On the Mend
“Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without.”
Even if Yankee frugality is not your forte, you may have a worn or damaged treasure you want to restore. Here’s help for fixing everything from chandeliers to china.
“USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT. MAKE IT DO, OR DO WITHOUT.” EVEN IF Yankee frugality is not your forte, you may have a worn or damaged treasure you want to restore. Here’s help for fixing everything from chandeliers to china.
LAST TIME THE PATRIOTS WON THE SUPER BOWL, THEY TOURED around New England to commemorate the win and show off the trophy. By the end of the celebration, the trophy was pretty scratched up. The team took it to Davis Silver Company in Boston, where owner Michael Davis restored it to like-new.
He’s happy to tackle more mundane projects as well, which is good news for those of us prone to spinning utensils in the garbage disposal—a problem his grandfather likely didn’t face when he opened up shop in 1945. Davis can remove dents, repair handles and covers, and even fabricate missing parts to help restore your silver collection.
Repairing silverware might cost $25 to $30 per piece, while bigger projects such as bowls or platters could cost several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity.
DEBRA RUSSO, OWNER OF QUALITY Leather Care in Stoneham, recalls a customer with a 4-day-old pale yellow leather sofa. “Her 5-year-old daughter treated it like a big canvas—she drew on the cushions, back and panels,” Russo says. “I stripped it and re-dyed it to bring it back like new.” She can restore color, repair scratches and abrasions, and reverse damage from pets and children. “As long as the leather is in good condition, I can bring it back,” she says.
Leather is a skin, and like our skin it needs to be kept clean and moisturized to stay healthy, she says. Most damaged leather can be repaired, but leather that has dry-rotted to the point where there’s not much left to work with is not salvageable.
While a small repair on a chair might cost $185, a complete restoration is around $300 to $400 and a sofa could run from $700 to $1,000. But replacing the piece—or even just its hide—could cost five times as much.
Glass and Porcelain
“I HEAR A LOT OF VERY SAD STORIES,” says Nelson Dale, owner of Restoration Services in Arlington. “I’m glad to be part of making them better.” The sad stories often involve objects that are valued for their history, not necessarily their financial worth. Dale can repair glass and porcelain objects, whether it’s a simple chip in the rim or a shattering you might suspect was beyond repair, like the 18-inch Handel shade that he reconstructed from about 20 to 30 small pieces. His services aren’t just limited to glass and porcelain: “We handle the category of things that fall off coffee tables,” Dale says. Thanks to epoxies developed in the last 20 years and new techniques, delicate pieces can look like they were never broken. Good news for that vase your grandmother gave you. Repair costs vary based on the size and complexity of the project but may run several hundred dollars.
Lamps and Lighting
CHRIS OSBORNE, OWNER OF CITY Lights Antique Lighting in Cambridge, says people often visit his shop looking to replace a lamp that an electrician told them couldn’t be repaired. “Any light can be restored,” he says. “The question is, is it worth doing? And there’s no easy answer.” If you like the lamp and are comfortable with the cost, go ahead and restore it. Osborne, who’s been in business for 31 years, says he often rewires, replaces sockets, refinishes table lamps, and cleans and restrings chandeliers. He warns against rewiring a fixture yourself—if you break the old wire, it can be quite costly to fish out the pieces from inside the arm of the lamp.
Prices vary but start at $100. Osborne can give you a ballpark estimate after seeing a photo.
IF YOU HAVE A CHAIR OR DRAWER with loose joints, don’t wait to get it repaired. “As soon as you notice anything that involves glue, that’s the time to act,” says Debbie Towle, co-owner of Wayne Towle Master Finishing & Restoration in Needham. Once a chair leg snaps in half, it can be impossible to put it back together, as a customer with an expensive dining room chair learned, to his disappointment. And don’t try a glue repair yourself without calling for advice first. “People don’t put pressure on glue with clamps, and they use the wrong glue,” she says. The company also repairs damaged inlay or veneer and reverses damage from water spills or cigarettes.
Repairs generally run in the $100 to $240 range, while refinishing adds an additional cost.
THE FAMILY-RUN E. CIARDI CO. in Braintree has been making old metal—brass, copper, pewter and silver—look good again since 1925. Co-owner Scott Ciardi says he often finds himself restoring old items even though replacing them might be cheaper. “It might cost $25 to replate a 4-inch door hinge, and you could buy a new brass one for half that price. But for some people it’s worth it to keep the original hardware in the house,” he says.
Restoration of a typical living room chandelier might cost $300 to $450, andirons average $140 to $160 and old fire extinguishers might run $140 to $180. Ciardi does all of his work on site but can usually give you a ballpark estimate over the phone.
Where to Find the Professionals
City Lights Antique Lighting
CAMBRIDGE 617-547-1490, WWW.CITYLIGHTS.NU
Davis Silver Company
E. Ciardi Co.
BRAINTREE 781-848-8880, WWW.ECIARDI.COM
Quality Leather Care
STONEHAM 781-438-2275, WWW.QUALITYLEATHERCARE.COM
ARLINGTON 781-648-3322, WWW.RESTORATIONSERVICES.COM
Wayne Towle Master Finishing & Restoration