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November 24, 2014
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Reuse, recycle, restore it!

Mark Weller, co-owner of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc., is restoring a Victorian gentleman’s chair, circa 1880-1890.
Photos by Tammy Compton


“We’re a seven-day shop,” explains Mark. “I wake up every morning with way too much to do.” A smile finishes his sentence. He truly loves what he does.

With clientele stretching from Connecticut to New York, from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, his company is kept quite busy. Projects keep flooding in as their workmanship spreads by word of mouth and industry awards. He’s worked on carriages and surreys, a buckboard dating back to the 1830s, and a rollercoaster car from the original amusement park in nearby Lake Ariel.

Each new customer brings a new piece of history and heritage. “Sentimental value trumps most of the pieces I do here,” Mark says.

His favorite pieces to work on are from the Victorian era, like the antique gentleman’s chair he’s currently restoring for a customer. “Solid poplar finished in cherry, circa 1880 to 1890,” he says, smoothing a hand over the wood.

“I have a reverence for pieces,” he says. There’s no need to explain.

An unusual piece on a nearby table catches one’s eye. An obvious carving of sorts, it demands a closer look. It’s the leg of a marble-topped coffee table waiting to be lovingly restored. On closer inspection, it reveals itself to be an intricately carved swan; all four legs will match once Mark is able to place them back together.

“A family piece pulled out of an attic,” Mark shares. To an onlooker, it may seem just a jigsaw of pieces, but Mark has already envisioned it fully restored. His excitement is contagious.

The payback for all of their hard work? “Seeing [the piece] when it’s done,” says Judy. “Seeing people appreciate it when they get it back.”

No matter how challenging a piece may be, Andee says, “You can’t give up hope.” After 15 years of marriage, she knows her husband’s capabilities and just how hard he’ll work to restore someone’s treasure.

“We do full restoration on pieces. We try to follow the original intent and the original design,” he says.

Highly skilled in vintage furniture, the talented trio can also refurbish late-model furniture. Perhaps you have a favorite recliner or sofa that you just don’t wish to part with. If it’s got a good frame, then it’s worth re-upholstering.

“This is the most economical way to go,” says Mark. Depending on fabric selection and re-upholstery costs, most furniture can be restored for less than half of its original cost. “It’ll be rebuilt solid as a rock for less than half price, quality for quality,” Mark explained. “An upholsterer has an option of choosing better materials [to restore the piece].”