Ask the designer: Is my sofa worth re-upholstering?

Q. My sofa is looking a little worse for wear, but I don’t want to get rid of it. Is it worth re-upholstering?

A. If it’s a good quality sofa, and the cost of getting it reupholstered is less than a new one, go for it. But there’s a difference between ‘recovering’ — replacing the fabric — and ‘reupholstering’, which could involve replacing the padding and springs too. If you’re just tired of the fabric you have, you may want to look into slipcovers. Otherwise, you should get quotes from two or three upholsterers for all fabric and parts before making your mind up. In the end it is a question of value.

Q. I was thinking of painting my bathroom tiles. Would you recommend it?

A. The simple answer is ‘no’. Although tile paint is often used on home makeover shows, in my opinion the finished result usually looks cheap.

Painting tiles won’t last very long and may end up looking even worse. If the issue is cost, then you can buy plain white tiles quite cheaply that will look much better than painting the existing ones.

If replacing the tiles is not an option, why not remove the dated tiles and leave only the ones in essential areas (shower, bath and behind the sink). Then you can create a whole new colour scheme by painting the walls and coordinating with accessories such as towels, etc.

Q. I have two awkward alcoves in my living room. Any ideas what I can do with them?

A. If the room is small, you should make use of this extra space.

However, if the room is larger, alcoves can seem awkward as you’ve discovered. Look at the shape of the room and ask yourself if it would be improved by getting rid of the alcoves (filling them in). If the answer is ‘no’, then consider a made-to-measure display case for family heirlooms, artwork, etc. A glass front unit with glass shelves, cabinet with solid doors or book case are all good options. Use feature lighting in the unit and coordinate the colour scheme with the rest of the room. If you’re after a cheaper option, unused alcoves can be an ideal location for a study desk or simply a mirror.

Q. I’m thinking about getting a new wood-burning stove in my existing fireplace — have you any advice?

A. Picking a stylish stove can transform your living space. Firstly, consider what you want the stove to do: heating a room, supply hot water or as a decorative feature? Look for a ‘clean glass’ burning system offering an unrestricted view of the flames. That way, as well as providing you with a practical heating option, your wood-burning stove will create a cosy ambience too.

There’s no shortage of styles for modern wood burners which include freestanding pedestal versions.


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