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Take some horse hair, foam, springs, felt, webbing and wool and – hey presto, you have a chair!
The art of the restorer
“I wish it was as easy as that,” smiles Steve Newton, who owns Custom Interiors & Covers at Ivybridge.
With colleague John Loveridge doing the woodwork and Steve on the upholstery it can take a week to create or restore a chair.
But it is still magic seeing a piece of born-again excellence emerge pristine from a life-expired piece of furniture.
Steve began the business 11 years ago and has been based at Erme Bridge, Ivybridge for the past two years.
“We do everything from antique furniture and three-piece suites to cushions and covers, and boat and cockpit interiors,” he says.
Vehicle upholstery is also much in demand as new fabrics, soft faux leather and leather can bring back the feeling of luxury to a car where the interior is worn and cracked.
Marine upholstery carried out at Custom Interiors & Covers provides both traditional and contemporary styles. Interior and exterior seat covers, speed boat hoods, and memory foam in the seating and sleeping areas are all part of the service.
Back on dry land and restoration and reupholstery of antique furniture keeps the Ivybridge workshop busy. Revarnishing, mending broken furniture and stripping down and rebuilding is all part of the service.
As a schoolboy Steve’s ambition was to be a carpenter and joiner.
“My mum made me sit down on a Saturday morning and ring around, but I couldn’t find anyone who wanted a carpenter and joiner.” he recalls.
But he was offered the chance of becoming an apprentice upholsterer – which fortunately involved a year in the joinery shop creating wooden frames and a lot of custom-made benches.
His workshop s brimming with jobs on the go, his order hook can range from creating the interior for two Morgan 200 bow riders built by Seahawk to putting new foam in a set of cushions.
He is currently making a drum stool for American rapper Will.i.am who requested material that costs £250 a meter. The musician heard of Steve’s skills after the upholsterer did work for international artist Rory Dobner – who is now branching out into the upholstery market.
Keeping an eye on all the action, from the comfort of settee awaiting restoration, are his two pet lurchers – the light coloured Gypsey and her daughter Tia.
“Some of our jobs are seasonal,” explains Steve.
“In October the boats come out of the water and their owners like to have the interiors and boat covers done.
“Then there is the mad rush for people wanting their three-piece suites and fireside chairs, and antique chairs to look pretty for Christmas.”
A “couple of quiet months” follow in the New Year – and then the pace builds up for the Easter.
“We can replace the interiors and, if someone was getting fed up with their suite, we could replace the seat covers and cushions and give it a new lease of life,” says Steve.
“We used a wide range of quality materials as well as customers, own materials.
“We are also specialists in leather work, we are one of a few remaining traditional upholsterers in the region.
“At our workshop we can do something from beginning to finish. We offer ability, knowledge and experience,” he says.