Furniture Upholsterer

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Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

THE BRIEF

Do you have a passion for beautiful furniture, old or new, and the upholstery -- whether leather, textiles or needlepoint -- that covers it? You may be on course to rebrand yourself into an upholstered (or reupholstered, as the case may be).

As Wikipedia tells it, “upholstery” describes the craft of creating furniture seats, padding, springs, webbing and fabric or leather covers. And it’s a craft that dates back several centuries, reflected by the fact that the word upholstery comes from the Middle English word upholder, which referred to an artisan who held up goods. Upholsters repair and cover items for homes, of course, but can also work with automobiles, airplanes and boat seating. Again, according to Wikipedia, an apprentice upholsterer may be referred to as an outsider or trimmer; and traditional upholstery may constitute coil springs; dog, horse or hog hair; straw and linen scrims -- whereas modern upholsterers use synthetics like dacron and vinyl. The important point is that upholstery is done by hand building layer upon layer.

ASK THE PROS

How much money can you make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for upholsterers in 2017 was $35,050.

What are the startup costs for this kind of business?

Costs could be expensive for someone who wants to start an upholstery shop. A large workspace will be needed, as well as a truck and an array of tools. Fledgling entrepreneurs might want to rent space in an existing shop in order to use its tools and learn the ropes fully before striking out on their own.

What kind of experience do you need to have?

People in this line of work, explains WiseGeek, may turn to colleges and technical schools for courses on topics like the history of textiles and furniture and furniture care. These students then practice in a lab environment and receive a diploma. For specialty upholstery work, it’s more common for would-be artisans to work with an experienced tradesperson, mastering skills like removing old upholstery and replacing stuffing and external upholstery. Learning techniques used with furniture from different eras and working with tools from different historic eras makes this kind of work especially satisfying. To work at a museum, a degree in textiles, art history or conservation will be needed. 

What’s the most important thing to know about this business?

Being passionate about textiles, antiques and furniture is an important part of this work as is being okay with often working in solitude and having a great deal of patience to perform the detail work that upholstering requires.

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