£20,000 + per year
Furniture restorers repair and conserve both modern and antique pieces of furniture. If you enjoy working with wood and have an eye for detail this career could be perfect for you.
To be a furniture restorer, you'll need excellent practical skills. You'll also need the ability to concentrate and be able to pay close attention for intricate work.
You can start learning furniture restoration techniques by taking a college course in furniture making and restoration. Many furniture restorers start out by studying for a foundation degree, HND or degree in subjects like furniture design.
Your work as a furniture restorer can range from simple tasks such as re-attaching parts that have come away to completely rebuilding and finishing a piece of furniture, including making missing pieces. You may specialise in furniture of a particular type or period.
On a job you would:
- work out the best way to conserve or restore a piece of furniture
- advise customers on what work is needed and offer quotes
- source materials needed for a job
- keep photographic and written records of projects
- use techniques such as woodturning, veneering and marquetry - designs using small pieces of inlaid wood
- mix and apply colours and stains
- gild, polish and upholster items where required
- provide 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 side of 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.
Experienced furniture restorers can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 a year.
Earnings for self-employed furniture restorers vary depending on the amount of work they do.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You could start learning furniture restoration techniques by taking a college course, for example:
- Level 2 Diploma in Furniture Making
- Level 2 Diploma in Furniture Finishing Methods.
Some colleges also run more informal courses in craft and restoration methods, which will teach you some of the skills needed in this job. Courses include areas like repair methods, staining, veneers and French polishing.
Many furniture restorers train at university by taking a foundation degree, HND or degree. Relevant subjects include:
- furniture restoration
- furniture design
- product design
- art and design.
Check with individual colleges and universities for their entry requirements. Courses also vary in the amount of practical work they include, so it's important to make sure that they meet your needs.
You can find more information about careers in conservation on the Institute of Conservation website.
You may be able to start in this career through an apprenticeship scheme in Furniture, Furnishings and Fitted Interiors. You will need to check what's available in your area. To find out more, see the GOV.UK 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.
Your employer may also support you through training for a qualification, such as:
- Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Restoring Furniture
- Level 3 Diploma in Furniture Restoration
- Level 3 Diploma in Furniture Design and Making.
Joining professional bodies such as the Institute of Conservation (ICON), the British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association (BAFRA) or the Guild of Master Craftsmen is a good way to meet others working in the industry and for professional development. Membership also shows potential clients that you can work to recognised 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.
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
- the ability to pay close attention to detail
- artistic and scientific skills
- 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
British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA)
Tel: 01939 210826
Guild of Master Craftsmen
Tel: 01273 478 449
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.
Job market information
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