INTERIORS

SECRET SERVICE: THE HOT LIST OF SYDNEY’S TRADESPEOPLE

Grab your little black book - here are the must-have addresses designers and decorators swear by.

July 24, 2018

Grab your little black book – here are the must-have addresses of the tradespeople Sydney’s designers and decorators swear by.  Where  the seriously stylish dealers go to get their paintings restored? A pretty Ming vase rewired into a lamp? Or beautifully squashy cushions with double ruched edges made? Here are 50 addresses where you will find amazing people who can do the most wonderful things with those very special pieces that make all the difference to our homes. And having eluded the middle man, you’ll be surprised how much more reasonable priced it can be. But remember you are not dealing with a retailer here – these people are wizards more used to dealing with trade.

WICKER AND CANE SEATING:

Modanest: Is your wicker wilting? Rush suddenly ropey? Cane had a caning? Don’t take it sitting down. Adam Stewart is a Danish specialist cord weaver who repairs and restores cane seating, mostly using Danish cord, a rope made of durable twisted paper. Clients include Great Dane, Vampt and The Wood Room. Expect the kind of weaves and patterns you see on famous chairs like Carl Hansen’s CH27 in three colours: natural white or black. Architects swear by Stewart. 0415 101 818,  www.modanest.com.au

DYE:

Spectrum Dyers: Create a new look for stained, world-weary slipcovers, tablecloths, curtains, bedspreads, outdoor umbrellas, and deckchair covers by dyeing the lot. Spectrum is a colour change specialist who offers a huge range of standard colours, but can also custom-colour to any shade you care to dream up. On virtually all fabrics from polyester, nylon, silk, viscose rayon, cotton. Names like Merivale retaurants and bars, Bec & Bridge, Sass & Bide, Zimmermann and JETS Swimwear are repeat clients.  (02) 9313 4466, www.spectrumdyers.co

CullaChange: Create a new look for weary slip covers, tablecloths, curtains, bedspreads, outdoor umbrellas, and deckchair covers by dyeing the lot. CullaChange is a dyeing specialist who offers a huge range of standard colours, but can also custome-colour to any shade you care to dream up. 9310 7766, www.cullachange.com.au

DRY-CLEANING:

2020: How to clean your Gucci Marmont quilted velvet shoulder bag? It’s a nuisance, isn’t it. But if you have an investment pair of Balenciaga Speed sneakers or grease marks or merlot stains on your Acne pale pink bomber jacket, 2020 can fix it. In business for 30 years, the three Ford brothers’ client list reads like a roll call of the great and the good of the fashion world. Think Giorgio Armani, Zegna, Versace, as well as well-dressed Mosmanites. Plus, cleaning everything from household furnishings (sofa covers, curtains, rugs, and the fancy stuff, leather and, suede coats, too). The extra drawer is a competent alteration and repairs service. One of the best. (02) 99692020, www.2020.com.au

UPHOLSTERY RESCUES:

Vacuum your sofa weekly and get it professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months: even if it doesn’t look dirty, you want to get those body oils out. When disaster strikes, call in the professionals without delay. 

Panama Jack Total Cleaning ServicesCoffee on your new stone-coloured linen sofa? No problem. Panama Jack specialises in cleaning and removing stains from all kinds of soft furnishings, and will get your sofas, armchairs, rugs and bedheads looking like new. He can also fix any water damage on curtains etc. And he does upholstery protection. 1800 423042 or 0413 127948, www.iamlookingforcharlie.com.au

Textile Cleaning & Protection Sydney: Save the expense of new slip covers and get the Marrickville company to come and rejuvenate soft furnishings. It specialises in cleaning fabrics of all kinds, can get out those tricky water and ink stains), repair pulled threads, etc. It also offers a fire-retardation service. Designer Thomas Hamel uses them. No tricky furniture removals: all work is done on-site. (02) 95645044, www.textilecleaning.com.au

BOOKBINDERS:

Newbold & Collins Bookbinders: Repairs and rebinds old books, book boxes, and also releathers old desktops. (They made the necklace case used by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge). It’s all done by hand: there’s not a power tool in sight. They can mend page tears, patch leather, do blocking and tooling (including pressed gold lettering) by hand. Family heirlooms, including old bibles,  a speciality, they do lots of work for the antiquarian book trade. 9790 0177,www.bookbinders.com.au.

