Updated: Aug 14
Did you know that you, and your beautiful furniture art form, are part of a centuries-old, artisanal story that is still evolving?
Not only that but your art form, one that started so many, many years ago, is going from strength to strength and helping to save the planet.
And, did you know, according to data, the UK furniture restoration market was worth £275.6m in 2021, and that is estimated to increase to nearly £300m by 2025?*
Furniture restoration is, of course, as old as the furniture itself, but what started as a necessity has become an incredibly popular, profitable, highly sought-after, and sustainable art form.
There was a time when a quick sand down and repolish was all that was needed to upcycle a piece of furniture.
But by the 17th Century, furniture painters were creating beautiful designs on existing pieces for wealthy families. They would use different colours and decorative designs to create their art.
Then they went further and introduced gilding, mouldings, and panelling. Pieces were enhanced with more elaborate handles, feet, beading, trimmings and carvings….. this is all beginning to sound vaguely familiar.
Over the centuries, we've seen all sorts of furniture upcycling, refinishing and renovations (although it may not have been appreciated or described as such at the time).
From decoupage first practised in the 12th Century, to French polishing in the 18th Century, to the invention of the revolutionary chalk paint in 1990 by Annie Sloane, there has never been a time when furniture, like many fashions, has stood still.
But the renaissance that began in the 1990s, following Annie's invention, put furniture art in the hands of the hobbyist. And all of a sudden, women were getting in on the action and making waves in an industry that men had previously dominated.
Many breaking new ground in the art in the process.
Now, more women than ever are taking up the craft of restyling and restoring furniture. But it's not for the faint-hearted.
Today, many people are turning to furniture painters to customize their family heirlooms, making them unique and special to them.
But a furniture painter's job isn't only to paint furniture. They also need to repair and restore furniture that has been previously damaged or neglected. They must know how to fix damaged legs, drawer runners, ill-fitting and warped doors, and many other highly skilled tasks. Sweaty and often dirty work that requires as much skill and determination as time and patience, but these are all necessary steps in making a piece of vintage furniture not only beautiful but fit for purpose too.
And it's not just a matter of aesthetics – many women also achieve their dreams and make a living doing what they love.
And many of those women are sitting in this group with us…… I'm so proud of you, me, and all those who went before us.
We are part of history, of art, of furniture, and we are all amazingly talented Artisans.