Where to Repair: Washington’s Best-Loved Repair Shops
Washington Post article by Jura Koncius
If a leg breaks off a dining room chair, a puppy chews a hole in the rug, a sewing machine jams or a grandfather clock stills, there are people in the Washington area who can help. Although many things in homes today seem to be disposable, there are still lots of possessions both old and new that deserve to be fixed properly. We called a posse of interior designers, antiques dealers, auctioneers, appraisers and other experts to find out whom they trust for their most important repair and restoration jobs. Many of these recommended companies are neighborhood or family firms that have been doing what they do for generations. “You have to find repair people who have a lot of experience and have worked with many different kinds of objects,” says Jodi Macklin, a Chevy Chase interior designer. “And you have to have a level of trust with them.”
When a store makes house calls for grandfather clocks, you know it’s serious about its work. Owner Edward Compton of Ecker’s Clock & Watch Shop has been in business about 33 years. His workshop is often recommended by antique dealers and auctioneers. Compton, who grew up in a family of clock- and watchmakers, gives free estimates, and his charges are determined on a case-by-case basis. “When someone presents me with an item to be repaired,” he says, “I can give them an idea of how long the repair will take and what will be involved.” — Ecker’s Clock & Watch Shop, 8010 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda. 301-652-0549. www.eckersclocks.com.
Georgetown Refinishing and Antique Restoration has been in business since the 1950s, repairing and restoring antiques and other home furnishings. In 2007, the business was bought by Bill and Debbie Schoenbauer, who run Schoenbauer Furniture Service in St. Mary’s County, their own fourth-generation restoration business. Bill Schoenbauer says both companies offer free estimates and can usually give a range of prices for work needed just by looking at the owner’s photographs. Both companies pick up daily in the Washington area. To have someone come to your home to remove a water ring from a table, expect to pay about $150 to $200, he says. To have a basic wood dining chair reglued at their shop costs $75 and up. Designer Jodi Macklin says she has a great deal of trust in the company, whether it’s polishing a dining table or replacing the leg on a chair. — Georgetown Refinishing and Antique Restoration, 30507 Potomac Way, Charlotte Hall, Md. 202 333-3311. www.georgetownrefinishing.com.
When Georgetown designer Susan Beimler locates the perfect antique chandelier for a client, it often needs a part replaced, wiring fixed or a length of custom-made chain. She brings the chandeliers to Artisan Lamp in Cleveland Park. For 35 years, the business has been repairing and restoring table lamps, floor lamps, sconces and other lighting. John Teymourian, one of the owners, says Washingtonians bring in a lot of old European lamps they pick up at auctions or estate sales. The good news is, Artisan will also take on a repair as simple as a new socket, for which the minimum charge is $15. Minor repairs can often be done while you wait. “We are like an old-fashioned neighborhood store,” Teymourian says. “We try to help people with whatever they need.” — Artisan Lamp, 3331 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-244-8900. www.artisanlamp.com.
Virginians have been taking their heirloom silver tea sets and silver bar trays to Lawrence Miller & Co. since 1968. Designer Victoria Sanchez and her family are no different. “My mom took some of her old pieces here to be resilvered and had things like broken handles repaired,” Sanchez says. “They seem to be able to fix everything.” The company works on both family antiques and flea market finds. According to manager Tim Shaheen, the charge is about $35 to repair a fork damaged in a garbage disposal. A scratched medium-size silver serving tray can be buffed for about $100. — Lawrence Miller & Co., 121 S. Royal St. Alexandria. 703-548-0659. www.lawrencedmiller.com.
MID-CENTURY MODERN DECOR
Local collectors were always asking Doug Meyers where to have their Broyhill Brasilia cabinets or Knoll leather chairs restored. Meyers himself was constantly searching for knowledgeable experts; he sells Danish and American mid-century modern furnishings at Modern Mobler, his store in Washington’s Takoma neighborhood. So Meyers has now added furniture restoration to his business; he also has stockpiled spare parts for mid-century furniture. “Our goal is to take on as much of the restoration of a piece that we can without affecting the patina,” Meyers says. “It’s a juggling game. ‘Should I leave it alone?’ ‘Is it worth more if I don’t restore it?’ But at the end of the day, it’s the customer’s piece of furniture, and it has to work for them.” Estimates are free. Labor for refinishing starts at $65 an hour. The price to replace a slip seat on a 1960s Danish modern dining chair in a period-appropriate textured vinyl starts at $75. — Modern Mobler, 7313 Georgia Ave. NW. 571-594-2201. www.modernmobler.com.
Auction houses see a lot of old paintings that have spent many years accumulating layers of household dirt and cigarette smoke. When Elizabeth Wainstein, owner of Alexandria’s Potomack Co.auction house, is asked for the name of a talented artwork restorer, she shares that of Andrzej Pinkowski. Wainstein, who has used Pinkowski for her own paintings, says it is amazing to see the original colors of a work emerge after a cleaning. Pinkowski studied restoration in his native Poland and has been in the business for 44 years; his son Lukasz works with him. If a painting has severe damage, restoring it can be an elaborate procedure. The Pinkowskis will also repair holes in a canvas or fix damaged frames. They charge $50 and up per hour for labor and give free estimates by appointment.