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As Seen in Westchester Magazine ™

Westchester Magazine, Antiques Edition

If you’ve struck gold in the fields of Stormville or brimsfield, but your fabulous find needs a little TLC before assuming its rightful place, you’re in luck. The county is home to a number of expert craftsmen who specialize in restoring and refinishing furniture, especially wood antiques. Aniello Imperati, owner of Furniture Restoration Center ... has become used to the most discerning of clients gushing about his many talents. With four decades of experience already behind him, Imperati started working in 1969 for the business he now owns (located until a year ago in White Plains. Imperati strips, refinishes, repairs, re-glues, re-veneers, and reupholsters woodwork both new and old, antiques and patio furniture of wood, metal, iron, or aluminum. More.

His work includes the restoration of items for the Museum of the American Indian, a commemorative plaque given to the Japanese emperor in 1865, and a number of 300-year-old hand-carved cherub chandeliers in a Sicilian church.

He has also done work on composer Percy Granger’s home (now a museum opened to the public), magic props for Penn and Teller, and, more recently, a pair of almost 14-foot-long church pews for The Westchester Arts Council.

New York City antiques dealers send pieces to him to be repaired so that they will be presentable on the selling floor. (And, oh yes, Imperati has also fixed folding chairs from Ikea.)

Costs and timing varies. Hide

news article From the Westchester County Business Journal ™

Furniture repair shop rises from the ashes

February 14, 2005

By DAVID GURLIACCI

A furniture repair shop that lost its White Plains location to a fire last year has reopened in Mount Vernon and is doing so well there, its owner said that he wants to stay.

"We've discovered a whole new clientele base," said Aniello Imperati, president and owner of the Furniture Restoration Center.

Although it's "hard to tell" if he's made up the business he lost, he said, "there seems to be a demand and need for this type of service in this area." The store was burnt out of its previous location at 26 Fulton St. in White Plains on April 27, 2004. More.

"We lost a considerable amount of tools and equipment and only a small amount of customers' furniture, fortunately," Imperati said, "but a large amount of my own personal collection that I was accumulating since I was a teenager is just completely gone."

When the company moved to Mount Vernon on June 1, it began a more aggressive advertising campaign, using direct mail, telephone-book advertising, magnetic business cards and matchbooks given out in stores that sell cigarettes. The company retained its old telephone number.

The new location at 510 S. Columbus Ave. has 3,200-square-feet of space, about double what it was in White Plains, Imperati said. The location, on a busy street, has helped bring in some business.

The Furniture Restoration Center was founded in 1970, and Imperati bought it in 1980. The business repairs, refinishes and restores "anything wood or metal, new or old," Imperati said. "We specialize in color matching hand-carved replacements" for furniture parts, he said.

Most of the company's customers are in Scarsdale, White Plains and the towns along the Hudson River or Long Island Sound in Westchester County, he said, but some come from New England and as far south as Cape May, N.J.

Imperati has anywhere from two to four craftsmen working at the store, all hired temporarily as needed. The heavy seasons for the business are from September through the end of the year and during the spring, when customer's "natural inclination is to fix everything up at home, including patio furniture." Summer and late winter both tend to be very slow periods, he said. Hide

news article From the NY Times ™

INSIDE/OUT; Restore, Don't Toss, Aging Metal Patio Pieces

By SUSAN HODARA (NYT)
Published: July 9, 2000

LAWN furniture. You don't give it a thought all winter, and then take it for granted when summer rolls around. But then it happens -- -- rust on the edges of the table! Peeling paint on the chair arms! Cracks in the vinyl strapping of the chaise! And don't even mention the many hues of gray on what just last year was br /ight white plastic.

When it comes to that ubiquitous plastic patio furniture, the best bet is to throw it away.

''You can't clean it; you can't paint it -- but at $4 a chair, who cares?'' said Aniello Imperati of Furniture Restoration Center. ''It's the disposable diaper of patio furniture.'' More.

That's not the case with the outdoor furniture that he specializes in restoring -- furniture made from tubular aluminum, wrought iron and cast iron. ''I restore old pieces that are irreplaceable, that have been passed down in a family or that are already 25 or 30 years old,'' he said.

