Sooner than you thought
Constant daily use can cause severe wear to even the hardiest furniture coverings. Add active children and pets to the mix, and there is a good opportunity for more rips and tears in your favorite cushions. In your car, the friend who smokes probably did not drop ashes intentionally, but the resulting burned spot is hard to hide. Both types of damage require upholstery repair.
While it may be tempting to ignore, damage generally grows over time, ultimately making restoration more complex. Since professional restoration can sometimes be quite expensive, people sometimes decide to simply throw old furniture away. A better choice would be to evaluate the damaged pieces for the best solution.
Generally speaking, if a sofa or chair frame is still basically sturdy and sound, has lasted for a decade or more, and was very comfortable during that time, then fixing it is probably the wisest option. The cost of buying new replacement pieces never decreases, and that expense may greatly exceed the price of re-upholstering older furniture.
Minor jobs can often be done at home, depending on the type of material used. Successful completion requires some basic skills with a needle, and a familiarity with handling fabrics. Care must be taken to make the stitching strong enough to withstand daily use without being visually obvious. For those with limited experience or patience, calling a professional can save time and frustration.
Do-it-yourself kits appropriate for fabric, vinyl and leather rely primarily on sewing, patching, and blending tinted gels. Before purchasing one, carefully examine the damaged area. If it is large, and in constant use, a home repair may not last very long. The gels used for leather and vinyl fixes initially look good, but tend to split open again with heavy use.
For the best, longest-lasting results, choose a local upholstery repair professional. They are trained in the latest and longest-lasting techniques, have the right tools for the job, and are a part of the local economy. High-quality home furnishings and finer auto interior fabrics deserve good care, and prompt maintenance helps them retain value over time.