The Artisanal Craft of Furniture Refinishing
In the lower level of the New York Design Center, every 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 European craftsman who took him under his wing and served as his mentor. “He taught 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.