Interior designing

The upholstery project

Hello Everyone! You gave me such a wonderful response to my previous blog post on how I revamped my parents’ room here.  I was flooded with questions about it afterwards. Yes, I get most on my Facebook and Instagram accounts where I share the blog posts also, as well as on WhatsApp with various groups.

So,  as you might have guessed, I’ve regularly changed the upholstery of my furniture after every few years. It is more economical than getting new furniture, and it brings in a fresh new look to the home.

My friend Ayesha said that it also removes any unpleasant or difficult  vibes and memories that each furniture item might have gathered during its’ use. Also, it is clean and plain hygienic too. Just removing that old cloth to replace it with new one along with the foam etc, does help to refresh it all. It is literally as good as new now.

Actually, my philosophy is to buy a reasonable cloth so I can keep changing it often. Mostly people buy such expensive and exclusive materials that they last so long and you have to live with it for years and years! I love to refresh and make changes within every few years, depending on my economic status. In this process, I get to give benefits to the workers too. – Usually giving them food while they are at my place, and obviously they get an opportunity to make money too.

You can see what a back breaking job it is. Please do be kind to them.

This is how it looked previously! It was around twenty five years ago, I also needed a change.

Your questions:

  1. Where is the shop?

Well, I go to Gul Khan fabrics. (This is why I love blogging so much, I can take names of places and brands! Previously I’ve been to Curtain Museum and to Khan fabrics also.)

You can go to any shop in your city or town. Go to one which is reasonable and has a large enough variety too. Once I was lucky to go to one which was closing down, so I got excellent bargains there. Also, watch out for sales there. So, if you do such things often, you can pick up materials as you go. Remember to save up left-over cloth and materials like foam, after each session. These will come handy later on. If nothing else these make good cushions. I’ve done this work in Karachi, Sargodha, Islamabad and Peshawar. This is his Facebook page. Do not get upset by the designs shown there, you can make your own stuff more graceful and decent.

  1. Where did you get the upholstery men?

Originally, he was recommended by the shop where I went for the fabric. When they came to my house, and I spoke to them, I found out that one of them had worked with someone I knew very well. She had a furniture shop and I knew this man had worked there. So, there was this old connection. Ever since, I’ve only called him up and he sends the guys. His name is Murtaza and his phone number is: 03005105729

  1. How much did it cost?

The cost depends on the cloth, the making charges which is the ‘labor’ and the materials needed.

  1. How much do they charge per seat?

It is Rs.1200 to Rs.1500, depending on the design.


How to go about this upholstery project:

(This is how it looked previously!)

  1. Keep gathering as many items as possible: With experience,  I’ve found out that they don’t like to do small projects. So, I won’t call them if there is just one sofa set to be done up. They won’t come. When it is a big enough project, then they will come happily. So, I just keep making a list of all different items around the house that could do with the change. It makes sense, as it will save your time and money too.  So, in my case this time, it was:
    1. My mother’s Victorian sofa set of 3 +2 + 1.
    2. Then I got the hospital bed done up for her, (which I had got for my father, earlier. We found it is very handy to raise an elderly person to a sitting position in bed to give them water or food. So, I got the  bed head and foot board fully upholstered with cloth left over from the sofa set.
    3. Bed head of master bedroom.
    4. Window seat of living room.
    5. Single-seater of another sofa set. (The other 2+ 1 seaters were fine, so I didn’t do those.)
    6. Turned a center long table into an ottoman.
    7. Then did up the red 6 – seater which my mother brought with me, into a yellow one!

So, this was a sizable amount of work for them to come to the house for. It was feasible for them and for me.

  1. Meeting with upholstery man first: So, before starting the project, you have a meeting with the man in-charge, in my case he is Murtaza. During the meeting I showed him what I want. The shared vision will enable you to make an accurate estimate of costs. So when I show him the pieces that need to be upholstered, he will tell me how much cloth I need to get for each furniture item. Remember to ask him according to 1 ½ yard width cloth and also for double width ones (specially for curtains if you are wanting. – ooops! That is the next project. Shhhh! You see when you go to the fabric shop, it pays to get curtain material too, to save you an extra trip, even if you aren’t getting it stitched yet!)

