When History Repeats Itself

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We've all heard the adage "like father like son", "like mother like daughter". But sometimes likeness skips a generation, as was the case with a recent client of ours. His grandmother was his north star, the one whom he emulated. Growing up he spent many weekends and holidays at his grandmother's home. One of his most vivid memories was of her seated at the secretary (desk) writing letters, paying bills, doing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. His grandmother has long since passed away but her memory lives on–and this secretary is one of his most tangible reminders of her. Recently settling in a new home in San Francisco, our client wanted to restore the secretary and upgrade its functionality for his own use - writing emails, paying bills and doing the online Times crossword puzzle. You know what they say, like grandmother like grandson :)

Antique secretary in need of restoration

Revitalization Checklist

  • Full restoration of exterior - stain to original dark mahogany finish
  • Replace missing carvings and decorative details
  • Repair broken hinges and sticky/non-functioning drawers
  • Replace missing skeleton key
  • Add discrete wire port holes for laptop and charger
  • Structural integrity - solid as its original owner
Revitaliste | Restored antique desk and reupholstered vintage chair

Design Decisions

Sometimes a piece's original design is exactly what we love about it. Our client did not want to change anything dramatic about the secretary's appearance; he simply wanted to maintain the deep mahogany wood stain, restore the wood's luster and repair (and upgrade) its functionality. The time-worn desk top reminded him of the countless hours his grandmother logged at that very spot. So we left the interior desk top as it was–well-used. We repaired the interior shelves, hinges and drawers without touching the finish. And to bring the desk's functionality into the 21st century, we created discrete holes for electric cords of laptops and phone chargers to pass through.  

 photo: brian byllesby

Things To Keep In Mind

  • For wood furniture that is not heavily used, skip the cleaning products (Pledge, Murphy's Oil Soap, lemon oil, etc.) and simply dust the pieces regularly to keep them clean. We like simple cotton dust rags (old 100% cotton t-shirts make the best rags).
  • Many case pieces built before the omnipresence of technology lack the ability to discretely run cords inside the body. Drilling small, strategically placed holes can make a piece significantly more useable for present-day tech tasks. 

Have a treasured piece in need of TLC? Let our master craftsmen bring it back to life. Our network of skilled refinishers are experts in the craft of restoring furniture of all eras. Get the process started here