Restore Vintage Furniture. It will be fun!
Selling vintage furniture can sometimes be an interesting endeavour. We get all sorts of comments from people who either love what we do, or people who think that we make a living ripping off poor grandmas and flipping everything for a quick profit. As much as we would love to simply flip our way to riches, we have 2200 square feet chalk full of chairs, sideboards, tables, and more that need anything from repairs to full restorations. Unfortunately no flips, however!
We love what we do. But truth be told, it's not always easy. I was talking to a client recently about some business ideas and she mentioned signing an NDA to make me more comfortable with sharing information. Although I appreciated the thought, I told her that we are very open with our business model and what we do, and if a chat with us can give anyone else a leg up in their business venture, then we're more than happy to help. Of course I followed that up with politely suggesting that if you're not up for chaos, uncertainty and at least a couple of years of living off ichiban, then you should run like hell from opening a vintage furniture shop.
Yet here we are, coming back to it daily. What is it that keeps us returning and refusing to walk away from this beast? Perhaps it's the satisfaction of taking something that someone thought was just an old piece of furniture and giving it a whole new lease on life. More likely we're suckers for punishment, but it can be awfully satisfying sometimes.
Take this charming little accent chair for example. We got excited when we saw this one for sale for $500. At first glance we picked this out as an Arne Hovmand Olsen and we figured it was a something easy to flip for a cool, quick profit. Although we could tell it needed a little TLC, it was listed as recently reupholstered and in good condition. It was a couple hour drive down to Lethbridge, but we were headed down to visit my brother anyways, so why not. When in Rome! It didn’t take too long for Justin to identify it as a likely replica. The construction was very similar, but this chair had a crossbar on it that is not synonymous with the original as well as a few other details. Looks like we wouldn't be listing it at that Danish designer price after-all. But a deal is a deal so we choose to follow through with the purchase.
When we picked it up, it appeared to be in pretty decent shape. The upholstery was a bit more scuffed than we had expected, but wasn't that all part of the fun? So we loaded it up in our way too full mini van and headed home.
And then the real fun began...
Once in the shop it became evident pretty quickly that this little nugget was not what we originally thought. First big blow, since it was not a genuine Arne Hovmand Olsen, but a replica, there’s wasn’t a lot of margin to make a profit.
As we started to take it apart to plan for the frame restoration we found multiple issues throughout the dirty and grimy frame. We fixed a few joints and repaired a few chips that went along with them. Then we fully stripped and refinished it. Alright, now we were getting excited again. It was looking like a whole new chair!
Onto the "reupholstered" seat. Turns out the upholstery was not as fresh as it originally seemed. The foam and Pirelli webbing were both very old and brittle, at the end of their lives. We completely stripped down the frame and replaced the foam, webbing, and batting. The upholstery was in decent shape, mostly just a few scuffs, but we figured this beauty deserved a full face lift. We chose a blue felt from Knoll to finish it off.
Cost of chair: $500
Cost of labour for repairs, refinishing, and reupholstering: $400
Cost of supplies: $250
Sale price $1,395
The excitement of being able to have this almost designer chair sit in our showroom for a little while and eventually make someone else very happy: Priceless (??)
Ok. Maybe this one isn't going to make us millionaires. But in the end it was a project that we really enjoyed. And doesn't it look magnificent?
Check out our Instagram post on this piece @kollektion and let us know what you think!
Thanks for stopping by