In conversation with Micaela Sharp
Micaela Sharp is a professional upholsterer, interior designer and broadcaster passionate about sustainability and quality.
You might know her from her impressive journey as a contestant on Season Two of Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr, where she came joint third. She was also a designer on Changing Rooms, and currently contributes her talents to the Woodland Workshop team on Discovery+ where she makes bespoke upholstery for deserving people.
As upholstery forms such a big part of what we do here at Louise Booyens Interiors, I asked Micaela to talk to me about her passion for upholstery. So, find a comfortable seat, get yourself a drink and enjoy this wonderful interview.
If we all took complete ownership for every item bought and we accepted that we would have it for life, we would shop much slower and more considered.
- Micaela Sharp
How would you describe your personal style when it comes to your own home?
I love colour and pattern and always gravitate towards craftsmanship. I try to take a sustainable approach to design by always first considering what already exists in a space, than vintage and lastly, where needed, new items.
What first drew you to upholstery?
I wanted to learn a new skill that was physical. I had a craving to be stood up making something tangible and felt a pull to upholstery. As a child I loved crafting and always wanted to be making things: everything from candles to jewellery. Somehow as I got older that love dwindled and I found myself working in an office without a creative output but once I started learning upholstery I knew I wanted to get back to crafting and making again.
What is your favourite thing about upholstery?
I love taking something old that perhaps people have known to look one way their whole lives and transforming it. Grandmas brown velvet chair is revived and pride of place now in a vibrant fabric. The ability to rescue a piece and make it desirable again is very powerful.
Why is re-upholstery and working with pre-loved furniture so important to you?
I try to take a sustainable approach wherever I can with design and so re-upholstery speaks to the very heart of that. Rather than buying a new sofa we can transform the sofa we already have. If we all took complete ownership for every item bought and we accepted that we would have it for life, we would shop much slower and more considered. And we would redesign items a lot more to make them totally bespoke for our own needs and style.
What are some of your favourite fabrics to work with?
Where do you source the fabrics you use in your upholstery? Where do you look for second hand furniture to restore?
I try to support indie brands for fabrics as much as possible. My current obsession is Colours of Arley as you can design your own stripe choosing from their hundreds of colours. For furniture sourcing I avoid expensive vintage retailers with curated shops as they have already added their markup. Instead I focus on car boot fairs, charity shops and places like Freecycle to rescue items that are perhaps damaged, stained or a bit drab as they will be striped back and reupholstered anyway.
When upholstering for yourself, or when advising a client, how do you decide to match a piece of furniture with a certain type of fabric?
Any item can have any texture of fabric on it. Really its about practicalities like the martindale (how durable a fabric is), stain resistance, being colourfast and being fire resistant. Getting these elements right will help give a piece much more longevity. And making the fabric bold and vibrant will help to make it a stand out piece and worth the investment of reupholstery.
Do you have any tips for increasing the longevity of furniture?
As above really. Choosing fabrics that suit your needs for the specific item i.e. using a stain resistant fabric if you have children or pets (or clumsy guests). Spraying with Scotch Guard if the fabric isn't stain resistant.
What made you want to start your brand Studio Janettie, and where did you find inspiration for the collection?
I started Studio Janettie with friend Charlotte Beevor as we both share a love of colour and pattern and wanted to create modern day heirlooms. Pieces that are limited edition, sustainably made and joyful that will be treasured for generations.
If you want to give upholstery a try, you could take a look at Micaela's online course with Create Academy - https://bit.ly/upholstery-course. She is also available for interior design projects globally https://micaelasharpdesign.com/