What’s the difference between modern and traditional upholstery?

Homeward’s upholstery services

We can offer you both modern and traditional upholstery at Homeward. Having worked closely with an experienced team of upholsterers for over 12 years, we have built close working relationships with these skilled makers. Each one brings their own strengths and specialisms based on their experience and interests, and Nicky is able to partner with the most suitable maker to work on your particular project.

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Defining modern and traditional upholstery

There are two main forms of upholstery: traditional and modern. 

Traditional upholstery refers to methods and materials used in upholstery before the 1950s. Padded or sprung seats are made using layers of natural materials including horse hair, coconut fiber (coir), and sometimes hay. These materials are  covered with a layer of loosely woven linen or hessian and hand stitched into place, which will always take more time and requires a whole different and very particular set of skills to do. The result is a firm, sculptural shape that is impossible to replicate with modern upholstery foam. 

This recent job we took on is a very good lesson in why it’s crucial to find the right upholsterer for the job. We had a pretty distressed customer come to us with a much-loved Victorian armchair in a terrible state after falling into the wrong hands. I knew immediately which member of my team would love to tackle this job! So with lots of reassurance to my customer and with my own confidence in the skills of Lewis, one of our talented upholsterers, I knew that her chair was now in safe hands.

We chose a lovely textural wool and flax blend cloth from Camira Fabrics in a soft, natural mossy green, which I felt suited the style of this handsome chair well. It’s really important not to scrimp on fabric at this stage and to invest in one that is robust enough and of superior quality to last you for many years to come.

Our customer’s chair before it was upholstered

traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair

The aftermath – a chair in the wrong hands

traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair

Chair restored and traditionally re-upholstered

Above you will see the chair going through various stages of repair and restoration.

What needed to be done to rescue this chair

  • There was quite a lot of movement in the frame so that was reglued before anything else. 
  • The webbing was taken off and repositioned.
  • More springs were added and tied into place.
  • It was showing old foam pieces used on the arms, which were falling short of covering the wooden frame.
  • New hessian was added before first layers of coir were put on and teased into an even layer.
  • Hessian and coir shaped and sewn into place. 
  • New traditional brass castors fitted.
  • The front of the arm panels and piping and back side panels and piping were reinstated. And the front of the seat was shaped correctly and the piping reinstated.

Re-upholstered and re-stored

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traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair
traditional upholstery, victorian armchair, reupholstery, traditional furniture, upholstery service, restored antique chair

Customer testimonial

“Thank you so much for all your help and support over the past months with our chair. We are absolutely delighted with the end result and it has restored our faith in good quality workmanship. We hope you will pass on our thanks to your upholsterer. Thank goodness there are still good quality workers to be found.”

Visit our upholstery webpage to find out how our upholstery process works.

EtTe Range of Oak Stool and Bench