We include this page about modifying furniture in a section about restoring furniture because there are times when a piece is no longer useful as it is. In a case such as that it needs to be restored to usefulness so that it doesn't become trash. Restoring to original condition wouldn't help.
There are other occasions where the damage to a piece is so significant that modifying it rather than restoring it is the best choice for the owner's budget. The chair shown in the two photos to the right is one example. This modification was expensive enough, it would have been much more expensive to restore it to original condition.
Here is a catalog of some of the modifications we have done:
We will illustrate a few of these modifications on this page.
The chair we are highlighting here fell off the back of a truck as it was being driven down the street. Needless to say, an accident, and a very disheartening one. This was the Bishop's chair used by a local church. The chair had a long history and the church wanted that history to continue. Their budget was not sufficient to fully restore the chair, but sufficient to make it useable again.
The detail to the left shows that the left back post was broken top and bottom, and the roping decorating the outside edge was half gone. The damage on the right side was far worse. The entire post was broken off and gone, the top rail was partly missing as well. From the photos far right you can also see that the top decoration was mostly gone and what was left in the center was damaged. The back of the left post decoration was badly abraded at the top. The back right leg had broken off, the other three legs were badly abraded at the bottom as were the two arms at the very front. The amazing thing was that none of the upholstery was damaged--other than coming undone at the top corner of the back.
Our plan was to lower the back. The upholstery could be removed and saved to be reattached by an upholsterer. We have done that in this photo and have rebuilt the backs of the arms.
We thought the top corner details were important design elements. We traced the existing, created a mirror image, and crafted the part. Once the new part was created, it needed to be attached to the remaining post and blended with the existing vertical incisions. We replaced the missing wood on the top rail, then reattached it between the remounted corner details. Quite a bit of complex calculating was required to make all this work.
You can see that quite a bit of piecing together needed to be done in order to get all this to work. You might be able to see four separate pieces added to the original.
This is the completed restoration/modification. The upholstery can be attached to the new shortened back, the chair can resume its place at the head of the congregation, its history can continue.
Looking closely there are some obvious evidences that repairs have been done. However, if you place yourself in the position of someone who had no knowledge of the accident or the repairs, you might never suspect. That is the goal we strive to achieve. We can never hide our repairs from someone who knows where the damage occurred and is looking for the outcome of the repair. For all others, our repairs are not obvious unless pointed out.
A customer brought in a rattan table base and six chairs. The table had originally been a glass top table but they wanted two modifications. They were big people and wanted the table top higher. They also didn't want glass any more. Our task was to create a table top which would be three inches taller and made out of wood, all the while looking like it went with the rest of the rattan set. We did it. Here you can see how we did it. First we formed a disc out of multilam plywood. Next cut some rattan poles in half and created a double wrap of rattan around the outside edge of the table top. We then added the height extenders, and finally put a new finish on everything.
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An old full sized bed. Not many people find them useful anymore. We have grown! Not only was it of a size that isn't widely used, but it was also loose, had gaps from shrinkage and had a worn finish. Our task was to make this bed useful once again.
We started out by removing the original finish and reinforcing the shrunken parts with shims placed in the back of the bed.
The big task was to design a way this could expand to a queen sized bed and still look good.
We took inspiration from the floral lines on the headboard and from some of the angular lines on other pieces in this set. Our design for the extensions is shown below left. We carve the floral pattern below.
Once the extensions were crafted, they needed to be attached. We glued them to the sides also using biscuits to add strength to the joint.
Queen sized beds are not only wider, they are longer than full sized beds. New rails had to be made as well.
Once all was completed, the bed was stained and finished. Ready to go!
This is the entire bedroom set that this bed was a part of. It is all beautiful and ready to be put to use for the next century!
This late nineteenth century spoon carved bed had the same problems the bed above had--loose, too narrow, and a worn finish. This is the after picture. In this case, since the original bed rails were still straight, we were able to use them to make the bed extensions. The result is that all the wood you see is the same age. Of course the original bed rails were not shaped and carved as the extensions are now. That was our imaginative work.
We offer the detail below because it is so appealing and because it was our inspiration for the carved pattern we employed on the extensions.
This old farm table used to be an old coffee table. You can see the original legs in the foreground. This customer wanted to use this table as a dining table and brought it to us to be raised. We were able to find ready made legs with an appropriate style and size to work. We just needed to finish to match and mount them. This is a pretty simple modification. We wanted you to see that we can do simple modifications as well as the much more challenging jobs we have illustrated on this page.