GENERAL REFINISHING:

Worldwide Refinishing Systems: If your bath, sink, stove, tiles, even kitchen cupboards are looking worse for wear, turn to this company. It can recoat virtually any hard surface – including metal, timber, laminate, ceramic, porcelain, enamel and fibreglass – on site. The most popular service is refinishing bathtubs, taking out stains and superficial rust and resurfacing with an acrylic urethane imported from the US. Operates all round Sydney. Inquiries 1300 360 660 www.refinishing.com.au

Nu-Pride Bath Resurfacing: Is your bathroom looking weary or dated? Old tubs and tiles can often be better quality than modern replacements, so if the configuration of the room is right, you can order a makeover without the drama and dust of jackhammering, and at much less than the cost of a full renovation. This outfit can resurface tubs that are chipped, porous or have lost their original glaze, and even change the colour of tiles. (02) 9871 1244, www.nupride.com.au

CURTAIN HANGING:

Ron Killorn: Can hang absolutely anything. From perfectly plain Roman blinds to ample folds of heavily linen curtaining with elaborate pelmets and swags. He has worked with the biggest names in the business for more than 40 years. Thomas Hamel, Cameron Kimber,  Christine Jeffery, so you know your window treatments will be perfectly-postioned and proportioned in Killorn’s hands. Outstanding work. 0412 282 290.

LAMPSHADES:

Sue Riley Home Collections: One of Sydney’s best kept secrets: stylists, designers, bars and restaurants get their bespoke lampshades whizzed up here. Everything from soft gathered silk shades with fringed edging like you see at Merrivale establishments to gold-lined shades and Belgian linen classics. All materials, shapes and sizes, from $3 to $3,000.  Retailers such as General Trading Company are fans. www.suerileyhomecollections.com.au

MIRROR RESILVERING:

Mirror Resilvering Service: Moisture and time making their mark on mirrors, resulting in mottled, distorted reflections that damage your self-confidence. This is where antique dealers and glaziers send old mirrors for resilvering. Using new silver nitrate, the staff here can make your old dressing table sparkle again. It’s not cheap, but you have the benefit of keeping thos lovely hand-etched or beveled edges, which are expensive or impossible to replace. If you don’t want to travel with glass, they can arrange to pick up and delivery. (02) 624 4848, www.mirrorresilvering.com.au

LIGHTING:

Lamp Restoration: Len Shute is a lighting legend among antique dealers and interior designers who get him to rewire everything from ancient ginger jars (turning them into lamp bases or chandeliers of dubious electrical provenance). He specialises in restoring antique lighting and converting vases into lamps. 9666 8019.

Transco: Transco has an affordable service that will re-wiring your lamps to Australian standards that are approved by the Fair Trading department or convert vases, (even that old fire hydrant) into lamps. (02) 9516 4922, transcolamps.com.au

MARBLE RESTORATIONS:

Heat, weather, carelessness and the passing of time all take their toll on marble. The good news is, the experts can resurrect it.

Stonebank: Chris Green has an excellent eye, and can do anything with marble. He can colour-match and epoxy pieces, find a perfect match for your 17th-century commode, re-polish an old piece that needs new life breathed into it, install a French-look tabletops or source a slab for a kitchen bench. Oh yes, and clean and restore fireplace surrounds until they look like new. Plus, he supplies well-heeled Sydney with French-look marble kitchen and bathroom benches, fireplace surrounds, stairs, even amazing wall slabs. One of the best. (02) 95678960.

Ron Bennett Marble: This family business stretches back to 1939, meaning a serious expertise in all things marble – new, old and antique. Tabletops repolished, chipped edges fixed, cracked washstand tops rejoined (using brass bars for support), fireplaces repaired and cleaned. They’ll cut a hole in a marble washstand top to turn it into a vanity too, as well as supply, deliver and fit new kitchen and bathroom benchtops in marble, granite and Caesarstone. 25 Buffalo Road, Gladesville (02)98093623, www.ronbennettmarble.com.au

CARPETS AND RUGS RENOVATIONS:

Take care of your carpets with regular vacuuming and react quickly – but carefully – when disaster strikes. Never use spotters, detergents or shampoos on stains, and never rub. The best first-aid treatment for most stains to soak up the excess by standing on a folded towel: then flood the pile with cold water, leave it a minute, then stand on another folded towel. Repeat if necessary. If the stain has been caused by something that is oil-based, moisten the pile with methylated spirits instead of water (just extinguish your cigarette first). Consult an expert as soon as possible. Don’t throw out your fitted carpet if it’s just stained: if it’s not threadbare, there’s life.

