Refurbish or Restore

What is the different?

Refurbish or restore, what is the different?

Many of our customer ask us how to restore their furniture. Most of them think it is a good idea to make all looking like new! This is refurbish, and from our view that’s often is a big mistake!
Hardline Collectors, e.g. for Bauhaus originals do not tolerate any new paint, no re-chroming. No real collector will buy a fresh polished copper Artichoke from Louis Poulsen. They like the brownish patina of copper.
A refurbished furniture is a second hand item, thats good in many cases, but take care not to ruin the worth of your furniture!
Let’s see what’s the different…


Refurbish means to make all like it was, when it was new. We recommend it only for furniture which has no patina, was made in large quantities, and are strong worn .
For example, an early 50s chair was painted in blue later to make it looking more modern in the 70s.
The modification may also be seen as a part of the history of the chair, but most customer like the furniture as they have been designed…. comprehensible!
Also the Action Office in the picture. The last owner stored it standing on the painted side, he pushed it along the floor several times, so it was such scratched and damaged, that no restoration was possible. It got new paint.

In this case it a good idea to refurbish it to original condition.

But it’s different when it has only signs of wear!
Example Lounge Chair:
Some companies (e.g. the manufacturer, they should know better) recommend “restorer” which refurbish vintage Lounge Chairs to new condition. They repaint leather and veneer, remove all signs of wear.
But this wear tells the story of the chair, shows its age!
And the age makes it to something special, to a valuable collector’s item!

They use modern replacement material, change rubber parts to plastic! They repaint with modern varnish, but the old paint has a very different gloss, which will change overall impression.
Modern varnish is made from synthetic material, it reflects the light bluish. Old gunstock varnish looks warm, like amber.
Our advise, to keep the valuable of a vintage furniture, restore it and don’t refurbish, to keep it as a collector’s item!

Restoration means preserving as much as possible, also, or especially from the aging process! This mainly includes “patina”!
To keep the value of a vintage design furniture which has only usual signs of wear, it never should be refurbish! If a furniture aged in dignity, shows that it was beloved, was careful maintained, but has signs of wear, like worn through paint on areas, where it was touched 1000 times, or discolored leather from use, you never should refurbish!!!
Just do careful cleaning, take care of conservation. E.g. clean leather and give it some protection.
Replace only parts to secure safety for use, try to find same style material, e.g. same looking screws!
If it has only signs of wear, don’t sand wood, just clean it, stop and repair tears, supplement missing cane, clean paint or plastic, but don’t use new paint, stop rust, safe as much of original as possible!
Also keep as much as possible of patina, it tells the story of the furniture. It is not possible to artificially create patina, it will be part of the value of the furniture!
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