Iluka upholsterer stitches into a revolution in up-cycling
THE rising popularity of upcycling items is also bringing the specialised art of furniture upholstery back into the limelight as more and people not only appreciate the beauty of older pieces but also the environmental benefits of re-purposing items that were destined for the rubbish tip.
David Hole, from Whole Furniture in Iluka, is a qualified 'old-school' upholsterer who learned this specialist trade in his home country of New Zealand as a 15-year-old apprentice.
"I can even remember what I was earning - five pounds, one penny a week," David recalls, like it was yesterday.
After moving to Australia and running an extremely busy business on the Gold Coast specialising in padded bed heads and curtain pelmets, David and his partner Stacey Goodwin Hole decided after 20 years they had had enough of life in the fast lane.
After a holiday in Iluka, the appeal of the town's laidback nature drew them in, as it has done for much of the town's population.
"We were watching the dolphins from the pub and that was it.
"We were moving here."
That was about seven years ago, the couple running a coffee shop in the main street for about four years before David headed back to his upholstering roots, downsizing to a one-man (and woman) show this time around, and it wasn't long before word spread about his prowess in rejuvenating furniture.
"A lot of people use to comment on the chairs David did for the cafe and realised there was a high level of artistry in his work.
"You really need to have patience to work in a trade like this," Stacey said.
David said he enjoyed working with bold colours and patterns and experimenting by juxtaposing unusual combinations to create quirky one-off pieces.
He only uses quality Warwick Fabrics, a rainbow of samples covering the walls of his Charles Lane shed/office which also houses a range of furniture in various states of repair.
In fact, David's use of the prestigious Australian company's products on one of his restoration jobs so impressed them they left a glowing message on their Facebook site.
"They rarely make comments so that was a fairly impressive compliment to receive", Stacey said.
David said while the cost of reupholstering can seem expensive, if it's a quality piece, it is well worth the investment.
"A lot of the inquiries come from people who have purchased cheap factory-produced lounge suites in bonded leather which only last three or four years before the wear and tear begins to show.
"I'll explain the work and cost then they say they could buy a whole new suite for the same price."
He said it is hard to compete with Chinese imports like that, but believed there was still a lost of interest from people who are attached to pieces or want something special made up and agreed there was an upcycling revolution going on at the moment.
"That seems to be the word of the moment.
"I've been doing upholstery here for three years, but it's only been in the past eight months that it has really taken off.
"Social media has really helped increase interest in my work with locals and holidaying clients."
He points to the rather worn chaise lounge that a customer has left to be restored. "I think that one was picked up on the side road."
"These kinds of antiques aren't worth that much as they used to be.
"They used to bring shipping containers full of that English stuff over here. Now everyone is into the Danish-style mid-century furniture."
David points to an old chair and says: "It can seem like a brown ugly thing, but if it's got good lines you can really transform it into something special."
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