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What is upholstery?

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What does upholstery mean ?

Upholstery is the act of building furniture from scratch or recovering, replacing, or rebuilding used furniture to an original or altered state. Upholstery is performed by a furniture builder known as an upholsterer. These craftsman and craftswomen can add stuffing, padding, fabric, leather, wood, webbing, decking, and nails to completely refurbish a piece of furniture. The term upholstery can also be applied to other industries other than residential furniture. Upholstery is used in automobiles, airplanes, and boats as well. Upholsterers can specialize in one or many areas of upholstery.

Man on couch

 

Origins of Upholstery

           The actual origins of upholstery are very unclear. Since humans began woodworking and creating chairs, they have also been creating cushions to make them more comfortable. There’s evidence the Egyptians might have been the first inventors of cushioned seating dating way back to 3100 B.C.  Most cushions were stuffed with animal hair, grass, feathers and sawdust to make comfortable padding.

More modern upholstery was considered to begin when the Worshipful Company of Upholders of the city of London was founded on march 1st, 1360. "Upholders" is an archaic term for upholsterers.  These skilled craftsmen set the standards and practices for what is acceptable as upholstery in London. They even had the right to search for and seize upholstery that was unfit or incorrect. They were also cabinet makers, valuers, auctioneers, soft furnishers, and undertakers. Imagine someone coming into your home because your sofa wasn’t made correctly! These were some devoted craftsman.

traditional upholstery

Modern Upholstery

Modern Upholstery is a booming industry and is estimated to be a 545.46 billion dollars worldwide (2018 estimations from statista.com). If you’re in the market for a new sofa, you will have a seemingly unlimited number of manufacturers to choose from. It’s easy to have furniture custom built and shipped straight to your door. Some companies, Ikea and other sofa in a box brands, even let you build or assemble your furniture. It’s an oddly satisfying process when completed.

Today, the big buzz words in upholstery is sustainability and environmentally friendly. A more environmentally friendly approach to “new” furniture is reupholstering your old furniture. It highlights one of the key ideas the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” slogans we have all been taught since grade school. For one, re-upholstery reduces the number of trees being cut down for frames. It especially reduces your carbon footprint since most furniture frame wood is being imported rather than grown domestically. Re-upholstery uses the old furniture frame and replaces the stuffing and fabric as needed.

Support local tradesmen and women

Please support your local upholsterers. Find a local upholsterer near you to have a sofa reupholstered.

Dwell By Cheryl Collection from Sylvester Alexander Furniture

 

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