News & Politics

2005 Guide to Home Repair: Refinishing & Restoration

Georgetown Refinishing & Antique Restoration is a jumble of coffee tables, dining chairs, loveseats, and other furniture. A steady flow of customers drops off broken pieces, picks out new upholstery, and chats with the owner, Dominique Huret.

Good As New: Dominique Huret, Georgetown Refinishing

Huret, 52, began his career in woodworking at age 14 as a summer apprentice to his father, a Paris-trained cabinetmaker. He started Georgetown Refinishing in 1979 and a few years later moved the business to 14th Street near Logan Circle, long before the area attracted upscale furniture stores like Vastu and Muleh.

Furniture restoration is a stable business. "During recessions, we actually get busier," Huret says. He has done work for three secretaries of State: Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, and James Baker. But Huret fixes things for regular folks. Typical repairs cost $150 to $500, although intricate pieces are more expensiveto fix.

He and his eight employees work with just about any kind of wood furniture plus upholstery, caning, and some wicker. They do stripping, sanding, refinishing, and structural repairs and undo the damage some owners cause by trying to fix things themselves.

Huret works on many antiques, but unlike most restorers with his experience, he does not specialize in one particular style or period. "Working on modern pieces is normally harder," he says, pointing to a sleek chair from Vastu that has a smooth espresso finish. "Everything shows."

Homeowner tip: Changes in humidity cause wood furniture to expand and contract. Keep humidity constant at 35 to 40 percent, especially during winter, when you may need to use a humidifier. Fading in sunlight is inevitable; if possible, rotate furniture every six months so that it fades evenly.