A Tickled Pink Parker Knoll Story …


Even though I explained that the cost of repair, refurbishment and recovery was comparable to Buying a completely brand new sofa my customer definitely wanted to have this Mid/late 20th Century modern Parker Knoll sofa restored to better than its former glory, as she loved the shape and size and practicality of it; with its fold down arms and fold away back allowing it to provide a great place to rest for her guests.

 After getting it into the studio, the rip-down revealed the extent of the complete seat failure. So I replaced all the broken serpentine springs, lashing them together with the still in good condition steel rods and clips (which took a little time and were a bugger to remove and replace!)

This time I also fitted and lashed hessian to the springs (something that wasn’t done originally), before fitting new wrapped seat foams. Refurbishing the arms with rubberised hair and foams and wrapping them in polyester before  cutting, stitching and fitting the new covers (backed with F/R barrier cloth to make the piece compliant) in a lovely pink velvet called “Peony” from Harlequin

My biggest challenge came with refitting the drop-arm mechanisms: Just when I needed to look at some old photos on my phone with just hours left before delivery,  I managed to loose a number of photo’s on my phone! Which were supposed to remind me of how to replace the drop-arm mechanisms in the arms. On that (very early) morning start I contacted some fellow upholsterers online. Shortly after a coffee I quietly and calmly thought the process through. By the time I did get some great responses back from the forum I had already worked out how to replace them! (Many thanks to those ladies and gentlemen for your input in any case) Nothing beats being able to figure things out for yourself !


Before taking on this project I promised myself I wouldn’t ever work with “Shiny” or metallic Velvets  (They are usually not to my taste) ..However this velvet grew on me as I used it, the colour was lush and deep and for me had just the right level of lustre and by the end result It not only brightened up my studio, but brightened up my customers face and livened up her living room!

Ps: A big Thank you to my mate JJ for helping me deliver it: You’re a diamond!









The Battle of Chesterfield…

In spite of the many upholstery projects I have undertaken over the years I still feel relatively inexperienced and still enjoy the challenge taking on projects which teach me something new. Earlier this year I took on the task of recovering a Chesterfield-style sofa bed using my customers own fabric, a hard wearing velvet of unknown description which had to be backed with an flame retardant barrier cloth, in order for the piece to comply with the relevant UK Health, Safety and Fire Regs.

Although I have completed many deep-buttoned upholstery projects in the past, they mainly involved tackling the buttoning process on a “flat” shape. Even though this was a “modern” piece It still took me a while (and a good day with many thanks from Louise Boyland from Shoreditch Design Rooms )to help me build the confidence to button this shape and get to grips with Van dyking (a method of joining pieces of fabric or leather so that the joins wouldn’t be seen when buttoned).

Yes this project did take slightly longer than my estimated time, however it was my first piece of this type and certainly was worth doing, if not just for the experience but also being the first piece I was able to deliver using the New Nissan e-NV200 all-electric van which I loved using during a 2- day test drive.

My customer was so pleased to eventually have it finished  and delivered(the picture below was the only time I could get a half-decent shot of the piece still partially finished with the decorative nails “) She thanked me with an extra £50 tip.


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Non-Identical Twins..


The first of these pair of G-Plan E-Gomme chairs arrived in my studio last year from a lovely couple near Blackheath/Lewisham area,  who in my past many years ago had been great employers and have grown to become good friends and loyal supporters of my work, having seen my previous projects online and personally knowing what its like to run a business they were more empathic and sympathetic to the (daily) challenges faced being a self employed artisan/craftsperson





These pieces were a challenge because there not only had to be a fair few changes to the design; having prepared the show wood with the intention of developing one of these pieces to showcase a fabric textile print I had designed,  using the whole process to finally bring to market some of my previous skills in textile design into my current creative manifestation. Even roping in some fantastic help from a talented illustrator (Thanks Sarah McCarthy, your efforts will not be in vain!x)I couldn’t bring the design  to market as I couldn’t bring together enough resources  (I was attempting produce a specific fabric in time and so my customers had little choice but to choose fabrics they had sourced.

Luckily for me these customers had great taste (as well as tremendous patience), choosing 2 fabrics from Osbourne & Little:  Soumak , from their Tabriz Collection of weaves and “Dovetail” from their Abacus collection, making their use in these pieces compliant through the use of a flame retardant barrier cloth. Complimenting these fabrics,  I put together a custom wood stains for each. finishing the wood with layers of shellac and rubbing beeswax to create the right lustre. My heartfelt thanks to Katy Chaytor-Hill and Anna Frisch for their assistance.









