Behind the Scenes at Gil’s Upholstery with the Frankford CDC

Gil Pons has been skillfully repurposing pieces of furniture on Frankford Avenue for decades. He’s mastered the tricks of the trade and knows how every piece of furniture is different. But, more importantly, he knows how to meet the unique needs of each of his many clients.

This past week, the Frankford CDC stopped by Gil’s shop to observe him in action. He was hard at work restoring a couch that he believes was originally produced in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The process Gil must undertake may seem simple, though proves to be anything but straightforward, as the CDC’s visit demonstrates. First, the couch has to be stripped down to its wooden frame, and then stuffed with new padding. Once Gil makes the new seat cushions, and before the back of the couch has been reassembled, the client will make a trip to the shop to test out her new sofa and determine just how far forward she wants the back to extend. Gil will also replace the coils in the base of the couch with springs, to fulfill the customer’s desire for a firmer seat.

This forty year old piece has a lot of history wrapped up in it, specifically when it comes to the technique and materials used to manufacture and repurpose furniture. The couch was originally stuffed with coconut fiber, which has since gone out of fashion in the industry. However, trends are cyclical, and Gil noted that coconut fiber is making a comeback in part due to its eco-friendly nature and will be used for this particular project. So, not surprisingly, this piece will have a bit of the future woven in to its fibers, too.

Gil believes this piece was not mass produced, but rather built to meet the desires of its original owner. That dovetails perfectly with the ethos of Gil’s shop: a specialty store intended to deliver a customized product. Gil manages about six projects a month, and the CDC intends to keep you updated on the story of this particular couch. So stay tuned, enjoy the pictures below, and go visit Gil at 4529 Frankford Avenue (or give him a call at 215-744-5385) with more questions about how exactly he does what he does.