I & B Perryman Oriental Carpets: Ian and Belinda Perryman, in Queen Street since 1990, restore and rescue rugs of all kinds, in all states of disrepair. Everything from 19th-century Caucasian rugs to 400-year-old tapestries and big corporate restorations. Wine stains winkled out, frayed edged refurbished, curling edged straightened out, and other tragedies (the sort caused by cigarettes, chewing puppies and badly placed plants) made good. Also stretching and general cleaning. (02) 9327 3910,www.antiquerugs.com.au.

CARPET DYE:

Revive Carpet Dyeing: This Woronora-based company offers two services: it will clean and dye wall-to-wall carpet on the spot or take floor rugs away to revamp them. Launched in 1977, it won the Geneva Inventions Award back in the 1980s for its on-site carpet-dyeing service, a world-first. What makes its process different is that the dye is not a coating like paint; instead, it absorbs and mixes with the existing colour of the carpet. It costs about 20 per cent of the cost of new carpet. The company recommends going darker: it will cover more marks, stains, and spillage and make worn areas less obvious. Taupe and chocolate brown are winners. The company also spot-dyes bleach- or lighter-coloured stains, and can do a freshen-up coat of existing colour for an  inexpensive facelift. 1300 889903, 95453777,www.revive.com.au

ENGRAVING:

John W Thompson: English-trained engraver, Thompson started off doing stationery engraving (he did the wedding invitations for Prince Charles and Lady Diana) but then diversified into precious metals. He numbers three former prime ministers among his clients as well as Cartier, Tiffany and Australian actors like Jack Thompson. Transform anything gold or silver (from rings to christening cups or cufflinks) into an heirloom using the font of your choice, including the popular Roman and the lower-case Celtic. A big part of his business is now handmaking signet and wedding rings, too.  Suite 1, Level 4, Dymocks Building, 428 George Street, 9233 3520, www.johnwthompson.net

FLOOR CLEANING AND REPAIRS:

Slique: Grease stain on your limestone floor? Slique can fix it, as well as repair other tragedies (badly placed plant, wine marks,) on virtually any floor surface, (travertine, marble, terracotta, ceramic or porcelain). Everything from stone and tile cleaning and restoration to maintenance. Plus grubby grout fixed, and re-polishing. Recommended by Artdomus, (market leader in top-notch stones). Used by David Jones, Knight Frank and some of our most prominent families. (02) 9648 0395, slique.com.au

FRAMERS:

Jim Crofts Studio: The artist’s favourite. Some of our best artists and designers head here- lots of Archibald entries pass through these doors first. Rod Denson (who now runs the business) specializes in graphics, paintings and photographs and is renowned for being good, quick and reliable. Olsen Gallery gets his frames here. They’re so busy they were reluctant to be in this story. (02) 96999579.

Parkers Framing Works: The dealers favourite. Olsen Gallery’s go-to for bespoke framing as well as an exceptional range of moulding and exhibition-style mounting for sculptures with plinths in perspex, bronze or wood. Probably one of your best bets for restoring lovely old frames as well as watercolours and oil paintings. (But it its not there, the custom service will cover it. Art Gallery of NSW’s choice, too. (02) 96988591, www.parketartsupplies.com

Andrew Bassett Fine Framing: Bassett has been in business since 1988, and does a lot of quality fine art, photography, and works on paper for artists to dealers like Fred Williams, Tim Olsen, Rex Irwin, Martin Browne, Ray Hughes and Roslyn Oxley, Damien Minton Gallery, Maunsell Wickes, Savill Gallery, Stills, White Rabbit, Watters Gallery. (02) 98104767, www.fineframing.com.au

Graphic Art Mount: Mount your art on Perspex plinths, blocks, stands and cases to make it look important. This graphic company who do a lot of work for museums and galleries can make something simple look like something out of an art gallery. (02) 95504232, www.graphicartmount.com.au

FX Framing: Some of our best galleries, designers and serious collectors head here. FX specialises in contemporary work and notoriously tricky large-scale pieces. If another framer says, ‘You can’t do that’, FX will turn an impossibility into a triumph.  This place does high-end timber mouldings, hand finishing, staining, as well as all kinds of exhibition-style mounting. Unique work at unique prices. (02) 9319 5996, www.fxart.com.au

UPHOLSTERY:

Ambience Upholstery: You’ll be in good company here. Owner David Money’s attention to detail appeals to those who won’t skimp. Do you want names? James Packer, Iain Halliday, Cameron Kimber, Georgina Howell (ex-Howell & Howell) and hotelier, Terry Kaljo of Contemporary Hotels. The pristine workroom produces bespoke sofas, armchairs, ottomans, and slip covers, plus brings new life to your favourite old wingback. Oh, great wall upholstery too. Ambience’s service is costlier but you’ll have a piece that is for keeps. (02) 9669 2669.

