Weaving Their Stories

Upholsterer gives much-loved furniture new leases on life.
Kristen Vidmar, owner of More Than a Story Reupholstery, showcases the "before" and "after" of a chair she recently restored.

Nothing brings Kristen Vidmar more satisfaction than redoing a lifeless piece of furniture, creating a brand new feel with perfectly paired fabric. With her business, More Than a Story Reupholstery, she creates a fresh look for old pieces while uplifting her clients’ spirits in the transformation.

The full-time wife, mother and upholsterer also substitute teaches at St. Hubert’s  School in Chanhassen along with running her reupholstery business. “It started about five years ago,” Vidmar says. “I always did little things in the house like recovering the kitchen bar stools. Then I started getting excited about refinishing furniture—looking through thrift shops and wanting to refinish [pieces]. I’d find some awesome chairs and think, ‘I can make these cute.’ So I just started investing time doing these projects.”

With prompting from friends, Vidmar sold her reupholstered pieces in consignment stores and eventually took on her own projects from clients. Just over a year ago, her hobby officially turned into a business—More Than a Story Reupholstery, a name Vidmar coined after she discovered her work went far deeper than just updating furniture.

“The biggest thing with these stories is you get to see this awesome transformation,” Vidmar says. “You see in some cases, ugly, worn out, disgusting, gross, dirty, spilled-on furniture become this brand new, one-of-a-kind piece that people get to start their new chapters and their new lives with.”

Vidmar vividly remembers one woman who came to her with a set of living room chairs that were in bad shape. Vidmar didn’t know why the woman desperately wanted them redone when buying a brand new set would have been far more practical.

During a phone call about pricing, the woman opened up to Vidmar. “She told me she was in an abusive relationship and had finally moved out,” Vidmar explains. “She told me, ‘Someday, I'm going to have my own safe place, and these chairs are coming with me.’” The woman had even selected fabric for the finished project she envisioned.

Vidmar tackled the project, and once the fresh set of chairs was delivered to the woman’s townhome, “It was amazing,” Vidmar says. The two women sat on the refurbished chairs and talked. “They were the last two pieces to make it her home,” Vidmar says. “And for her to share with me that she was in this abusive relationship—she didn’t need to do that.” But Vidmar finds people are willing and often want to open up about a piece of furniture with which they have an emotional connection.

With the theme behind her business, More Than a Story, Vidmar is comfortable, knowing she’s settled in to the right business space. “I know I am someone who cannot sit behind a desk; I want to be with people. I want to share in their lives, so what better way to do something you love, to meet these really neat people and learn about their stories.”   

Vidmar’s 1-2-3 Upholstery Advice

  1. “When using a fabric with a repeating pattern, don’t forget to check where your centers are. You could end up with a really funky looking chair.”
  2. “When taking a piece apart, write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. on each piece. Every piece is a puzzle, and eventually, you have to put it back together. I’m also constantly taking pictures.”
  3. "Get good quality fabrics; something that will wear well and not stretch. As for patterns, you don’t necessarily have to follow the trends. I really feel like there's no rules. Go with what you love.”