A Summer Holiday Project


Of the many things I enjoy in my spare time, one of my favourites is restoring, refurbishing and breathing new life into something. Whether it’s a house, a classic car, a garden or, as in this case, a piece of furniture, I’ve always been keen to take on a project.

Before I continue, a little background. I started my working life as an upholsterer in the furniture industry. Over a long career I’ve been fortunate to experience working in new furniture, the restoration and recovery of antique furniture; and the ground up restoration of classic cars.

This particular project has been in my family for many years (many more than I can recall in fact). To the best of my knowledge it came from my grandparents, was passed on to my aunt, then my parents and ultimately into my hands a few years ago. I recovered it for my parents more than 20 years ago, so it was definitely time for a makeover (I’m really not into pink).

So, the idea was to retain a piece of family history, keep the original form, give it a new lease on life and make sure any changes were reversible.

I had a pretty good idea of the look I wanted, something not too old and stuffy; if I could find the right materials. After a couple of dead ends locally and a false start or two, the power of Google and online retailing came to the rescue with crystal buttons from China and studs from the USA, the fabric is an off-cut from a store at the Tannery.

The frame had suffered a few knocks in its past and was due for a freshen up too. I’m not a big fan of stripping off an original finish and re-spraying with a modern lacquer. It tends to lose the patina of age and can look a bit plastic on a piece of furniture of this age. I used fine steel wool followed by a rub over with methylated spirits to blend out the marks in the original finish. Three coats of Danish Oil applied with a soft cloth restored the shine and leaves a coating with a nice feel that can be easily touched up later if need be.
Finally, down to the fun stuff where it all comes together. I’m delighted with the finished product you see below. Great to exercise some old skills and cross another job off the to-do list.








So, what does all this have to do with architecture?
By using people with the right knowledge and experience, you can achieve anything from a straight restoration, a sympathetic upgrade or something new and unrecognisable from the original.

– Andy Chisholm

Published on Friday, April 5th, 2019