As Momma said, beauty may only be skin deep but ugly goes clear to the bone. This week we’re chatting with Nathan Seaunier, owner of Dream Seams Upholstery because he knows What Lies Beneath.
Me: How did you get started in the upholstery business?
Nathan: Because of an injury, I had to change professions so I went to Clover Park to learn how to upholster, graduated at the top of my class, and I started doing upholstery for family and friends. I’ve owned Dream Seams Upholstery for about 5 years. About half of our business is furniture, the other half is auto and boat upholstery.
Me: Sofas and chairs can look great, but it’s hard to tell what’s underneath the fabric. So what’s under there?
Nathan: Underneath it all is the frame. Frames may be hardwood, softwood or even plywood. They may be glued, stapled, nailed or screwed together. Glued and screwed hardwoods are the best but just because a piece is new, stylish and expensive doesn’t mean it was made well.
Me: So how can you tell?
Nathan: Weight. Hardwood weighs more than softwood, screws weigh more than staples. A sofa shouldn’t creak when you sit down on it, especially not a new one. Both sofa buyers and manufacturers want to save money and one way is to save on materials. Many used sofas from thrift stores are better made than most new ones.
Me: And what goes over the frame?
Nathan: Originally, it was horse hair and cotton batting but we’ve been using polyester batting ever since we put a man on the moon. One thing about polyester and foam, is that it is hypoallergenic. Dust mites can’t live in the man-made materials. The quality of foam has improved, too. Sometimes foam support is better than the older hand-tied springs.
Me: Where do these materials come from?
Nathan: They used to make foam in Louisiana but since Katrina hit and drove the costs up, a lot of foam is coming from overseas. Most commercial upholstery fabric is made by just a few manufacturers like Rex Pegg, Perfect Fit or Charlotte but they’re sold by a bunch of different companies.
Me: Got a favorite foam or fabric?
Nathan: I like the Q35 foam, which is a weight designation. It’s a good value. I always recommend using high-density foam because it will last five times as long as a low density foam, even though it costs a bit more. For fabrics, I like the polyester suede products. They’re a man-made fabric that’s nearly stain-proof and now that many companies are making them, the price has dropped to about 10% of what it used to be.
Me: If you have a sofa or loveseat that you really love, what’s it cost to have it re-upholstered?
Nathan: It varies with the quality of the fabric and how complicated the work is, but ballpark figures for a 2-cushion loveseat would be $600 to $1000 and for a 3-cushion sofa, $800 to $1400. About three-quarters of the cost is the labor, the rest is materials.
Me: How can you choose a good upholsterer?
Nathan: Shop around. A good upholsterer should be buying their fabrics directly from the manufacturers, not at a retail outfit. They should be only be charging you wholesale for the fabric costs. Some less scrupulous upholsterers don’t charge much for the work, but they’re charging retail prices on the fabric and getting their money from that. If the basics of the sofa are good, remember that you can always change the look of the sofa by adding custom stitching, throw pillows or welt cording for not very much money.
Me: Thanks. How can folks get a hold of you?
Nathan: Dream Seams is in Lacey at 4227 Pacific Ave and you can call us at 870-3188.