In the basement of 200 Lex, a company that lovingly restores furniture.
By Annette Rose-Shapiro
The Artisanal Craft of Furniture Reﬁnishing
Timelessly designed, each piece of SA Baxter hardware and lighting carries the SA Baxter mark. It is our master artisans’ signature, attesting to the quality of the piece and certifying that it has not only produced using Furniture the finest materials, Tools been of the trade for the Professional Finishing Company. but that it meets the highest standards of design. It is a promise of our unending commitment to produce the worlds nmost distinctive hardware and lighting the lower level of the New European craftsman who took him under his in Design our foundry and atelier. York Center, every wing and served as his mentor. “He taught day Paul Koppenheffer brings new life to damaged or aged furniture. Professional Furniture Finishing Company, in business for 22 years, took over a similar company that was already in that space. And it’s the only one of its kind that you’ll find in the building. Much of the work comes from the NYDC showrooms— furniture ships from all over the world, and might arrive with a little damage. Or a designer might find a piece that they love, but the finishes color isn’t quite right or doesn’t fit the aesthetic he or she is working with, and would like it changed. Kopenheffer also has work from other sources—manufacturers, designers and private clients. Koppenheffer learned much of his craft from his father-in-law, Mike Iglic, a talented
me everything I know about furniture,” says Koppenheffer. “I’ve never met a harder working and more generous person, and am forever in his debt for all he’s done for me.” Like many specialized skill sets, furniture refinishers are becoming harder to find. Businesses close due to retirement with no one to take over, and anyone wanting to learn this trade usually does so as an apprentice to a parent or grandparent. Professional Furniture Finishing Company does finishing work only. Koppenheffer gets requests for other work, like upholstery, caning or glazing, but it’s not what he does. For him, finishing work is about knowing the process; applying the right finishes, blending the colors and stains, knowing what finishes to use. He has a great appreciation for midcentury modern, and his knowledge of
that furniture helps the shop determine exactly what finishes to use—some should be oil finishes, some should be lacquer. “It’s important to know what is right,” he explains. “When an Eames lounge chair comes through the door, it’s not just a lounge chair. That piece has meaning to us and we’re trying to bring it back to what it was, not change or alter it.” Koppenheffer says that it’s very gratifying to take something and physically put your hands on it and do the work. Sometimes a piece will come in that’s in very poor condition, “a real train wreck.” After the clamping and gluing, finishing and repair, bringing it back to life is very satisfying, and the customer can’t believe it could be done. “Customers are reassured that we know about their pieces and how to treat them.”