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Home Antiques Gasp! If you refinish my furniture, it will lose its value…..or will it?
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Gasp! If you refinish my furniture, it will lose its value…..or will it?

Many people watch The Antiques Roadshow and hear about an 1890′s hutch worth thousands of dollars because the finish is original and think their furniture should NEVER be refinished. Or a piece is now worth $200 instead of $20,000 because it’s been refinished. That is not always the case. Unless the piece is very rare, of museum quality, or has some history to it, most furniture looks better and is worth more if it is in good condition.

True story:  Several years back a woman brought me a very broken kitchen chair from the 1960′s. The chair had been painted and the paint was peeling off, revealing a badly scarred and worn finish underneath. I asked her if she also wanted the chair refinished.  ”Oh no,” she replied, “won’t that hurt the value?” With a straight face I asked her “How much do you think the chair is worth now?” Her chair was not an antique, had no historical value, was not rare, and was not even worth five bucks in its current condition.

In the 27 years we have been in business, there have been only 2 times that we have recommended a piece of furniture not be touched because it might ruin the value.  In every other case, we believe we have actually increased the value because the finish was repaired. In addition, the customer was able to actually use and enjoy their piece.

Antique

This is a replica of an antique. Refinishing it will not diminish the value of the piece

 

 

 

Antiques Roadshow clarified their position on refinishing furniture in this June 2002 commentary by Peter B. Cook in Professional Refinishing Magazine:

http://www.historicinteriors.com/files/Download/Roadshow%20Cook.pdf

Peter B. Cook, executive producer of Antiques Roadshow, has been a writer and producer at WGBH Boston for 32 years. His award-winning credits include The Advocates (1970-74), Arabs and Israelis (1975), and Concealed Enemies, winner of the national Emmy for Best Limited Series in 1984. He also made a few trestle tables back when 5/4 by 18 clear pine was $1.25 afoot.

 

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for this clarification. I appreciate that Sandi and Jerry will give us their advice and not let us destroy the value of a piece.

  2. thef9050

    Thanks Joanne. We have also advised potential customers that it is sometimes not worth the money to refinish a piece, and their money would be better spent purchasing a new piece.

  3. Millie

    Wow, that was an eye-opener. I never knew the true difference between softwood and hardwood. Helpful information. Keep up the great information and recommendations.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I really believe that there are really times that it is better if you buy a new one rather than repairing or refinishing it. Repairing can sometimes cost you much unless, your furniture is truelly an antique, right?

    • Sandi

      If the furniture is newer and not well made, we will often tell the customer that it would be more cost effective to buy something new, rather than repairing it. We are really into recycling though, so we will advise them to donate the piece, rather than throwing it out. Older pieces that are well made will usually last longer if they are preserved with a nice refinish or restoration. Often with customers, it is a value decision; if they are emotionally attached to the piece because it is a family heirloom or it goes with a set, they will pay the money to have it repaired or restored.

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