In recent years, the cost of Antique Restoration has risen due to many socioeconomic reasons. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the antique trade declined rapidly. Many antique restorers and artisans went out of business, leaving a gap where traditional skills were not passed on from one generation to the next.
Thankfully for design lovers and craft aficionados, the industry has begun to rebuild itself, and there is an increasing demand for quality one-off and heirloom pieces. Many Millennials, first-time buyers, and rental tenants have discovered the world of antiques and vintage furniture. People are drawn to pieces with a narrative that brings character or soul to their homes. G Plan furniture is one such category, incredibly popular with a new wave of furniture lovers.
The Rising Price of Antique Restoration
Despite this interest in and demand for antique and vintage items, there is still a skills gap in the industry. Restoration is a niche service, that must be carried out by skilled artisans. Therefore, costs can be very high. Potentially, more costly than the value of the piece itself.
Antique restoration prices will vary depending on the skills, experience, and services offered. Restorations are billed at an hourly rate. The rate can be anywhere from £13.50 to £25 or even more for a highly skilled artisan restorer. If a customer can purchase their favorite G Plan dresser for around £350, they may not be able to justify paying at least the same again to remove some minor damage. It is worth considering this cost at the point of purchase.
Antique restoration comes with another price, the price of failure.
Before any antique restoration project, consider whether it is necessary and if it will increase the overall appearance and value of the piece. Many antique experts agree that, as a general rule, minor imperfections such as fading, light sun damage, cracking, or other signs of wear and tear should be left alone. The patina, or surface wear or oxidation, of a piece, is a sign of its age and history. In most cases, this patina is prized by collectors, and the piece may be less valuable if the patina is lost.
When deciding whether or not to restore a piece, another basic rule of thumb is that if it’s older than 1850 or so, do your research. It may need to be conserved (preserved as is) rather than restored. Restoration is risky. A poorly executed restoration can lower the item’s value or even destroy it.
Some items, such as artworks by well-known artists, have inherent value, whether or not they are damaged. Value is attributed to the link to the creator rather than the current appearance. Therefore, it is not necessary or advisable to attempt restoration on these types of pieces.
In the vast majority of antiques, however, a skilled restoration will increase the value.
Restoration is advisable for many reasons; to correct a previously botched repair, to restore an item that has lost its original finish, or to repair serious issues such as breaks or severe water damage.
Due to the rising price of antique restoration, it is worth considering DIY restoration. However, specialist furniture restoration should be left to professionals. A professional can ensure that restoration is done correctly. They can also ensure that no other damages will be inflicted on the item.
Situations requiring a professional restorer:
- Cleaning paintings, remounting prints, photography touch-ups, and other repairs to artworks.
- Antique book repair. The cost of the restoration is typically quite high, but if done well, it often increases the value of the item.
- Antique Silver restoration. Replating base metals, fixing dents and other antique silver repairs should always be undertaken by a professional silversmith. Proper restoration can increase the value of the piece. Remember, silver antiques, such as jewelry, hand mirrors, and cigarette cases, should not be polished. The patina is part of the value and appeal of these items. Polishing can also wear down the engraving and other ornamentation.
Is Antique Restoration worth it?
Antique restoration can be a risky and costly undertaking, but one with high potential to increase the value of the piece. Always do your research, and evaluate if the restoration is necessary. If you decide to invest in restoring an antique piece, remember to choose a highly skilled and reputable restorer and use the right materials for the job. Otherwise, you may end up paying a much higher price than anticipated.