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Furniture Restoration Process: An Interview with Kim Tang of Contempo Custom Upholstery

By Kim Tang

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Contempo Upholstery is my father's passion. It was one of the first skilled trade jobs learned since we came here from Vietnam in the 70s. He started work in Salt Lake City where we first lived and shortly after moved here to the Bay Area where he opened up Contempo Upholstery.

If you could, please list the steps of the general furniture restoration process:

1. Email or call us to set up an appointment for a free in home estimate. Some of our clients like to email us photos of their pieces which is great also.

2. Choose your fabric- you can use your own or you can choose from our selection. Keep in mind, we buy directly from the fabric suppliers and most of the time our pricing is better then what you can find outside.

3. Discuss what you'd like to change or not change with our estimator.

4. Order placed- once your order is placed we will go ahead and order the fabric.

5. Schedule pick up- once your fabric arrives, we will contact you to schedule a pick up date.

6. Once picked up turnaround takes approximately 2 weeks.

What are general restoration techniques that you use?

All of the furniture is stripped down to the frame. Depending on what type of furniture it is, panels are removed and measured. Springs are retied. Fabric is cut and measured. Foam is replaced and cut. Cushions and pillows are re-stuffed or replaced with new filling.

How can a client tell if their piece is able to be restored?

That's easy, about 97% of all furniture can be reupholstered. The only exceptions are those with unusual shapes or curves. Sometimes the manufacture has special machines to bend and stretch the fabric which is something local upholstery shops don't equip for.

How do you suggest clients prepare for a this process?

I recommend our clients to take a look at their existing furniture and then take a look around the room where the furniture sits. Imagine what type of fabric, color and pattern will blend well with the room. That is the hardest part in the process. Choosing the right fabric.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to restoring furniture?

We don't get too many issues that arise internally. One of the more common ones fabric problems. Sometimes our clients look at a small sample decide that is the one they want. Once it is put on their furniture some say it looks very different and not what they imagined. That's why it's very important to make sure the right fabric gets selected the first time around.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

The best way is through our website at You will find all the different ways you can contact us there.

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About The Author

Kim Tang is the Owner and Manager of Contempo Custom Upholstery.

Phone: 408-629-1668

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