"Antique Trunk Restoration & Design is a team of miracle workers. Randall and Lisa are some of the nicest people I have met in quite sometime and they single handedly brought life back to my family's treasure."  

                                                                                          Laura K.  Seattle WA

Trunk Restoration Service


  Have you been thinking about having that old trunk of yours restored that maybe belonged to your parents, grandparents, or your great grandparents?  The one that has been in your garage all these years, continuing to collect more dirt by the day, worn out and colorless and just plain in-the-way because you keep moving it around saying to yourself;   “One day I’ll get that antique trunk restored…but not now.”

 You probably have all sorts of good questions, and reasons for not acting now, about antique trunk restoration.  And why wouldn’t you?  There really isn’t a ton of info about how to restore a vintage trunk, or where to get your antique trunk restored, and, what will it cost, and who can I trust with my precious heirloom, anyway??    All good questions and valid concerns. 

 Here are some points to consider…

If your trunk IS an heirloom, it unfortunately will be getting worse, before it gets better if you just let it sit, not the best option.  Although most antique trunks were built to take years of abuse, they do, just like anything else, deteriorate over time.  Instead of it being an eyesore that only belongs in the garage, it probably has some real beauty underneath its age wear.  That’s the way trunks were built – to be used for travel and to NOT be an ugly monster once they arrived at their destination, they were made to be pretty.  Beneath the dark exterior stains, and years of grime and sweat and toil, you have one of the finest pieces of furniture ever built, neglected now perhaps, but waiting to be reborn back to a time of glory, when your relatives were proud of their wooden cases which reflected their personalities in ways that we have all but forgotten now.  So unless you are just utilizing that antique chest as a stepping stool to find what is in the boxes above it, or as a catch-all for old mementos that will sympathetically absorb the “old” in which they are stored, it might make sense to be able to use that trunk in a more productive way, IN your home, instead of on the outside.   An antique trunk can provide a great deal of additional storage space within your home, while still being a present and ongoing tribute to your family legacy.  Looking for an amazing coffee table?  There are no better than an antique steamer trunk, a table with some real storage. 

OK, so now you think it’s probably a good idea to have the vintage trunk refinished, and finally bring it into your home.  "But what about the value of my antique trunk after it has been restored?  Will it be less valuable?  More valuable?  Will I be able to get more money for it if I restore it?"  Take a minute to read the paragraph below.  It will answer a lot of your questions, many of which are posed to us each day.  We found this article within a website that dealt with antique trunks years ago and if you have concerns over how the value of your trunk might be affected by a restoration, this article says it better than we could have...

 “Much controversy exists over "restored" or "original" in relation to a trunks value. However, little information exists regarding what actually determines the value of a trunk or even a proper definition of the term "value" as it is applied in this situation. For the largest percentage of trunks, an increase in monetary value is bestowed upon those with visual appeal; exceptional condition, unique attributes such as rare design, or are from a maker whose works are collected. Often, it matters little each way whether these examples are restored or original as the value is determined on a case by case basis by the individual buyer. However, there are trunks that exist whose value is measured not only in monetary terms, but more importantly, historical value. This is the heart of the debate and the only real argument that exists in trunk restoration. To take an essentially ruined standard trunk with not one shred of evidence regarding its past and restoring it to a nice, usable antique piece generally makes it more appealing and increases its market value over its original state. However, restoring a trunk with a link to an important historical person or event could destroy any proof of its past in which case history is lost and the monetary value would significantly be reduced. As it turns out, situations exist where both sides are correct. A well done restoration or refinish can increase a trunks value. Conversely, that same restoration can destroy important information regarding a trunks history and its original condition would have been the more valuable state in all aspects. This debate is not unique to trunks and frequently applied to most antiques in general. Often, the most important skill is in understanding the significance and uniqueness of the particular trunk in question. Some are simply very rare while others could be called historically significant. A proper restoration should begin with understanding the type of trunk in question and researching information regarding the history of the trunk if present. If in doubt, it is best to approach conservatively. Nearly all of the hundreds of professional and part-time restorers in the United States have their preferred or learned method of restoration. However, there are only a few who are able to gain the experience necessary to master more than two proper techniques.”

