Should you reupholster...or not? Interior designer Lesley Myrick has a few tips to help you decide if reupholstery is worth the investment.

Should you reupholster – or not? A couple of years ago I chose to reupholster a loveseat for my master bedroom, thinking it would be a delightfully inexpensive way to transform a basic piece of furniture into something badass. Well, that loveseat definitely got a badass transformation – but it wasn’t inexpensive!

There’s a lot I’ve learned about design choices whether it’s been in design school, while working for other designers, while running my own interior design firm, and while designing my own home. Here’s what I’ve learned (and what I wish I’d known) about deciding whether or not to reupholster a piece of furniture:

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Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here – interior stylist and owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design where we create some pretty awesome interiors with an offbeat edge.

I want to talk to you today about reupholstering,

and whether or not it’s a good idea to reupholster an existing chair, sofa, loveseat, whatever it might be. So here’s the thing with reupholstering. People often think it’s gonna be less expensive than just getting a new piece.

Sometimes it is, but not always.

I encountered this in my own home working on a project. We bought this cool vintage loveseat and thought it would be a fairly affordable project to reupholster it. What blew me away is that by the time we paid for the loveseat, we bought fabric for it, bought foam, paid an upholsterer to do a great job, all these things started to add up and before I knew it my “inexpensive” loveseat project cost more than a new one probably would have.

So here’s my thoughts on whether or not to reupholster something:

If you have a piece of furniture that is quality-made, you love the form, it’s comfortable, it’s beautiful – it’s probably going to be worth the investment to you to have it reupholstered versus letting it go and trying to find something comparable brand-new.

If you have a piece of furniture that has a story to it, that has history, or there’s something about it you connect with whether it’s just how it looks or how it feels to you, I think that is a great opportunity to take something existing and to give it new life with new fabric.

However if you think reupholstery is just going to be the less expensive option, it isn’t always. On something simple like a dining chair where you’re reupholstering the seat, that’s an easy, affordable project and that’s one I recommend my clients do a lot if they already have great dining chairs and the fabric just needs a little refresh.

But when it comes to a larger piece of upholstery like a sofa, loveseat, or big chair,

don’t do it because you think it’s going to be affordable. Do it because you love the piece and you want to transform it and give it new life.

So there you go. A few quick thoughts about reupholstering – or not!

In the last What I Wish I’d Known post I shared my experience (and hard-earned knowledge) about choosing white paint colors. But what about the other end of the spectrum – choosing dark paint colors? I’m so psyched to see dark wall colors gaining popularity. They’re beautiful when done right, and not as scary as you might think.

Just because a wall is painted white does not guarantee that the room will have the bright expansive feeling that’s desired. (Bummer, right?) It’s counterintuitive, but in fact, a deep color can often be a better choice and actually make a space feel larger! While white walls bounce light and feel open and airy, dark colors recede. A deep wall color sits back and blurs the boundaries of a room, creating the illusion of a larger space, especially if the walls and ceiling are painted the same dark hue. I do love dark walls, but there are a few things you should know before committing.

What I Wish I’d Known About Choosing Dark Paint Colors

What I wish I'd known about choosing dark paint colors - tips and tricks from designer Lesley Myrick

There’s always something to learn when you try something new.

My experience painting my master bedroom in Sherwin-Williams Dark Night (my faaaavorite deep peacock blue) definitely taught me a few things about selecting and working with dark colors.

I prefer matte or flat paint for walls

over an eggshell or slightly glossy finish, but it’s a lot trickier painting a dark, matte wall than it looks! The paint store pros actually cautioned me against it.

It took a bit of convincing..

…and several days for them to source the right base paint and have it transferred from a different location before my Dark Night was in hand. Deep paint colors need a special base to tint correctly, and the product I needed was hard to track down.

When I finally got the correct formula, there didn’t seem to be as much forgiveness with the paint, and coverage took more work than with a lighter color or a color with more sheen. Also, while matte paint today is more durable than it once was, there’s a real difference in durability between a medium to light-hued matte paint and a deep, dark hue.

Scuffs, rubs, and water marks (from wiping the walls) do show up a lot more on a dark matte paint than I expected.

