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: How much to Reupholster Turkish Chair?  ( 1601 )
Stephen
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An upholsterer since 1966


« : March 14, 2013, 06:21:03 PM »

What price would you quote for a Turkish chair? It has been at least 30 years since I've reupholstered one.
I have two basic questions: Roughly guessed for my client's chair (top picture) How many hours would you estimate, and how much for your total labor?

I had a potential client call me about recovering a Turkish chair.  He doesn't yet have this next chair, he saw a picture (top picture below) of the chair. He has not been to see the chair yet, but because he knows and likes Turkish chair, he thinks that this chair is a Turkish chair (which someone just covered over). He wants to find an upholsterer who will take on the job before he decides to buy it. He wants it stripped all the way down and completely rebuilt:

The client said that he would supply the fabric, or leather, as the case might be.

He was wondering about what the cost might be. Without yet seeing this pictures I gave him a rough off-the-top-of-my-head quote at least several thousand dollars. He was surprised that it would cost so much.

 After I gave his the estimate he said that in the past He had another upholsterer (who has recently died) reupholster 3 Turkish chairs for him. This former upholsterer specialized in antiques. The client said the this former upholsterer charged about $900 labor to reupholster the last Turkish chair.

After the chair is reupholstered he would like for the chair to look similar to the way that this chair was done:


I looked in the Carrscorner Gallery and saw Buck's Turkish chair

At the bottom this picture is says that this chair took 200 hours to finish.

This is what that chair works out to mathematically:
  • If you figured $900 (as according to this client's first upholsterer) that would work out to about $4.50 per hour.
  • If you figured $30 per hour, that would make the labor on Buck's chair about $6000.
  • If you figured $40 per hour, the labor would be about $8000.
  • at $50 per hour, the labor would be about $10,000

Then, then he asked about reupholstering it in leather. Having hand sewn some leather in the past, I don't think that I would want to cover it in leather. When he sent the pictures he said that if I couldn't or wouldn't do it in leather, he has some fabric to use.

I'm still think that my first thought wasn't far off. What do you think?

Best Wishes,
Stephen
« : March 15, 2013, 08:29:53 AM Stephen »

jsquail
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« #1 : March 15, 2013, 07:44:06 AM »

The guy states under his picture that he didnt know what he was doing. However, looking at the amount of pleats, tufts, etc. I would say this chair will take a considerable amount of time to re-upholster. If it takes you a 40 hour work week thats still 2000.00 at 50 dollars an hour. I would ask the guy how long ago he had his last one upholstered. I am guessing it was years ago. If it was a year ago, then he needs to go find that guy that did his first one.


We have a guy local to me who does marine canvas and a multitude of upholstery. Whenever I give a customer an estimate and they bring up his name I know I wont get the job. I politely tell them he gives his work away and I cannot beat his prices. If you arent going to make a decent wage at a very skilled profession, then its probably not worth it.

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baileyuph
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« #2 : March 15, 2013, 08:19:38 AM »

Not enough information to go on.  No specifications or a clue as to what the objectives are?

The owner owes more to this issue than "how much"?

As an example, a wing back is still done by manufactureres today, they did them 50 years ago, craftsmen did them over a hundred years ago, but none of them worked to the same specification over this period because the art, materials, and work requirements evolved, changed over time.

If the customer is serious and wants old world craftsmanship and materials incorporated, be straight forward;  tell him to ask the real questions which aren't "how much".  

Are you making your living from this effort?  These are hopefully just some helpful hints.

The real question in most cases isn't how much the upholster will make but how much will they lose?  If an upholster's art and skills aren't honed to this objective, they might still do a wonderful job on the chair but still lose a ton of money.  Most cases for this type of work, one cannot charge accordingly.


Over time how much standardization has been established for these chairs, who was the style created by and how much reference material is available?  Or was it made by different craftsmen different ways?  

If one is serious about this endeavor start with the research phase on the subject and get more answers to drive what has to be done.  Asking "how much" might be the wrong question, "how well" might be more relevant and more persuading to the consumers.  Things that need to be discussed.

Doyle

sofadoc
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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.


« #3 : March 15, 2013, 08:52:10 AM »

I did one of those chairs over 25 years ago. It was badly deteriorated when it came in, so there was no pre-existing pattern to refer to. And no internet to research. The only reason that I knew that it was called a Turkish chair was because of a paperback antique reference guide.

The chair actually came out looking pretty good. The customer loved it. But it wasn't nearly as detailed as the ones in Stephen's pics above.

My guess is that the guy who did them for $900 used a lot of modern "corner-cutting" techniques. Probably very little traditional methods.

If 200 hours is correct, then based on a 40 hr. work week, that's 5 full weeks. I'm not sure if I would want to forsake my regular customers for that long, even if it did mean a big payday at the end. I guess if I worked from home, and there was no specific deadline, it might be a worthwhile project.

But if the client expected me to even be remotely competitive with that $900 price, I wouldn't even bother bidding the job.

I think I'd wanna get a look at one of those $900 ones. If it looks good, then go to the cemetery where that upholsterer is buried, bow down at his headstone, and shout "I'm not worthy". ;)

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
zanepurcell
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« #4 : March 15, 2013, 09:03:07 PM »

the first chair is substantially more simple than the two later ones. The first is a flat back with a platform and no apparent cushion. It has some diamond tuck work but no pleats that go over and behind like a chesterfield couch. it also has no wings on the back. The arms look very simple and unless I am missing something, I would personally estimate 15-20 hours for the first pictured one and yeah, the last two pictured ones would be maybe a hundred or so hours, especially if you are learning as you go.
 Zane
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