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I’ve always been a handyman, as I’ve been in the furniture industry since I was a teenager. I got my start in the business by doing home repairs, restorations, and refinishing projects. Over time, I discovered I had a passion for furniture restoration that I eventually implemented into my business, Upbeat Designs.

There’s nothing more thrilling with my work than seeing a client bring in a piece of furniture that just needs a little bit of tender love and care. Restoring furniture to its former glory is both an art and a science, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Below are a few important factors that can help you restore your once treasured piece of furniture to something you’ll love again.

Remove Grime Buildup

You can’t start painting or sanding until you give the piece of furniture a thorough cleaning. Scrub away dust and grime by grabbing a sponge, warm water, and vegetable-based oil soap. For this step, regular dish soap will not work well because its chemical properties will destroy the wood. Instead, try using some of Murphy’s Oil Soap, which is specifically made for wood furniture cleaning. For the hard to reach places, a soft-bristled toothbrush will work just fine.


Repair Anything That’s Broken

If there’s anything that’s severely broken, it’s best to take care of that right away with wood glue. Furniture pieces should perfectly fit together like a puzzle, and if you start sanding before you glue those crucial pieces together, it might mess with the fit! Additional damages, such as chips and dents, should be taken care of at this stage with epoxy putty. Once the putty is set, it can be sanded and treated just like wood. You’ll also want to make sure anything that has screws, nuts or bolts are tightly in place.


Remove the Old Finish, then Adding a New One

This can be the toughest part of restoring furniture, because it’s a time consuming, tedious and repetitive task. However, it is the most rewarding because you’ll have a beautiful and smooth piece of furniture by the end.

The key lies in the tools you use and the order in which you use them. You’ll go through a cycle of different sandpapers with varying grits and levels of pressure until you reach the bare wood. At this point, you’ll use a chemical stripper to remove any last bits of paint, then a stripper after-wash to put moisture back into the wood. At this point, your piece of furniture is ready for it’s brand new finish! After you’ve gone through these steps, your old piece of furniture will look new again.


Sim Fern is the founder of Upbeat Designs, a Brooklyn-based provider of custom furniture, upholstery, and millwork services for luxury residential and commercial spaces. Sim has always had a passion for furniture, as he’s been working in the business since he was a teenager. What started out as a side job turned into a career for Sim — he’s now transitioned from small projects for homeowners to a wide range of clientele with Upbeat Designs. You can connect with Sim Fern online.