Breathe new life into your antiques with these simple restoration tips

The American writer, Anita Shreve, once remarked that "one could base an entire oeuvre on the lives that weave in and out of an antique house". In other words: with age, comes character. 

It's not only period properties that carry a charm about them, however. Period furnishings can also do much to enliven a home.

There’s a staunch difference between the 'old' and the 'antique'. Antiques have a certain quality that brings presence and poise into a home. In order to do this, though, they need to be in good order.

Here follows a trio of essential tips for antique furniture restoration.

Clean

Antique furniture restoration needn't always be technical. Often, a thorough clean can be enough to bring items of furniture back to their full former glory. This is particularly true for items which have been sitting in storage for long periods of time, which is sometimes the case for pieces bought at auction – a common source for period furniture.

Be careful when using abrasive cleaning products, however. These can cause serious damage to wooden finishes, and cause discolouration. If you're unsure of which products to use when restoring antique furniture, it's best to seek the help and advice of a restoration professional.

Protect

Before you even think about antique furniture restoration, it's worth learning how to take care of the furniture. Protect your belongings well enough, and there'll be no need to pay a visit to the restoration centre.

Wooden items should typically be varnished or oiled at regular intervals. Not only will this give a pleasant shine and veneer to the wood, improving the appearance, but it’ll also protect them from water and dust.

If you're putting antiques into storage, be sure to keep an eye on the conditions. Even the slightest hint of damp could have a disastrous impact on your antiques, so a dry space is a strict necessity. Also look into using dust covers and keeping coloured items away from sources of light. Paintings and upholstery are particularly vulnerable to fading when exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

Refinish

Refinishing is one of the more delicate aspects of antique furniture restoration. This is because there's an element of creativity involved. When refinishing a piece of furniture, you face a decision on a number of things. Namely: colour, material and pattern.

The first – and most significant – decision you'll make is how faithful to be to the original aesthetic. Restoring old furniture with true accuracy can be a tricky task, requiring specialist materials, knowledge and expertise. If this is the route you choose to take, it can be worth enlisting the help of a professional.

Restoring antique furniture doesn't have to be about accuracy, though. Putting a modern twist on antiques can be a powerful way to bring personality to your home. Individuality is, after all, the key to innovative interior design.

Ultimately, the restoration of valuable and sentimental pieces of furniture marries imagination and taste with technical skill. Get it right and restoring old furniture can be a simple but powerful way to transform the interior of your property prior to sale.

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