Monday, April 11, 2011

Loss of furniture after flood breaks heart

Image: that's your humble scribe trying to restore an old silky old robe.

THE heartbreak of the January floods was plainly evident to Redland furniture expert Gavin Hodges as he watched the massive clean-up. Gavin says he was close to tears as solid old furniture was trashed. “A lot of it could have been restored,” he says. “After the 1974 floods the good items could be salvaged but this time it was all crushed by heavy machinery. “It was terrible; a whole era of quality furniture has been lost forever.”

GAVIN has a keen eye for quality furniture, thanks to a lifelong passion and a lot of training. The son of Laidley small crop and flower growers, Les and Betty Hodges, Gavin moved to Wellington Point with his family when he was six years old. He did an apprenticeship in french polishing at a Capalaba workshop specialising in pianos and antiques, and opened his own business, Bayside Quality Furniture Restorations, about 30 years ago.

THE firm, which Gavin operates in partnership with his wife Noela, has a showroom in Shore Street, Cleveland, just two doors from its workshop, and employs about 10 staff Gavin is delighted his son Mitchell, 22, shares the family's interest in furniture. Mitchell has completed an apprenticeship in french polishing, antiques and restoration. Bayside Quality Furniture Restorations found great benefit from the opening of the showroom about 10 years ago, putting some grand pieces on exhibition in air-conditioned premises, Gavin says. He has focused on developing not only a complete restoration service, including upholstery, but also on custom building of all types of furniture. Clients have commisioned the firm for special cabinet and lounge designs. They can choose the upholstery material from a wide range on display in the showroom.

THE firm's major projects in recent years have included the restoration of furniture in the historic colonial residence Whepstead Manor. The project demanded a fine eye for detail because, as Redland Tourism notes, the building of Whepstead was initiated by Gilbert Burnett, manager for Captain Louis Hope, who was the father of Queensland’s sugar industry. Whepstead, originally known as Fernbourne, was completed in 1889 and has a floor area covering 150 square metres over two levels with an attic. No story about old furniture would complete without a reference to that fabulous timber species, the silky oak, which seems to be getting rarer. Gavin says the silky oak is one of the main timbers in his restoration projects, along with other Queensland timbers such as maple and red cedar.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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