From theatres and cinemas to universities and corporate offices, auditoriums provide a space where large groups of people can gather to be entertained, to learn or to be presented information. Due to their tiered seating arrangement, patrons benefit from clearer sightlines and acoustics than in a space where the seats are on a flat floor.
Good quality auditorium seating should be designed to withstand the demands of high frequency usage and the upholstery fabric should be one which is suitable for this type of application. Despite its longevity however, there will come a time when your auditorium seating is requiring attention, and this is when you will need to consider whether you need to repair or replace it.
Whilst replacement may be the immediate solution that springs to mind, this isn’t necessarily the best route to take. Regardless of the age and condition of your seating, it may be possible to reupholster it to give it a new lease of life.
When auditorium seating suffers from wear and tear
Auditorium seating is generally supported by a robust metal frame which will stand the test of time. In older theatres these frames may have been painted various different colours over the years and this can then be susceptible to chipping. Ornate metal castings are also prone to damage.
Seats, backs and arms are subjected to the most wear and tear as part of everyday usage and over a long period of time, seat foams in particular can start to sag and fabric can begin to wear through in places. Combined, this results in shabby looking seats and a negative impression presented to your patrons.
If the seats are in a really sorry state, you may think it’s not possible to do anything with them, but even 100-year-old seats can be revived with the right care and attention.
How old auditorium seating can be revived
The theatre seats pictured below had been in use for over a century and had undergone several modifications over the years. The frames had been painted various different colours whilst many of the seat boards had been painted bright blue and were mis-matched. In addition, the fabric was threadbare on the arms and worn on the seats. It would have been an easy solution to rip out this auditorium seating and replace it with new, but the seats were integral to the heritage of the theatre and the management chose to have them restored.
These are the steps undertaken during the refurbishment of this seating:
- Metal seat frames were cleaned and repainted gold to match the original colour they would have been when new
- Fabric and foam were removed from seat backs. The boards previously tacked to the rear of seat backs were removed to expose the traditional style wooden shells which were then sanded and polished. Old foam was replaced with new and then reupholstered in a rich red velvet fabric, leaving the restored wooden seat backs exposed
- Fabric and foam were removed from seats, the old foam replaced with new and then fully re-upholstered
- Replacement arm pads made with new foam and fabric
Above: The original seat backs, previously hidden under a tacked-on board, were sanded and polished
Below: Seats in the theatre auditorium shown before and after refurbishment
The newly refurbished seats totally transformed the look and feel of the auditorium and enhanced audience comfort. The theatre team were thrilled with the end result and a lot of positive feedback was received from audiences.
This is just one example of how reupholstery can give your auditorium seats a new lease of life. These seats were in a particularly bad way and were able to be restored. If you like the design and style of your old seats, then it’s worth considering restoration as an option before you decide to replace them with new ones.
Don’t throw old auditorium seats away
Even if your seats could be restored, you may still want to go ahead and replace them anyway. If you want to modernise your venue, traditional style seating, even if it is restored, may not be in keeping with the image you want to project. However, before you throw out the old seats, consider whether someone else could re-purpose them for you. Traditional auditorium seating still has value, even in poor condition and you may be able to generate some funds from selling them or donate them to a charitable project.
If you’d like to find out more about auditorium seating refurbishment, please complete and submit the short form below.