Friday, December 27, 2013

Before you refurbish antique furniture: READ THIS

I had a client email me today regarding their grandparent’s antique sofa and 2 chairs. They wanted them appraised and sold for the ‘appropriate’ money. They pointed out that they had been professionally reupholstered and that the ‘original springs and woodwork remain’. 

It is not the first time I have had this type of email, it’s not even the 10th or 20th. Sadly and understandably people get impressed with the look of a piece of antique seating be it a couch, fancy armchairs or a chaise lounge and they choose to make an investment in it. They all too often meet up with an unscrupulous restoration person who sells them on a big refurbishing job that’s going to cost many times more than the pieces are worth, perhaps mentioning that they will keep the ‘original springs and woodwork’.

I could hear the conversation in my head ‘Oh yes, $4,000 might sound like a lot of money but you’ve got a piece here that’s going to be worth $12,000 once I’m done with it.’

First off, keeping the original springs has absolutely no effect on value (in fact it sounds downright uncomfortable!), secondly, original woodwork? Isn’t that a given? You’re refinishing the piece, not building a new one. 

So the client gets sold a bill of goods and goes ahead with the job. Once they get it home they may enjoy it for a bit but soon realize that it doesn’t really suit their living arrangement or style anymore (see BLOG) and want to sell it. Now they’re in for a surprise and the reseller has to be the bearer of bad news.

Be careful what someone who has an interest in getting you to invest in something is telling you what it is worth, especially if it’s how they earn their living. This goes for reupholstering and refinishing of any piece of antique furniture. Make sure you’re doing it for you and not because it’s going to increase its value.

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