Ercol recover – Ercol cushions and covers from The Andrews Partnership – the Ercol experts.
We’re often asked about what’s the best way to recover or reseat a midcentury chair or piece of furniture. Quite often the frames are still in pretty good condition, the wood may just need refinishing to restore it to its former glory.
However, sometimes, the same can’t be said for the seat and upholstery. Over time, webbing sags, colours fade, cushions fray and tastes change; bright orange nylon might be authentic to 1965, it may not be to everyone’s taste today.
There are so many fabulous fabrics and designs on the market today, making the final decision about which to go for, can seem a bit of an uphill task. Here’s some ideas to help you deliberations
Where are you planning to put your finished piece of furniture – and what you’ll do with it, will be one of the key factors in choosing your final fabric. Generally, living and dining furniture will get a lot more wear than bedroom or occasional chairs. As a result, it’s worth thinking about how much wear your furniture will get, how often you want to recover it or want to clean it, if you opt for light coloured or delicate fabric. Bedroom and occasional furniture are perfect for more delicate fabrics such as silks or lighter cottons, where they won’t see so much wear and tear. For living and dining areas, using a heavier weight fabric such as linen or wool blend is probably a better option: there are some fabulous modern fabrics that look wonderful and are incredibly durable. Today, heavy wear certainly doesn’t mean you’re limited to dull or dark coloured fabrics.
Statement or Complement
Think carefully about why you’re recovering: do you want to make a statement or are you looking to complement an existing interior.
Statement pieces are wonderful – your imagination can run riot: fabric, colours, pattern, trim are all up for grabs. You can be as bold as you like, after all, you want that chair or sofa to make a real impact, to be noticed and commented on. Be as bold as you like: the only limit here really is your imagination – and your ability to live with it – once the initial wow factor has gone. If you’re happy to go with something truly audacious, then the fabric world is your oyster! Statements can bring a space to life, act as the centrepiece for a whole interior or simply fulfil a longheld desire for “that” sofa or chair. However, you may find that once you’ve made the statement, you may want to remake it more frequently than you’d originally planned.
Complementing your existing interior is another option: whilst you’re choosing, look carefully at your existing pieces and consider what would complement them. You may want to select a different colourway and pick this out in your new fabric – subtly changing your room, without making a wholesale change. Modern fabrics and patterns are wonderfully subtle, and using an accent colour in the upholstery of your new piece may be a perfect compromise.
Authentic or Modern
Original midcentury fabric is a wonderful thing; encompassing vibrant designs, rich colours and a wonderful array of materials from wool and cords, through twill to fine cottons and silks. If you’re keen to be as authentic as possible when you reseat your Ercol furniture, it’s possible to source authentic fabrics manufactured at the time. Auctions are often a good source of authentic fabric and there are many online sources which sell original fabric. The costs can be quite high and if it’s a large project, such as a sofa, it can be difficult to find enough fabric for the project. However, to be truly authentic to the project, it really is the only way to go.
If authenticity isn’t your prime motivation, but you still want to retain a midcentury feel, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of fabric designs to suit every budget, style and type of fabric imaginable. As Ercol has become more popular, so designers and manufacturers have looked to the original 50s and 60s fabric ranges for inspiration and recreated them, but using the very latest printing and production techniques. As a result, you’re now able to find fabulous retro and vintage inspired designs with all the benefits of modern fabric manufacture: true colours, fade prevention, fire resistance and amazing durability – to name but a few.
Plain & Pattern
There’s no definitive rule about whether plain or patterned fabric works best on midcentury – it really is your choice. The best starting point is the furniture itself: what is the original covered in, do you like it and would you like to replicate – or change it. That’s as good a starting point as any!
Plain fabrics don’t necessarily have to be entirely plain: for example, damask-type fabrics have a pattern woven into them: it’s very subtle and can look particularly good on a large piece such as sofa, as it breaks up a large fabric area. Similarly, velvet and velour – they have a pile, so catch the light when seen from different directions – again adding interest to a large area. A block of one colour, particularly if it’s bright or highly contrasted with piping can also make a real statement.
If you decide on a pattern, think carefully about the piece’s size, shape and final location. Large, bold patterns don’t tend to work well on small seat cushions: you simply don’t see the pattern as there’s not enough area to showcase them. Likewise, choosing a small ditsy pattern for a large sofa may mean the pattern gets lost, however beautiful the detail. Stripes are always a trusty favourite, but make sure the width of the stripe is in keeping with your furniture’s style: large stripes don’t sit well on a small chair!
Apart from anything else, choosing new cushions, covers and seating for your Ercol furniture is great fun: you can indulge your fantasies, try out all sorts of different fabrics, colours and finishes before choosing the one that’s right for you and your furniture. Go on… you’ll love it…
The Andrews Partnership is the UK’s leading restorer and reupholstered of Ercol furniture.