To salvage or not to salvage?
That is the question.
There’s a saying that “all good things must come to an end”, but for those of us who relish in the originality of vintage furniture pieces, we couldn’t disagree more. What once was a shiny new love seat or accent chair, can still be cherished for many years to come if given the right amount of TLC, but how would you know where to draw the line between vintage chic and plain old junk? It really boils down to a few important points to consider: Quality, condition, cost-efficiency, and sentimental value.
I remember the day I moved out of my family home for the first time, I was moving into a one bedroom apartment of my own. My parents wanted to help as much as they could, so alongside my personal belongings, they stuffed some boxes with an extra set of utensils, an old toaster oven, and offered to give me their old sofa and loveseat set that has been sitting in our family living room since a time well before my existence. Apparently, the sofa and loveseat set belonged to my Grandparents. It was their first purchase they made to furnish their home after they were married back in 1960 something. The same sofas ended up in our home decades later. While most young adults my age were furnishing their home and office with more of the minimalist, boxy type furniture, I maintained my appreciation for old vintage treasures. Needless to say, I welcomed these cherished pieces with opens arms knowing it would be worth the investment.
If you’re lucky enough to score a cheap (or better yet, free) authentic, aged piece of furniture and decide to restore it back to life, in most cases you should not expect your cheap furniture to stay cheap. Furniture restoration can get costly but if the piece is high-quality and truly one of a kind, then reupholstery is your most advantageous option. With this option, it is intended to not change or take away from the originality of the furniture itself, but rather restore its aesthetic and practical value so that it could become more livable in this modern world.
Have you ever tried moving old furniture pieces on your own? It’s surprisingly quite heavy. Old furniture was made to last, you’ll find most pieces were crafted from solid wood with built-in quality, exquisite elements like hand engraving, and unique artistry. It’s becoming a rarity to find this sort of style and quality in your average contemporary furniture store. Some furniture produced as early as 10 years back can be found to encompass this level of quality.
Nowadays, you’ll see a lot more vintage furniture pieces being used in modern offices because it welcomes clients and visitors with a level of sophistication and flair that’s accompanied with a sense of warmth. I find this sort of panache is best accomplished with the use of high-quality vintage furniture that has been artfully restored.
I once came across an inspiring blog that showed just how to combine both old and new elements to freshen up an old victorian style furniture piece. Of course, something so beautiful didn’t come without a little labour of love. It needed a good sanding, some wood glue to repair a wob
bly leg, primer, and a complete paint job to bring this traditional piece back to life. Using a bright coloured paint put emphasis on the intricate details and curves carved in the solid wood, which is a perfect example of a cost-effective way to restore high quality furniture.
You’ll find most older pieces are still in great shape with the exception of the fabric being subjected to the usual wear and tear. A good start in determining whether or not your aged furniture piece is a good candidate for reupholstering is by it’s weight. If the couch is quite heavy, the chances are that it is well constructed with a solid wood webbed bottom, equipped with coil springs to form the cushions as opposed to the way some couches are made currently, hollow with a fabric cover.
The parts that power a vehicle are found under the hood, right? Well, the same concept applies to the coil springs located under the seat of old chairs and sofas. Reupholstering just the fabric is usually not too costly depending on the material and print you choose however, if the entire seat needs to be re-stuffed while the back board and the coil springs are in need of repairs, it could wind up costing more than if you bought brand new today.
If you’re handy and own a good set of tools, you could learn a few tips and tricks on how to rejuvenate coil seats yourself which could save you a pretty penny on your next restoration project. It’s also a good skill to acquire, especially if you love vintage furniture.
Unlike making a random Craig’s list purchase, I knew the history of these pieces. To me, these sofas were timeless because between the discoloured and faded fabric and the slumped in, lumpy cushions there was sentimental value. Restoring an old collectible to use in your home or office is both a challenge and reward at the same time not to mention, a great conversation piece for many years to come. The only way to truly appreciate something is to learn the history behind it.
WHEN TO BUY NEW
If the furniture piece has simply lost it’s luster and is broken, faded, ripped, and holds no sentimental value to you, perhaps it’s time to bid farewell. Sadly, not all old furniture pieces can be saved. The decision whether to salvage or not to salvage a piece of furniture truly boils down to how much it really means to the owner. Does it carry a story so dear that it is worth the upward cost it would be to breathe the life back into it? If it was purchased with pocket change at a drive-by yard sale, chances are that it left the history it came with back in the yard where you picked it up from. Without that sort of attachment we get from decades of memories, it surely becomes easier to ditch the old while justifying the cost of buying a brand new set and creating new memories of your own. Perhaps it may even be the beginning of your own vintage story.