Most people have fond childhood memories of a piece of furniture a relative once owned, just by seeing and feeling that furniture can bring back emotions. From your Great-Aunties artfully carved dining room chairs perhaps to your Grandmothers antique sofa, even the smell of a piece can evoke a memory.
When the unfortunate time comes you inherit that piece of furniture you are suddenly left with the feeling it will never fit in with the rest of your decor and in this sense inherited pieces of furniture can be a blessing or a burden. Before deciding what to do you first need to consider the following:
If your answer is 'no' to these considerations then you shouldn't burden yourself with sentimental value as you will get no real enjoyment from the piece, which is not what your relative intended. If it isn't of good quality then it may not be a good idea spending money on something that could fall apart.
With a little bit of work however, most furniture can be revitalised with fresh fabrics and custom details to be more comfortable and fit in with your decor.
With exception, all good quality furniture is worth restoring, even if a sofa or chair is decades old. If it has a quality frame it is worth keeping. The quality of a sofa or chair is found within the carcass, this should be made of a hardwood such as Oak or Alder, have good lines and have been kiln dried so that the wood doesn't warp or crack during changes of temperature and humidity. Most people won't be able to know this just by looking at a sofa but there are many experts (Upholsterers) that can give you free advice such as Plumbs.
Re-upholstering can literally transform an old sofa to new, from the springs, filling and foam being replaced to the frame being reinforced if necessary. The shape of the furniture cannot be changed but the piece can be slightly re-styled or made more comfortable using certain techniques. Choosing the right fabric will really make difference to how the piece will look and fit in you home, fabric can deliver a more traditional or contemporary style. These custom details will make your furniture a one off.
You don't necessarily need to go as far as reupholstery, Loose Covers can be equally as impressive at transforming your sofa. If the quality, comfort and style or your inherited furniture is pleasing enough then just by changing the fabric, colour and texture can give you the look you desire.
Dining chair covers can now update most sets to fit in with contemporary or traditional trends, not only can you just re-cover (or reupholster) the seat, loose covers can now fit completely over the chair with skirts that cover right to the floor.
So, if you inherit a piece of furniture remember there are many ways in which you can make it a unique heirloom to cherish for many years.