Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
Entertainment Sun Magazine

Design 101: Giving old furniture new life

While reworking Sally Thorner's Baltimore home, a space that hadn't been touched in 20 years, designer Christopher Howarth vowed not to buy when he could inventively re-use.

In room after room, he re-upholstered — three sofas, multiple armchairs, dining chairs, a headboard, a chaise.

"I don't understand the need to get rid of things," the designer says. "If you already have a piece in your home, there's probably a good reason you have it there — you like it. If it works and you just want a new look," you might want to re-upholster.

Here are a few tips from Howarth to keep in mind if you're considering a re-upholstery job:

•Consider the value of the piece. Re-upholstering isn't cheap. To recover a basic armchair, you're looking at $400 to $450 for fabric — figuring $50 a yard. And fabric can run anywhere from $15 a yard to many hundreds of dollars per yard. On top of the fabric costs, it's $700 to $800 for labor. That's at least $1,100, not counting cushions, which might also have to be replaced.

"What I would first say is assess the value of the piece," Howarth says. "It may not be worth a lot of money, but if it has a sentimental value it might be worth re-upholstering."

•Finding fabric. Howarth's favorite place to shop for fabric is the Washington Design Center, in 300 D. St. SW, in D.C. (http://www.dcdesigncenter.com) Some, but not all of the high-end showrooms there will let people in who are unaccompanied by a designer.

Closer to home is DeBois Textiles, 1835 Washington Boulevard. (http://www.deboistextiles.com) Howarth has had luck there finding remnants and smaller pieces of fabric for things like pillows and bedspreads.

He also suggests taking a peek at Ebay and flea markets where it's possible to score deals.

•Hiring an upholsterer. Howarth's choice is Ibello Upholstery, 429 Fawcett St., in Remington. (http://ibelloupholstery.com) Alan Ibello recovered everything in Thorner's home. "He's the best guy in town as far as I'm concerned," Howarth says. "If you're going to make it a nice piece, you should invest the money in it. If you do it right, you're going to get a lot more wear out of it and it's going to look more tailored."

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
    Related Content
    • Retro Baltimore wintertime scenes
      Retro Baltimore wintertime scenes

      See pictures of winter in Baltimore through the years.

    • Prominent Baltimoreans reveal the gifts that would make their holidays merry
      Prominent Baltimoreans reveal the gifts that would make their holidays merry

      Spoiler alert! We asked pairs of prominent Baltimoreans — relatives, co-workers and friends — what would make their trees twinkle this holiday season.

    • Baltimore chefs share holiday recipes
      Baltimore chefs share holiday recipes

      A home-cooked holiday meal means something different for every family. We all have our favorites, from the stuffing only Mom makes the right way to green beans with onion straws that must come from a can. Here, five local chefs share recipes for the foods they cook around the holidays —...

    • 'A Christmas Carol' gift guide
      'A Christmas Carol' gift guide

      To get into the holiday spirit, we teamed with the cast of "A Christmas Carol" from Chesapeake Shakespeare Company— which recently moved into its permanent building downtown on South Calvert Street — to help showcase this year's gift guide. Set on the backdrop of Gramercy Mansion in...

    • Q&A with Mike Rowe
      Q&A with Mike Rowe

      Mike Rowe has deep Baltimore roots that he says served him well during a decade as host of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs." From spending a day on "Sesame Street" helping Oscar on his dirty jobs, to serving as pitchman for Ford F-150 trucks, the Towson University graduate has become a...

    • Baltimorean Gary Thomas is world-class jazz saxophonist
      Baltimorean Gary Thomas is world-class jazz saxophonist

      Amid the clatter of cutlery, the whir of a blender grinding ice and the conversational hum of an upscale Charles Village restaurant on a Friday night, two musicians playing a flute and electric guitar are levitating through John Coltrane's "Giant Steps."

    Comments
    Loading