A few weeks ago a visit to our local brocante found us hauling another van load of furniture back to the farmhouse. Now much of the land has been tamed and the ground cleared of fallen branches and sadly household rubbish, we have the foundations of a garden, orchard and meadow. This means the farmhouse can now head on full steam and all our store furniture finds can finally be restored and have a home.
The hanger is bulging with tables, chairs, panelling and bed heads. All need a little cleaning, a few wiggles fixed and coats of wax polish or chalk paint to bring them back to life. It will be a full project for winter but I can’t begin to say how excited I get over furniture restoration. Probably a chunk of my rise in blood pressure is the cheap cost of these finds, but in part it’s the reusing of second hand and making an unwanted or unloved item regain its glory days. At some point in history it was fashion and made with an artisan passion. For me they are worth the couple of days labour and shockingly, finding the €86 sideboard retails at $1600 on the USA market makes me polish harder and put the kettle on more often! (Tea keeps me going).
The four chairs came in at just €15 each in a very 1950’s green leather. Likely from a solicitors or accountants office waiting room or office. Rarely sat in for long, as who honestly who hangs about to get your tax return, these were perfect for our farmhouse snug come dining room.
A wash with warm water to clear the dust, and a leather clean with Leather Honey cleaner followed by their Conditioner. Highly recommend. It leaves the leather clean, softer and with a slight sheen. The wood simply needed a light coat of another favourite restorer, Renuwell. Its Swiss made and around €18 for 500ml. It goes a long way. It lightly cleans, oils and brings up the grain with a light sheen. It dries very fast and can be waxed over or painted if needed. Where a piece of furniture needs little attention, it’s enough to even the timber shade and doesn’t need any hard effort to bring to a soft lustre or even finish. There is no residue. Available on Amazon, there is quite a range of products.
Liberon and Annie Sloan are fother ranges I use for paint and wax finishes, along with a staple of beeswaxes, boot polishes, cold tea and wood stains. Various grades of wire wool, metal sandpaper as the wood sandpaper I find rip the grain too much and copious sift lint free clothes and waxed clothes to remove sawdust after sanding, complete my renovation kit.
I also buy pieces of furniture that are highly decorative. Often overwhelmingly ornate to the point of ugly, these can be stripped down for parts, rails, legs and panels and added to other pieces. Hinges and handles can be expensive and these I remove too. And sometimes once the piece is stripped down, it actually becomes a workable piece in it’s own right. Then I am really happy. So always keep a look out for how furniture can be adapted. If you can upholstered or sew too, then really your only limited by your imagination.