Coming to you in Glorious AWT (African Waxblock Technicolour)…

Since producing the first of these a few years ago these custom African Waxblock technicolour patchwork Ottoman stools are becoming steadily very popular. I produced the latest one of these in July this year for a fan who saw my work on Facebook. Paying in instalments, I got little nervous and concerned when I couldn’t contact her as she had simply “Vanished” off the internet and hadn’t responded to my phone/text messages or emails!..I was delighted and surprised when one fine day in August my customer just randomly wandered into my workshop with her final deposit, explaining that she had become a victim of online fraud and hacking and had to wipe all presence of herself off the net! At that point I had almost finished the stool , needing a base cloth and custom feet attached (hence the lack thereof in the photo below)Upon finishing I delivered the stool to her parents’ address ,who were surprised and delighted that such a colourful piece had come to stay.

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Together in Electric Dreams…

It seems like nowadays the media & the public are slowly waking up to the fact that We desperately need to embrace electric vehicles to compensate for the huge energy dificentcy that faces our planet within the next 50 years as well as clean up the air pollution created in our cities through the use of fossil fuels and the combustion engine. I remember how we collectively used to scoff at the very first versions of electric cars that began scurrying around central London. Now electric vehicles are mainstream news and gaining traction amongst commercial as well as daily commuters.

However, a few years back I remember having a over a drink and a chat in the basement of Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes with my good friend Chloe. At one point I was bitching about my delivery costs through various methods (Van/car rentals,  Pay-as-you-go,etc)..We had a hearty laugh over a mad idea I had at the time to buy and convert one of those old electric milk floats into a delivery vehicle for my upholstered furniture ( I’d call it the “dairyaire”, (get it?).

Many a true word can be hidden in jest. I’ve always thought that London and probably all the major cities of this world need to have Electric vans and the appropriate infrastructure supporting them if mankind was to make any true meaningful, lasting and here comes that phrase, sustainable, switches to “greener”  energy sources or at the very least, slow down on the use of fossil fuels,

which are the foundation of our so-called civilisation.

I say “so-called ” because I believe as long as we need police and armies, calling ourselves “civilised ” is a stretch, and yes I can dream of  a future where these things ,as well as other unquestioned aspects of our society are no longer needed, how ever we are a fair long way from that reality so I won’t go into all that here.

I was lucky enough in April this year to be given the chance to test drive the new all-electric Nissan e-NV200.

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The model I got to drive was the most basic of the 5  grades in the range : The Acenta. It had 2 sliding doors , 60:40 split french-styled back doors

and an 80KW AC electric single gear automatic motor.

This model came with central locking, immobiliser, ABS/VDC , a drivers airbag and traction control.

Arriving at the Nissan Showroom feeling all excited like a Captain Kirk trying out his latest Starship, I was shown around the vehicle by Nissan Showroom rep James White.
(I wanted to absorb as much info as I could about this machine)

First, James showed me the charging points on the vehicle and how to use the charging stations..

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At first glance my thoughts were, now there’s your infrastructure!. I don’t know how many lampposts there are in  central london but all it would take is an organisation with the resources and the will, to “retrofit” London’s current system of streetlights and signage (incorporating some solar panels into the re-engineered lamp housing shrouds,as well as suitable roadsigns) and voila! A large part of infrastructure built straight into London’s network of street lights!
I used to  argue that you needed the infrastructure first then the electric vehicle. Now I think, when the car was first developed, how many petrol stations were around?

Naturally, being an upholsterer who likes to look under the covers of things I wanted to see what was going on underneath the bonnet…

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“Blimey!….Where’s the engine??” I said disingenuously …  (of course, there isn’t one, its an electric motor, duh!) without all the additional parts that a traditional diesel or petrol engine needs to run I was taken a back by all the space left over . It was clear to me standing there that maybe it was easier and cheaper to fit the electric motor into Nissans existing NV200 chassis and bodywork then retooling their factory to create a power unit that could occupy smaller space (and maybe provide extra space that could have been used to store more battery power perhaps, or more cabin or cargo capacity).

Looking around the vehicle I noticed the diesel flap/filler cap position was redundant. If I had designed the van I would have maybe fitted an additional charging point there which could possibly make the van more versatile in its charging position  ( access to charging the van comes through a flap at the nose of the vehicle.)


Even though this was the basic model the 2-speaker CD/FM audio system with MP3/iPod compatibility , electric windows, full steel partition with window) felt lightyears ahead of my trusty CombiVan.
The build quality felt fine and the sound quality of the speakers was great. Good crisp and Clear with “adequate” Bass (I love my Bass-heavy tunes!) though it took a little while for me to get used to the telephone bluetooth integration into the steering wheel as I had never really used one before. Once I did It felt great!

Starting it up felt strange (Push button/ brake pedal ignition)  but  that wasn’t nearly as strange as moving off!