So, during the meeting I made a note of:

  1. Number of items to be upholstered.
  2. Making Materials needed for all the items such as foam and Samadbond etc. He said nails will be on-the-house.
  3. Cost of labor for each item.
  4. Time: How much time this project would take. Remember it can be slightly more or less, but it will give you a fair idea.
  5. His availability: The person will inform you of his or his worker’s availability.
  6. Make the approximate estimate: A graph or table, with specifics for each situation. So, you get a clear over-all picture of your situation. Now, you make a rough estimate of how much the project will cost. The more detailed your planning the better will be your estimate.
  7. Decide and Clarify with him now: So, be clear now, if you still want to go about it. If you are not sure about certain things, tell him. Be very candid with him. (Don’t you want him to be the same with you?)
  8. Check out designs on Pinsterest: Do, your research and get as clear as you can about what you want. You can even check out my Pintrest account, and find the number of sofa sets I looked at. It helps to clarify your mind. I just wanted a fresh look, and my purpose was to brighten up the room. Remember not to get carried away.
  1. Trip to fabric shop and getting the fabric: So, actually, it was Murtaza who referred me to this shop. When I went I found it really good. My mother had gone with me, so we got the stuff. I saved her quite some money by changing the design a bit, the more expensive material went on the cushions and rest of sofa set had the self-colored material. We came back happy, and then I called Murtaza to send his men.
  2. Have shared vision with your workers: So, he came with the workers and took the advance for the materials. He had already checked to see how many sofas would need new foam and how many could use the old ones. I had showed him the cloth I had from previous sessions. So, they knew how and when to use my previous stuff first.
  3. Save wherever you can: Yet, I give them food daily. Once they said, my domestic help didn’t give them tea, I asked them to get it from nearby shop, as my helper had too much to do. (I was busy with other projects as usual.) So, they understood. Make sure your own domestic help also isn’t too over burdened. A little consideration for one’s staff is important.

Important note:

Yesterday, I had a very sensitive talk with Murtaza while we were making final calculations for the payment. Afterwards he told me that he really likes to work with me, and his workers can work peacefully with me. He used the word ‘sakoon’.

He said, ‘you never haggle with me on prices, and I myself give you concessions wherever I can. He said, the inflation has grown so much, naturally, it is hard for everyone to manage. He said, when people try to haggle and say, ‘my friends got this work done for lessor! And try to pay less during final payments.’ It is very upsetting. He said, it is tough work, and look at the prices everywhere, so if our prices are raised why do people haggle so much? He said, the other thing is that you never come to criticize the work of the workers. You support us and then trust us. That makes us give you our best. We like to help you too. He told me how one of the workers had save me around Rs.3000/- of materials by tediously joining up old foam pieces here and there, to help me save money. So, this he said one only does when one is personally interested in doing for the client.


So, here is how I help them to give their best:

  1. Trust the persons involved.
  2. Watch, but do not interfere. (I’m sure you have had nosy and interfering bosses at your own workplace, you know exactly how it feels! Why do it to your workers here? )
  3. Do not haggle on prices unnecessarily. It is better to get more reasonable materials, and pay the workers well.
  4. While giving them food, give them whatever you are having. If it is something special, why not share with them? Do it for God’s sake, for God’s sake!

The fact is that buying some gorgeous suits for yourself, means you do it for yourself. Also, you wear it once or so many times. The rest of the time it is hanging in the cupboard. When you upholster your furnishings you get the pleasure of looking at it on a daily basis. It gives a beautiful back ground for your whole family. Let them feel happy being in a home that is well cared for and well maintained.

Be happy and make your family members happy too. Stay blessed! 😉


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