Our guide to furniture restoration

Our guide to furniture restoration

First published date February 14 2014 Amended date December 21 2015

Are you bored of simply popping to your local Swedish flat-pack furniture shop? Fancy something a bit more unique with some character and history?  Well with more people turning to ‘bric-a-brack’ and vintage shops to buy second hand furniture, chances are, what you buy may be in need of a bit of a repair or sprucing up. But instead of forking out and taking it to get repaired at a professional upholsterers or an antique restorer, which may end up costing you as much as buying something brand new, dabble in some DIY and take one of the many furniture restoration courses available and learn how to restore furniture yourself.  


Why furniture restoration?

Restoring furniture can be fun! Would you not rather pick up an old sofa or coffee table that lays dusty or in an antique shop and take your crafty hand and eye to restore it back to its former glories. Retro furnishings are something definitely in at present. Problem is, the years of wear and tear they have suffered means they will need some working on, whether it’s just polishing or a full restoration. The same goes for pieces you may have stumbled across and picked up through the popular website, Freecycle.


What will a furniture restoration course entail?

Many large colleges and learning centres provide some kind furniture restoration course. There are different levels at which you can take your course at and they are flexible to suit your lifestyle, as many are offered in the evenings and on weekends. You can also choose between different course durations; some are one day intensives, last a whole weekend or more in depth courses can span over a number of months.  Course will more than likely ask you to bring in your own pieces to work on, which they may recommend you keep to a small size as working space could be limited.

Beginner courses may not offer you any formal qualifications that may lead you to a new career, but they are definitely an important stepping stone if that is what you’re looking for. You will learn the fundamentals of furniture restoration like polishing, getting rid of scuffs and scratches as well as mending loose joints and fittings.  You’ll also be taken through some ‘fun’, yet necessary health and safety pointers as you’ll be working with a lot of sharp tools as well as chemicals like polish and glues.

More advanced courses will of course look at more restoration techniques, but not only that, you will be shown how to deal with pieces which are more fragile like antiques or items that need a bit more than just a polish. Some of the more specialised techniques include learning colour matching, dismantling and putting back together furniture as well more finishing styles.


Then what...?

With the skills you will have picked up on finishing, you will then be able to turn that scruffy looking wobbly rocking chair you purchased on the cheap into a comfortable piece of fine looking furniture. Who knows to what they can lead onto from there, you may find yourself a hobby which is practical, skilled and enjoyable! And who’s to say that you can’t turn that new recreation into a career?  Furniture restoration careers are there but it isn’t an easy job to do self-employed as most restorers are. However, from this course you may go on to study a related subject such as upholstery or interior design.


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