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  • Writer's pictureGina Gaurisas-Wilson

Old furniture tells stories

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Our furniture is a witness to our everyday lives, celebrations, conversations, and our growing up and leaving home. Old furniture connects us to home, family, friends, and to our dreams and pains. It has stories to tell.

Old dresser
Photo: Gina Gaurisas-Wilson
As a furniture restyler, I enjoy discovering those stories, through either the owner of the furniture, or just my own imagination when there's no one to tell the story.

Look, listen, touch, imagine. With attentive observation, possibilities emerge--the maker, the recipient, the style and time when it was made, the value given at that time, how it was used, what it meant for the generations that cherished it.

Old bedroom vanity
Photo: Gina Gaurisas-Wilson

If you've inherited old furniture, you know its sentimental value. You are also familiar with the burden of not knowing what to do if the furniture is not the style you like.

How to keep Grandmother's china cabinet or Dad's desk when they don't go with anything you own?

The great bar your spouse bought many years ago but no longer use. The coffee table from Aunt Mae. If any of those pieces mean something to you but you're not sure what to do, I can help tailor them to your needs. This is my restyling process and my before & after portfolio.

Dresser secretary before and after
Furniture Restyler

I emphasize the most striking elements of design in a particular piece of furniture or highlight what's been overshadowed by excessive design. I restyle old furniture because I believe every piece has potential that oftentimes is not easily seen. Old furniture should be celebrated.

Tufted chair before and after
Furniture Restyler

We can choose to give old furniture a chance to shine again. Here are some points worth thinking about:

  • Construction is typically solid wood, not easily found in new furniture except at a high price--very likely more than what you would pay for restyling.

  • Craftsmanship is typically better in old furniture than its counterparts.

  • It has unparalleled character and charm.

  • It can be revamped and tailored to your needs. Magic can happen.

  • The satisfaction of getting it done properly is priceless.

  • Add your own story to it and pass it on.

My parents' furniture was a mix of Mid-Century Modern and Transitional. I wish I had kept one or two pieces but that was not possible since I was thousands of miles away. There was the comfortable green chair my mother sat on to watch television with my father. Also a small cabinet with chunky legs tucked in the dark pantry storing her cooking recipes.

Mid-Century Modern chair and old cabinet
My mother's favorite chair and the small cabinet in the pantry as I remember them.

To this day, the memories of my parent's house and their furniture are still vivid: my mother's secretary, where she wrote letters to her mother and to me while I was studying abroad and "secretly" kept lots of chocolate bars in one of the drawers; the Thonet chair replica I bought when I got my first job and used at my desk. Mine is wishful thinking. If yours is not, what are you waiting for?

Old furniture has inspired poetry. Thomas Hardy, the British novelist and poet of the Victorian era wrote Old Furniture.

We find comfort, safety, and connection in old furniture.

In a society where there's so much material waste, it's possible to maintain the memories and the connection. Old furniture has many stories to tell and we can add our own to it.

If keeping old furniture is not your thing, pass it onto someone via charity or sales via auction houses and social media. Somebody, somewhere, wants what you have. Another option is to give a piece as a wedding or holiday present to those who you know will appreciate it. More on this at Old furniture as holiday gifts---Mindful giving.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back!

I don't monitor this post, but feel free to contact me with questions or comments at

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