Interview with Christoph Kämmerer – owner “Rademann – Textile Interior Design”, Kiel on the subject of “Re-covering a sofa”.
Hello Mr. Kämmerer, please introduce yourself and your company.
My name is Christoph Kämmerer, I am a master interior decorator and have been the owner of the traditional Kiel company “Adolf Rademann” – Textile Interior Design since 1935 for 12 years.
Our experienced team consists of two master interior decorators, one interior designer and 15 skilled interior decorators and flooring specialists. We advise in our store in the Kleiner Kuhberg in Kiel and at the customer’s site and implement the planned interior design. We offer practical solutions for privacy, sun and insect protection to furnishing concepts with curtains, furniture, wallpaper and flooring.
From measurement, assembly, sewing and upholstery, to laying, all work is done by one source.
How do I know that a sofa should be reupholstered or reupholstered?
Any upholstered furniture can of course get a new look at any time. For example, after a renovation or after a move when you change your furniture and the existing fabric simply no longer fits the rest of the room.
A much-loved and much-used sofa or armchair that has been passed down through generations should be reupholstered when external signs of wear are visible. This can be worn armrests or seats, or faded fabric.
But soiling on the backrest from touching it or leaning against it is also a sign that it’s time to look into a new cover.
If you are no longer comfortable sitting, then we interior decorators can also help. We can renew or replace loose or sagging upholstery, poking springs or even uncomfortable, hard upholstery.
Can you reupholster any sofa?
Most upholstered furniture can be reupholstered and/or covered. Rarely there are cases, for example, antique furniture, where the substance no longer allows it. Too often nails have been driven into the wood.
We look at the furniture during the first consultation. On a photo or in the original, you can usually assess in advance whether the refurbishment is possible.
The very exact effort becomes visible only after knocking off. When the fabric is removed and the upholstery is exposed. If a frame is very damaged, we also work with cabinetmakers who can replace parts so that nothing stands in the way of upholstery.
Can you reupholster only with fabrics, or also with leather?
When choosing fabric and leather depends a bit on the furniture that will be covered. Not around every shape can be pulled a leather or imitation leather. Fabrics that are too thin are also not suitable, as they weave through very quickly.
What should I look for when choosing fabric?
The place of use of chair, armchair or sofa is also relevant. In a room with strong sunlight, such as a winter garden, for example, you can also work with outdoor fabrics that are suitable for upholstery. Outdoor fabrics are very lightfast and have a long life. They are not only used for outdoor furniture and seat covers.
To take into account the era in period furniture is as important as personal taste and interior style. The upholstery fabric should match the age of the furniture.
Are there special upholstery fabrics or can any fabric be used?
Upholstery fabrics come in a wide range of colors, patterns and materials. They are specially marked to withstand the abrasion of use and the furniture looks good for a long time. We are always happy to help find the right fabric, advise on structure and color and can say whether the upholstered furniture can also be covered with the desired fabric or leather.
When is it worth having a sofa or armchair reupholstered?
If I own a favorite piece then it’s worth keeping, upholstering and covering. Whether you sit perfectly on this very upholstered furniture, only this form fits the interior, is an heirloom or was the ultimate flea market or street find – there are many (sentimental) reasons why a chair, armchair or sofa deserves a second or new life.
It is also worth thinking about reupholstering entire sets whose shapes are no longer available.
Can I also get fabric myself that will then be used by the interior decorator?
Probably every company thinks differently. In our case, we are also prepared to process the customer’s own fabric. However, we would like to point out that we cannot guarantee the processing and durability. In principle, however, we do not stand in the way of the idea.
Sometimes the customer has good fabric from existing furniture at home and would like to have another piece covered with it so that everything fits together. Or, what has also happened to us: it is only a demonstration object and the seating furniture is not used as such. In this case, we can also put on the fabric of a curtain brought along, even if it is not suitable from a professional point of view.
How much fabric is needed and what does the cost of reupholstery depend on?
The amount of fabric and the cost of upholstery and covering depends on the type of upholstered furniture and the effort required.
Unfortunately, we can not set a flat price for an armchair, because each piece what comes to us is individual. Whether it is a small cocktail chair, a weighty wing chair, a piano stool, a Chippendale or Biedermeier sofa, a modern settee, rocking chair or a living room landscape: everything is looked at and estimated by us in order to be able to make a cost estimate. Thus, depending on the furniture, the amount of fabric ranges from 2.50m to 10 or 12 meters needed.
How much does it cost to have a sofa reupholstered?
The costs consist of the amount of fabric, type of fabric (selected article) and the amount of work, which of course depends on whether the upholstered furniture “only” needs to be reupholstered, or whether work also needs to be done on the upholstery. Sometimes you can feel or see the need for a new upholstery immediately, sometimes a piece of furniture that was fine at the first moment turns out to be a pure construction site after being knocked down, so that the new situation has to be discussed with the customer immediately.
Roughly, you can say that the cost of reupholstering a chair starts at about 350-500 €. For a sofa, depending on the amount of work and model, the labor costs are about 1300 €, which you should expect.
How long does it take to reupholster a sofa?
Again, it depends on how the sofa or armchair comes to us and what steps have been ordered. Most of the work we do in a period of 2 to 6 weeks. For a complete set we can also work in several steps, so that the customer still has the possibility to sit at home. For example, we first pick up the sofa to upholster it and then take the armchairs with us when we bring them back.
What are the work steps?
When reupholstering and reupholstering is commissioned, the furniture is stripped. That is, the cover (or covers – depending on the age may have been applied several layers of fabric) and upholstery are removed, leaving only the frame.
Then the upholstery can be built traditional or modern. Depending on the type of furniture or customer’s request, after setting and lacing the springs, we can use classic materials such as African and horsehair, or use modern upholstery foam. It depends a lot on the nature and style period of the sofa or armchair, as well as what was discussed with our customer during the consultation.
After the elaborate manufacture of the new upholstery is made cover. This can be provided with decorative seams, with buttons or decorative nails, borders and trimmings can be used in addition.
The cost of stripping and reupholstering a sofa (without complete upholstery buildup) is usually about 20 man-hours.
Can I re-cover my sofa myself?
It is not for nothing that the profession of interior decorator (focus on upholstery) has a three-year apprenticeship. Technical know-how is already important from the consultation. The choice of fabric must be considered
For an armchair or a whole sofa, the amount of work is very high and many things must be taken into account, so that in the end you not only have an apparently pretty piece of furniture with a straight, tight cover, but also one on which you sit well. Upholstery assembly should only be done professionally.
In addition, of course, you need the space for such a project, as well as certain tools and quality working materials.
In principle, we recommend professional refurbishment, as this is the only way to ensure that the furniture is durable, long-lasting and usable.
How do I find the right upholsterer?
Ask your local or nearby interior decorator if they offer upholstery services and can help you. Most companies can be found easily in an online search by entering the term “Raumausstatter” and your place of residence.
You can also find our friendly companies online at Wohnmanufaktur, or by searching at the interior decorator and upholsterer guild of the respective state.
Mr. Kämmerer, thank you very much for the interview.