Interview with Master Upholsterer, Nicole Crowder.

Nicole Crowder shares with us her well-earned expertise and wisdom about the world of upholstery.

So, how did you get your start in upholstery?

I got into upholstery in 2012 and was inspired by chair designs that I had seen online and also just the possibility of what I could do with fabric. I loved the idea that I could give a chair or a piece of furniture a whole new personality or identity just by switching out the fabric, and then later finding out that I could amplify that even more by using different textures and materials. So my love for the limitless possibilities and upholstery are what have made me curious about becoming an upholsterer and have sustained me through this craft.

Do you have a ‘preferred’ go-to fabric that you like to work with?

My preferred go-to fabric changes every season, but I love a heavy-duty embroidered fabric I realized. The fabrics that I kept gravitating toward all had this intricate embroidery with thick threads and beautifully woven designs. I find that embroidery, the colors are really vibrant, and I love the texture that embroidery has when you run your fingers over it. It’s slightly raised. I love that embroidery allows you to create a really fine accent on a chair without overwhelming it. And I like the weight of a lot of embroidered fabrics. I just find that in terms of designs, they are a bit more unique. Kovi Fabrics has some gorgeous embroidered fabrics that I am working with now for a settee I am reupholstering. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring upholsterers and DIY-ers?

Something I would pass on to aspiring DIYers is to enjoy the experimentation process before jumping leaps and bounds ahead with how the design will be received or how you will monetize it. Enjoy the discovery phase because you might realize that you actually have a very specific skill set, and that’s worth tending to and learning about before rushing to establish your brand or name or monetizing. Make mistakes and have compassion for yourself through that. It’s part of the process. 

What has been your most challenging upholstery project?

A project that has challenged me are the projects I haven’t yet mastered. There are so many chair designs—primarily Danish models—that have an intricacy of the weaving and the shape that I’m still learning and making mistakes through learning. Since I am self-taught, the challenge is learning the technical skills to master some of the chair’s mechanics when reupholstering it. So I watch lots of videos and ask questions to fellow upholsters I admire. 

Have you seen an uptick in the demand for upholstery as people become more aware of sustainability, and living a more eco-friendly lifestyle?

I have definitely seen an uptick in people wanting to preserve their furniture, and that makes me incredibly happy. Not just as a business owner, but as someone who believes passionately about predefined and repurposing things you already own and giving them a fresh personality or use.

I have had such an increase in requests, that, like many upholsters, I have closed my new client books this year. 

Do you upholster your own furniture?

Strangely, I rarely reupholster my own furniture. I have redone my dining chairs in mixed black and white prints, but I am much more interested in sourcing furniture from second-hand shops, antique markets, vintage sellers, etc, and then coming up with elaborate designs and reupholstering chairs to sell or showcase. I don’t look around my home too often to see what I can change, but the option is great to have.

Nicole Crowder Upholstery

KOVI Fabrics 2021

1 thought on “Interview with Master Upholsterer, Nicole Crowder.”

  1. Hi Nicole ,
    I have two chairs that I need to upholster and I plan to do it it myself , what is the best way to start upholstery , any websites or tips on how to start , thank you.


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