Category Archives: Bay Area Services

Bringing Old Furniture Back to Life

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Ever wondered what to do with that special but damaged furniture that has been handed down in your family?

Dana had a conversation with Bernice Rapoport, owner and primary restoration expert, at Geppetto’s Antique Restoration in Point Richmond. Bernice provided some valuable context and practical information.

When is it worth having furniture repaired?

When you love it enough to fix it. Depending on what current styles are popular, many antiques don’t have a lot of resale value so often the motivation to invest in a repair is far more about preserving the piece for sentimental value. Knowing you and your family will be able to use grandma’s favorite writing table for years to come can mean the world.

What alternatives are there to a full repair?

If the piece is useable, sometimes it makes more sense to just give them a clean up or have finishes touched-up to make them more presentable. An example would be a tabletop with some old gouges or scratches. Rather than sanding out the damage and refinishing, some touch-up of the finish over the damage is sufficient. The scratches are actually part of the character of the piece and add to its charm.

How can we best protect our furniture?

  • Don’t place items near heating vents. This accelerates the drying out of both the glues in a piece and the wood itself
  • Keep furniture out of direct sunlight; it bleaches the wood
  • Cane seating: twice a year (you can do it when the clocks change) use a water bottle to spray the underside of the cane seats with slightly warmer than warm (but not hot) water. Let air dry indoors at room temperature. This keeps the natural fiber supple and allows the fibers to tighten up.
  • Rotate area rugs and tables twice a year to allow for more even wear
  • Water rings occur when moisture gets between the wood and the finish. Finishes are slightly porous to allow the wood to move.

We’ve all seen the Antique Roadshows episodes where the appraiser tells the person how many thousands of dollars more their piece would be worth IF they hadn’t refinished it – how do you protect antiques without affecting their value?

It’s important to use period products and techniques when working on true antiques and to know when cleaning or touchup is advised over a full refinishing.

What’s the oldest piece you worked on?

A high back chair from the 2nd settlement to Jamestown from between 1608-1610. The chair had a natural reed rush seat. Really the only work it needed was a cleaning and waxing.

Bring Your Furniture Back to Life

Bring Your Furniture Back to Life

What about modern furniture?

There’s lots of decent enough solid furniture out there, even from places like Restoration Hardware. Overall though, design is compromised for the cost savings of mass production. Handcrafted furniture can last for so long, sometimes centuries, because of the detail that went into it’s construction and design.

Do you have furniture pieces you love but can’t fully use because they’re broken or fragile? Don’t let them languish in your home or garage just taking up space. Explore the resources available to bring them back to life!


Leave a comment

Filed under Bay Area Services, Guest Experts, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

How to Prepare for Emergencies When You are Strapped for Time

Being ready doesn't mean being perfect...

Being ready doesn’t mean being perfect…

As organizers, one of the things we help people do is get ready for emergencies. Here are some great tips from our guest blogger, Emily Fox:

We know we should be prepared for natural or personal disasters. But we are busy. We work. We take care of kids, elderly parents, or both. We volunteer. We try to exercise. It is hard to be motivated to deal with what MIGHT happen in the future when there is so much to deal with today. Laundry trumps emergency kit.

But there are ways to upgrade your disaster preparation without getting overwhelmed.

Remember ANY amount of preparation is better than none.   So, let’s choose just three of the most important preparations and accomplish them.

Step One: Get a kit

If you are busy, purchasing an emergency kit is easier and faster than making your own.

Here is a great option from with all the supplies the Red Cross recommends.

Earthquake Kit

Earthquake Kit

I like it even better than the Red Cross brand emergency kits because you can customize it easily, the price is reasonable, and you can choose between a backpack, a duffle bag or a rolling bag. There is even a little extra room to stuff a jacket or extra diapers.

This kit also provides both bags of water and water purification tablets. The bags of water are not enough for 72 hours (which the Red Cross recommends). So the tablets are crucial. But to use the tablets you’ll need a receptacle for holding water. Add this collapsible water container to your order and put it in your kit and you’ll have enough water for 72 hours or longer.

While you are reading this article, click and order, and you will have accomplished Step One! Store the kit in your car for quick evacuation or emergencies on the road.

Step Two: Make a plan

An emergency plan refers to knowing who to call for help, how to get in touch with loved ones, and where to go if you need to evacuate your home.

Print one of these emergency card templates for each member of your family. Fill them out together as a family activity. Keep the cards in wallets or backpacks.

Red Cross Contact Card

Red Cross Contact Card

Emergency Card_Adult

Wallet Card for Adult

Wallet Card for Child

Wallet Card for Child


Step Three: Get informed

Next time you wait at the doctor’s office or are put on hold by AT&T, put these key contacts in your phone and copy them into your wallet. They are valuable sources for information during a disaster.

  • Radio: AM 1610
  • Local news on TV or internet:
  • If you are a resident of Berkeley, the city automatically calls residents at home to give them critical public safety information. Landlines are automatically registered, but you must manually register your cell phone: BENS registration (866) 484-3264
  • Safe and Well Website. To let your friends and family know you are safe, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register.

Now that you see you can accomplish three major steps in disaster preparation, visit to learn more emergency preparations you can incorporate into your life.


Emily Fox is a Professional Organizer, Communication Facilitator, and Daily Money Manager. Emily helps families in the East Bay deal with emergencies in all forms, from natural disasters to personal crises. She can be reached at or 510 735-7345.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bay Area Services, Decluttering, Guest Experts, Perspective, Strategies

Move Loot – Selling Your Items for Fun and Profit


We’ve listed a few ways to find new homes for furniture and household items you are ready to part with. We’ve discovered a consignment option which prides itself on stellar customer service by picking up your items to sell, photographing, pricing, advertising, storing and then delivering your sold items to the buyers. All for no out-of-pocket cost to you. The typical Move Loot shoppers are urban professionals between 25 and 45 years old. The most popular items are apartment-sized, selling for less than $1,000 with modern lines.

How it works:

Sellers send pictures and descriptions of the items they want to sell to the folks at Move Loot and suggest a price. MoveLoot determines if they can sell your item, if so, they will they take 50% of the selling price.

move loot selling guide

How it’s different:

It’s different from traditional furniture consignment stores in that they provide pick ups for sellers [free if the item(s) are valued over $200.] For buyers, they provide free delivery for purchases over $99.

Like other consignment stores, the consignment fee is 50% of the sale price.

It’s different from Craigslist because they provide professional photos, complete measurements and thorough descriptions. Plus you don’t have to field all the inquiries and have strangers come to your house!

What they don’t take:

  • Mattresses & Box Springs
  • Pre-Disassembled Furniture
  • Cribs and Changing Tables
  • Sofa Beds, Murphy Beds
  • Recliners
  • Electronics (Fans, Sewing Machines, Clocks, Pianos, Fireplaces)
  • Large, Built-in Furniture
  • Chandeliers & Ceiling lamps
  • Dishware, Plate Chargers, Servingware
  • Rugs, Linens, Curtains
  • Pillows, Blankets
  • Beanbags
  • IKEA Furniture that requires disassembly
  • Locked Furniture without Key
  • Broken Furniture/DIY-projects

In the SF Bay Area at least, there are lots of options for moving unwanted things out of your life, revamping your living space so it better matches your lifestyle or paring down to prepare for a move.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bay Area Services, Decluttering, General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse