It's difficult to pass up a deal, more like a steal, when you are around furniture so often. We receive all kinds of calls about antiques restoration and end up going on a lot of "go-sees" to see if we can be of help. Often times, we are able to pick up things at good prices while we're out and about on these calls, and sometimes the odd item just leaps into our truck from the curb. These little chairs we picked up in Florida for a song. But someone had done that ever popular late eighties silk stripe dining fabric upholstery and it had been sitting there ever since. The seats were in pretty bad shape, and at first glance so were the wood finishes. But often times, all it takes is a gentle cleaning and wax to bring back the luster. It goes without saying, never refinish a piece that you do not know the value of. If it's old and/ or rare you will plummet the value by taking away the old finish. This presents a problem when you really wish to have a painted finish or different stain, but it really is best to leave well enough alone when it comes to woods. My husband is called in for repairs, great and small, and all the work is done with care to add value, not take it away.
These chairs just needed a good cleaning and simple Williamsville wax. I shed the old fabric, replacing it with a more homespun look to match our Saltbox style house in creams, eggplants, and reds. This is in part my summer education of soft restoration. I am diligently learning the trade of seat upholstery, wing chair upholstery, couch upholstery, shaker tape seating, and rush work- God help me on the last.
My Father in Law is a wonderful craftsman and at one time a skilled rush worker. It is like a bicycle, he can still do it, but he says it takes a great deal of painstaking time.
Here are the old and new versions side by side right before I get ready to tear into the second chair. These will go happily in our dining room as extra seating right next to our Windsors. I like things to compliment each other and a house put together over time never matches exactly. Next I am tackling a set of four ladder back chairs that have been in our family for ages. Their old torn rush seats are being replaced with Shaker fabric taping in evergreen hues. I cannot wait for them to come back into everyday use.