Abbey Group

People are talking!

When our oak dining table was damaged during our move we didn’t for a minute think that anyone would be able to restore it to its former state. The table was a wedding present, and so we are thrilled that you have not only repaired the damage so well that we can’t even tell where it was, but the table looks better than it has in years. I’m sure we’ll be back in future, and will be recommending your restoration services to our friends

James and Vanessa

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Fire and flood

We have extensive experience of providing restoration and repair from fire, flood and accidental damage.

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Bespoke furniture

Our craftsmen create bespoke furniture to meet your exact needs.

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Antique Furniture Restoration

We have extensive experience of providing restoration and repair from fire.

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We work with insurers to ensure a seamless service with one point of contact.

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Just what is antique furniture restoration?

19th November 2014


Antique furniture restoration is both a work of art and a highly-skilled trade. Whether it is a piece of furniture being lovingly brought back to its former glory after being neglected for decades or an old family heirloom that needs repairing so it can continue to be the centre of attention, the men and women who ply their trade as antique furniture restorers have a passion for their craft that is withstanding the march of time.


The formal definition of antique furniture restoration is “to bring an antique or work of art to a like-new condition or preserving an antique or work of art against further deterioration.”


Looking after the past


Those in the business know that they are preserving a little piece of history, often using skills and knowledge that have been handed down through the generations.


Restoration can happen on many levels. It can be as simple as light cleaning to remove dirt and grime; polish to remove a veneer; mending and replacing parts to restore functionality; or completely rebuilding or replacing an antique.


Antique furniture restoration usually takes place in preparation for a sale or when someone has acquired an antique – often as an inheritance – and would like to restore it to its original state.


A glossy finish


While repair is all about restoring the functionality of a piece of antique furniture – replacing the seating or repairing a broken leg of a chair, restoration lifts the craft to a whole new level. Restoring a piece of furniture correctly is an art-form. When it comes to stripping down furniture, the golden rule among antique furniture restorers is that the original patination is retained as far as possible. This means the thin layer that occurs on surfaces of wood and metal - the wear, the sheen, the polish, all of which demonstrates the items age and provenance.


All too often antique furniture is presented for restoration that has been badly repaired or had a botched attempt at restoration by an amateur. the result is an over-restored piece that no collector or antique aficionado would be interested in. 


Therefore, restoration of valuable objects should always be left to professionals who are sensitive to all of the issues - insuring that a piece retains or increases its value after restoration.


Restoration (wo)man


Antique furniture restorers have to be multi-skilled. A single piece of furniture might comprise wood, glass, metal, leather, fabric, inlay and a host of other substances, so the skill comes in knowing how to treat each of these materials to get the best effect and have the least negative impact during restoration. Knowledge of chemicals and chemical reactions is a must; and of course, the restorer must possess the historical expertise to know what effect they are trying to achieve.


One antique restorer said that to be a successful restorer of antique furniture, it's helpful to be a bit nostalgic - for the 18th century.


Sarah Johnson, who is an antique restorer in the USA, said: “Be nostalgic enough to use materials and methods that were commonplace when the furniture was built, like fish glue and hand planes. I do have power tools, but they rarely get turned on."


Above all, an antique restorer has the knowledge that he or she is playing a part in continuing our connection with the past. It might not be possible to restore that piece of furniture to its original state, but with care, skill and respect, it can be returned to something appropriate for a 300-year-old object. The repairs on a piece of furniture become part of its history, and can be seen as an integral part of the process of cultural preservation.

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furniture restoration in Essex