Here’s what I wish I’d known about choosing dark paint colors:

Dark paint colors are higher-maintenance, both in application and in day-to-day care. But – it’s totally worth it for the stunning results! The photo above is of my master bedroom and I can’t wait to share the finished space with you. Dark walls transformed this room into a rich and cozy sanctuary and were absolutely the best choice for the space.

Even with 12+ years experience in the interior design business and a background studying art and design, there’s still one thing I find incredibly difficult to do well – choosing white paint colors. You know how people make fun of designers obsessing over white paint colors? Because how many whites could there possibly be?

Seriously. There are SO MANY WHITES. With SO MANY UNDERTONES. Some whites look pink, some look yellow, some look blue. White is never just white! I’ve made a few mistakes with white paint over the years. Here’s what I goofed up on so you don’t have to.

What I Wish I’d Known About Choosing White Paint Colors

Welcome to my office. See those bookshelves? Crisp white. See that gorgeous crown molding from Metrie? Also painted crisp white. See that strip of wall high above my desk that looks kinda yellowish-beige?

That was supposed to be white too. UGH. But guess what? Not all whites are created equal.

With all these cool, fresh whites on the furniture and trim I decided it would be a good idea to “soften” the white on the walls and choose a slightly creamier (read: more yellow/peach) white for the walls. I thought it would make the moldings pop and be a nice contrast. NOPE. I was wrong, friends. Instead of looking intentionally different, these different shades of white just look like I tried to make it all match but wasn’t successful.

I’m sure it doesn’t look like much to you in this photo, but let me tell you, staring at pinky-dingy-blah-not-white walls every day is driving me bonkers! What I wouldn’t give for crisp white walls to blend seamlessly into everything else.

Here’s what I wish I’d known about choosing white paint colors: Find a white you love – and stick with it. I wish I had painted the walls the same color as all the trim but in different sheen levels for subtle contrast. (Personally, I’m a fan of matte walls and satin finish trim.) By trying to “layer” different shade of white paint on the furniture, walls, and trim, it just looks like I tried to match but got it wrong. If you want contrast, be bold! Pick a wall color that’s vastly different from white so that the white accents really pop. But if you’re going for a white, bright, and airy look, keep the white paint color all the same and vary the sheen level for visual interest.

PS. In case you’re wondering, I totally plan to repaint this room.

👉 Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Learn from a design pro – check out more of Lesley’s hard-earned wisdom in the What I Wish I’d Known series.

I’ve learned a lot in my 12 years as a designer. Lots about what to do to make a home totally awesome – and also what not to do. Yes, even a designer makes mistakes, and thankfully most mistakes were made in my home because I’m my own design guinea pig. This is the start of a brand spankin’ new series called What I Wish I’d Known. Here’s to helping you avoid some of the lessons I’ve learned in the interior design school of hard knocks! First up:

What I wish I’d known about buying a sofa

What I wish I'd known before buying a faux leather sofa!For a while, I wouldn’t shut up about my amaaaazing teal faux leather sofa. The color! The texture! The tufting! The easy cleanup when my kid drools on it!

And yeah, for the first three years or so, that baby was totally awesome. But here’s where it went wrong – I selected a faux leather sofa (also known as vinyl), instead of genuine leather or fabric. Leather wasn’t in my budget at the time (an uncommon leather color like teal commands a higher price point) and I didn’t want a fabric sofa. I thought a faux leather would be low maintenance, easy to clean, wear well, and soften over time.

Want to know what happens to faux leather after a few years? THIS:

What I wish I'd known before buying a faux leather sofa!

My sofa upholstery is flaking off EVERYWHERE. There are constantly little teal flecks stuck to my feet. The material has gone brittle and continues to crack daily. My options seem to be to reupholster it (probably not worth the labor cost) or just suck it up and buy a new sofa. A real leather sofa, for sure.

What I wish I'd known before buying a faux leather sofa!

Here’s what I wish I’d known about buying a sofa: to invest in genuine top-grain leather, or a durable stain resistant fabric. Any other upholstery materials, including faux leather or vinyl, are a big fat waste of time. While a lesser quality sofa upholstery material might look great for a few years, you’ll pay the price for skimping on the quality of a piece of furniture you use every day.

👉 Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Learn from a design pro – check out more of Lesley’s hard-earned wisdom in the What I Wish I’d Known series.