Re-Upholstering for Less

We all know that re-upholstering can get expensive.  So, it’s always good to know of less expensive ways of getting it done.

I just ran across a well kept local decorating secret.  That secret is that there are inmates in the Arizona Department of Corrections who can reupholster and refinish your furniture – welting, tufting, pleating, staining, cushion rebuilding and all.

Their work is almost half the price of most upholsterers.   Now, I have never used them, so I have no idea how great they are at what they do!  But, I thought it was an interesting thought.

Michael McNamara/The Arizona Republic

Here is how I understand that it works.  You make an appointment to bring your furniture to their office in west Phoenix.   You go over what you need done.  Fabric is sold on-site, but it’s cheaper and best to bring your own.

couch_refurbishing_before   couch_refurbishing_after

The furniture then gets transported to the prison and you’ll get a phone call with a quote.  Online, I noticed these prices:  $200 for a wingback armchair, $400-700 for a sofa.

You can agree to the price or you can set up a time to pick it back up with no work done. 

Michael McNamara/The Arizona Republic

These inmates are in their workroom for 7 1/2 hours each day, so they have time to do quality work.  The upholstery program at the prison starts as a class, and then becomes a job. It’s actually a reward for good behavior and requires an interview to get in.

The prisoners also refinish furniture. They can even carve a missing chair leg from scratch.   Or, build an entire piece.  Bring them a picture from the Pottery Barn catalog, and they create it.

Arizona Correctional Industries employs about 1,700 inmates.  With a couple of million dollars in profit for the state each year, the work helps inmates save money for after their release. It creates jobs for private citizens, too.

Inmates help out in various forms in Arizona: at Hickman’s Family Farms, at Willcox-grown Eurofresh tomatoes, making license plates, and fighting summer forest fires.

The inmates’ work happens to be for sale in Florence at the Prison Outlet store.  It’s open to the public.   For more info, visit

Richmond Thrifter used her local prison for upholstery.  Here is a chair they did for her.  Note that she lives in VA and reported really low prices like $25 for a chair!

Have you ever used a program like this?


  1. That sounds like a fantastic program, what a wonderful idea!

  2. I saw another blog post about this recently…actually, she had 2 posts. Here is one of them:

  3. Hyphen Interiors

    Ahh, how awesome! I wish our was THAT cheap! That’s amazing. I’d be all over it!! Thanks for the link.

  4. Sarah @ living with mold illness

    What an awesome thing! So cool that you found out about it!!!

  5. Christina L. de Armas

    How cool is that…

  6. Interesting. I've never heard of this!

  7. Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door

    I have never heard of this! What a great program. I hope it truly helps the inmates to have a skill to take with them when they are released.

  8. Wow, I am going to have to look into that for CA, great post, never heard of this before.

  9. The Vazquez Family

    Thank you so much for the link to the VA information. Between Craigslist and this, redoing the living room should be much more cost effective!

  10. Richmond Thrifter

    Thanks so much for the shout out!!! Newest follower! Love your wreath in your last post too! So cute!

  11. White Lacquer

    I had no idea!!! Thats amazing! I'll for sure be hitting up the one in AZ. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

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