£20,000 + per year
Furniture restorers make sure that modern and antique furniture keep their original features. Restoring furniture may involve using new materials to protect and update existing features. If you enjoy woodwork this is a career that could be perfect for you.
To be a furniture restorer, you should have good practical skills. You should have a patient and organised approach. You should also have close attention to detail.
You could start learning furniture restoration techniques by taking City & Guilds at college. Many furniture restorers have a degree, foundation degree or BTEC HND.
Your work as a furniture restorer could range from simple tasks such as re-gluing parts that have fallen off to completely rebuilding a piece of furniture, including making missing pieces. You may specialise in furniture of a particular type or period.
Your job would normally include:
- deciding on the best way to conserve or restore a piece of furniture
- agreeing what work should be done with clients
- sourcing materials
- keeping photographic and written records of projects
- using techniques such as woodturning, veneering and marquetry (designs using small pieces of inlaid wood)
- mixing and applying colours and stains
- gilding, polishing and upholstering
- providing specialist information to colleagues and the public.
You would need to keep up to date with developments in equipment and techniques. As a self-employed restorer you would also have to promote your services and deal with the administration involved in running a business.
Working hours and conditions
Your hours would vary, especially if you are self-employed, as this would depend on the amount of work you have.
You would usually be based at a workshop, working alone or alongside other restorers, and you may do some of your work on clients' sites. You may need to travel to clients to collect and deliver furniture.
Furniture restorers can earn from £20,000 to around £40,000 a year.
Earnings for self-employed furniture restorers vary depending on the amount of work that they have.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You could start learning furniture restoration techniques by taking City & Guilds qualifications at levels 1, 2, or 3 at college, for example Furniture Making, Restoring Furniture, or Finishing Furniture. However, many furniture restorers have a degree, foundation degree or BTEC HND. Relevant subjects include furniture restoration, furniture design, product design, 3-D design or art and design.
Entry requirements for courses vary, so you will need to check with individual colleges and universities. Courses also vary in the amount of practical work they include, so it is important to make sure that they meet your needs.
See the British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association (BAFRA) and Institute of Conservation (IOC) websites for lists of the courses that they recognise.
You may be able to start in this career through an Apprenticeship scheme. You will need to check which Apprenticeship schemes are available in your area. To find out more, see the Apprenticeships website.
Training and development
If you work for a museum or heritage site, you may be provided with specialist training, and there may be opportunities to focus on particular types or periods of furniture.
Joining professional bodies such as the Institute of Conservation (ICON), the British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association (BAFRA) or the Guild of Master Craftsmen will give you opportunities for networking and professional development. Membership would also show potential clients that you work to set quality standards.
As a member of ICON, you can apply to have your professional skills assessed for Professional Accreditation of Conservator-Restorers (PACR) status. With PACR status, you would be listed on the ICON register, which can be searched by those looking for reputable conservation or restoration services.
See the ICON, BAFRA and Guild of Master Craftsmen websites for more information.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a furniture restorer, you should have:
- good practical skills
- knowledge of technical processes and equipment
- a patient and organised approach
- close attention to detail
- artistic and scientific ability
- knowledge of furniture and its history
- an understanding of why and how furniture deteriorates
- an interest in research
- good communication skills, with the ability to explain any complex issues to clients
- customer service skills.
Institute of Conservation
24 Calvin Street
British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA)
The Old Rectory
Tel: 01305 854822
Guild of Master Craftsmen
166 High Street
Tel: 01273 478449
Creative & Cultural Skills
You could be employed as a furniture restorer by organisations such as museums, auction houses, historical or heritage sites and antique dealers. Competition for jobs is strong.
Another option is to set up your own furniture restoration business, carrying out work for organisations and members of the public, or working on a consultancy basis for the kinds of organisation listed above.
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