Atelier Furniture: Some of our best retailers and designers, such as Anibou, Spence & Lyda, Ke-zu,  and Briony Fitzgerald, head here. The Swiss-trained furniture maker and upholsterer Edwin Odermatt can do just about anything from innnovative custom-made sofas to built-in, deeply-buttoned banquettes or upholstered walls. Or get your own finds recovered, (and revitilised). Fab range of leathers and fabrics too. (02) 9810 4408, www.atelier.com.au

Intoo Upholstery: Eric Alfors’ know-how will instantly update a pre-loved piece, using all the traditional methods. Lovely work with antique chairs, using natural materials. The best wall upholstery, too. Got a pretty 18th-century French Bergere armchair? This is the place to restore, renovate and reupholster it. Top decorators swear by him. (02) 9700 0117, www.intoo.com.au

Stitches Soft Furnishings: Chrissie Jeffery is the queen of soft furnishings. She started off as a dress designer and brings a fashion sensibility to her beautifully detailed cushions and curtains. No wonder she has dressed the windows for everyone from Nicole Kidman to the Historic Houses Trust of NSW. Choose from quality fabrics, in stacks of cotton and linen stripes, checks, plains and tickings in tried-and-tested colour combinations; at her No Chintz Stores. (02) 9557 8965. www.nochintz.com

FURNITURE CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION:

Granville Smith Restorations: Jeremy Granville Smith is a young conservator and restorer (weighted more to the conservation end of things) who was a big favourite among heavyweight Woollahra antique dealers in the early 2000s. The focus is now more on private collections and conserving important architectural buildings for government and schools. He trained here, but his pedigree includes stints at the famous London antique shop Mallett. Good with all woods, the expert cabinetmaker, is one to seek out. For his museum-quality work. A lovely manner, too. Lords Street, Leichardt. www.granvillesmithrestoration.blogspot.com

Benchmark Restorations: Gideon Wyeth trained the old way with British cabinetmaker, Malcolm Buck, where everything you do is reversible. He has worked with most of our top antique dealers, and now works mostly on high-end private collections. Specialising in restoration, carving, French polishing, marquetry hand-repairs, and commission pieces of fine furniture which you’d have trouble telling from the original. He can make identical copies of anything from scratch, from 15th century Italian, to 17th century Georgian bookcases using mortice and tennon joins, and traditional techniques us. If you are one or two chairs and a carver short of the full set, Wyeth can fill in the missing pieces. Everything is waxed and buffed by hand to look convincingly old, and beautiful. 0414 488 044, www.benchmarkrestorations.com

ART CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION:

This is a small, secret world of highly qualified people working to a  strict code of ethics. Backed into your Boyd? Mildew on your Miro? Don’t despair and don’t even think of DIY. Call in an expert. What’s the difference between conservation and restoration? Restoration implies aesthetically enhancing an artwork; conservation is, well, more conservative, aimed at preserving and stabilizing artworks and objects using techniques that could one day easily be reversed. Look at the website of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (www.aiccm.org.au) for more details and advice on how to commission this sort of work. Costs are generally about $100 an hour, so you’ll need to balance that against a work’s actual and sentimental value. One general word of advice: keep artworks out of direct sunlight. It’s a killer. 

