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 knocked out 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 she reupholstered my Victorian spoon-backed armchair in Florence Broadhurst Horses fabric (as a guide, similar pieces cost from around £600 to have recovered). Six years on, it is still as plump as a baby’s bottom despite having been bounced on by many a toddler.

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Our paths crossed again recently after I inherited a pair of Victorian tub chairs, a sofa by midcentury British designer Ernest Race and some 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 we talked through which fabrics would work best to give each piece a refreshing update. She uses everything from leather to felt to African Kente cloth, and is full of ideas depending on what look you’re after. For the tub chairs, we agreed on a burnt orange suede by Danish company Kvadrat (the price for recovering was £495); for the sofa, a colourful weave by London-based Dashing Tweeds (£795).

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All the upholstery is done by hand in Daly’s workshop in northwest London. In June, her new showroom opens around the corner. Bespoke pieces, from intricately pleated headboards to reinvigorated armchairs adorned with her 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). The space has the air of an haute-couture salon, and there’s not a saggy–bottomed sofa in sight.

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