Very often the enormous amount of work that goes into restoring an antique is so integrated in terms of materials, styling and finish that... it isn't noticed.
Our goal is NOT to make old pieces look new. When a piece of antique furniture is correctly restored, it will convey a sense of its history and charm. It will gracefully reflect its age. The best kept secret about antique furniture restoration is that often, doing less is best.
Sometimes major repair work is unavoidable. It needs to be done, yet appear as if nothing were done. Top notch antique repair work must precisely match the existing wood, grains, finishing and parts so you can't tell the old from the new. Most importantly, painstaking effort should be made to preserve and protect each piece's unique personality, character and history through active conservation of its surface and patina.
Just as in the field of medicine, a restorer first does no harm.
In 35 years of restoring antique furniture we have never sanded or scraped a piece of furniture to remove its finish. Never.
Fully half the pieces that come to us have renewable finishes and are not removed at all. Some are clarified and polished. Some are lightly cleaned and renewed. If a finish is to be removed, it should be done gently and without removing ANY of the original surface; not a molecule. It is truly unsettling to reflect on the tens of thousands of patinas that get swept up every year and thrown away with the sawdust by well-meaning but poorly trained restorers. No wonder the myth continues to circulate that restoration reduces the value of a piece. Good judgment, combined with antique restoration best practices, will only enhance the value and enjoyment of one’s furniture.