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Creative Upholstery Materials for Updating Your Furniture

By Pamela Cole Harris
Home and Garden Makeover

Reupholstering and updating your old furniture doesn't have to cost a fortune (unless you want it to!) Using your imagination, you can easily come up with unique fabrics for your furniture redesign. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Artist's Canvas - Artist's canvas or floor cloths are a cheap upholstery alternative. The canvas comes in 100-yard rolls. That's enough to redo your whole home décor! Use the white or cream canvas plain or customize it using fabric paints. You can create a design which complements your existing furniture or that takes it in a whole new direction! If you are really brave (and you are, aren't you?), allow your children to use finger paints on the canvas to create their own pattern for their own room or your family room!

2. Tablecloths - Remember those great white tablecloths with colorful red, yellow and blue patterns? (of course, wa-a-a-a-ay before my time!) Vintage table cloths make a wonderful upholstery fabric for dining room chairs. It doesn't matter if each chair matches exactly. If you choose tablecloths with similar colors, they will blend. This is also a great way to use those vintage tablecloths you have collected that may have a few stains that won't come out. Just use the best part of the fabric and toss the stained bit.

3. Sheets - For casual furniture, use sheets! You can find a myriad of colors, but be sure to choose a tight weave (250 count or more) for durability.. You can use a coordinating sheet for pillows or an ottoman.

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4. Drapes or curtains. Look around at thrift shops to find old brocade, silk, jacquard or velvet drapes. Usually, just a little cleaning is necessary to make them usable. Work around the sun-faded areas and you will have a rich and elegant fabric for very little money!

5. Old quilts - Quilts make wonderful upholstery fabrics for a country look. Use the whole quilt or, for a more unique look, mismatched quilt squares sewn together.

6. Vintage leather coats - Again, look around your favorite thrift shops for old leather coats. They can be used to cover ottomans, make pillows or to cover whole chairs. You can make a wonderful addition to your western décor at a fraction of the price of buying one at a furniture store.

7. Denim Jeans - A fun fabric for a family room or for any western or southwestern-themed room, denim jeans can be pieced together to make a unique look. As a great accent, place the back pockets on the outside arms of the chairs or sofa to provide a convenient storage area.

8. Bedspreads or coverlets - Quilted, woven, matelasse, or hopsacking bed covers you no longer use or found at a thrift shop can be an inexpensive way to cover a chair or sofa. As a bonus, the fabric is almost always washable!

Let your imagination run wild when thinking of new ways to use old fabric items. Don't assume you have to spend a lot of money to get a rich new look for your old furniture. Maybe all you have to do is look in your laundry basket (or your neighbor's!).

© Pamela Cole Harris


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