Does restoring antique furniture decrease its value?

Furniture is generally considered antique once 100 years have passed since its creation, and in those 100 years most furniture will see regular wear and tear that can cause damage to the surface and structure of the piece. Restoration to an antique piece of furniture can bring the item back to its original look and finish, however many are wary of the effect this may have on the value of the antique. There are unique situations in which restoring an item can result in decreased value, however this is rare. If you are looking to restore your furniture, check it against this list to work out the effect restoration may have on your item.

The extent of the restoration

The first question to ask yourself is the extent to which you would like the item restored. Your chosen expert will work with you to determine how you would like the antique to look when the work is done. At John Reed & Son, we offer numerous levels of restoration, ranging from complete refresh, which will make the item look brand new, to a simple clean and revive, which works to keep the historic look of the item while fixing any damage and reviving the finish.

The type of antique

Whether restoration increases or decreases the value of your antique entirely depends on the type of antique it is. In some cases, the age and damage to an item adds history and character. For example, items by renowned designers and craftsmen, very old furniture, or items of museum quality, are often best left alone, as restoration will likely decrease their value. However, the majority of antiques in a person’s home will not fit these criteria, in which case restoration is a good idea to breathe new life into an old item.

The damage

As mentioned above, there are some elements of damage that add historic character, and that type of damage can easily be left, as it helps to tell a story and improve the charm of the item. Such small damage is unlikely to decrease the value of the furniture, however a restoration that looks brand new might. For damage that is significant, or an eyesore, such as broken chair legs or worn fabric, restoration will likely increase the value, as the item of furniture would be once again functional and attractive. Repairing mistakes made in a previous restoration is also a good idea.

Its value to you

Regardless of the type of antique, in rare and infrequent occasions, restoration attempts can make the object worse. They can ruin the varnish, or change the shape of the item too much, and modern techniques can struggle to replicate historic craftmanship. Due to this, it is important to always consider whether the restoration is worth it. If the value is entirely monetary, restoration is usually beneficial, however if the value is sentimental, changing the piece too much might result in an item you no longer care for.

As a general rule of thumb, for most pieces of antique furniture, restoring it to its former glory will only increase the value of the item. Restoring furniture re-establishes the reason you loved it in the first place, and allows the true beauty of the piece to show. At John Reed & Son, we would always recommend consulting a professional before undertaking any restoration work yourself. As a family-run master upholsterers, we have decades of experience restoring all types of furniture. Our expertise includes replacing frames, missing mouldings, and reviving finishes. Get in touch with a member of the team on 01536 510584 or email us at