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Design expert Michael Penney's top tips to recover an armchair

Don't toss it, reinvent it! Before you head to the upholsterer, check out these top pro tips

Old cream armchair


Newly upholstered flowery armchair


Trash or treasure? DIY guru Michael Penney, a regular guest on The Marilyn Denis Show, shares his tips on which pieces are worth revamping and what’s in trend right now.

Three ways to know which pieces are worth revamping:

1. Great shape
It’s easy to change the look of a piece, but the general size and shape must work for you.

2. Other eras
Older pieces are often better built, more comfortable and smaller in scale. They’re perfect for city dwellers in tight quarters!

3. Sturdy structure
Loose, unstable frames are a red flag. Stay away from those, as well as pieces with missing or loose springs.

Insider info: What’s hot now

1. Skirts around the legs of a chair or sofa are back. Box pleats add simple sophistication.

2. Or take off the skirt to make a traditional piece look more modern.

3. Remove back cushions and have a tufted back instead, with low lumbar cushions.

4. On a sofa, replace several small seat cushions with one large one. It’s a clever update that makes for a perfect napping spot.

5. Vary the toss cushions. If your piece is patterned, go solid or vice versa. Contrast keeps things fresh.

6. Avoid large geometrics on curvy pieces.


Best modern: “Play up the shape of the chair with a textured solid.”


Best classic: “I love a stripe, plaid or herringbone for a traditional chair.”


Best trendy: “Go graphic and bold, like block print or chevron.”

For step-by-step instructions on how to recover a chair, click here.