Sink into these nine luxurious upholstery ideas

Upholstered chairs, headboards and even walls are a great way to soften a space

Aiveen Daly: ‘In open-plan living there are opportunities to play with decorative detailing on the backs of chairs.’

Aiveen Daly: ‘In open-plan living there are opportunities to play with decorative detailing on the backs of chairs.’


Cork woman’s textile artistry

Deep-button upholstery has been replaced by a more custom approach. Leading the charge is London-based Aiveen Daly, originally from Cork, who has carved out a niche for herself in custom-upholstery and textile-artistry commissions, from drapework on dining chairs to thinly sheared leather chandeliers.

Her clients often want her to create decorative wardrobe doors for dressing rooms, internal double doors into a study where the handles would sit proud of the door or as an artistic panel that might hang above a bed.

“In open-plan living there are also opportunities to play with decorative detailing on the backs of chairs and clients are also looking to repurpose existing pieces, using a huge palette of design details from embroidery to metalwork, she explains. “We’re calling this luxecycling.”

HD BIC Upholstery Aiveen Daly

Dining chairs, pictured, start from about €1,713 each while armchairs start from about €4,600. Pictured is a chair in Daly’s home, which features in Farrow & Ball’s Living with Colour book, by Ros Byam Shaw.

Fabric-fronted doors

HD BIC Upholstery NBB Design pic credit Salva Lopez
 Upholstery NBB Design. Photograph: Salva Lopez

London-based decorator Niloufar Bakhtiar-Bakhtiari of NBB Design loves to work with artisans and mixes together different fabrics, like linen and velvet, in the same colour tones, to create textural depth in a room.

HD BIC Upholstery NBB Design

In her own home, which featured in Fabric magazine, she’s installed fabric-fronted doors to her built-in wardrobes, which sit on either sideof the fireplace. The coral-coloured doors have panels picked out in studding, which you can see in a range of shades from nickel to bronze on Irish site Apin. Another luxury-door option is Rimadesio, a modular wardrobe system with fabric doors and recessed handles that is available from Minima.;

Touch-me texture

HD BIC Upholstery Andr?s Reisinger

Two years ago while still only a 3D render, Argentinian designer Andrés Reisinger’s Hortensia, or hydrangea, chair went viral on Instagram. With more than a decade of experimental collaborations under his belt with furniture designers such as Patricia Urquiola, Cassina and Ikea it’s hyper-textural upholstery opened a window on the future of upholstery possibilities.

He collaborated with product designer Julia Esque to turn the virtual drawing into a reality, a one-off piece, which was on display in Barcelona. With the help of 20,000 laser-cut fabric petals the creator channeled the touch-me texture of the floral walls used by many fashion houses in the last decade. Expect to see more of this at upcoming shows. In the meantime you could try a DIY version – covering an old chair in even plastic flowers if you can afford to cede the space and seat to your artistic endeavors.;;

Ruching and pleating

A linear pleated look, shown here in Glicine, a crushed cotton cashmere velvet from Warwick Fabrics, is a favourite of west coast American designer Kelly Wearstler who loves to use ruched leather in her Souffle chair. As well as selling their own designs The Sofa Factory, in D12, stocks a range of original mid-century chairs, that cost from €150 to €450 and the same again to upholster.

These are sourced from Europe and can be covered any way you like. The fabric pictured costs about €127 per metre and one of its vintage chairs upholstered in this fashion will cost from about €1,285. Another option is a smart, Danish-look, finger-jointed oak frame that uses only 2m of fabric on the back and seat, about €1,060, ex-fabric, so you can afford to go a bit wild.; 

A dash of mustard

HD BIC Upholstery Grayson Atkin and Thyme

Deconstructed seating, where the innards of the chair are deliberately on view, is a new trend in upholstery. At its most artful you will stylists on shoots dragging half-dead club chairs, their horsehair stuffing spilling out like something from a low-budget horror film, to sit at an angle to the latest Italian luxury chair. These look great in photographs but are less practical for real life.

Non one wants to spend time restuffing a chair. Instead you could opt for this Grayson chair in mustard velvet. Made by UK-based Aitkin and Thyme it costs about €570, but the company doesn’t deliver to Ireland so you will have to employ a forwarder to get it here. Hales Freight has three depots in the UK that you can list as an address. Onward delivery to Dublin will cost from €125, ex VAT.;

Splendid headboards

Best in Class 6

Bed headboards are commanding more attention with custom-made designs helping to better define accommodation areas. In California’s Santa Monica Proper Hotel the rooms have demi-lune shaped padded boards in bands of monochrome taupe linen that resemble a muted rainbow shape while the scalloped edges of this velvet headboard, a design by Julianne Kelly Interiors, is a look that is also on display n the shop’s new textured counter.

The latter is an Arte Ridge wallpaper, €299 per metre while the former features a silk viscose fabric, pictured in a tea-rose colour. This Dedar splendido costs €240 per metre. The under-the-sea theme continues with the spikey, sea urchin-shaped, Riccio-ceramic pendant, also pictured, which is 34 cm in diameter and hand finished in Italy. Samples of it hang above the counter. It comes in a slew of cool colours and retails at €800.

A buzz around boucle

Best in Class 7

Boucle is another fabric having a fashion moment and because of its super-tactile texture is one that works really well on upholstered furniture. Samos, from Alhambra’s Ikaria collection, is a cotton, viscose polyester mix that comes in six different shades. Pictured in an arctic green, it is suitable for curtains and upholstery and works really well on the current crop of rounder chairs shapes and curved sofas. It will really suit those that like a serene home, without a riot of colour and pattern. Its recommended retail price is €71. For stockists contact Bray-based Furnishing Distributors.

Needlepoint details

Best in Class 8 HD BIC Upholstery Hunt and Hope

Custom upholstery, where details of the chair, its back, for instance, are picked out in a different colour to the seat and front is another way to make your furniture stand out from the crowd. This elbow chair, pictured, by bespoke needlepoint firm Hunt and Hope features a plain seat and front and a patterned back, in tonal needlepoint, a simple but effective way to being in pattern and texture.

This bespoke service costs from about €2,860 per sq m. The chair’s curved back is emphasised by the use of a red piping trim between the two kinds of blue fabrics. The firm also offers a needlepoint monogramming service. While supplying mainly small, photograph frame-sized works, from about €286, you could scale up the work to cover the back of your favourite chair and mark out your territory in a room your very own monongrammed seat. 

Soft-touch shearling

Best in HD BIC Upholstery Elnaz Nama sherling

Channel the teddy bear trend with a sherling seat by London-based Elnaz Namaki, a interior and product designer with Iranian heritage. She takes inspiration from the American poet and novelist May Sarton who said: “A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless.” Namaki has married the creature comforts of Danish hygge with the pastel pretty shades of sugared almonds in her Luuna range, a collection of sherling-covered furniture that was inspired by a similar covering used on fighter jet seats whose pilots wore sherling-lined jackets.

Soft to the touch and hard-wearing, sherling is also easy to clean and adds warmth to derrieres that don’t like draughts. Her Jolene armchair, available in candyfloss pink or soft dove grey, costs about €4,400 while the matching ottoman costs about €1,713. A curved Eclipse sofa costs about €7,310. It comes in two options; curly-hair merino or straight-hair aviator.

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