One of the first things you notice is how quiet the vehicle is in motion. You do hear a (sort of futuristic)”whine” as the motor revs up. If I was ready at that moment to embrace a new era of Electric mobility, the same cannot be said for the few pedestrians who obviously couldn’t hear me (but at least could see me) approaching when they crossed the road outside of pedestrian crossings. I don’t know how Electric vehicle manufacturers can tackle this; perhaps by introducing some sort of artificial ” engine noise”? (I’ve seen some Hi-performance sports cars have their engine noise “altered” on Top Gear). Or maybe I should simply use the horn more.

I can see how no engine noise can be a bonus for deliveries: Sometimes customers like to have their furniture delivered to them early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes the delivery location (Ie: a Large Stadium or You do hear the sound of the tyres rolling on the various road surfaces. After an hour or so of driving your mind becomes accustomed to these subtle differences and I noticed my driving style adjust ever so slightly.

Arriving at my studio I felt I had at least ticked off one great experience off my own life’s bucket list. And I felt a great sense of pride (if only for a fleeting moment) of having to charge the electric vehicle Van while finishing an overdue Chesterfield and a long bench, which I would use the van to deliver to a wonderful customer later that day in West London.

The electric van, picking up my finished upholstery , comfortably fitting a 2-seater Chesterfield sofa with a little room to spare (for smaller items )from a recycled and repurposed shipping container studio.

For 2 Days I felt Like I was living the (electric) dream!

The biggest issue I wanted to test out was of course the charging system.

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Now unfortunately for the test drive Nissan couldn’t provide me with the special card needed to use the 4 charging stations I found in my immediate local area ( 3 on Chrisp Street, only 1 at the large Tesco in Bromley-By-Bow) So I couldn’t tell you what It was like to use them , However I was given by James an armour-plated cable (which makes sense after all you wouldn’t want your dog or cat to chew through that)which plugged directly into a standard wall socket from a socket under a bonnet flap behind the front Nissan logo.
There are 3 Lights on the top of the dash board viewable from inside & outside of the vehicle which indicate the charging levels. I could be 100% fully charged from 0% in around 8-10 hours. I could also be 80% charged within 3-4 hours

I couldn’t charge it from my flat, as it’s on a second floor, though facing the street, spaces outside my flat were filled. So my only option was to charge it overnight at my studio. Which I was lucky enough to do Securely through leaving ajar the custom made patio-style sliding door while padlocking the metal doors without affecting the cable.

Nissan claims the vehicle can go over 100 miles on a single charge.  When I added up all the mileage I had done over the 2 days driving in “ECO-MODE” alone  it came to around 96.

Driving in Eco Mode adjusts acceleration response and the air conditioning to reduce energy consumption. Along with factors like regenerative braking , When I added up all the mileage I had done over the 2 Days driving in “ECO-MODE”  it came to around 96.. not bad at all , considering I entered the congestion charging zone twice (no charge) and my own driving style. With the right charging infrastructure and availablity

and minimal servicing costs (a standard service interval on the e-NV200 is 18,000 miles a year). I can see that over time the money could save is a no brainer.

All I would need is the deposit. I’m working things out with Nissan to look at financing options with my hope to deliver all my customers pieces this way.

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Summer came early for these pair of Parker Knoll chairs and Footstools


Contacted last September by a customer in North London, this customer had bought a pair of these Parker Knolls through

eBay with a very specific request to cover them in a certain way using 2 complimentary fabrics

my mission was to get them completed before her family and friends came that Christmas.

Only truth to tell, I  just managed to complete them, plus 2 matching footstools which the customer had found later,

delivering On Xmas Eve Just as everybody else had already packed up and left to be with their families & friends.





Refurbished and covered in Bluebellgray Petite Mode with Designers Guild Varese Turquoise with  In the rush to get these delivered I never really got a chance to get decent shots of all the work

So you’ll have to make do with this Phone image that I’m grateful my customer supplied earlier this year.

photo 1



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Mid-20th century Modern Metamorphosis


This mid century modern armchair and footstool used a cleverly

stitched together fitted loose cover. My customer wanted to use

Flock’s Northmore Minor in Teal designed by Rachel Parker.

People don’t realise that sometimes cutting , making and fitting a loose cover can be as much work as refurbishing and producing a fitted cover.

Getting the curves right and bringing together this gorgeous textile design to “flow” throughout the shapes.

As this textile is printed on 100% Cotton, the use of a Flame retardent barrier cloth was essential for the pieces to comply with the relevant health,Safety & Fire Regs.

To make the cover more versatile and washable, I opted to make the seat cushion separate from the armchair unlike the original which was fixed.

