Restoring Elegance: The Process of Reviving Antique Chinese Furniture

Restoring Elegance: The Process of Reviving Antique Chinese Furniture

At Shimu, we pride ourselves on being the UK's leading specialist in Chinese antique and oriental furniture, with an unrivalled selection of hundreds of pieces available at our headquarters in West Yorkshire. Our ever-changing collection of beautiful original antiques ranges from imposing and ornate wedding cabinets and armoires, through simple wooden chairs and blanket boxes. Bringing Chinese antiques into your home offers a wonderful way to introduce a unique touch of style and history by including much-loved pieces with a long and fascinating story to tell.

Our journey with each piece of antique furniture is a tale of discovery, passion, and meticulous craftsmanship. The antiques we sell are sourced by us directly from China where each piece is carefully chosen for its timeless design, heritage and quality of craftsmanship. Then, before items are shipped to the UK, they are lovingly restored by experienced craftsmen who use traditional techniques to return items to their former glory, whilst taking care not to lose any of the item’s unique character. Here, we delve into the intricate process of reviving and restoring these timeless treasures.

Restored Chinese antique table

Discovering Hidden Gems

Our quest begins with the search for authentic antique pieces that hold a story within structure. We work closely with trusted suppliers around Beijing and its neighbouring provinces, who source the finest antique furniture from across China’s diverse regions. When choosing items we take a range of factors into consideration; including the piece’s form, functionality and suitability for use in a contemporary environment and, of course, it’s beauty and patina.

When choosing antique pieces, our goal is to find furniture that resonates with history and charm. Each piece, whether it's a traditional wedding cabinet from Shanxi province or a Qing dynasty altar table, has witnessed centuries of change, and it's our privilege to give them a new lease of life.

Understanding a Piece's History

The restoration of Chinese antiques isn’t always necessary but when it is, the craftsmen we work with are extremely careful to ensure any restoration is carried out sensitively so that none of the rich patina, which formed over many decades, is lost. Therefore, before embarking on the restoration process, it's crucial to understand the furniture's history. This often involves researching its origins, the era it belongs to, and the techniques used in its creation. A good knowledge and appreciation of an antique’s past ensures that the restoration methods are in harmony with the piece's original essence.

Chinese antique red lacquer cabinet

Gentle Cleaning and Assessment

Once in the care of our skilled team in China, the furniture undergoes a gentle cleaning process to remove layers of dust and grime. This initial cleaning reveals the true condition of the piece, allowing the restorers to assess the extent of damage and wear. From loose joints to missing hardware, every detail is noted to ensure a comprehensive restoration, if required.

Restoring antique Chinese furniture is a delicate balance between preserving its authenticity and ensuring its functionality. The skilled craftsmen we work with use traditional methods, from joinery techniques to lacquer application, to bring the furniture back to its former glory. As is traditional in Chinese furniture making, they avoid using nails or screws, staying true to the original construction methods. Instead, dovetail joints and wooden pegs are employed to ensure structural integrity.

Finishing Touches

Once the structural restoration is complete, the focus then turns to the aesthetics. This might involve reapplying layers of lacquer, hand-painting intricate designs, or simply polishing the wood to enhance its natural beauty. Occasionally, more modern features might be added such as additional shelves, to ensure a piece is as practical as possible. As such, our aim is always to honour the piece's original character while ensuring it is ready for modern-day use.

Antique Chinese furniture

A New Chapter with Shimu

After the restoration process, these antique pieces are shipped and find their way to our showroom, ready to start a new chapter in a contemporary setting. While they carry with them tales of ancient China, they also seamlessly blend into modern homes, adding a touch of history and elegance.

Here at Shimu, our passion for antique Chinese furniture goes beyond mere retail. It's about preserving history, celebrating craftsmanship, and sharing the beauty of the orient with homes across the UK. We invite you to explore our collection and experience the magic of these restored treasures for yourself.

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