Exquisite Upholstery Service

Meet James Backhouse of JBU Ltd who Earthwood uses for all our upholstery requirements.


James Backhouse (JBU Ltd) is the best upholsterer we know, a true craftsman. When James left high school he wanted to be a builder.

“But the careers lady was sick of boys saying that’s what they wanted to do,” he said, “so she sent me off to an upholstery firm.  I didn’t even know what the word meant.”

Kenway Upholstery offered James an apprenticeship. He was apprenticed for four years to the London-based firm which specialised in re-upholstery, repairs and antique work. The apprenticeship included one day a week at the London College of Furniture. At London College he achieved his City & Guilds Certificate Parts 1 and 2, plus Advanced Part 3 in Traditional Upholstery and he’s been practising in London and Auckland ever since. James arrived in New Zealand in 2002 and started JBU Ltd in 2008. 

“I love the craft of traditional upholstering,” he says. “I have a real passion for taking something old and worn out, and completely revitalising it so it will be useful for another 60 or 70 years.”

James prefers to work with older furniture which challenges his best skills. “Older hand-sprung furniture stuffed by hand with fibre is a genuine skill,” he says, “an art which includes in-depth understanding of fabrics and how they work in different applications.”

Like cabinet-making, traditional upholstery skills are dying out, so at Earthwood, we’re glad to have access to James’ fabulous craft skills. They enhance our own work tremendously.





Theresa Sjoquist