Sharon O'Connor working on a chair using her upholstery skill

An update from Sharon O’Connor

I’m Sharon O’Connor from Vintique Upholstery and I thought it was about time to say ‘hello again’ to new followers and friends. It’s been a while since I started my blog – designed to spread the joy of upholstery as a business and an everlasting craft, but also, to show that we don’t need to accept boring furniture in our homes.

Sharon O'Connor sitting on her couch with her two dogs

If you’ve been following me since the start, I hope you’ve found inspiration, support, and some useful tips with my personal insight into the art of upholstery. To new followers, I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about all the other things that go on day-to-day behind the scenes here at Vintique Upholstery and the guts and grind that goes into running your own business. Whether you’re an upholsterer or working away at any other craft, we all have a story to tell, which is what makes each and every one of our businesses so unique.

So, back to the introduction… I suppose the best place to start is… well, at the beginning.

Back to the beginning

Lots of people ask me if I’ve always been an upholsterer and the answer is, ‘no’.

I lost my board role in fashion – an industry I’d loved for 18 years – when the recession hit in 2008. A year of job-hunting followed and I had to give up my lovely, rented loft apartment in London and move down to a smaller mid-Century maisonette in Teddington. I was on a mission to furnish the place on a budget and I managed to pick up a beautiful, old 1960s Guy Rogers day bed on eBay, which I decided to get re-upholstered.

Sharon O'Connor looking out the window

There was something about the whole process that sparked something in me. I loved choosing the fabric and seeing the quality and design of this piece being brought back to life. This is when a little idea started to grow in my head…

“What if I could I become an upholsterer and do this every day.”

Shortly afterward, I enrolled on a course with the Association of Master Upholsterers in Kendal. Upholstery training is not cheap. In fact, it’s eye-wateringly expensive. It meant making sacrifices, saying goodbye to most of the deposit I’d saved for a London home, and ditching the designer shoes and handbags. But – thankfully – by the end of the first week I was hooked. I’d never felt so exhilarated, and to see a piece I’d worked on the transform in front of my eyes was such a thrill.

I trained for four more years and saw a brighter future emerging. These days you’ll find me taking on a whole variety of commissions from my workshop in Sunbury-on-Thames. I’ve also been lucky enough to appear as a resident upholstery expert on the BBC’s Money for Nothing makeover show.

Sharon O'Connor sitting on her workbench

The joy of fixing things and putting them back together

In a strange way, I’m kind of pleased that the recession happened. It opened me up to a beautiful craft and profession that I work in every day. I get to meet so many interesting people who bring me their furniture. Some are treasured pieces from their past, others are modern pieces from the present, and many have emotional or nostalgic connections. It’s my honor to be trusted with items, some of which may have been in people’s families for generations, others for maybe only a few years. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than fix things, put them back together, modernise and refresh for a new space for families to enjoy for the next generation.

Sharon O'Connor working on a chair using her upholstery skill

Most recently, I’ve set up my own online beginner’s guide to upholstery. Virtual Vintique: Upholstery Uncovered is my take on everything you need to know if you’re considering pursuing upholstery as a new hobby or even thinking about a career in it. It’s EVERYTHING I wish I’d known before I got started. Barely a day goes by when I don’t get an email or a DM from an upholstery novice asking a question or wanting to find out more. I knew I had to help.

So, that’s me. I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog via this form and join me on the journey.

If you need help with an upholstery project, drop me a line for an initial, no-obligation quote by filling in the online contact form. Alternatively, you can email me directly at or call me on 07764 182 783.

If you’re thinking of learning the craft of upholstery, you can sign up to my total beginner’s guide Virtual Vintique: Upholstery Uncovered, and take the first step towards seeing if learning upholstery could be for you.

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