Old and tired. A bit broken. Maybe unhinged. And that’s just your stuff. The wonky drawer, the armchair with ripped covers, a pock-marked table. But it turns out that repairing, restoring and even completely reinventing your old furniture and furnishings isn’t hard. You just need to know the right people. Which we do.
Here are some amazing craftsmen who are honest, skilled and more than happy to perform minor miracles on your stuff. Re-cover the sturdy but knackered sofa? In a week. Strip a dark chest of drawers back to beautiful pine? Easy. You won’t recognise your things (sorry, ‘pieces’) once this lot get their experienced hands on it. They don’t charge the earth and for the transformations they’re making, it’s well worth the spend, we say.
Of course you want prices but they all insist on seeing an item before even hazarding a guesstimate, as every broken chair, stained table or cracked mirror is different. So email them a picture and see what they say.
1. UBER UPHOLSTERERS: DEVINE UPHOLSTERY (EDINBURGH)
He may be hidden down a cobbled back street that’s more Trainspotting than fine furnishings, but don’t let that put you off because for good old fashioned don’t-make-‘em-like-they-used-to service, George Devine is king. His customers speak of his work in hushed tones. He is family. His small team will cover anything from a simple dining chair seat (from just £20!) to a sofa (plus loose covers) or headboard. No job is too small. This is reliable, honest, skilled work and for very good prices. If the chair or sofa you need recovering has a dodgy castor or back they’ll sort it. They’ve a huge range of fabrics which they get at discount prices. And they do curtains. It’s not just us who think Devine is divine, they’ve just sent some work off to a customer in Australia.
0131 661 5533 / www.devine-upholstery.co.uk
2. ONE-STOP FURNITURE SHOP: KENDALS (LETCHWORTH)
The beast of a gothic wardrobe was nearly a deal breaker when it came to our source moving in with her man. She hated it, he wasn’t letting go of granny’s parting gift. Kendals saved the day by stripping, spray painting and generally transforming it. It’s a small family business with over 30 years’ experience and they’ll do pretty much anything from covering a dining chair to restoring a vintage caravan, from framing a picture to a massive refurb of all Bristol Town hall’s antique furniture. Lovely guys and brimming with ideas when you’re lacking imagination. Or taste.
01462 682 000 / www.kendalrestoration.co.uk
3. SLICK SILVER SERVICE: JEWELLERY REPAIRS LONDON (LONDON)
A most recent customer schlepped all the way from Suffolk to London clutching a solitary silver teaspoon for a bit of TLC. Their main bread and butter is antique jewellery but if you have silver that needs attention, send it to them. They’ll do cutlery, trays, teapots and a lot of candlesticks. Anything from getting rid of marks, tarnishes, bashes or re-felting bottoms to a complete silver re-plating job. They can’t give a price as it depends on the base metal of every piece and while you can email pictures they prefer you bring it in so they can hold it, feel, it, see it. But you’re in good hands here, antique dealers rate them highly and the general attitude is if they can’t fix it, no one can.
0207 405 1536 / www.jewellery-repairs-london.co.uk
4. PAINTING PERFECTION: KITCHEN REJUVENATION COMPANY (ORPINGTON)
Their main thing is facelifts for kitchens. So if you have well-built wooden kitchen units (sorry you MDF types) which you want to change but don’t want to fork out another £20,000 on ripping it all out, you call these chaps. They pitch up, take everything away, cupboards, splash-backs, doors ‘n’ all. Back at the workshop they strip them right back, paint them and give them a beautifully sprayed finish. But, and we love this bit, it’s not all kitchens, kitchens, kitchens. They’ll paint any furniture. Like that chest of drawers you were going to get all Farrow & Ball over but never got round to it. Admit defeat and hand it over. This lot can make any crappy old wooden chest scrub up into a thing of beauty.
01689 637 290 / www.kitchenrejuvenation.co.uk
5. UPHOLSTERY UPCYCLERS: ASNEW (OXFORDSHIRE)
Enough. It was one Midult’s acceptance that she wasn’t going to walk out of a good but stressful job and enrol on an upholstery course (you know that career change fantasy that ends up with you upcycling old junk into Loaf-style armchairs which then sell for silly money)… that led her to Asnew. As in, ‘as good as’. The best thing is that they love new and old. They’ll daringly suggest how you might jazz up an old armchair with something more outrageous. But they’re also skilled at doing a straightforward restoration upholstery job if that’s what you’re after. The video on rebuilding a sofa on their website is strangely mesmerising and shows how they can work wonders on even the most clapped out piece of furniture.
01235 522770 / www.asnew-upholstery.co.uk
6. CHINA CHALLENGE: CHINA REPAIRERS (LONDON)
Starting out 35 years ago, the lovely Virginia cut her teeth on lots of work for antique dealers but these days most of her work is sentimental. Granny’s broken vase. Tommy’s cracked clay handprint. How she can patch up a china vase so invisibly is a mystery. She can even replace lost bits, like a jug handle. The whole thing was a mistake really. She was a secretary at NATO 35 years ago when she saw an ad for a bookkeeper at a china restorer’s. She ended up learning the craft and now runs it from her garden shed. It all sounds so homespun, until she mentions she’s just taken a call from Saudi Arabia.
