Reupholstered Parker Knoll sofa

My top 3 favourite furniture designs

In my line of work, I come across all kinds of furniture. From genuine antiques to modern classics, the everyday to the extraordinary and all kinds of things in between, I’ve seen it (almost) all. We all know that chairs and sofas come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. There are petite armchairs and vast, over-sized sofas – and I reckon I have worked on a piece from every single decade in the 20th Century. And then there’s the breadth of variety in their condition. Some pieces come to me almost completely wrecked. Others are in perfectly good nick, requiring nothing more than a little cosmetic enhancement.

While it’s hard to choose a favourite from the multitude of projects and revamps I’ve taken on, there are certain pieces that will always be a winner. These represent the styles or brands that I know will be a challenge I’ll relish, regardless of the state they’re in. Here’s my top three…

The Chesterfield

This iconic sofa is one of the most recognisable pieces of furniture in the world. Believed to date back to the 1700s, the style got its name from the fourth Earl of Chesterfield. It’s said the Earl wanted somewhere for gentlemen to sit without creasing their suits, so he employed a local craftsman to come up with a solution. The result is a luxury (usually leather) structure with deep seats, a low back and high arms. Supportive and comfortable, it’s an incredible feat of furniture engineering.

The deep-set buttoning which has become a feature of the Chesterfield didn’t come about until the Victorian era, but it’s one of the biggest upholstery challenges today. Reinstating a fully buttoned seat back in leather is a task we can all dread, but while it’s complex and time-consuming, there’s still nothing quite as satisfying as transforming a statuesque Chesterfield to its former glory.

Timeless and distinguished, it’s a design that has remained versatile and popular. Just as likely to be seen at an exclusive private members club or a smart hotel lobby as a modern sitting room, this style of sofa was even the chosen design for psychologist Sigmund Freud’s therapy couch.

I just love it, so much so that I have a neatly proportioned version in my home. Quite simply, it’s one of those rare pieces of furniture that will never go out of style.

Old sofa in need of reupholstering

Reupholstered Chesterfield sofa


Celebrating its 100th year in 2020, Ercol was created by Lucian Ercolani in 1920. Still going strong today, it’s a brand that has won awards not just for its designs, but also its sustainability and environmental innovations.

As a company, Ercol perfected the art of steam bending wood in large quantities during the 1940s and it’s these elegant curves that can still be seen in its most widely recognisable designs today. The post-war era heralded a demand for smaller and more simple furniture, rather than the chunky styles of the past, and Ercol led the way.

Celebrating the beauty of wood is a key feature in all of Ercol’s designs with elm, ash, beech, oak and walnut from naturally regenerative forests all featured in its range. I can’t lie, sanding an Ercol back to its bare wood is a tricky process, but always worth the effort. And while maybe not known for its comfort, Ercol’s furniture is unrivalled in the refined and dainty visual impact of its delicate spindles, tapered legs and simple lines.

I’m a total fan of the mid-Century modern revival and there aren’t many manufacturers who capture it as well as Ercol. If you can get your hands on a vintage piece I’d say go for it!

Ercol wooden chair

Reupholstered Ercol wooden chair

Parker Knoll

I’m almost certain I’ve been commissioned to reupholster more Parker Knolls than any other furniture brand. Although perhaps seen as the ‘steady Eddie’ of the furniture world, you can’t argue with the quality and craftsmanship of these well-made chairs and sofas. Part of the appeal for me is in their versatility. As an upholsterer, I can do almost anything with them and I’m never afraid to experiment with a whole range of colours and patterns and prints.

Established over 150 years ago by cabinet maker Frederick Parker, the company is known for being exquisitely comfortable and remarkably good quality. Rarely do I have to do any repairs on a Parker Knoll – even on a sofa which might have been sat on for over 50 years. Lots of people have fond memories of growing up with a Parker Knoll in the house and while it’s a nostalgic brand, the designs are still relevant today. The huge amount that have passed through my studio proves I’m not the only person who loves them.

Old Parker Knoll sofa

Reupholstered Parker Knoll sofa

Do you have a design classic than needs an update? 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

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