Reuse or Replace?

Appears in the July 2024 issue.

The kitchen in the Western Springs home

Why remove when you can reupholster? That’s one of designer Christie Hines’s guiding philosophies. “I really get the most pride and joy out of repurposing things,” she says. “For so many people, their knee-jerk reaction is to get rid of it all. I don’t like to do that—I like to take existing things that maybe are tired and old, but if they have good bones, you can redo them and reuse them in a different way.”

Whether a piece is antique or contemporary, its sturdiness helps determine if it’s a good candidate for reupholstering. For this Western Springs renovation, Hines kept the homeowners’ existing black leather kitchen counter stools from CB2 and had Brookfield Upholstery recover them in a gold shade of contractor-grade velvet (photo 2).

The cost of labor and new fabric does add up, but it can be worth it in some cases. “I found a chaise lounge from 1890 on Facebook Marketplace and I bought it for $50,” Hines says. “My upholsterer said, ‘Christie, this is going to cost $2,000 to redo. Are you sure?’ But to me, it’s totally worth it. It’s now modernized and super comfortable and it’s my kids’ favorite thing to sleep on. And a new one would have cost $4,000.”


Photo: A to Z Photography by Suzanne Kotel