Abbey Group

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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

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Antique Furniture Restoration

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Should you restore your antique furniture?

19th December 2017

 

Older furniture can be some of the most beautiful, well-crafted furniture out there. Whether it’s a piece you found hidden in the corner of a charity shop, inherited from a relative or were even donated by a neighbour having a clear out – an antique piece of furniture is something that should be preserved and cherished. But sometimes they have been sat in storage for a bit too long, damaged, eaten by moths or simply decaying by itself. When you find an antique in that sort of state, what should you do with it? If you’re an avid Antiques Roadshow fan, you might have heard them say that restoration can sometimes diminish the value or your piece – but then antique restoration is a booming business that even has its own set of TV shows. So what do you do? Should you restore your antique furniture or preserve it as it is?

Evaluating Value

Before you get started with any restoration project or send it to a restorer, you should take some time to have a look for any identifying labels or marks that might help you research its history. Make sure you check any carvings, along with the material and the quality. If you aren’t sure how to research the value of an item based on these factors, you can take it to be valued professionally. If it turns out that the piece is extremely valuable, leave it alone. Any restorations on high-value items should be left to professionals who work with these types of antiques to prevent any accidental damage that could happen during an amateur restoration. And even if the piece turns out not to be that rare or valuable, the path of least resistance is still advisable. If that dirty old dresser has held together well over the years, just clearing out the old debris, applying a little glue to some rickety joints and giving it a good polish can bring life back to the piece.

What Is Restoration?

The term ‘restoration’ is thrown around a lot in antique circles, and for good reason. With antique furniture, it’s always best to try and restore a piece to its original state if you can, instead of totally changing it or patching up areas haphazardly. Returning it to its original state will help it retain its original value and ensure it will last for years to come. In some cases, restoration can simply mean refinishing any wood or reupholstering the fabric. But in other cases, more extensive work is required. Restoration is not about creating a new piece of furniture, repainting or doing any other ‘makeover’ work – it’s about preserving the piece as it is and once was. However, there are exceptions.

If you find, say, a dresser with a door missing, some trim broken off and a rotten leg, it might be worth the work to save it. But if this antique dresser isn’t really worth much, you might decide it will look better with a white distressed finish to match the rest of your furniture. This type of project won’t be too much of a problem – especially when so many new pieces would need to be created or altered in order to bring it back to life anyway. Again, with high-value pieces, we don’t recommend this approach!

Things to Consider Before You Restore Your Antique Furniture

So the answer to our original question really is, it depends. If the furniture in question is a high-value antique or one of sentimental value, it may be worth investing in restoration work. But for an antique of little value, you might want to revamp it instead. But before you do either, we have a few final things to consider before you embark on a furniture restoration project:

  • Is your piece out of the ordinary? Is it a masterpiece, or a classic example of a master of craftsmanship? If so, you need to make sure than refinishing the piece won’t take away from its value.
  • Was your furniture made by a notable craftsman or manufacturer? If so, preservation should be the main focus, regardless of the piece’s age. Look for any labels carvings or marks that might indicate who it was made by.
  • Would it be feasible to just give the piece a light cleaning and make minor repairs? If you can, always choose the least invasive method when dealing with antique furniture.
  • Focus on restoration rather than revamping whenever possible, especially with valuable pieces of furniture.

Overall, it comes down to doing your research and having valuations done before you embark on any restoration project, no matter how small. You should also use your best judgement when dealing with antique furniture, seek professional advice and, if needed, have restoration work carried out by a professional. At Abbey Group, we undertake a variety of restoration work on antique furniture, from simple repairs to intensive restoration after fire, flood or accident. To find out more, or to ask advice about restoring your antique furniture, get in touch with us today.

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