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Furniture restorer

  • Hours


  • Starting salary

    £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.


The work

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.


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.

Entry requirements

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.

More information

Institute of Conservation (Opens new window)
Lafone House
The Leathermarket
Weston Street

Museums Association (Opens new window)
24 Calvin Street
E1 6NW

British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA) (Opens new window)
The Old Rectory
Tel: 01305 854822

Guild of Master Craftsmen (Opens new window)
166 High Street
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 478449

Creative & Cultural Skills (Opens new window)

Creative Choices (Opens new window)



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.


Related industry information

Industry summary

The furniture, furnishing and interiors industry is part of the process manufacturing sector, represented by Proskills Sector Skills Council. This sector also includes the following industries: building products; coatings; extractive and mineral process; glass and related industries; ceramics; paper; plus print and printed packaging. In addition, there are several industries that are aligned with Proskills industries, including: glazing and window manufacture; soft furnishings; design; paper merchants; and mining services. The sector as a whole currently employs an estimated 810,000 people in around 76,900 workplaces. Since 1998, there has been a steady decline in the numbers employed in the sector as a whole and the number of workplaces, but productivity in the sector has continued to increase over the same period. Overall, the sector will need to recruit almost 93,000 people up to 2017 to replace those retiring or leaving the sector.

The UK furniture, furnishing and interiors industry creates products for the domestic, office and contract markets. It includes the manufacture of: cabinets; chairs and seats; office furniture; contract furniture (for shops, hospitals, hotels, schools); kitchen furniture; mattresses; and other furniture. It also includes the manufacture of soft furnishings. Demand for new quality goods is expected to remain high and restoration and remedial work is also on the increase in the UK.

Key facts:

  • There are an estimated 149,000 people employed in the industry, across 12,200 workplaces.
  • Workers in the industry tend to be full‐time and directly employed, rather than on a contract basis.
  • Work is often shift‐based, especially in lower levels jobs.
  • 15% of the workforce has a Level 1 or entry level qualification, 23% a Level 2, 31% a Level 3, 5% a Level 4 and 9% a Level 5 qualification.
  • Annual turnover for the industry is currently around £10.8 billion.
  • There are 18,870 sole traders in the industry.

Jobs in the industry range from: assembler, frame maker, wood machinist, restorer, polisher, soft upholster, cabinet maker, kitchen fitter, furniture installer, blinds and shutter installer, upholsterer – cutter, upholsterer – sewer, joiner.

National and regional data

East Midlands – There are an estimated 15,600 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,140 workplaces.

East of England – There are an estimated 11,700 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,460 workplaces.

London – There are an estimated 6,500 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,140 workplaces.

North East – There are an estimated 6,500 employees in the regional workforce, in around 360 workplaces.

North West – There are an estimated 19,500 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,410 workplaces.

South East – There are an estimated 16,900 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,770 workplaces.

South West – There are an estimated 14,300 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,160 workplaces.

West Midlands – There are an estimated 15,600 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,230 workplaces.

Yorkshire and the Humber – There are an estimated 23,400 employees in the regional workforce, in around 1,240 workplaces.

Northern Ireland – There are an estimated 6,000 employees in the regional workforce, in around 300 workplaces.

Scotland – There are an estimated 10,000 employees in the regional workforce, in around 500 workplaces.

Wales – There are an estimated 3,000 employees in the regional workforce, in around 500 workplaces.

Career paths

Further sources

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