Should I re-upholster an old sofa or buy a new one?
Now that bonfire night is over, we can look forward to being bombarded with reminders that it is "almost Christmas" - festive songs running back to back on the radio, decorations lining the shelves in the supermarkets and of course the annual, never-ending furniture sales with promises of new sofas and tables delivered in time for Christmas. If your old sofa has seen better days, you might be thinking of getting a new sofa in time for Christmas
this year. But could it be worth re-upholstering your old sofa
instead of buying a new one?
Most sofas have an average lifespan of around 7-15 years depending on the make and materials and, when they become faded, most people choose to replace their old, worn settee and swap it for a nice new one. Sometimes that’s the right thing to do – it can be uneconomical to spend money re-upholstering a sofa that perhaps didn’t cost a fortune when new. Sofas don’t have to be expensive to buy new now – cheap or flat-pack models are readily available and will last a few years at a time.
Yet if your sofa is well made and was expensive when new, re-upholstering makes sense – it can bring new life to an old sofa that has a good quality frame, especially when you know it will fit perfectly in your home. If the seats have springs that are still in good working order, and if the frame is still solid, reupholstering can be cheaper than buying a new sofa. If you don't have the ready cash to be able to do so (you might be planning to buy a new sofa on interest-free credit), you could consider putting the furniture in storage until you have time and money
to do it up, rather than taking it to the tip. This would be particularly useful if you are considering moving to a larger house or getting an extension built in the foreseeable future - saving a good-quality sofa to fit into your new space makes sense.
As strange as it may sound, your old sofa may also have sentimental value
. Take a look at any family photo from when you were little. Somewhere in the background it is very likely that you’ll be able to see your old, family sofa. That sofa will have been the place where you sat and watched TV after school; where you cuddled up with a blanket when you were feeling poorly; where Santa left your big present that wouldn’t fit under the tree; where you sat and read on rainy afternoons.
You might even be able to remember the feel of the fabric and remember how much fun it was to jump on it (when your mum wasn’t in the room, of course). It’s funny how an old sofa glimpsed in the back of a family photo can bring back a flood of memories. Re-upholstering your old sofa means that a whole new generation can make new memories with it.
We heard a lovely story from one of our customers, Sophie.
Sophie’s husband, Mark, was an only child. His parents, Catherine and John, were married for 53 years and during that time they lived in the UK, Canada and California. When in California, they bought a beautiful set of Scandinavian teak furniture including a dining table, sideboard, coffee table, sofa and chair. This incredibly heavy furniture was of impeccable quality and was therefore well worth the cost of bringing it back to their native UK when Mark was just 2 years old, back in the 1960s.
Many of Mark’s memories were formed with that furniture in the backdrop, particularly the sofa, which was the focal point of posed family photographs, Christmas Day family gatherings and time spent with his dad maintaining the gliders. Catherine, John and Mark were a close family and when John died at age 87, Catherine quickly deteriorated without her soul mate and died just 18 hours later.
Having lost both parents within a couple of days of each other, Mark naturally grieved and Sophie did what she could to support him through that difficult time. They arranged a joint funeral and then set about putting the couple’s affairs in order. They decided to put Catherine and John’s belongings into storage until Mark was strong enough to deal with his loss. Had they dealt with everything in the immediate aftermath of his parents’ deaths, Mark may have ended up disposing of many items that held a lot of memories and sentimental value.
When he was emotionally ready, Mark went through the furniture in storage and together with Sophie sorted out the pieces that could fit into their home, and decided which items should be kept in storage for future use and which could be re-homed.
The Scandinavian teak furniture was a little dated and worn, but it was clear that it was still of good quality. Mark and Sophie sanded and oiled the tables and had the sofa professionally re-upholstered, making it look modern and on-trend.
Now, their little girl sits on the 60-year-old sofa doing her homework or crafts, playing with her iPad or cuddling the dog. With good care and periodic refurbishment, it could well be there in another 60 years’ time and who knows what changes that sofa will be there to witness!
Sophie told us how glad she was that they decided to store the furniture. The dining table and chair just won’t fit in their current home, but they know that at some point they will move to a larger home as their family grows – at which point, Catherine and John’s furniture will be waiting for them as a housewarming gift from loved ones no longer there to give it to them in person.
Their decision to re-upholster the sofa and refurbish the other furniture has given them some lovely furniture that is of far better quality than they could have afforded to buy new. More importantly, though, it has preserved a legacy left to them by Mark’s much loved and much missed parents.
For Sophie and Mark, re-upholstering their old sofa was definitely the right decision. We are pleased they chose us to keep it clean and safe until they were ready to reclaim it and make it their own.
If you're looking to store your furniture until you decide what you are going to do with it long term, we have nearly 120 stores nationwide so there is bound to be a Safestore facility near you