Giving New Life To Old Favorites

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Photos by Allysin Leonard

Tom Kelly, owner of Tom Kelly Upholstery, demonstrates how he uses a button needle to put the final touches on a chair he recently finished reupholstering.

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photos by Allysin Leonard

While Kelly normally recovers chairs with one only fabric, his business partner Richard Pariello, has perfected a new style of reupholstery for chairs using a kaleidoscope of fabric scraps as on this recliner.

For 26 years, Tom Kelly has reupholstered the Rim Country; from old chairs to ottomans and even windows, Kelly does it all.

Recently, with a larger staff, Kelly has expanded his services to include one-of-a-kind “kaleidochairs” — specially crafted chairs made of different fabrics. Kind of like a patchwork quilt, only stitched onto a chair.

The chairs are the brainchild of Tom Kelly’s business partner, Richard Pariello, and his wife Sharlott Lewis, and are just one of the interesting features that set this quaint shop apart from others.

For instance, Kelly’s wife, Dee, also plays a large part in the business with her creation of memory bears. Started as a family memento, Dee made three teddy bears out of fabric from one of Kelly’s old uniform shirts from his time in the Marine Corps.

The bears were such a success in their family, that Dee decided to make the bears commercially.

Memory Bears are a huge success in the shop, because they can be made from any special piece of fabric, from old shirts to wedding dresses — one customer even had their grandmother’s quilt split between three people, and Memory Bears were the perfect solution.

Aside from custom bears and unique chairs, Tom Kelly Upholstery can reupholster nearly any piece of furniture and recently added window treatments. It takes Kelly or Pariello anywhere between a few days to a week to complete a job. Customers of Kelly say he does some of the finest work in the area.

One customer shopping for fabrics said, “I wish I had known about this place several years ago when I had my sofa re-covered. He has such better fabric that I’m considering [having him] re-cover it again.”

Kelly has access to more than 1,000 fabrics from eight suppliers. From velvet to paisley, there is something for everyone’s taste. In addition, Kelly offers hand woven caning.

Kelly explained he first got into upholstery after working in a bank for 12 years. Looking for a career change, Kelly remembered the time he helped his sister reupholster a chair.

Realizing he had a creative eye and passion for working with his hands, Kelly decided to go to trade school and study upholstery.

“I’m not very good at drawing or anything, but I could do something with a piece of fabric,” Kelly said.

Now more than two decades later, Kelly still enjoys turning something old into something new.

“It is amazing how fabric can change the complete look of something,” he said.

Tom Kelly Upholstery, at 814 N. Beeline Highway, suite C, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (928) 474-5868.

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