Uber upholsterer

Breathing new life into neglected furniture is the modus operandi of this talented craftswoman

Chevron dining chair
Chevron dining chair

Where do you take furniture that has had the stuffing knockedout of it? If not to the dump, then it has to be to upholsterer Aiveen Daly.

Upholstered doors in leather and satin with nickel nail finish. The petals are hand stitched and all upholstery is done in the   London workshop. Price from £3,000.
Upholstered doors in leather and satin with nickel nail finish. The petals are hand stitched and all upholstery is done in the London workshop. Price from £3,000.

Her clients include Candy & Candy, salvage specialist Retrouvius, Liberty and five-star hotels, but we first met years ago when shereupholstered my Victorian spoon-backed armchair in Florence Broadhurst Horsesfabric (as a guide, similar pieces cost from around £600 to have recovered). Six years on, it isstill as plump as a baby’s bottom despite having been bounced on by many atoddler.

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Our paths crossed again recently after I inherited a pair ofVictorian tub chairs, a sofa by midcentury British designer Ernest Race andsome Georgian dining chairs (depending on the type of work and the fabrics used,prices for these start at around £100). All were ragged and disembowelled, with leaking springs and hessian. I sent Daly photos of my rickety haul and wetalked through which fabrics would work best to give each piece a refreshingupdate. She uses everything from leather to felt to African Kente cloth, and isfull of ideas depending on what look you’re after. For the tub chairs, weagreed on a burnt orange suede by Danish company Kvadrat (the price for recovering was £495); for the sofa, acolourful weave by London-based Dashing Tweeds (£795).

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All the upholsteryis done by hand in Daly’s workshop in northwest London. In June, her newshowroom opens around the corner. Bespoke pieces,from intricately pleated headboards to reinvigorated armchairs adorned withher signature appliqué, form the collection; this includes the Chevron dining chair (first picture, £1,500). The detailing on all her work is exquisite (see the upholstered doors in leather and satin, second picture, price on request). Thespace has the air of an haute-couture salon, and there’s not a saggy–bottomedsofa in sight.

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