Modern Furniture Upholstery Look - Older Method
A number of folks around the New Jersey area have selected more contemporary fabrics when having their traditional furniture re-upholstered. Neutrals, stria textures, linen weaves and nuanced colorways.
Sometimes, they just like the fabric. Sometimes they want to up-cycle the traditional furniture into something consistent with their more modern decorating elements.
Which is great! We love seeing people incorporate classic lines in their interior decorating themes.
Keeping A More Minimalist Look in the Upholstery
Projecting a 'clean' restrained look was a common theme. Traditional upholstered furniture often has exposed wood frames - leaving many edges where the fabric panels meet the wood. Keeping a clean look while covering the cut edges of the fabric had us scratching our heads.
Some of the typical edge treatments didn't convey clean nor minimal.
The corded (or welted) edge added bulk. And, even when made from the upholstery fabric, tended to 'widen' the transition from fabric to frame. That sinuous thing tracing the wood line just seems to reach out and grab your eye.
Scrolled gimp is a traditional edge treatment. That ribbon-like band meandering around the frame just screams "traditional". I can smell the dust of ages. And the color is always an issue. Which gimp to go with the 'Blue-grey fog' fabric that doesn't contrast harshly or add an additional color element? Again widening the fabric transition.
An Old Technique for Contemporary Upholstery
We had seen the solution on countless pieces of older furniture. Right in front of our eyes. It just didn't register.
But it took an 'Aha!' moment while pondering the upholstery edge transition method for this very cool leather project for us to wake up to the contemporary use of this old edge treatment.
Make a FLAT tape from the upholstery fabric.
Less bulk. Exact colors. Minimal transition.
Some Flat Tape Examples
This is a linen texture fabric in the 'Blue-Grey Fog' color on a traditional camel back sofa. The flat tape edge treatment almost disappears at a short distance.
This sofa was reupholstered in a smokey-grey textured fabric. The sewn tape shows a little more, but the color and texture theme ARE the upholstery fabric. So the transition 'jump' is minimized.
This chair was upholstered in a foliage pattern with a varied neutral color theme. (One of my recent favorites) Here the flat tape is discernable, but just barely owing to the random pattern of the fabric.
This is a Duncan Phyfe style sofa from the 1940's. The upholstery fabric is a traditional stripe. We used the flat tape because the client wanted to go for a wider nail spacing and we couldn't find a gimp that she thought was "inobtrusive".
We're in love with this application. Our only regret is that we stewed around for so long before reviving this old, minimal upholstery edge treatment.
Thanks for reading! Comments are always open.
The upholstery workshop at JH Conklin & Co re-upholsters furniture and provides window treatments in the South New Jersey area.
Related articles: Upholstery: Gimp, Nails and Welting