So you think you can successfully
restore that solid wood antique rolltop desk by sanding
a little here and there and slapping on some stain? Think
again! Did you know that by impulsively plunging into a
restoration project you may be inadvertently decreasing
the value of that desk by hundreds, even thousands of dollars?
People who collect and purchase antique items are a particularly
persnickety group of individuals. They consider the act
of placing value on something old similar to scientific
observations made by equally fussy scientists. Specific
aspects of an antique need to be correctly established and
unmodified. If even one of these conditions is missing or
distorted, the antique is no longer considered as valuable
as it once was when this condition existed.
Certain antiques are especially susceptible to value-reducing
errors made by beginning or do-it-yourself restoration enthusiasts.
For example, wood furniture that is beautifully and ornately
carved can provide challenges to a non-professional furniture
restorer. An intricately designed antique is generally more
estimable than one that is simply made and making one mistake
on this more elaborate piece may severely alter its appraisal
value—for the worse!
Upholstered Antique Furniture
Probably one of the most difficult restorations to perform
is on old upholstered antique furniture. Because upholstery
is not nearly as durable as wood, it usually needs replaced
due to normal wear and tear. While refinishing the wooden
parts of the piece may not be too demanding, be forewarned
that replaced upholstery can be expensive, extremely time-consuming
and sometimes frustrating. Re-upholstering requires numerous
tools specially created for this type of job, some of which
are costly or hard to find. In addition, the entire process
involves several, laborious procedures—removing the
old upholstery, replacing worn-out cushions with new cushion
material, covering the piece with new upholstery material
and repairing any mechanical problems (loose or missing
feet, screws, armrests). Upholstering antique furniture
is much more than laying fabric over the item and stapling.
To be considered an actual antique, an item must be confirmed
to be at least 100 years old. With antiques this old or
older, a professional should always be employed to restore
the item. The risk of mishandling an antique during the
restoration process by a non-professional is high; and once
something unique about the antique is tampered with, this
action cannot be undone which immediately and significantly
diminishes its monetary value. One common mistake beginners
make is overdoing the refinishing or restoration of an antique.
With old furniture and other old household goods, less is
better in regards to antique restoration. Knowing what and
how to apply the correct finishes and repairs should be
left to the expertise of a professional.
Unless you have restored many antiques in the past and know
exactly what you are doing, antique restoration should be
professionally done. With the proper tools, workspace and
knowledge competency, an expert will not damage the item
in any way, nor will the item receive treatment that may
decrease its value on the market. In addition, once an esteemed
antique is properly restored, it usually does not require
any more repair work for many years to come, as long as
appropriate care is taken to preserve the antique.