Furniture restoration done right

Got an old piece of furniture collecting dust in your basement? A family living room set that needs to be reupholstered? Perhaps you found a beautiful old chair at an auction that needs to be refinished. Whatever your furniture issue might be, John Kurimay has probably seen it before and fixed it.  

He has been working in the furniture business since childhood and has been professionally working for nearly 50 years at Kurimay Interiors at 50th & Bryant.

Kurimay bought the store, which opened in 1932, when his father retired from the furniture repair business in the 1960s.

Kurimay is confident he can help in all areas of furniture restoration. Currently at the store he offers reupholstering, complete spring replacement, restyling and re-glues. He has a multitude of fabrics available at the store, but if you still can’t find one you like he can find more through the International Market Square. If you want to keep some authenticity to your piece, in some cases he can even make pillows out of the original upholstery to accent the original design.

Antique furniture is Kurimay’s specialty, which is why many of his customers trust him with their most valuable pieces. “[My customers] come to me for my workmanship and my knowledge of furniture from the 1700s–1800s,” Kurimay said.

His workmanship is evident from just a quick walk around his workstation. Filled with springs, webbings, worktables, upholstery fabric and furniture-in-progress ready for attention on his father’s original wood horses, the workstation is busy with multiple projects.

It includes multiple sewing machines used for reupholstering, one of which is his father’s original Singer machine dating back to 1910. The machine still functions properly and Kurimay uses it to sew tougher fabrics such as leather. He had to downsize and get rid of some of his equipment due to the falling economy, but held on to the old machine for nostalgic reasons, he said.

Kurimay does all the intricate webbing, knotting and internal coil work by hand, and re-glues every piece that he restores before returning it to its owner. He takes pride in each job he completes. “Each piece has a story,” he said with a smile, before opening a large photo album of his work.

Before purchasing anything, he makes sure he is positive that it can be restored. He first looks at the piece itself — the wood type and its internal construction. He then estimates how much work it will take, and decides if it will be a profitable piece that he can be proud of.

Kurimay does most of his business in the Twin Cities, but before the recession he worked on projects from as far as Illinois and Indiana. “There are hardly any stores like this anymore. It’s very rare,” he said.

Furniture restoration and reupholstering is an investment, but Kurimay ensures that customers get what they pay for. He is honest and upfront with his customers, explaining exactly what he is going to do and how much it will cost. He believes in good communication with his customers and will not hesitate to call if there is an unexpected problem with a piece. He refuses to take shortcuts or cut quality for a cheaper price. “If it needs it, I replace it, and I do it right,” he said.

Customer Julie Lendner can vouch for John’s assertions. She had bamboo chairs reupholstered and restored by John last spring, and was delighted with his handiwork, prompt service and honesty.

“He’s very articulate and really knows the trade. The quality is superb — you really can’t find a person that does a better job than John,” Lendner said.

When asked for tips to give to customers before they decide to restore a piece, Kurimay offered a quick and easy checklist:

1. Is the piece worth doing? Inspect the piece and assess if it is special enough and in good enough shape to re-do.

2. Does the piece fit the room? Make sure you have a plan for the piece and a space for it.

3. Do you really love the piece? You really want to make sure the piece is special, because more than likely you will spend more money on its restoration than the original purchase price.

Kurimay has no immediate plans to retire, but when he does, the business will likely close, unless he finds someone else willing to carry on the trade.   

“I’m holding on to it for now!” he laughs.

Kurimay Interiors is at 826 W. 50th Street and can be reached at 823-3744. For more information on the store, pieces that are for sale, and examples of Kurimay’s work, visit kurimayinteriors.com.