BUYING REPRO FURNITURE
Reproduction furniture, either fresh from the factory or second-hand, provides an affordable alternative to antiques when you're creating a period interior
There are several types of reproduction furniture you're likely to come across if you set out to furnish your home with old pieces.
In the first instance, junk shops, furniture warehouses and general household auctions all carry items which, although they may be in classic Regency or 18th-century styles, are not antiques but simply second-hand furniture that may have been made at any time over the last 50 or 70 years.
These can often be bought very cheaply, particularly at auctions, and frequently have fine wood veneers such as mahogany, rosewood, walnut or burr yew, sometimes with inlays and other decoration. Oak and
cedar wood pieces can also be found.
Shops and auction houses label these as 'Georgian / Regency style' and so make no attempt to deceive the purchaser. Desks, dressers, chests of drawers, bookcases, dining tables and chairs, coffee tables and sideboards all turn up again and again.
The discerning buyer should not ignore such furniture, unless it is obviously damaged or in very poor condition. Although reproduction furniture dating from this century is machine-made, much of it was (and still is) hand-finished and was really very well-crafted.
If you admire, say, the elegant, classic lines of Georgian furniture but, like most people, cannot possibly afford the real thing, then
second hand repro pieces are a good alternative buy.
Many older items will have acquired an attractive patina of age which makes them look almost like the genuine article.
Brand-new reproduction furniture is available from a wide variety of outlets. Home decoration magazines, newspaper features and colour supplements regularly carry lots of advertisements for pieces supplied direct from the factory.
Department and furniture stores also offer a range of styles. Most pieces are machine-made, but to a very high standard, and the prices, reasonable but not cheap, reflect this. Other, more expensive pieces are hand-made, using traditional tools and techniques.
Most manufacturers pride themselves on faithfully reproducing period styles, paying particular attention to design details.
These are the people to go to if you want, for example, a matching dining-room suite of table, chairs, sideboard and corner cupboard.
The makers quite correctly boast that they can provide old world charm with today's practicality.
Their furniture is available in a range of dimensions to suit rooms of limited space in city, town or country dwellings, and cupboards, dressers and sideboards all feature generous storage areas.
Typical veneers are oak, yew, burr ash, mahogany, pine and various fruitwoods.
Pine reproduction furniture is usually intended for the kitchen, where it helps to create a cottage atmosphere.
However, when suitably stained and finished, it can also be used to make useful and attractive drawing-room furniture.
Reproduction country and kitchen furniture is dominated by pine, a fairly cheap but attractive wood which is easy to work and can be subjected to a number of finishes.
OLD PINE FOR NEW
Much of the nicest furniture is made from reclaimed wood, genuinely old pine which once formed the floorboards or ceiling of a now demolished house or warehouse.
After being restored by cleaning and stripping, the timber is then reworked into new pieces of furniture such as dressers, chests and tables which do have a lovely antique look.
New pine is also used and is frequently artificially 'finished' to give the wood an antique, mellow or even 'limed' look which suggests age.
New pine is often painted, as it was in the 19th century.
To create the illusion of age, the paint may be given a 'distressed' or worn finish.
Pine is the cheapest and most popular type of new repro furniture, although prices vary enormously from mass-produced pieces found in furniture shops and DIY outlets to custom-made, finely-finished items.