Tips and Guides

Breathe New Life into an Old Chair

Give an old chair a personality to match your own. With a variety of treatments and a multitude of fabrics, the possibilities are endless


Has your chair or sofa seen better days? Sit back and relax—we’ve got them covered. Furniture designer Raymund G. Agana offers three ways of breathing new life into old furniture. His advice for those who are interested in giving their furniture pieces a makeover: “Choose your fabric according to your lifestyle, needs, surrounding purpose, and aesthetic sense. Browse through magazines, and if you find the look that you want, ask your upholsterer to copy exactly what is in the picture. They usually make better works if there is a visual example.”

Styling by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Ocs Alvarez.

Read the original article ("One Chair, Three Looks”) in the January-February 2006 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  


“Upholstery” refers to permanently attached covers. Because re-upholstering can be a bit pricey, make sure that you choose a durable, upholstery-gauge fabric in a color you can live with for some time. While solids and neutrals may be the safer choice, don’t overlook the power of prints and bold colors. The printed burgundy fabric used here (Hagia Sophia Burgundy, Townes) perfectly complements the classic Georgian-style chair, turning it into a lovely accent piece. 

TIP: Prolong the life of your upholstered furniture—clean it regularly to keep everyday dust and dirt from settling in. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight to keep the fabric from fading. 

Raymund says: “If the sofa is worn out, have the seat and back cushions changed into new foam. Also, add extra foam for the hand rest so you won’t feel the wood, and to give the entire sofa a fresh new look.”

Loose Cushion Cover

A loose cushion cover allows you to change the look of a chair without having it re-upholstered. Think of it as a partial slipcover: the fabric around the cushion can be removed without difficulty. This allows you to mix and match fabrics on a single chair. 

Textured fabric has the advantage of being better able to withstand and disguise everyday wear and tear, and can give a room more dimension.

TIP: Flip loose cushions over once a month. This will ensure that both sides wear out evenly over time.

Raymund says: “If you want the soft and plush feel, use cotton fiber [as a cushion filler]. A good but inexpensive substitute would be crushed or serrated foam.”


A slipcover is considered clothing for furniture—it can easily be slipped on and off, and can instantly alter the look of a room. It is ideal for families with young children and pets, protecting furniture from spills and soiling. For these reasons, slipcovers are a practical choice. They can be changed depending on the season, the occasion, or even your mood. They aren’t just for sofas anymore, and many home stores now carry ready-made versions. A custom-made slipcover, however, would most likely fit better and could cover even oddly shaped furniture. 

TIP: If you wish to use a slipcover to protect furniture from your pets, choose a fabric that won’t snag on kitty’s claws—avoid silks and tweeds.

Raymund says: “It takes years and lots of upholstery works for a good upholsterer to make slipcovers perfectly. You just have to find the right upholsterer through recommendations or actual encounters.”


Interested in getting custom-made furniture? Got a sofa or chair that needs re-upholstering? Visit Raymund G. Agana Designs at 21 Pottsdam St., Cubao, Quezon City. Contact Raymund at (02) 912-4855 or 0917-895-0902. He also offers interior design services.


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