Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Non-Fiction Review: Spruce: A Step by Step Guide to Upholstery andDesign

This is the only book you ll need to learn the craft and art of upholstery from start to finish. With clear instructions illustrated by more than 900 step-by-step photographs, the five projects included here are designed to teach all of the techniques and skills you need to reupholster any piece of furniture to suit your own taste and style.

Spruce: A Step by Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Brown, Amanda. (2013). [Genre: Design, DIY]

Goodreads|Book Depository 

I received at advance reader copy of this title thanks to Storey Publishing. All opinions are my own.

Upholstery is something I've been wanting to dabble my hand in for a long while. I've even checked out a few books from the library on the topic. But all the books I've found have been at least 30 years old, with limited scope and confusing/lacking instructions. Or some combination there of. Spruce is different.

Firstly, its clean and modern. The pages aren't to cluttered, there's lots of white space and it has a nice, easy on the eye colour palette. So much better than all those 70's titles with orange drawings and so much small, crammed text that it's enough to make your head explode. The approach in Spruce is deceptively simple. It only contains 5 in-depth projects: an ottoman, a three-seater sofa, a wing back chair, a pair of slipper chairs and a louis chair. But it provides a genius mix-and-match guide which means that with a little in-depth reading and minimal adapting, you can reupholster anything yourself. It's surprisingly effective; reading through the instructions for each piece it was easy to see how they could be applied to completely different pieces. A final chapter gives helpful (if not as detailed) instructions for sewing matching soft furnishings. The appendix contains plenty (like a bucketload) of useful advice, from essentials in settling up your own upholstery business to fabric variations.

The instructions in Spruce are detailed, thorough and seem achievable if you follow them closely and carefully. The photos and drawings are very clear, and add to the instructions rather than making them more complex.

If I have one small criticism to make its that I wouldn't feel comfortable as a DIY-er just jumping in to upholstery on a Sunday afternoon with this book as my guide. Spruce is almost too professional. The tools are numerous and expensive, the processes lengthy. To some extent this is the reality of fantastic looking upholstery, but on the other hand I've seen other titles that are far more DIY friendly (even if offering a less polished look).

Overall, Spruce is a genuinely interesting and attractive package. Even if it made me more scared of home upholstery than I was before. I'm not sure if I'll be tackling my old wingback quite yet.

4 stars

Spruce: A Step by Step Guide to Upholstery and Design comes out October 2nd


  1. What a cool hobby to get into! I'll be interested to see if you find a book that lets you get started with something more manageable :)

  2. Hi, thank you for writing about Spruce! If you do end up doing some upholstery projects, tag us on Twitter (@sprucehome) or Instagram (@spruceupholstery). Also, we'd love it if you could share your review on Amazon: Thank you!