The second piece, A Modern tub chair was tricky too: Each Pattern piece involved seams which were piped and then topstitched before

My many thanks to Jenny Wingfield For referring this lovely customer to me who sent me the following comments:

“Just mailing to say how much I love the work you have done on my three items, the chairs and the stool.  They have been done beautifully and make my room a changed place.  Your skills are just great and I appreciate all the work that has gone into them.  Thank you so much. Many thanks Pearl Brown”


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Afrotechicolour therapy.. A wax block print patchwork chair



Rick Holland Donor chair4

This Mid-20th century modern piece was given to me back in 2010 by super talented artist, print & textiles designer and all round lovely lady Hannah Edy.

Although it was very much the worse for wear I faithfully kept it in storage thinking “That’ll be a great chair again someday..”

The opportunity to transform this piece came just after Xmas 2014, when a lovely couple contacted me from Mill Hill, NW7 and then made a few journeys’ down to my studio to chat with me about a piece they had previously seen online of my first attempt, a tub chair, at an waxblock patchwork print from a collaboration with Chantal Koning YouMeWe .

The process of transforming and updating this piece was a totally different challenge from my first version.

..A chair can take 8 hours or, in this case 40+ . It depends on your customers budget & ultimately how much love and care you wish to put into its re-upholstery.

This chair alone involves 74 carefully selected , cut, made compliant and stitched panels.


With new fillings of new rubberised hair and foams replaced the hopelessly deteriorated & crumbly foams.  A brand new serpentine spring suspension system, all lashed together(so the springs move in unison)upgraded and replaced the broken dried out Pirelli webbing which was originally stapled to the frame . The buttons are Nobilis Velvet, along with the fabrics, were chosen specifically and carefully between myself and the customer with all fabrics made compliant to the Health,Safety & Fire Regs (1988) through the use of a flame retardant barriercloth.

The Ottoman stools were built from scratch, along with a pair of duck,n,down feather-filled Scatter cushions

My deep thanks go out to Anna who assisted in the rip-down and was a great help for me to bounce off fabric selection ideas, Chantal Koning of YouMeWe for fabric inspiration and sourcing

and to Rick Holland & Katie Pomklova for their patience and input while I put together this work for them.

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Club chair Leather Repair

Leather club chairs can be stubborn beasts. They don’t like to be confined into small spaces (like put in storage)and crushed up against other objects.
As you can see from the image below the (outside) arm’s on this Michell Gold armchair suffered internal as well as external damage.

Julachair before


Club Chair arm repair1

Jula Armchair repair2


Having serviced the outside arms (restoring the fillings, restraining the hide and then feeding it with hide food & Carnauba), a snap on Instagram ,

some viewers useful feedback from my peers and then a chat to my customer  confirmed what else I had suspected needed to be sorted out to prevent any further

damage. To which end I created and fitted a new seat unit, which would help prevent the seat cushion borders from excessive wear and tear.

 Jula Krutsinger Club armchair restoration

Jula Armchair leather repair & seat cushion replacement

Definitely worth doing the seat. Now this happy chappy has rejoined its family. (Many thanks for the brief visit!)

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Getting off the Bench: Reworking a B&B Italia piece…



Before B&B Italia Charles Bench

I was asked by my customer to take this B&B Italia Italia “Charles” Bench , reduce it’s height by 1″and then deep-button (or “tuft” if you are reading this in the US) in a Sanderson Taormina velvet replacing the tired,

cat scratched and shrunk-in the-wash look of its original cover.

“Looks simple enough a task to me” you might say, until you realise upon removing the cover what is going on underneath; that the whole frame is made from

steel tubing and the high density foam sits directly on a bed of super strength jumbo elastic 3″ webbing.

Of the various ways that could secure the buttoning (sorry, saying “tufting” just doesn’t work for me!), I wanted to use a system that I felt would have the most inflexibility, by which I mean that over time, the pleats wouldn’t be tempted to move around over the foam and elasticated base, while still retaining the look and finish that would still respect the overall original design for Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia by Antonio Citterio

Processes I employed involved getting the whole foam cut down on a giant foam cutting bandsaw, removing the foam entirely from the frame, applying 120z hessian to the base of the foams, removing rubber strips from the tubular steel frame and introducing cut hardwood patterns to provide a tackable surface to secure the buttoning cord and cutting, and fitting extra wood strips as well as applying 1″ extra foam and sundries around the base of the bench which helped to “fill” the gap left between the legs and the base of the bench left from fitting the new cover.

As well as successfully “Van-Dyking” the Velvet as the overall bench width was wider then then width of the roll when taking into consideration the direction of the pile


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Atelier Ray Clarke Ltd T/A Ray Clarke Upholstery & Design Company registration number :12018355