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Furniture—no matter how artistic or antique—is functional. Even the rarest pieces on pedestals in museums were once comfortable places to sit, sleep, eat, or study. Daily wear and tear takes a toll on all types of furniture. So do seasonal changes in temperature, children and pets, and unexpected events like fires and floods. And, of course, styles of furniture also go in and out of fashion. If you have a piece of furniture that isn’t looking or functioning the way that you want, is it time to consult an expert?

Here are some classic signs that your furniture needs a professional checkup:

Flawed Finishes

White spots or water rings on tabletops. Cracked or peeling veneer on cabinets. Flaking or worn paint or fading rugs. Surface damage is usually the first sign you’ll see when your furnishings need a little TLC and surface repairs are not always simple. For instance, if you sand away a burn mark or paint over a scratch on an antique piece you are almost certainly eroding its value while using a harsh carpet cleaner on a naturally dyed handmade rug can cause its colors to bleed. And certain specialty finishes, like gold and silver leaf, require unusual materials and highly trained experts to properly repair. Successful surface finish repairs should always blend perfectly with their surroundings and preserve or enhance the value of your piece.

If your furniture is valuable—even sentimental value—always consult with a knowledgeable expert before attempting DIY furniture finish repairs. They can offer helpful tips or tell you that you need a professional’s help. 

Sticking, Wobbling, Tipping 

Do you have a cabinet with drawers that won’t close all the way, or that must be handled just the right way? How about a table with a wobbly leg or a chair that creaks ominously every time you sit down? Most furnishings fail slowly and we adjust our behavior around their quirks. It’s character and charm, right? But if left unattended over time, things fall apart. Forcing a sticky drawer in a moment of frustration can damage the wood or the runners and you certainly don’t want a splayed dining room chair to collapse during your next dinner party.

In most cases, small repairs can stave off larger ones and save you money. A professional furniture restorer knows how to preserve the character of a piece while improving its functionality.

Ugly Upholstery

Our team receives more inquiries about upholstery than almost any other furniture repair. Fabric colors and patterns fall in and out of fashion and stuffed chairs and sofas get lumpy, stained, sun-damaged, or split at the seams. If the underlying furniture frame is sound, upholstery repair—or complete re-upholstering—can make a lot of sense.

So, when should you consult a professional about a possible upholstery job? While usually cheaper than purchasing a new sofa, upholstery repair or restoration can be costly. A professional can help you determine whether or not a piece of furniture is worth the additional investment and, if so, if you should be attempting to preserve particular fabric styles or upholstery techniques. If a damaged piece is part of a set, they can also advise you on matching fabrics and help you source rare or specialty materials.

Pet Peeves

Cats scratch. Dogs chew. It’s just what they do. All pets can cause unintended stains and smells, and in seasonal homes, wild creatures—from mice to birds—can find their way in during the offseason and make themselves at home.

If pets or animals have damaged a piece of furniture that you want to keep or preserve, talk to a professional. Grocery store stain or odor removers are not always appropriate for antique or delicate furniture, and surface or upholstery repairs may require a specialist’s attention to blend with their surroundings.

Fire and Water

Waterlogged or waterstained furnishings and burned or scorched pieces are particularly challenging repairs that can only be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you have pieces that have been through catastrophic events like flooding or a fire, consult with a professional right away. You will need expert advice and valuation to make a successful insurance claim that covers the cost of replacement and repair—and you will want the very best restorers working on your piece.

Mind’s Eye furniture repair and restoration specialists give expert advice you can trust, handle transport and storage, source parts, and preserve character and value. Call 800-428-9800 to discuss furniture repairs with one of our specialists.