When Does it Make Sense to Restore Antique Furniture?

when to Restore Antique FurnitureIt seems that we all have antique furniture lying around our garage or home. Or, perhaps you stumbled upon something interesting at a garage or estate sale that you want to restore or even restore then sell?

After catching the latest episode of Antiques Roadshow, you think to yourself, ‘could it be that my [desk, chandelier, cabinet, bed frame, table] could be worth as much as that gem I saw on TV?’

The answer, quite simply, is maybe. But it really depends on a few factors.

Here, we’ll dive into the considerations you need to mull over before restoring your antique furniture to determine if it will add value.

Related: 6 Factors Antique Appraisers Consider

Before You Restore, Review

Lots of antique furniture owners make the mistake of taking to the glue or wood cleaner before evaluating the origin of their piece. Evaluating the origin of your antique furniture will provide some clues as to what kind of restoration you should — or shouldn’t — do on your own.

A simple Google search of the brand name and furniture type should be able to help you find out the antique’s origins. You’ll also want to evaluate the overall quality of the craftsmanship, wood, accents, and details.

If your research reveals that you have a very rare, valuable item on your hands, stop right there. Rare antique furniture should only be restored through the help of a professional who specializes in working on such fine pieces such as yours.

If your research seems to reveal the opposite — that your antique piece of furniture is actually just a piece of… well — you are safe to take measures into your own hands. Often times, a simple cleaning and dusting will get your antique back to a state of living room display standards. Remember, antique furniture is recognized for having a bit of patina that shows its age.

Still not sure if your antique furniture is valuable or not? It is best to take your antique piece to an antique appraiser like Twery’s who can let you know if you might have something valuable or not.

Restoration and Antique Furniture

The idea of a “restoration” is to bring a piece of furniture back to its original state, when possible. Completely repainting, installing different hardware, or some other update would result in a potential loss of value of a true classic.

For example, refinishing a piece of antique wood is not a restoration process; it would be a permanent change that would not be reversible. Think of any restoration project as an act of preservation. If the restoration cannot be reversed by a future generation, it is not a true restoration.  

On the other hand, if you’re not looking to sell your piece or are not worried about retaining its monetary value or historical significance, feel free to do what you must to get it back to a functioning state.

Restorating Antique Furniture with Missing Parts

Often, you will come across a piece of antique furniture that is missing parts that once contributed to its original beauty. These may even include intricate inlays or scrolls that you feel can’t be restored.

However, this is not always the case, restoration professionals are often able to source vintage materials that can match your furniture. If that is not possible, new technologies will allow restoration professionals to recreate exact pieces that no longer exist.

Molds can be created out of plaster, sent to master woodworkers, and exact duplicates can be created restoring your antique to its original grandeur.

restore antique furnitureBefore You Restore Your Furniture Consider These Tips

As we’ve learned, there are important considerations for restoring antique furniture:

  • Review your piece for a brand name or sign of value that you can research before working on it.
  • If you find that a notable craftsman created your piece, avoid trying to restore it yourself and take it to a professional to help with the project so that you retain its value.
  • If the restoration cannot be reversed by a future generation, it is not a true restoration.
  • Professionals can source vintage materials or create molds for exact parts.

When in question about the quality of your antiques, take them to a professional to get appraised.