like it.  It’s actually very hard work!  Everyone I meet has a chair that needs to be redone.  Many of us have wing backs that are in desperate need of an update.  Or, we have a family heirloom that’s been sitting in our garage. We are all gung-ho until we hear the price!  Yikes!  Why does an upholsterer charge so much money?
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It’s messy work!  Consider this chair I stripped this week.  Many old pieces are full of horsehair stuffing and hay, which makes a huge mess when disturbed.  Other old pieces have deteriorated foam that spills out all over the place.  If you look close enough, you can see the orange foam dust all over the inside of this chair.
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It’s painful work!  My hands literally ache after tying springs.  I usually end up with a few band aids and some very sore joints.  Notice the redness of my hands!  It’s also very physical work.  I’m constantly hammering, bending, stretching, and pulling—which takes quite a toll on my body.
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It’s time-consuming work!  Imagine how many hours it takes to go from the above picture to this picture below.  (Yep, it’s the same settee!)  It’s definitely worth it in the end, but it takes hours upon hours.  You have to be committed to finishing it, because its not fun in the middle of the project.
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Some pieces are worth saving, for sure—and worth every penny we are charged.  But, before you judge upholsterers for their prices, first walk a mile in their shoes!

Wendy Conklin

I'm Wendy Conklin, The Chair Stylist.

What brings me joy is helping others live more creatively. I design antique-inspired, boutique chairs, and I teach others how to do what I do. Check out my shop, services, and courses to bring more whimsy into your home and life!

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