Custom upholstery – It’s all in the details!

Details matter. And with custom upholstery they matter a great deal.

There are certainly ways to save money on home design, but there are some things that I believe you should invest in and custom upholstery is one of them.

I am in the process of designing my daughter’s big girl room. I will be doing a full tour of this massive transformation with details for every part of the design process, so be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be notified when it starts. In the meantime, I want to focus on the custom upholstery I recently had done at Calico for her bedroom.

She needed her oversized chair, window seat, desk and vanity chair all reupholstered. My daughter had already chosen her primary fabric for her drapery, so the next step was to choose the upholstery fabric. I went to Calico to work with their team of trained designers to help pick the upholstery fabric.

What I love about Calico is that they are one stop shopping. They have an incredible selection of designer-quality fabrics, window treatment styles and furniture frames and FREE design services – both in-home or in-store. When does anyone do anything for free these days? If you don’t have your own interior designer, or don’t have the foggiest idea how to execute your ideas, their design consultants can help coordinate colors and textures, and help you make the best choices for your windows, your furniture and your room to make your home beautiful!

This was the palette we decided to go with:

Ditchley Park - Madcap Cottage - Rhubarb

Upholstery fabric: Ditchley Park – Madcap Cottage – Rhubarb

Having had an interior designer in the past, and knowing what trade prices are, I was very impressed with Calico’s fabric prices. They are 20 to 60% less than designer prices.

Let’s take a look at the room before.


Now let’s look at it with the new upholstery.

Madcap Cottage - Rhubarb

When custom upholstering the sky is the limit. You can do piping, add tape, trim, or change the fabric for a fully custom look. I wanted the cording done in green to pull in the green from her drapery and in the main fabric.

custom upholstery

Cording Fabric: Sunbrella Canvas Macaw

For something simple like a slip seat you can do it yourself. It’s not overly complicated especially if you’re just using one solid fabric with no details like cording added. Could I have reupholstered her desk and vanity chair myself and saved some money? Yes. Am I good at that? No. Some of my favorite advice my Mother ever gave me was to “become an expert at what you’re good at. And when you need something done beyond your skill set then you find an expert whose trained in that skill and pay them.” She’s right! This is how the world goes round, and keeps our economy afloat. We can’t all be good at everything, despite what Pinterest tells us! I am all for admitting what I can’t do, and finding people highly trained in that area and paying them to help me. It’s how they make a living.



To test my Mom’s theory, I attempted to recover a slip set by myself. I used a staple fun, some hot glue and went to town. I also had a second slip seat done by Calico in order to compare the results. Let’s take a look!


upholstery done wrong

Took 8 hours to pull out 1,000 staples, re-staple and create the cording.


desk chair with green fabric

Cost $75 (including pick up at my home and delivered back). At around $9 an hour I would gladly spend that to have my entire day back to actually have gotten the groceries and filed papers!


Fabric Spray I recommend

To take this a step further, I chose to add decorative tape to my West Elm drapes to give them a custom looks. I used fabric glue, an iron and added it. Does it look nice? Yes. Did I mess up a lot? Absolutely so don’t look too closely!

Here is my DIY drapery:


Here’s tape applied by a professional:


Bottom line? You get what you pay for, and we can’t all be good at everything! Find a professional for custom upholstery, get great ideas and have them help create the room of your dreams!



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