He is talking about metals that have been cast from hand-carved molds and forged to create graceful curves, ornate latticework and intricate mesh patterns. Pieces made from cast iron are adorned with grapevines and flowers. Some have cushioned seats; others use woven straps of durable vinyl webbing. There are tables and chairs, chaise lounges, club chairs, lamp tables, even matching urns and planters -- in sets of 15 to 20 pieces. ''You just don't see the quality and workmanship that went into these pieces anymore,'' he said.

Over the years, however, the paint can fade, peel and chip; the metal can crack and rust; the vinyl webbing can break or oxidize.

''Sometimes you'll find that dyes from years of suntan oil have permeated the material,'' Mr. Imperati said. His advice, not surprisingly, is that it pays to restore the pieces rather than replace them.

The process he uses begins with stripping the entire frame by sandblasting.

''You can't use chemicals to strip the metal because the furniture frame has drain holes and the chemicals will get inside,'' he said. Color is applied using a technique called ''powder coating,'' in which electrically charged paint is applied magnetically and then oven baked.

Aniello Imperati, president of Furniture Restoration Center of, uses the same process in his business. ''If you replace your metal patio furniture, you're going to end up with inferior quality at a higher cost,'' he said. ''The welding process is not as good, and the materials are not as heavy -- and you're limited to the color selection they carry. Whereas, if you redo your furniture, you can choose from hundreds of colors, and you prolong its life for another 20 or 30 years.''

What's more, these restorers say, refinished furniture looks as good as new. ''I can redo a 35-year-old chaise, and nobody could tell the difference between it and a brand-new one,'' Mr.Imperati said.

The restorer also agrees that furniture rejuvenation is cost effective. A new metal lawn chair might cost up to ''$350 ,'' Mr. Imperati, said, adding, ''The more roses and curlicues you have, the more it will cost you.'' Refinishing an equivalent chair would cost between $125 and $155, he said. ''A new lounge chair might cost you $700 or $800; we can refinish an old one for $350.''

Do It Now's policy is that the cost of restoration is half the suggested retail price of the item bought new.

Those in the know find used patio furniture at tag sales and consignment shops, then restore it to fit the color scheme of their homes.

''Someone brought in an 80-year-old piece that came out beautifully,'' ''I've worked on ornate, galvanized, cast-iron benches dating from the 1800's that you just can't find nowadays. And remember those funky metal chairs from the 50's that looked like a giant shell? They don't sell them anymore, but we restore lots of them.''

Mr. Imperati said: ''It's not just age and weathering that bring customers. Some people have moved and want to refinish their patio furniture to match their new decor.''

Once lawn furniture is back to like-new condition, how best to maintain it? ''The less exposure to the elements the better,'' Mr. Imperati said. ''bring it in during the winter,'' he urged, adding that even a garage is better than the outdoors.

''Remove it from the line of the sprinkler system,'' he said. ''Keep it away from the acid residue from pine needles, and don't let wet leaves sit on it.'' He said it is better to store furniture on a deck than on the grass, and he recommended keeping it covered when not in use --specifically at the shore, where salt air can wreak havoc.

Most patio furniture restoration is done on metal -- aluminum, cast-iron and wrought-iron pieces. Other popular, high-end, outdoor furniture is made from teak and outdoor wicker, neither of which require the same degree of refinishing.

Teak is durable and low maintenance. ''All you have to do, is apply teak oil twice a year.''

Teak eventually attains a silver-gray tone, which, he said, many people find acceptable, although the wood can be restored to its natural color through a chemical process that owners can do themselves.

High- quality teak furniture made by companies like Gloster and brown Jordan is costly, running around $400 for a chair, $600 for a chaise and as much as $800 for a bench.

Wicker can be even more expensive, with Lloyd-Flanders the leading manufacturer. Outdoor wicker furniture is made from a synthetic material consisting of wire and fibers that was originally used for baby carriages in the early 1900's,. ''Real wicker will rot outdoors,'' he explained. ''With outdoor wicker, you just wash it off, and you can expect it to last a lifetime.'' SUSAN HODARA Hide