Sofa Re-upholstery

OK, So after looking around forever and not finding anything that strikes my fancy, I’m looking to get my sofa re-upholstered with all new cushions.

Sofa is a 30+ year old B&B Italia Antonio Citterio Diesis sofa. Cast aluminum frame and saddle leather frame back and arms are all in good condition, but the leather is well worn with a few holes and the down-filled cushions are pretty flat.

I’ve found a good re-upholster in the city who has been in business for 30 years who does a lot of custom sofas, and I’ve seen their shop. Looks like they do good work.

New, the sofa is like $15,000, so I figure $3K spent re-upholstering is well worth it. You certainly can’t get a decent sofa for $3K.

A few questions, since I’ve never done much like this and know there are quite a few great furniture people here.

  1. Original sofa had perf leather on the sides of the cushions. I can’t get perf leather and figure it wears easier so am forgoing. Was told however that I may need to make a few larger perfs in the back and arm cushions to avoid the balloon effect when you sit on them (seat cushions have fabric underneath so not an issue). I’d like to avoid perfs if possible. Don’t look so good even though you don’t see them. Any advice?

  2. I was going to source my own leather, but the upholster has a really nice Italian Analine leather. I’m concerned though that it might be too thin. It’s 0.9mm and I know upholstery leather is normally 1.2-1.4mm, though the original brochure for the sofa says it is 0.98mm.

  3. Cushions have been recommended to use a latex foam with down and feather wrap for the seats (currently a PU foam + down/feather) and just down/feather for the back/sides (as original). They will make one cushion for me to test and then can then adjust amount of foam/down. Thoughts?

  4. Color. I’m thinking of going to a reddish congac brown similar to my Eames desk chair. Have seen this color on a few chairs recently and looks really rich. The saddle leather back of the sofa and arm support are black. Think this will look good? The color also happens to be close to the brick and beams in my loft.

  5. I was planning to a leather piping on the edges of the sofa to match my Eames Lounge. Original had a cord type of piping that I can’t find anyplace. Any idea if this will drastically change the structure/feel of the cushions. I imagine it will keep them more boxy?

  6. $3000 sound reasonable? It includes all material including the leather which I’m getting wholesale pricing on ($5.95/sf including shipping from Italy).



You certainly can’t get a decent sofa for $3K.



Decent is in the eye of the beholder… we’re not talking IKEA here.

Ya, OK you can get something for $3K, just not what I was looking for. Leather. Down filled cushions. Something that looks nice from the back.

Anyhow, appreciate any comments to my questions. Wasn’t looking to get judged for my budget. Will take some pics in situ this weekend and post up.


I know I know…only joking of course, I’ll leave the topic to people with constructive things to say now…

[exit stage left]

BTW, if you want to talk about budget, originally I asked for a quote for new cushion covers (not cushions) from the original manufacturer. They quoted me $6600. $2400 just for the two seat cushions!


That’s pretty crazy, though not surprising I guess.

I am wondering though: have you looked into somewhere in SE Asia or China? Doesn’t seem likely but you never know…sometimes I’m surprised at the high quality that can come out of the region for a small custom job at low cost.

In NYC at least, small custom jobs sourced locally are generally fulfilled with good quality, but often crazy cost and (oddly) a bad attitude.

R, the best leather upholsterers here in my neck of California are Mexican automobile upholstery guys; they know their craft, and there is no “attitude”.

You might think about asking around locally.

But down filled??? We have/had (it’s on it’s last legs) a 92" down-filled sofa and all it has ever done is shed little, bitty, feathers … we find them everywhere.

I’m happy with the upholster I found. I looked through a few city “best of lists”, called a few custom furniture shops, and designers. These guys look like they mostly make furniture for designers that I don’t like the look of, but the workmanship is good and the designer there I’m coordinating understands how picky I am. They have a real shop which I saw which is good so I know it’s not just a re-seller. The shop was pretty cool actually. They have some sort of ergo-buck chair thing made out of plywood and wingnuts so they can dial in the height/tilt, depth, etc. of a custom chair. Just seeing that level of professionalism sold me.

I actually previously tried to get some new down filled cushions made from a shop where that’s all they do. When I went in to pick them up, I told them I wasn’t happy with how the fabric casing was glued kinda messy to the foam. They told me it doesn’t matter, you don’t see it and that’s how they do it. I told them the original was neat and tidy. They told me to get out and gave me my money back. Best $600 I never spent :wink:

I did have a handle on an old italian guy who was a friends friends dad but I lost the connection.

My down-filled sofa doesn’t shed much down. It’s so comfy though and after being spoiled by it (I’ve slept on it more times than I can count), I can’t even think of going to a just foam cushion.


They have some sort of ergo-buck chair thing made out of plywood and wingnuts so they can dial in the height/tilt, depth, etc. of a custom chair. Just seeing that level of professionalism sold me.

You oughta ask them if you could do a photo-essay of their shop. That test rig would be cool to see -which, come to think of it, might be a reason they’d say, no. :confused:

I definitely plan on getting any process and shop pics I can!


Re: Balloon Effect and Perforated Leather

Leather does ballon the cushion if there is no “membrane” for the air to escape from. Fabric cushions don’t suffer as much from the ballooning as air can freely pass through most fabrics.

Tricks to removing ballooning in leather cushion.

  1. Fabric panles, say 1/3 of the lower back cushion or seat cushion in hidden locations.
  2. Perforation of leather

For your B&B italia sofa there really isn’t a place to hide fabric panels, or even hide perforations… as such the perforations where turned into a surface texture to allow the cushions to breath (smart in my opinion)

Creating these perforations would typically be cut with a CNC drill punch (down to 1/4") or laser (any smaller) fabric cutter. What I would do in your case is have the upholster cut your pattern pieces and then take them to a laser cutting shop to get the holes created.

Thanks for the reply.

I’ve got fabric on the underside of the sat cushions to avoid ballooning. I’m hoping the others can be OK without, but if not they said they can add perfs after the cushions are made. They have cutting dies to do so.

Full perf is not an option as need to be done on a rolling perf machine which is expensive, no-one has, and otherwise would require me to get separate skins with perf/no-perf from the supplier in Italy.


we are doing upholstery sofa work for 25 years have a look out of our piece of work