07973 121 043 / www.chinarepairers.co.uk
7. SPEEDY STRIPPERS: WEST LONDON DOOR STRIPPING (LONDON)
If it’s in your house and it’s broken they can fix it. Skanky front door you daren’t tackle? They’ll take the door away, strip it, repaint it and get it back on its hinges by the end of the day. A broken garden bench, dodgy chair leg, crumbling old chest of drawers… they’ve been doing it for more than 35 years and can fix, rebuild or refurb anything. They do fireplaces too. If you’ve a broken grate, missing tiles, want a whole new fire surround put in or just a finishing with black leading, fine. Just be wary of their shop. Beautiful things for sale. Our source went along to talk about having her door painted and left with enough old garden stoneware to sink a ship.
07976 297 008 / www.westlondondoorstripping.co.uk
8. WOOD WONDER WOMAN: FEMME FATALE FINISHES (LEEDS)
Kate trained as a French Polisher (hence the name – she added the ‘Finishes’ as Femme Fatale was sending out the wrong message). If it’s made of wood she’ll take it on. Stripping, spray painting, replacing handles, mending broken bits, whatever it takes to transform a piece of junk into something beautiful. Straight-talking and gung-ho, she loves the challenge of the job, has a great imagination for what you could do with a piece of furniture. She has problems saying no to jobs which is a bonus for us as she’ll take on anything, big or small. As well as furniture she’ll do kitchens, floors, even did the inside of a Learjet a few years back. Everyone who uses her comments on her can-do and great value.
07776 197 485 / www.femmefatalefinishes.co.uk
9. THE ANTIQUES ACE: EDINBURGH ANTIQUE RESTORATION (EDINBURGH)
Whatever you do, don’t show Alan Smart a flat pack. “Expensive shite, that’s what I call it,” he says. Hold on to your old stuff, he begs. Or buy second hand. It doesn’t matter if it’s in bad nick. Old furniture is well-built, good quality and there’s so much you can do to it, he insists. It’s amazing the magic he can perform on a shabby old chest or a legless table. He’ll tackle anything from coffee cup rings on an antique table, to designing and building a wardrobe. With lots of stripping, mending and polishing in between. Wood repairs, metal repairs, he even fixes computers but that, he says, is another story. He has a big van and is happy to drive to the back of beyond to pick up your furniture – or you can bring it yourself or get a van to courier it to him. Well worth it and from what we hear great prices.
0131 312 8696 / www.edinburghantiquerestoration.co.uk
10. APPLIANCE A-TEAM: TELEVID (CHELTENHAM)
Shit happens, stuff breaks. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Well it’s easy enough to buy a new one, we say. But that’s so expensive and VERY un-eco. Promise me you’ll try TeleVid? Okay, we promise. This lot are like a window into a bygone era, they’ll do everything from mend TVs to getting a turntable running again, not to mention fixing hair dryers, food mixers and toasters. Laptop screens. They’ll even copy tapes and cine films to CD and DVDs. Especially good if you’re broke or attached to your gadget. They’re based in Cheltenham and have a collection and delivery service for around £50.
01242 521 222 / www.televid.co.uk
11. THE GLASS GUY: CRYSTAL AND GLASS REPAIRS (WEST MIDLANDS)
Oh no, was it special? My grandmother’s wedding glasses. Oh God, the guilt. On the plus side it led our source to Mel. He started out in a Welsh crystal factory aged 15, has more than 35 years under his belt and works wonders with glass. It really is magic. He’ll do anything from fix a chipped glass rim or broken stem to engraving any pattern you want. Now he works from home but has stuff arriving every day, even Swarovski send him their crystal animals to repair. And it’s cheap so actually worth your while – £5 for a simple glass repair, plus postage. Which is presumably what led the Sultan of Oman to his door, with a commission to engrave some tumblers for his plane.
07505 355 861 / www.crystalrepairs.co.uk
12. FEATHER FILLERS: THE FEATHER COMPANY (EDINBURGH)
Ahh bed. How do we love thee? Enough to get The Feather Company to recover and restuff our bedding. They’ll do duvets, pillows, cushions and quilts. Perfect if you’ve any old eiderdowns, beautiful but flat after years of use. Bear in mind that a new down-filled duvet will cost upwards of £200, so worth considering. You can have new casing or stuffing or both. Just stuff the thing into a parcel and they’ll give you options and prices. Or drop it off if you’re nearby. They do sofa seat and back cushions, plus things like window seats. And they sell their own products, from cushions and bolsters to amazingly delicious all-down duvets. Such decadence to have a down duvet made for you but just imagine…
0131 447 8266 / www.thefeathercompany.com
13. RUG RESTORATION: PARS RUG GALLERY (ROMSEY)
They really know their rugs here. They’ve done high-end £50,000 restoration jobs, are experts on every rug out there, plus they have some stunners for sale. But they’ll happily take on your sad little rag and mend its bare patch, even if it’s only a £50 job. As our man Arash points out, good rugs don’t come cheap so you’d be mad to get rid of it. We take anything and everything, he says. They’ve never turned a rug away. The 25 restorers promise to transform any rug, reweaving, mending fraying, restoring colour, getting rid of pet smells, mending burns, stains, stretching, flattening curling edges. Anything. Better still, your rug might end up being sent to the workshop in Tehran. A very restorative break.