Coburn Fine Art Conservation: Stephen Coburn (yep, he’s the son of John Coburn) does good work conserving large contemporary works and murals, with the preservation and display of Aboriginal art a specialty. (02) 99605557;www.stephencoburn.com.au

David Stein & Company: Top-drawer stuff. If your painting has a major structural problem, head here. Stein’s conservation studio is a consultant to many major Australian museums, galleries, auction houses and dealers. When old paintings get fatigued (a difficult area of art conservation), Stein can stick fresh canvas to the original canvas that supports the paint layers. “It is a critical process where everything from the purpose-built tables to the temperature and the pressure are vital,” says Stein. “It is essential to get it right to maintain the value and integrity of the painting.” He also does large-tear mending and tricky cleaning. Also working from Stein’s company are names like Julia Sharp, the Courtauld Institute-trained doing museum-quality conservation, and work for major public and private collections, but also loves conserving more modest domestic paintings. Large tears, relining, using stable materials and techniques that could one day be reversed. (02) 93602201, www.artrestoration.com.au

International Conservation Services: The place does world-class museum-quality work. Its team of in-house craftspeople specialise in the restoration of everything from historic paintings and textiles to glass and boulle-work (tortoiseshell and brass inlay). They’re the official conservators of the National Trust of Australia (NSW). Expect to pay top dollar, but their work is brilliant. (02) 94173311; www.icssydney.com.au

PAPER CONSERVATION:

Watercolours, prints, manuscripts, drawings, photographs, scrolls, books: all can fall victim not just to tears but to acidity, greasy fingers, mould, old sticky tape, stains and “foxing”. Paper is a notoriously difficult area of conservation, so for posterity’s sake, seek out an expert. Make sure you weigh up the work’s value with the cost of conservation. (Note: You’ll also find some of the people listed in our Art Conservation entry cover this territory too. Consult the AICCM website for its list of paper specialists.)

Tony Ameneiro: How to repair your Picasso? It’s a nuisance, isn’t it. But if you have a valuable lithograph with mildew or a precious print that has been charred in a fire, McDonald can fix it. An artist and printmaker by trade, this man has the best pair of hands in the business. Specialises in watercolours, prints, and drawings, but not books or photographs. 0438 943297, www.tonyameneiro.com

HANGING ART:

The Hangman: The Hangman, Jonathan Lee covers lots of bases: not only will he help you decide where to hang your paintings, he’ll move furniture to make them look the best they can – and even source other art or antiques to fill any gaps. A favourite with leading interior designers, architects and some of our most prominent families. 0419 424 604, www.thehangman.com.au

INTERNATIONAL ART SERVICES:

These art installers and transporters specialise in hanging oversized works and difficult installations. They can install aluminum tracking too, a la commercial galleries, so you can move your paintings around easily. They will also help curate and advise on private collections, as well as conservation work. Major galleries and museums are clients like National Gallery of Art, Victoria Museum, QOMA, Perth Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales plus Ros Oxley9, Australian Galleries, Tim Olsen, Rex Irwin, Martyn Brown, King Street Gallery on William and many, many more. Inquiries, (02) 9666 5225, www.ias.com.au

GILDING AND FRAME RESTORATION:

Inhof Restoration & Design: The Hungarian-trained husband-and-wife team of Attila and Cecilia Inhof specialise in frame conservation as well as boule-work (brass and tortoiseshell inlay), chinoiserie, lacquer work, water-oil gilding and decorative finishes such as marbling and wood-graining. They specialising in restoring gilt frames and making special-order frames to suit particular eras. (02) 98074738, www.inhofrestoration.com.au

Art Gilding Academy: German-trained master gilder Karl Eggert and his wife Brigitte gilded the chariot for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and the golden wall at Sailors Thai restaurant in The Rocks. They can turn their hand to anything: from the innards of domes and rotundas to frames and mirrors – even loo seats, computers and garden gnomes – as well as do high-standard conservation and restoration work. Used by antique dealers, leading architects and designers, you can see the Eggerts’  handiwork at Government House, the Legislative Assembly at State Parliament, Sydney Town Hall and the Captain Cook statue at Hyde Park. They work in gold and silver leaf, as well as “Dutch metal” faux gold, aluminium leaf (twice as popular as gold) and copper leaf (very up and coming. They also run classes for aspiring gilders. (02) 96633881, www.artgilding.com.au

TOY REPAIRS:

The Doll Hospital: For 90 years (first in Campsie, then the city, and in Bexley since about 1970), this has been the place to bring the doll with the wonky eye or the teddy with a broken arm. Still run by the Chapman family, it repairs still performs emergency surgery on modern children’s playthings, but there’s an increasing demand from antique-toy collectors. They’ll restore and reupholster cane prams, rocking horses, tricycles, and pedal-cars, etc. 38a Stoney Creek Road, Bexley, Sydney, (02), 91500266, www.dollhospital.com.au

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