Restoration Guidelines

​Restoration and Conservation - a brief guide to our services

Restorer's Note –

Almost anything is restorable and we've got a thousand and one techniques and skills to bring to bear to sort out most problems. Below is a brief guide, plus a list of some of the things that aren't really up our street.

Want to get an estimate to restore a piece of furniture?

Don't want to bother reading the details of what we do and don't restore shown below? Then simply click here to send us an email.

We can almost certainly help.

We specialise in the repair and restoration of antique, vintage and mid-century, predominantly wooden furniture. If your request falls within those broad parameters, then we'd be happy to provide you with an estimate.

To begin the process, simply send am email to [email protected] with a few photos, one of which should include one of the whole piece of furniture, plus as many detailed shots of the damage as you think may be helpful. We should then be able to give you, if not a precise estimate, then a very good idea of the costs involved.

Please Note: We do not restore items on site and all pieces must come to our workshop. If you’re unsure whether or not your item is something we’d be able to help with read on below!

A brief guide to the things we do and don't work on…

In general, all restorers should be guided by one simple principle - carry out as little work as possible to effect the necessary repair. It's not a mantra for laziness, but rather a reminder to think of the furniture sympathetically. By following this basic rule, your furniture should remain in as original a condition as possible; retaining its own distinctive colour and patination which has been achieved over years of loving use, waxing and exposure to daylight that gives your furniture its own, distinctive character. Of course, sometimes pieces have been so neglected or are so badly damaged, that extensive restoration is required and may sometimes mean that saving original finishes, etc is not possible. Even in this situation, we will ensure that, as far as possible, no one but you will ever know and even you might not be able to tell.

Some of the more common repairs...

Wine and other alcohol spills

This happens all the time; a little wine dribbles from the neck of the bottle without you noticing and sits on the table overnight, or a glass is left on the top of a desk and the alcohol melts the surface of the polish a little. This can make the damaged area feel uneven or cause a discolouration, often with a white hue. In most circumstances, we'll be able to make it disappear so you'll never be able to tell.

Scratches and Dents

These come in all shapes and sizes. Some are reasonably easy to blend in and we can make look as though they've been around for decades or centuries, while others are more severe and tend to need more attention to the finished, polished or waxed surface. Either way, we can always figure something out. Even some dents can be lifted out. Call us for a chat and we'll put your mind at rest.

Cigarette and Other Burns

Perhaps the most tricky of all damage to rectify. If only the surface of the actual polish is damaged, then there would be little difficulty. However, as soon as a burn has penetrated the polish layer and has darkened the timber itself, this can prove very tricky, if not impossible, in some cases to remove. In these cases, if the item is made of solid wood, it might be possible to scrape out the affected area, taking a fraction of wood away until we get to below the burn itself and down to new timber. If the damaged area is veneered, then it may be necessary to cut out the affected area and piece in some new veneer. If neither option is possible, then it can sometimes be disguised with pigmented colour and patience.

Ink Stains

These often look like the most dramatic of damage. Whilst we can't promise - we've got a magic solution, used by generations of restorers in our family, that can simply make ink disappear.

Flood Damage

Water can cause a disproportionate amount of damage. It can swell timber, making it impossible to open doors and drawers, discolour timber, lift veneers, ruin upholstery (which somehow makes everything smell of old cats) and generally be very upsetting. We've a whole array of tried and trusted techniques that can repair the damage and make it seem as though the whole sorry thing never happened.

Not sure if it's something we would restore?

Don't feel embarrassed to ask. If you're not sure what you've got, can't identify the wood, don't recognise the age or period -
don’t worry, that's our job, not yours and we're very good at it too! We're here to provide you with free, honest advice.
We'll tell you what it is, where it's from and whether or not it's worth restoring. We really can restore most things -
you'd be surprised at the state of things we've been able to rescue. Click here to contact us now and see what we can do for you.

Things we don't tend to, or cannot fix…

Following is a description of furniture and other items that we don't generally repair; not because we take a snobby view of such pieces, but for a variety of sound, practical reasons. We are not equipped to carry out some processes, but frequently it's simply a case of being uneconomical to carry out many of the repairs we're asked to consider. Sometimes the original purchase price of the items involved or their intrinsic value, cannot justify the cost of repair and for others, it's really because the methods of construction are simply not substantial enough.