01794 524 040 / www.parsruggallery.co.uk
14. THE DIAL-A-REPAIR GUYS: THE FURNITURE MEDIC
Not so niche this one, compared to all the characters and sages among the rest of them, but worth a mention. Because it has franchises all around the country so even if you’re out in the sticks there will be one near enough. Better still, the idea is that they come to you so they’re a great option if you have something you want fixed quickly without the hassle of getting it to them. Worked a treat for our source who broke a chair while changing a lightbulb within 30 minutes of entering the holiday cottage in Norfolk.
15. THE CANE-IT KING
We’re not supposed to mention Kevin, he’s so busy he’s booked 6 months in advance and he’s trying to cut back. But he’s so busy because he’s so good. And it’s not as though every Midult has a shedload of chairs which need caned. But if ever you do, this is your man and it’s worth the wait. He’s a skilled craftsman who can turn a tired old chair with no seat, back into a work of art. And value. So don’t all rush (sorry) at once. Maybe don’t tell him we sent you. But he’s a true artist.
0208 549 1374 / www.chaircaner.co.uk
16. DO-GOOD WOOD TEAM: RESTORATION STATION (LONDON)
You can’t go wrong coming here. You get a skilled restoration job plus you’re doing a good turn as most of the restorers are in recovery from drugs and alcohol. They’ll fix broken furniture, revamp the tired stuff and even make you something from scratch with reclaimed materials. The training is great and the craftsmanship top notch. They’ll collect furniture within the M25. You can also donate vintage furniture to them to be restored and sold, or you can get yourself some really great vintage furniture that’s been restored by them, at the shop in Spitalfields. Their aim is to shift furniture as quickly as possible so prices for restoration and buying are way lower than any other vintage business you’ll find in the area.
03332 717 179 / www.sct.org.uk
17. RESTORATION RENAISSANCE MAN: HALFORD RESTORATIONS (HERTFORDSHIRE)
Not that Halfords. This Halford (Jamie) is a multi-skilled master craftsman among men, with a furniture restoration degree under his tool belt that includes cabinet making, traditional upholstery and polishing, metal work and gilding. He’ll do conservation and restoration of furniture of all periods, carving, polishing, clocks, barometers, picture and mirror frame repairs. Oh and did we mention he’s a wheelwright? So if you’ve any old carts of wagon wheels rolling about he’ll take on those too. Half his time is spent correcting duff repair jobs so save yourself some hassle and head to him first off.
01279 655 969 / www.halfordrestorations.co.uk
18. PRO WITH PICTURES: REBEKAHS RESTORATION (LONDON)
Such a lovely girl, we’re told. And a real talent. Rebekah graduated with a ceramic art degree but after working in a gallery restoring art and frames she found her real love and a business was born. If it’s art, Rebekah can restore it. Damaged frames, oil paintings, sculptures, ceramics, she’ll mend, touch up, clean, restore, pretty much whatever is needed to bring it back to its former glory. Past commissions include mounting a Damien Hirst skateboard plus restoring a Monet frame and a Picasso plate. Though fear not, she won’t turn her nose up at your rather more ordinary offerings. Work can cost anything from £70 to £800 depending on the thing and what needs doing. But send it to her and you’re in safe hands.
07808 162 886 / www.rebekahsrestoration.com
19. THE GLASS GUYS: CORIANDER STAINED GLASS (LONDON)
Niche, yes, but if you do have the odd door pane that needs restoring or replacing you can’t do better than Coriander. They’ve just finished a massive stained glass project at the Natural History Museum but they’ll gladly work on a small front door panel or window. Better still, if you don’t have any stained glass but fancy some, they can make it for you from scratch. Start by scrolling through the amazing selection of designs on their website, all divided up into different eras. Even if you don’t know what you’re after they’ll help you work out what design would suit. So gorgeous, even if you don’t have a panel to fill you’ll want to find one.
Wimbledon 0208 947 7635 / Esher 0208 398 1633 / www.corianderstainedglass.co.uk
20 THE LEATHER LADS: LEATHER DOCTOR (CHOBHAM)
Yes, there’s a lot of leather furniture out there that shouldn’t be rescued but there are also some really good pieces, especially the vintage stuff which, given a bit of TLC, will look amazing. And the Leather Doctor is the one to do it. They have more than 35 years’ experience in leather repair and will tackle scuffs, marks, repairs as well as the big stuff like totally recovering your leather sofa or having it recoloured. They’ll also do leather cleaning which is amazing. Look at their website and see what a transformation they can perform. They do work for John Lewis and The Dorchester which is as good a recommendation as any.
01276 856 668 / www.leather-doctor.co.uk