How-to: Decide whether to reupholster

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Is it worth re-inventing your beloved old couch?

Some of the most wonderful pieces of upholstered furniture we've seen are one-offs that came to be because someone saw fit to dress a worn or vintage piece of upholstered furniture in fantastic new clothes. Witness these.

But a labor-intensive professional upholstery makeover plus hand-chosen yardage plus pick-up and delivery will, nine times out of ten, cost more than a newly-purchased piece.

The four things that make your piece worth rescuing are:

• a high-quality frame made from hardwood, both glued and screwed together;
• 8-way hand-tied springs;
• you have a vision for the end product;
• you absolutely love the form and body fit of the original.

You probably already know the last answer. For the first three, call a professional and get a quote and some advice: many will come to your home to inspect the piece and to evaluate its fitness for a makeover. A pro will be honest with you about whether your piece is worth their time -- and your money.

Image: Southern Living