What Is Upholstered Furniture?

Lorna Hordos

Upholstered furniture, namely chairs and sofas, have come a long way since the 17th century. Then, you might have sat upon a seat padded crudely with sawdust, grass or goat hair and covered with wool and linen, leather or material cut from a tapestry or rug -- or, in the 18th century, possibly horsehair fabric. Today's upholstery is about more than fabric and padding, however; it's an art in comfort, form and support.

Defining the Process

Upholstery includes a series of well-positioned materials.

Upholstery is not just a chair's visible fabric and trim. The Victoria and Albert Museum describes the upholstery process as creating stable shapes that provide comfort. An upholstered piece's individuality blooms from the furniture type and craftsman's style for seemingly endless combinations and creations.

Upholstery Materials

Upholstery covering can be fabric, leather or vinyl. Underneath, you'll find foams and maybe springs. Supplies for the chair-padding process can include upholstery thread, trim, glue and decking fabric under loose cushions.