Recycle, Reuse, Restyle, Repurpose: Vitian’s Reupholstery
Writer / Kathi Moore
Reupholstery seems like a lost art—taking grandma’s old floral sofa and redesigning it with new fabrics. It’s too detailed and daunting a task for many people to undertake on their own. But as ‘recycle, reuse and restyle’ is becoming increasingly popular, more people are starting to appreciate the economic and quality values of repurposing older furniture from thrift stores or in the attic.
Vitian Robinson, owner of Vitian’s Reupholstery, noted how older pieces not only have memories attached to them, but they’re often more solid, quality-constructed pieces that can be customized for less than the cost of an equally sturdy new piece.
“Look for the bones,” she advised. A broken spring can always be repaired. So can burns, zippers, leather and even covered buttons. In fact, Vitian’s shop also works on boat and car seats and covers, patio furniture and commercial reupholstery projects.
The business started in South Chicago, where Vitian’s mom Marian was working on furniture and her aunt was making draperies. Now, Vitian’s daughters Tawanna and Erica work with Marian. It truly is a family business.
“The tools and techniques haven’t changed much over the decades,” Vitian pointed out, “but the business part is way different. It’s so much harder being a small business owner now…keeping books, advertising, networking.” She went on to say her biggest competition is actually DIYers who work occasionally out of their garage or basement with no overhead or licensing. “We can fix or finish their projects, too!” she laughed.
More people are appreciating the quality and depth of knowledge Vitian’s shop represents, which has also earned the shop Angie’s List Super Service awards. Each piece is done by hand and can easily last another generation or two. Cost to redo an upholstered chair is around $375 (dependent on chair and fabric) and a sofa could be $1,200. Then that sofa or chair is much more custom and high-end than anything you could find new in that price range. You’ll also notice covered buttons, trims and cording and other detail work that isn’t always found with big box store furnishings.
So, what piece of furniture do you have that deserves a second life? Consider supporting this local business.