Furniture Restoration Careers

How to become Furniture Restoration

What does a Furniture Restoration do?

Furniture restorers/conservators preserve and restore items of modern and antique furniture. Conservation involves ensuring that items retain their original characteristics. Restoration may involve the use of new materials to protect and update existing features. In order to do this, restorers/conservators combine their specialist knowledge with a variety of practical techniques, such as veneering, marquetry, upholstery and polishing.

They make detailed observations of the piece of furniture and its condition in order to decide on the best way to conserve or restore it. The process involves the use of a range of materials and equipment, and the restorer/ conservator will need to keep up to date with developments in these. They also need to be well-informed about furniture and its history, and of why and how furniture deteriorates.

The work will also include sourcing materials, keeping photographic and written records of projects, liaising with clients and colleagues, and providing specialist information to colleagues and the public.

Restorers/conservators often work on a self-employed basis, and may specialise in furniture of a particular type or period. Self- employment will include involvement in marketing, financial and business activities.

What's the working environment like working as a Furniture Restoration?

The work is usually workshop-based, and restorers/conservators may work alone or alongside other restorers.

Hours of work will vary, especially as a lot of restorers/conservators are self-employed so may not work set hours.

As some travel may be involved, a driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Furniture Restoration?

To be a furniture restorer/conservator you need:

  • good practical and manual skills, and technical ability
  • a patient and methodical approach
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • artistic and scientific interests and ability
  • an interest in research and developments in the history of furniture
  • good communication skills, with the ability to explain sometimes complex issues to clients.

Furniture Restoration Career Opportunities

Furniture restorers/conservators may work for organisations such as museums, auction houses, historical or heritage sites or antique dealers. Because there are relatively few job opportunities there is a lot of competition for employment.

Many set up their own businesses, carrying out work for organisations and members of the public, or may work on a consultancy basis for the kinds of organisations listed above.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Furniture Restoration that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association (BAFRA)
BAFRA Head Office
The Old Rectory
Tel: 01305 854822

Institute of Conservation
3rd Floor
Downstream Building
1 London Bridge
Tel: 020 7785 3807

The Guild of Master Craftsmen
166 High Street
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 478449

Museums Association
24 Calvin Street
E1 6NW

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