How to Restore Leather and Wood Furniture

How to Restore an Antique Leather Chair

Last week I bought this antique leather wing chair at an antique shop in San Francisco. I'm kind of obsessed with it! It has so many amazing features like nailhead trim, turned-wood arms, a ladder back, and of course, tufted leather. Its leather cushion is also worn in and a little cracked, which is the well-loved look that I'd been seeking.

When I bought it, the leather was a little worse for the wear, the nailhead was dusty, and the wooden legs were scratched up. After spending an hour or so sprucing it up, it's looking mighty fine, I must say. If you have a new old leather and wood chair on your hands that could use a pick-me-up, I have some restoration tips for you.
Here's what I did to get my sexy seat into shape:

  • First, I removed the seat and vacuumed every nook and cranny to get rid of dust and other particles.
  • Then, I slightly dampened a clean rag and ran it across the surface of the nail head and wooden trim to reach dust the vacuum couldn't. Then I ran a clean, microfiber cloth across the leather to pick up dust on the cushion and tufts.
  • To restore the wood and conceal scuff marks, I purchased Old English Scratch Cover for Light Wood. To use it, begin by applying the solution on a clean, white rag to the scratches and dents only. When it dries (in only a few minutes), apply the solution to the whole surface of the wood, continuing to add more of the scratch cover to your rag every few swipes. Make sure not to let it touch your rugs, upholstery, or other textiles.
  • To repair the leather, I picked up Lexol Leather Conditioner, which is revered among furniture refinishers and autobody professionals. It extends the life of the leather by restoring oils and keeping it soft and supple. First, test it in an inconspicuous spot. Then, apply the solution to the entire surface of the leather with a clean cotton rag. Let it be absorbed for about 20 minutes. Then, buff off the solution with another clean rag, and voilà: conditioned as a whistle!
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