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A Little Bit of History

If you live in Kentucky, or perhaps you are a history buff in other regions, you’ve probably heard of the famous landmark, Locust Grove. It is a historic 55-acre farm and mansion in Louisville, Kentucky that was built in 1792 by the founder of Louisville, General George Rogers Clark. It has hosted many visiting Presidents, as well as Lewis and Clark on their expedition. It is now a museum that is open today to the public for tours, and hosts many events each year. What is the relevance of this post, you may ask? Well, in 1997, Excel Shop had the honor of reupholstering a settee and 8 Chippendale chairs for the mansion. It was an honor to preserve such an important part of history. Since then, Excel has done other projects for them, such as side chairs and deacons benches. Being one of the only furniture restoration companies in Louisville, oftentimes we are given the opportunity to refinish furniture for important people and important places.

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To Restore or Refinish?

One of the questions we often receive is “how can you make this look better?” People will bring in their dresser, buffet, table, etc and they aren’t quite sure what direction they need to go in. That is where it is our job to educate and steer them. If a customer brings in a piece that is super banged up, has stains or bad water marks, or just really has a terrible looking finish, then we tell them that a full refinish is probably the right choice. This big chest of drawers is a great example. The finish is scratched and flaking terribly on the top, and the overall color has just seen better days. It needed a good full refinish. If they bring in a piece that just has some scratches or dullness and could use a “fresh look”, that's when we say that restoring the finish is a better route. This small side table is an example of a piece that just needed the finish restored. There were no major flaws or huge finish issues. It just had some slight scratches that needed to be buffed out and it needed a fresh topcoat.

What is the difference? A full refinish takes you from start to finish and gives you a piece that looks as good as it did when it was made. We hand strip it with our flow over system, sand it smooth to prep it for finishing, and do any minor repairs or stabilization that is needed. When it is ready for finishing, we can help you choose a beautiful color that will really make you say “wow!” when you see it at completion. A restore gives you a freshened finish without all the steps of the stripping and sanding. We buff the existing finish, and usually are able to get most of the superficial scratches out. If there are any deep scratches or gouges, we are able to fill those. We then do what we call a “glaze” of color that matches the original tone and freshens it up. After the color treatment, we apply a few layers of lacquer topcoat, lightly buffing and polishing between each coat to ensure a smooth finish. Either way you choose to go, you receive your piece of furniture back looking better than it did when you dropped it off!

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