Review of The Furniture Bible book by Cristophe Pourny
In one of our previous articles, Furniture restoration, we explained you the basics of furniture restoration and in this review we present to you a book which covers all aspects of furniture restoration in over 300 pages. The furniture bible, by Cristophe Pourny, is an exhaustive guide to every aspect of the craft, from construction and repair to collecting and conserving valued pieces. Pourny’s book will serve brave DIYers as well as design aficionados wishing to hone their connoisseurship. He guides readers from professional to DIYers with tips on finding pieces worth restoration, suggesting sources from flea markets to high-end galleries depending on budget. Once a piece of furniture is acquired, Pourny explains how to assess damage, make repairs, and complete a final finish.
About the author
Christophe Pourny was born and raised in the Var region of Southern France. Growing up in his parents antique store in Fayence made the love of furniture and artisanal technique second nature to Christophe. An apprenticeship at his Uncle’s shop on the Rue Jacob in Paris would give Christophe the cosmopolitan experience he needed to prepare him for New York. Pierre Madel was a legend and his loyal clientele spanned all the way from San Francisco to St. Tropez. About fifteen years ago Christophe moved to New York and opened his restoration studio in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The studio specializes in French polish, period finishes, antique restoration, & custom furniture production. The studio is proud to call some of the most talented interior designers in the industry clients. Christophe Pournyis one of the most esteemed furniture restorers in the business. Top decorators like Bunny Williams trust him to regild Louis XVI bergères and refresh the luster on French-polished 18th-century dining tables. Christophe has also worked extensively on the restoration of City Hall, Gracie Mansion, The Holy See Mission to The United Nations and he restored George Washington’s desk. Christophe’s work has been featured in Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, and he has been profiled on 1st dibs. He is also a featured guest on the Martha Stewart Show.
The book opens with a short history of furniture styles from medieval to midcentury modern, and then moves into richly illustrated and useful sections on finishes, techniques, tools and care. Techniques from ciré rempli to ceruse are defined and detailed, and Pourny is appropriately cautionary about which projects require practice. A strong section on furniture care and cleaning argues that using the right methods will prolong the life of furniture. This guide will find a wide audience among those who simply want to learn about and appreciate good furniture, as well as those who are more hands-on.
The heart of the book is an overview of Pourny’s favorite techniques—ceruse, vernis anglais,and water gilding, among many others—with full-color step-by-step photographs to ensure that readers can easily replicate each refinishing technique at home. Pourny brings these techniques to life with a chapter devoted to real-world refinishing projects, from a veneered table to an ebonized desk, a gilt frame to a painted northern European hutch. Rounding out this comprehensive guide is care and maintenance information, including how to properly clean leather, polish hardware, fix a broken leg, and replace felt pads, as well as recipes to make your own wax, shellac, varnish, stain, and more.
We found this book to be clear, informative and wide in scope. There is plenty of content that will satisfy a wide spectrum of people with varying interests and abilities. On one end people interested in furniture style and history will be able to also have a glimpse into how the actual finishes and techniques are created, restored and maintained. Those with a strong practical side will be able to make a connection to the evolution of furniture styles and how they form a visual vocabulary that helps us understand the elements of design that we see in all the varying types of furniture around us today. The pictures are clear and the drawings are charming. Truly a wide range of information with something for everyone all done with taste, style and humor. We especially liked the photos of all the tools used in the trade. We highly recommend this book for the casual reader and to the informed craftsperson.
Even for those who decide to leave restoration and repair to professionals, Pourny’s book will help them become better—and eventually better-satisfied—clients by giving them a vocabulary for the end product they desire.