By Victoria Hecht, The Virginia-Pilot
Larry Iverson’s convinced the adage”they don’t make’em like they used to ” will ring especially true in the furniture market in the coming years.
Already, he said, wooden pieces aren’t of the quality they were just a decade ago and won’t stand up to the test of time. He cited the use of composites and less-hardy woods, more glue and less hardware, and outsourcing to other countries among the reasons.
The Norfolk resident who owns The Desk Doctor (www.TheDeskDoctor.com), launched his business in 1995 as office-furniture recycling — the process of refurbishing and refining — grew in popularity among consumers in home, commercial and government offices.
With furniture getting new life, skilled crafts persons and workshop facilities were needed to address the demand, from hand stripping to repairing damage, Iverson said.
“The core value is here,” he noted, running his hand over a mahogany desk with inlays and a leather top. Iverson purchased it in Manhattan, one of the major East Coast destinations he frequents on buying trips.
The Desk Doctor employs eight people full time and is located in a 15,000-square-foot shop at 23rd Street and Llewellyn Avenue in Norfolk. Besides office furniture, the company also restores antiques and does custom work for homes and businesses.
During an economic downturn, restoring rather than replacing furniture makes sense because it can be done at a fraction of the cost, Iverson said.
Restoration is also good for the environment as it reduces one’s carbon footprint, said Iverson, who worked for forest-products company Weyerhaeuser Corp. before starting The Desk Doctor.
“The old-growth forests that the furniture makers were using 10 years ago are gone now or protected,” Iverson said. “Reuse is the best form of recycling.”
Re-purposing pieces — such as configuring an entertainment armoire for today’s flat-screen televisions — is another of the company’s services, he said.
“High-quality, real-wood furniture is always in demand, no matter what the economy is doing,” Iverson added.
What attracted you to furniture restoration?
Being able to see the natural beauty of the wood and the original craftsman’s talented work restored for future generations to enjoy.
What kind of savings can people realize by purchasing restored furniture?
Carefully restored antiques are highly valued and are one of this country’s easiest personal investments. Furniture can be refinished for a fraction of the original value and saves 50-90 percent of replacement costs.
Are you finding that people are turning to furniture restoration in these challenging times?
Families who value their prized heirloom furniture always use restoration services. As younger generations recognize the limited availability of quality made, real-wood furniture, they begin to use refinishing to reuse the furniture and save money.
Do you have any restored furniture in your own home?
I will always have restored and refinished furniture in my home. I have an eclectic mix of many pieces from different periods, made with various woods and craftsmanship details, like inlays, carvings and marque accents.
What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
The privilege of working with master craftsmen and the beautiful things that can be done with real wood.
What’s your favorite thing at your own home?
Living in Norfolk. We just recently built our dream custom home on a beautiful point of land looking up the Lafayette River.
Victoria Hecht, (757) 446-2614