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The Furniture Narrative: stories and memories 

For National Upcycling Day (24th June), I want to talk about something that makes The Furniture Narrative special – stories and memories. 

One of the best parts of my job is learning the history behind each piece. When I’m refinishing, I love thinking about the story each piece tells and how its story will continue for generations to come. Read on for my five favourite project stories. 


One: the little oak table 

A client commissioned me to restore a little oak table that her late father had made in a woodworking class before the war. She didn’t have many of his belongings, so this table was hugely important to her. I removed the watermarks and fixed the flaky varnish, and it turned out beautifully. She handwrote me a thank you card and delivered it through my door that very evening.


Two: the painted chest of drawers 

I don’t know much about the story behind this chest of drawers. It was left on the street, badly painted, missing two feet and drawer handles, and its top drawer was irreparably broken. It was standing (lopsided) next to a plain pine chest but, by the time I returned with my car, the pine chest had been taken, leaving the painted chest alone. I picked it up and spent the week transforming it, replacing the now-missing top drawer with a timber shelf. It went to a beautiful home, purchased by a woman who adores upcycled furniture – and so it began its new journey in a loving home. 


Three: the child’s wooden chair 

A client asked me to repair, repaint, and replicate the flowers on a child’s wooden chair. She’d had it since she was a child and remembered loving it very much. Over time, it had become dirty, broken, and the paint had started chipping. She wanted it restored so her little girl could love it as much as she did. It was a beautiful project. My client was over the moon with the finished result and said it looked exactly how she remembered it. 


Four: the black and oak table 

Some stories begin sad but, in my line of work, there's always a happy ending. The black and oak table below, for example, was a child of divorce. Its owner wanted a replacement, something that didn’t hold unhappy memories, and so she gave away the table and found something she preferred – ultimately, something to help her move forward. I spent a few hours sanding the wood and painting it black, giving it a modern, minimalist, rustic feel. The uplifted table was ready to go to its new home, making happier memories for someone new. 


Five: the 1947 chest of drawers 

What has to be my favourite story of all time – I acquired a 1947 chest of drawers from a client emptying their storage unit, which was full of his late mother’s furniture. I restored this piece, bringing life back to the walnut veneer. If someone had told me that I’d sell this piece to a very new friend, someone who adored vintage furniture as much as I did, and that this 1940s chest would be the dawn of a once-in-a-lifetime relationship, I’d never have believed them! And yet, that’s exactly what happened. 


Take a moment to reflect on the furniture in your home – what stories do they tell? Furniture is more than just functional objects; they hold history, memories, and lives lived. Each piece has its own unique narrative, whether it’s a family heirloom or an upcycled favourite. Sometimes, we hold onto pieces not because we love their style, but because of the sentimental value they carry – in fact, sometimes we actively dislike a piece, but we keep it because it’s sentimental to us. And those stories might just be the subject of a future blog post very soon... 


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