Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor

My living room furniture cried out in pain. “I’m ripped and saggy!” sobbed the couch. “I look old and faded!” griped the chair. I procrastinated buying replacements because, as I mentioned in my blog Inanimate Objects Are Dearer Than They Appear, I’m attached to my old belongings. I reluctantly promised my treasured items I’d put them out of their misery.

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When I began my quest to replace them, I intended to set them at the curb on trash day. I searched everywhere for the perfect couch and chair, sometimes bringing along a tape measure. My house was built in 1918, and the living room is small. The dimensions must be within a certain range.

I looked at several Art Van Furniture stores. They had sofas with nice fabrics and a lot of variety. I walked around Gorman’s and didn’t think I could afford anything even if the measurements added up, which they didn’t. Macy’s seems to specialize in sectionals and furniture for big living rooms. I considered something funky and unique from Living Modes in Ferndale, but nothing spoke to me. I liked an over-sized couch at Bright Ideas in Royal Oak, but it was too long for my space. Same problem at Pottery Barn, Sears, and White Furniture in Wyandotte.

I held the highest hopes for Gardner-White. They have great sales, send fliers in the mail, and I was able to pre-shop online. I found a couch and chair I loved. I went home and measured again. Nope. If I wanted a sofa with deep cushions to accommodate two people, it would block my staircase. Apparently, when I bought my furniture from Hudson’s in 1997, wide, deep cushions were in style. Not so much anymore.

Hudson's couch

Vicki’s old couch (credit: Vicki Briganti)

Something Old Is Something New

I shared my feelings of frustration with my dad. Unwilling to settle for a small cushioned couch, with no intention of moving, I felt certain my fate was to tolerate the tears and tears of my long-suffering furniture for years to come. Like an oozing sore, the seat cushions had split open, spilling polyester fibers. I’d already swaddled them with soft blankets like a soothing Band-Aid.

Ya know what? My brilliant dad, never having had a single item reupholstered, suggested this very option to me. “If the springs and wood are structurally intact, why couldn’t you have it reupholstered?” Hooray! Dad’s idea comes to the rescue. I found Dimitrie Upholstering on Main in Royal Oak, right at the end of my street.

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Of course, picking out fabric from thousands of options proved an anxiety-laden, two-month task. It’s difficult trying to figure out what a seven-foot item will look like based on seven inches of sample material. To be clear, reupholstering something as large as a couch and chair is expensive. It’s much cheaper to buy a new living room set. I felt the stress of choosing a pattern I might have for another 10-15 years.

The makeover process took a month. During the wait, I sat on the living room floor in eager anticipation of being reunited with my old/new friends. Were they being treated well during their face-lift? Would the pillows feel the same after a collagen-like puffy infusion? Would the new color be too dark for the room?

Dimitrie Upholstering

Vicki’s new couch (credit: Vicki Briganti)

One by one, the couch then the chair arrived in the back of the Dimitrie Upholstering truck. I rushed to the front door to welcome them home. I was in shock. I did not recognize these strangers. “It looks like I bought new furniture at the store,” I said. “Better,” said Bob Dimitrie.

I wondered: How could it be better than new? Well, they sewed pockets around the zippers and twisted edges along the borders. As they say, you get what you pay for. I now have custom, homemade furniture. I feel almost guilty sitting on handcrafted works of art. I want to rope it off like in a museum and hang a sign that says, “Please do not sit or lean on the furniture.”

If you have furniture worth salvaging, I recommend calling the Dimitrie brothers: Dave, Bob, and Dennis. They were on time for three visits to my home. They provide the highest quality of customer service and attention to detail. To find out more, go to Dimitrie Upholstering.

Maybe you’ll be as proud as I am to support a small, locally owned, Michigan family business.

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