So why do we restore antique trunks?  Well, one of the most satisfying aspects of what we do is seeing one of our restored antique trunks unveiled, with the customer present.  After we have put in countless hours refinishing and restoring a precious heirloom, it is always such a treat to see the look on the face of the owner of this antique trunk, when they are seeing it for the first time.  It's not just that it "looks better".  It IS better.  When the trunk has been carefully gone over in detail, and then repaired and made near new again, it will last for decades to come.  In part, we are grateful to the original trunk makers for building something SO strong that, by the time it ends up in our shop, is usually 100 years old and still "kicking".   Watching a smile come over the face of a customer who has trusted you with something of great importance, and then waited a few weeks to see the final result is one of the most gratifying feelings you can have.  We are always so appreciative of anyone who has come to us in need of a trunk restoration and our number one priority is to make that person happy.  Period.  

So how does this all happen?  Learning how to restore an antique trunk is a lifelong mission and this is our dedication.  As much as we might be told that it's a "crazy niche" we're in, we wouldn't want to be anywhere else, or doing anything else.

"We just received my EXPERTLY restored trunk.  I am sure that if my grandfather were still alive, he would love your work!  Thank you so much for performing an EXCELLENT restoration!!!"     Rich H.  Portland OR.

How about this?  Maybe you just purchased a funky looking trunk at a yard sale and would like it to look new again. or, you think “That Louis Vuitton antique trunk in the basement would look great in the living room, if only it wasn’t full of mold and more presentable….”

GREAT idea to get these restored! Here’s why:

We can expertly repair, refinish and restore your antique trunk, making it a possession that you will be proud to own, and to display. Once restored, it will last for generations, and will be a centerpiece heirloom. We can restore any antique trunk back to its original condition so that it looks the way it did 100 years ago.  And we can also customize your trunk the way you want it to look, and what’s the best part?  If you want, YOU can pick the color of the exterior you think would best suit your home décor.   Want a more modern feel for your trunk while having it remain true to its historical background?   No problem! We can re-cover exteriors in fabrics or colors of your choosing, or remove present coverings and refinish the wood underneath for a more rustic look and feel.  It's up to you.

"I was amazed by the work that Randall Barbera did and did not think such work was possible.  ASTOUNDING!"  Brian Kenny - Director of Collections and Archives/THE HEARST CORPORATION                                                                                                              

This is why it is important that we speak before starting any antique trunk restoration project. The word “restore” means many things, to many different people and, because it is YOUR antique trunk, it should suit your specific vision when complete.   We want you to be happy with your trunk and want you to have say in what is done to it.  We are not going take artistic licence to do what we want to your precious piece, we want to you be involved!   We once had a client who wanted us to paint his trunk ORANGE!  That's right, orange!  So what did we do?  Why we did in fact do as they wished, and, believe it or not, once the project was completed, his antique trunk looked pretty ridiculous.  When we sent him a picture of his steamer trunk, he then asked us to strip down the paint to the wood (which we did) and then refinish the trunk with natural stains and varnishes.  We're here to help and are willing and open to any ideas that you may have!


"Started to restore a trunk used by my wife's grandmother when she came to the US in 1902.  The trunk was in bad shape, but it was important to us.  I was out of my league in the restoration process so I shipped it to California.  Glad I did!  The job that was done on it was wonderful.  It is now a family heirloom.  We couldn't be happier.  Great restoration, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the folks at Antique Trunk Restoration and Design for a beautiful job well done!"

                                                                            Phil E.     BURGETTSTOWN, PA


So do you want to start enjoying, instead of storing, your antique trunk?

Here’s how

1

Take pictures of your trunk, inside and out so that we can see its condition.

2

EMAIL the pictures to us at info@randallbarbera.com, and make sure to include your phone number and best time to call you.

3

We’ll review the photos and then, within a few hours, we will call you to discuss:
  • What you would like the trunk to look like once restored
  • Best ways to pack and ship your trunk (and some great tips to save money in doing so!)
  • Turn-around time: How long it will take for us to complete the job
  • Price estimate, how much this will cost to complete.

The next step will be to ship your trunk to our shop (we’ll talk about it all in step #3) and once it arrives, we will make sure you know that it is resting in our shop, waiting its turn to be restored, the way you want it!