Upholstery: Choices, choices

IO - Earley

If you have ever tried to order custom upholstery on your own, you can relate. Upholstered furniture is a Rubik’s cube of options. One mistake and the piece can be an absolute dog. One unexpected but calculated touch and it can be spectacular.

Just the arm options available make it incredibly confusing for the inexperienced to make selections.

First there is the rolled arm. You have seen this countless times as it is a traditional look that works well with loose cushions and provides easy seating.

The track arm is square on top and will take a piece of furniture down a more modern path. The textile selection is tricky with the track arm in that pattern matching becomes almost impossible.

The English arm is a first cousin to the rolled arm but it is typically lower and is paired with tight backs rather than cushioned backs.

The tuxedo arm is the current darling of the upholstery world. It is typically the same height as the back of the sofa giving it a fabulous focal point position in a room.

Once the preferred arm style has been determined, the legs enter the picture. Here we really get complicated because it’s about more than just personal preference. It has to work with the arm and cushion selection or it will end up being an upholstery “mutt.”

The turned leg is the most traditional of the options out there. Some will be simple, others quite ornate.

The block leg, which includes bun-type legs, offers a casual, laid back feeling. It can go very modern if it covers a large expanse of the piece.

The pin leg is a throwback to the post-modern era. It is that long, cone-shaped leg that would be found on virtually every chair on the television series, “Madmen.”

If all those choices weren’t enough, the type of finish will impact the style. A rich walnut will tap down a modern leg while a high gloss lacquered color will take the most traditional turned leg and make it kicky and modern.

Regardless of your style, a plan is critical. It really isn’t about random choice based on what looks good on a sample ring. It is imperative to have a vision of the completed piece or that upholstery mutt just might be barking up your tree.