It is many a homeowners’ dream to have nice antique pieces of furniture with a history to adorn their home. Even though the market keeps getting flooded with contemporary and fresh furniture designs, there is something regal about antique furniture that adds a certain charm to any home and interior. The intricate and artful designs of such furnishings not only add to the aesthetic appeal of your inner surroundings but are also a recurring theme of fond discussions with like minded visitors and friends.
Left: A large break fronted mahogany antique secretaire library bookcase dating from around 1830 in the Regency period. Right: Georgian, Rich Mahogany, Antique Chest on Chest / Tallboy dating from around 1790 in Georgian period – Available, until sold, at Driscolls Antiques Ltd in UK.
Needless to say then, any collection of vintage furniture needs to be taken good care of as with time, dust and grime may take a toll on your prized possessions. Listed below are a few tips to help keep your beloved antique furniture in tip top shape.
Left: Decorative Victorian Walnut Antique Cheval Mirror dating from around 1880 in the Victorian period. Right: Quality Victorian Arts & Crafts Burr Walnut & Ebonised Occasional Table dating from around 1890 in the Victorian period.
Restoring Your Antiques
Ensure you have the experience, money and time to restore the antique furniture to its original condition. The item should not become a chore; breathing life into old antique furniture should be rewarding and enjoyable. Projects can take a lot of time and require a certain set of skills. Items may need stripped, rust removed and sanded before they can even begin to be restored.
Research the Antique Piece
It is also worth carrying out some research on the piece of antique furniture before you spend time on restoring it. Look for any marks that may indicate where and when the antique furniture was made and its rarity alongside how it was produced for example, by hand or by machine. This is very important as you could decrease the value of your item if you strip or change origin varnishes and condition of the item.
Time and Budget
Aim to establish a budget and stick to it. Is the piece of antique furniture worth all of the time and effort? If it’s possible to buy a new piece for less cost and effort, then you should question the time and budget you put into the item.
Discover the Original Colour
Have a future plan for the antique furniture and get an idea for how you want the completed furniture to look. You can discover the original colour and wood type by finding an area that hasn’t been changed from its original condition. For instance on antique desks, antique cupboards and book cases, this will be at the back of the piece or underneath the top in an area that would be unseen in day to day life.
Ask yourself if you have the tools and, more importantly, the capability and health and safety factors to carry out the restoration project. Handling tools and sanding wood can be dangerous and DIY restoration should only be carried out by experienced people. Large items such as antique sideboards and antique dining tables should be given particular care.
Clean the Grim & Dirt
Ensure the product is clean and dust free before you begin the major restoration. Antique furniture can often have years of grim and dirt and a good thorough clean can reveal details and markings that add character.
Repair Broken Pieces
After cleaning the antique furniture, it is now best to the restoration with repairing any broken pieces. Finding spare parts may be a challenge; it is best to search at antique fares, eBay and boot-sales. Tightening fixtures such as bolts and screws will ensure the antique furniture is in the best condition before you begin restoring it.
Paint & Refinish
The next step is to paint or refinish the antique furniture item. This will start with removing the old layer and then painting on the new. It is best to use sand before painting in order to get a professional even finish.
Resources for Advice
If this is your first restoration project then remember there are always helpful guides and tips available both on the Internet and in books. These provide an excellent resource for advice and reference materials including personal accounts and videos.
Driscolls Antiques Ltd is a small family business that specialize in high quality British antique furniture and quality antique collectables.