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What you need to know about having your antique furniture restored.


You’ve recently inherited a beautiful china hutch from your grandmother, but you’ve noticed a deep scratch along one side and one of its feet seems to be unsteady. Or maybe you found an old armchair at a garage sale. It looks like it’s in perfect condition, but you’re planning to reupholster it to match your living room.

No matter your situation, as you think about how to restore your furniture, you will need to consider how your plans may impact its value. Here are a few factors to take into account before you begin the restoration process.

How much restoration is required?

Some antique pieces need little more than a good dusting and some light touch-ups. However, others need more care. Furniture breaks. Pieces rot or come loose. The surface gets scratched and dented over time, and hardware falls off or gets lost. These things can be repaired, but it takes skill and insight to do so without compromising the integrity of the piece. If you’re thinking about taking this on as a DIY project, make an honest assessment of the scope first. If it’s more than you can handle, bring it to a professional before you begin repairs.

Learn about the piece’s history.

The more repairs a piece requires, the more you will want to know about its history before you begin. Significant changes, such as reupholstering or refinishing, can improve the value of a damaged or low-quality piece. However, these same changes can diminish the value of a unique item. If you’re planning to resell your piece, even a simple cleaning could remove a desirable patina. Before you start restoring your piece, learn about the following:

  • What time period is it from? Furniture styles change frequently, and some time periods are more valued than others. If your piece is particularly old or emblematic of a certain style it could be worth more than you think.
  • What is your furniture made of? Most furniture is made of solid wood, however some woods are more prized than others. “Primary furniture woods” like maple, oak, walnut, or mahogany are considered especially valuable, while woods like pine, birch, or poplar usually take a veneer.
  • Are there any unusual construction techniques? It is important not to mix and match construction techniques, as this could weaken the integrity of the piece and impact its value. A certain technique could also give a clue as to the piece’s origin or age.
  • Does it come from a well-known designer? If your furniture comes from a famous designer or manufacturer be careful about how you chose to restore it. Anything that significantly alters the piece can have a huge impact on its value.
  • Are there any other rare or unique features? Is there any detailed scrollwork or carving? What about unusual inlays or marquetry, special wood veneers, or hand painting? These features will require special time and attention to preserve.

Talk to a professional

DIY shows make furniture restoration seem easy, but without the right technique you could damage your furniture. This can make later restoration difficult or impossible, and it can impact the value of your piece. If you have any reason to believe your antique furniture could be valuable, bring it to a professional before you attempt any DIY.

We can work with you to restore your furniture in a way that respects its history. If you would like an estimate on the time and cost of restoring a piece of antique furniture, contact us with a description of the piece.

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