The Upholstery Shop Girl: Georgia English
At her shop in Lyons, a lifelong seamstress revives history while reconstructing well-loved furniture
Photos by Eleanor Williamson
Upholstery wasn’t Georgia English’s first career choice. “I would’ve toured the world in a punk rock band if I could’ve,” she says. But when she and her husband, David, decided to have children, she instead turned to her lifelong proclivity for needle and thread.
Growing up in Australia with an interior designer mother, English taught herself to sew on her mother’s machine, stitching together fabric scraps to create clothes for her dolls and later altering her own clothes. Years after moving stateside to earn her master’s in fiction and poetry at Johns Hopkins University, she found herself at home with twin boys during the day and began sewing her own clothing line to help support her family. She lived out her center-stage fantasy by crafting Peach Pavlova, a collection of one-off women’s pieces she describes as “a little eccentric, a little punk rock.”
English (at left) and upholsterer Angie Heitger stitch away in their Lyons shop, where fabric, yarn and vintage furnishings abound.
After stints in multiple states, English and her husband landed in Lyons in 2007 with dreams of raising their children in a tight-knit Western community. After a few unsuccessful attempts at finding a collegiate teaching job close to Lyons, she stumbled upon The Upholstery Shop, a 1,400-square-foot building off Main Street. “I dropped in to ask what kind of course I should do in upholstery so that I could get a job there,” she recalls. “They said, ‘If you’re willing to come in each day, we’re willing to train you.’ ” English apprenticed under the shop’s original owner, Bill Adams, for three years, and quickly fell for the trade.
“With upholstery, each piece of furniture and swatch of fabric is individual and unique,” she says. “Every day was something different and new to learn. I loved that about it.”
Once worn and marked, this heirloom wingback chair was updated with a fresh white damask fabric.
Now, as owner of The Upholstery Shop, English transforms well-loved antiques and thrift store finds into modern marvels for the Lyons, Boulder, Longmont and Estes Park areas. Alongside her team of three upholsterers, English strips each piece of its original fabric, repairs any damaged wood or springs, replaces its foam cushions, and sews on new fabric selected from the shop’s 300,000 sources. Each project is guaranteed to be completed and delivered within a month, a physically demanding feat that sometimes results in 16-hour days. But for English, the tired feet and calloused hands are worth it.
“I think in this day and age of Ikea and Furniture Warehouse, upholstery is a dying art,” she says. “But it’s important to preserve the history of these pieces and make them come to life again, not to throw away things that could be fixed and made beautiful.”