“The greenest (building) is. . . one that is already built.”
Ergo, the greenest upholstered piece is the one that is already made. This isn't to say you should never buy new, but I want to address the value in considering reupholstery. Some reasons for choosing reupholstery would be...
You have a beloved family heirloom, which is not to say it's of snooty origins, just that it has sentimental value.
You have a good quality piece (not Ikea), originally purchased from retailers like Ethan Allen, William Sonoma Home or from a designer and it was custom made.
Upholstered pieces that are from less expensive retailers are typically imported and rarely have good "bones". You want the wood frame to be reinforced and corners blocked (this is an angled piece of wood that is added at all of the main corners to give extra stability) or mortise and tenon joinery (a centuries old woodworking joinery that is very stable). If it says its made from "solid wood" make sure it's not pine which is a soft wood and won't hold up to wear and tear.
The sleeper sofa on the left was in my great-grandparents home. It was in the same fabric for as long as I can remember. When I moved into the family home, I had it reupholstered in a thick, cotton denim fabric which held up to small children, multiple dogs and cats and life in general. Now that I am an empty nester, I'm ready to reupholster it again. It will need new cushion inserts and I'm going to have the sleeper mechanism removed and sinuous springs added in for support. Before the cost to rebuild the support structure, the labor and new fill cost will be $1,200 and I'll need 16 yards of fabric.
You can obviously select fabrics that are less expensive, but I'm choosing to go with one that is very durable as I still have pets, it's light fast which the denim wasn't and is a fun color.
If you go with new upholstery, buy the best quality you can afford so that it will hold up for years to come. If you're overwhelmed with the idea of selecting upholstery, you're not alone. I can help the process by bringing my years of experience. Let's set up a personalized interior design consultation to discuss your needs. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or view my services online.
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Always look for the Silver Lining