I wrote this a few years ago near the beginning of my upholstery journey but thought some of you may find it interesting so I've republished it here...
As I plunge headlong into the wonderful world of upholstery, I have started to reassess how I feel about antiques.
I have always assumed that having ‘antique’ furniture in the house would be synonymous with choosing to live cocooned in a bourgeois bubble. And as well as the politics of it, I have thought the aesthetic itself to be too concerned with its own status, too decorative and too, well, much. Now I was not quite ignorant enough to lump all antiques together but whilst I happily broadcast my love for a retro side table or a charity shop bargain, I have always felt like auction houses and fine antiques were not for people like me.
Having been on the hunt for antique chairs to practice my traditional upholstery on, it’s all beginning to grow on me. It turns out that antique furniture is not half as expensive as I thought it might be and even paying someone (or me!) to reupholster it often only brings it up to the same sort of price as a new piece. Often, it seems, things really aren't made to last in the same way as they were eighty years ago; will our grandchildren be reupholstering our high street sofas in sixty years time? I very much doubt it. Yet a reupholstered Victorian chair will be good for the next 100 years, even if needs a couple of changes of top fabric during the time. Plus reducing our consumption and reusing existing furniture has got to be better for the planet.
The dimensions of antiques tend to be a bit smaller than lots of modern furniture, particular chairs, leaving rooms looking more spacious. And you might not be surprised to know that the past is all very current in interiors as people are increasingly choosing a mixture of old and new furniture for their houses.
If it’s not for you, great. But maybe antique furniture can be for people like us. What do you think?