Whilst not exhaustive, this list gives a brief guide to those requests we frequently receive, but with which we are usually unable to help…

• Whilst we repair collectible 20th Century furniture (most commonly that manufactured between 1900 and the 1960-70s) we do not repair what many would term modern furniture, particularly that made within the past 30 years. From around 1970 onwards, techniques were devised which placed a higher value on mechanisation and speed of assembly, above robust or more traditional construction techniques and these frequently do not lend themselves to practicable repair or restoration.

• MODERN LEATHER SOFAS - We cannot repair tears or scratches to modern leather sofas and armchairs.

• SOFA BEDS - We don't repair sofa bed mechanisms

• DISCOUNT FURNITURE RETAILERS - All furniture purchased from the likes of IKEA and similar shops, selling similar quality goods cannot be repaired by us. Sofas and chairs from DFS, etc are likewise not repairable. This is because, in the main, they tend not to be constructed either robustly enough, or using materials that lend themselves to being repaired. Most modern fabric sofas from the larger sofa suppliers are not worth repairing. Repairs to the types of 'landlord' furniture that is commonplace is always worth significantly less than its repair cost.

• MODERN DINING SETS - Sets of modern dining chairs are almost never worth paying to have joints reglued or legs repaired, due in the main to the fact that replacement with similar ones are so cheap these days.

• KITCHENS - We do not repair kitchen work surfaces or kitchen cupboard doors.

• TV-CABINETS & MODERN SPEAKERS - We do not repair TV cabinets, nor anything much that is made from chipboard, MDF or other man-made boards and then veneered - with the exception of mid-century modern furniture which is highly collectible.

• MODIFCATION & ADAPTION We will not cut off the legs of your sofa in order to get it into your house and then re-attach them. Nor will we dismantle your wardrobe and reassemble it in another place

• PAINTING - We don't re-paint modern furniture

• DOORS - We don't repolish front doors or polish or paint internal room doors.

• STAIRCASES - We don't paint or repolish staircases, balustrades or handrails.

• FLOORING - we don't strip, sand, repolish or paint floors.

• MODERN GARDEN FURNITURE - we tend to avoid most garden furniture because it's produced so cheaply now in India and China that replacement is usually the more economical option.

• We do not carry out work on site of any description, as it is largely impractical to do so; work quality suffers and we have everything we need in our workshops, which are not easily transportable to client's premises.

Sorry and please don't take it personally.

Workshop Opening Hours

PAYING US A VISIT TO DISCUSS A POTENTIAL RESTORATION PROJECT

If you want to pop-in to discuss a potential repair, rather than emailing with photos or telephoning, then please stick to weekdays as our restorers only work Monday to Friday and our general shop staff are not restoration experts.

DROPPING OFF FOR REPAIR OR COLLECTING COMPLETED ITEMS

If we've already given you an estimate for the repair or restoration of your furniture and asked you to bring it into the workshop, you can do so from our Islington workshop, 7 days a week, Monday - Saturday 10-6 and Sundays 11-5. Similarly, if we've completed the restoration and told you it's ready, you can also collect during these times, without appointment.

IMPORTANT - You can't leave items without our having already given you a price and scheduled your work, as our workshop has limited storage space - so please don't bring things in on spec and hope to be able to leave them. You'll get turned away and then be cross with us - and we don't want that ;)

Got a general question about furniture restoration?

Email us now and we'll tell you if we can help.

Start off by emailing us some photos, as we can usually provide an estimate from them - and after that, if you would prefer to arrange for us to visit your home or office you can contact us;

Click below or send photos to • [email protected],

by 'phone on • +44 (0) 20 7359 4281,

or in person by visiting our workshop at • 121-122 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QP

Email Us

Still unsure?

Not sure if it's something we would restore?

Don't feel embarrassed to ask. If you're not sure what you've got, can't identify the wood, don't recognise the age or period -

don’t worry, that's our job, not yours and we're very good at it too! We're here to provide you with free, honest advice.

We'll tell you what it is, where it's from and whether or not it's worth restoring. We really can restore most things -

you'd be surprised at the state of things we've been able to rescue.

Click the Email Us button on the left for a free estimate or read more by clicking the button below.

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