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Sofa Rehab Thoughts

- 09 Dec 2014 -
6 posts / 0 new

So we've been trying this Drexel sofa in the house for a few years now and have decided to explore maybe rehabing it if the work it needs isn't too out of proportion. Since it came to us with two matching chairs for free, our budget for the sofa is set at +/- $1200US.

The frame is rock solid and the base is welded bronze tubing with a walnut spacer on top. A bit Knoll-ish in basic form and dimensions, the sofa, and especially the matching chairs, also share some similarities to John van Koert's work for Drexel and may be a later variation on the "Profile" line. I've never seen other examples quite like them.

The pics are from when I first discovered it and the upholstery was still mostly intact. It had suffered UV damage, and even more in our house. The fabric has gotten so brittle in areas that it has started to shred. It needs reupholstering and, possibly, new foam. I think I'd like to see the back cushions remade loose rather than fixed, as they are now, and the seat cushions pieced and tufted like the back instead of smooth.

I guess my main question would be, have we completely lost our minds? Do you think my ideas can be realized given our budget? What would you do with it?

Any and all advice, opinions, or insight is welcomed and much appreciated!


United States
1960 - 1969


- 09 Dec 2014

I would redo it if it were mine, but then I'm not paying for labor.  Still, if you can find someone with reasonable rates and you can find a good fabric that you love at a decent discount, I think $1200 might be possible.  

I would replace the foam and other padding.  You don't want to count on it lasting another 15-20 years.  Latex will dry out and the best modern-day polyurethane only lasts that about long.   

Why do you want to go with loose back cushions?  Personally, I don't like them much.  If they're on the soft side, they tend to get squished out of shape over time because there's no frame holding them up.  If they're firm enough to keep their shape, they can feel too firm to your back.  Plus, they don't necessarily stay looking neat and tidy after someone gets up from sitting.  There are ways to get the loose cushion look without actually having loose cushions.  Actually, that's how your is done!  Bonus:  you use less fabric.

As for tufing on the seat cushions--yes, since it doesn't include buttons.  I've done that and it looks great.  It will add to your labor costs, though.

- 09 Dec 2014

Thank you, Spanky. You're probably right about the back cushions and new foam. I guess I thought that loose cushions might be easier for the upholsterer, but I haven't the foggiest when it comes to upholstery and that's exactly the kind of advice I need. You are a treasure!

The sofa is 31"H x 86"W x 30"D. Can you ballpark yardage I should factor?

- 09 Dec 2014

You can check upholstery yardage charts online (just google that term but not in the plural form).  Look for 3 seat cushions and no skirt.  The rest of it doesn't matter much style-wise.  Well, no big roll arms, obviously.

My sofa is about that length and style and I think I used about 12 yards on it.  A lot of upholsterers ask for a yard or two extra to cover any miscuts---it's not a bad idea as long as you get whatever leftover there is.  (Many upholsterers keep it, though I'm not sure why.)  If a seat cushion is permanently stained, god forbid, you can have it remade if you have some extra fabric.  

Loose cushions are about the same amount of work, I guess.  It's probably a matter of preference for the upholsterer.  I'd rather do tight backs.  But you should just get what you like as far as looks and practicality!

- 09 Dec 2014

I've found loose fill (the feather inserts, not really loose as such) unbuttoned seperate cushions really practical, they need straigtening and plumping but that not a problem.

They can though be swapped and flipped if you do get a stain, aired out, hand washed or dry cleaned if the fabric will take it or if like Spanky says you keep the remnant, a new cushion cover made if necessary. 

- 15 Dec 2014

I bought 18 yard of fabric for my 78 inc sofa. It was about 750 for fabric and labor after taxes. I'm pretty sure I was oversold fabric.  

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