Keys to a successful restoration project

What is it that stands between you and a perfectly realized restoration project? Furniture and decorative art restoration and repurposing can be creative and fulfilling endeavors or they can fall far short of expectations. Projects that are well-conceived, reasonably priced (falling somewhere between “he was so cheap!” and “I can’t believe how much I spent…”), and collaborative are almost always successful. In our work, we’ve found there are three main barriers to success to watch out for:

  1. “I Know a Guy”
  2. DIY TV
  3. Partners Only Get in the Way
    1. “I Know a Guy” – Actually, you used to know a guy. A guy who is most likely out of business now, due to the fact that he’s been under-pricing his work for decades. (This is sad but true – we’ve seen them come and go in just the 15 years we’ve been in Nashville.)
    2. 2.   DIY TV – we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. It’s television, folks. The land of smoke and mirrors. That handsome ex-model host has given you a punch list of the supplies and tools you’ll need and those all-important “step-by-step instructions.” How can you go wrong? Here’s how: you don’t know how, and it’s easier said than done. We would not discourage anyone from trying their hand at some project or other – as long as outcome, timeframe, and eventual completion are not vitally important.
    3. 3.   Partners Only Get in the Way – There is one phrase that sends chills up and down our spines every time it’s uttered: “Let me talk to my partner…” To quote Homer Simpson… “DOH!!!” We’re not privy to the conversations that ensue – suffice it to say that balloons are popped, excitement wanes, and the job stops here.

While each of these scenarios can spell the end of a possibly outstanding restoration, they are not destined to be the kiss of death if you keep in mind some helpful strategies.

  1. Align your expectations regarding price, timeline, and quality with your desired outcome. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice and what is a must-have.
  2. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with your own two hands. Will you end up with a pile of parts in the garage, or a piece you can hand down to your children?
  3. Communicate early and often with your partner (and/or other key stakeholders). Failing that, don’t forget there’s a lot to be said for the gentle art of persuasion!

Good luck with your next completely unique, creative, and stunning restoration project!



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