Restoring Antique Side and Occasional Tables

MPF Conservation specializes in antique furniture restoration, furniture repair, antique upholstered furniture, and traditional woodworking.  This page documents side or occasional tables.

Portuguese Baroque Revival Brazilian Rosewood Hall Table circa 1880, right.

Side tables come in every shape and size, as they are known to be functional or decorative pieces that move about a home where they are needed.

Additional side tables (such as the one shown left) can be found in Pembroke / Gate-Leg Tables page.

In all cases below, we perform the following details using traditional techniques as needed:

  • Disassemble as necessary
  • Inspect parts for viability
  • Clean all parts as needed
  • Repair / re-glue / amend broken parts
  • Replicate missing parts
  • CHOOSE Finish Method below:
  • Historic varnish is amended with several coats of pure shellac and rubbed to patina or French polished OR
  • Historically accurate varnish coating with combinations of gums, tree resins, oils, waxes and natural earth pigments is applied  OR
  • Historic painted finish is repaired and amended as needed

Mitchell is a member of the AIC (American Institute of Conservation) and the Preservation Artisans Guild

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Mason Monterey Side Table with Historic California Tiles ca. 1930

Side Table in Old Wood finish was created in the Mason factory in downtown Los Angeles, California. The style is derived from Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial, Pennsylvania Dutch, California Mission and simple ranch furnishings.

Details: Historic California tiles were loose; re-grouting stabilized the tiles. Painted finish was over-coated with historically accurate Old Wood paint, sealing the historic paint and covering scuffs and scaling.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Two British Early Empire Satinwood Wine Cooling Tables circa 1790

Grey Marble tops in good condition; one small drawer on each table. Two condition issues were present requiring treatment:

  1. The tables lived in a modern high-rise with Southern exposure, which caused fading and scaling of the historic French polished shellac along aprons on the sides facing the windows.
  2. The owners elderly dog urinated on the lower shelves, causing a caustic reaction to the original French polish finish.

No disassembly was required. In addition to the items listed at the top of the page, the shelves which had been hit with dog urine were treated with a neutralizing agent before several coats of low viscosity Siam seed shellac to seal any possible residue of urine before final finish.

Before treatment, left, and after treatment, right.

Portuguese Baroque Revival Brazilian Rosewood Hall Table circa 1880

This lovely side table sat for many years in the Portuguese Embassy. Unfortunately, the matching Baroque framed mirror did not accompany the table when it was removed from the Embassy and sold.

Our client rescued the table from a barn where it was stored for several decades. For an unknown reason, the top had been upholstered with a matlasse circa 1950’s; the historic top had splintered and fallen away long before.

The table is created from Brazilian Rosewood solids Brazilian rosewood veneers and Spanish Yellow pine secondary woods. At one time gilding had embellished the carvings. Numerous losses of rosewood occurred within the bottom pediment bouquet, shown below.


  • Joinery repaired.
  • Top was re-veneered with a grain flitch to mimic the original.
  • Looses to pediment bouquet were created in rosewood (see below left).
  • Table was finished with brush coats and/or French polish of shellac.

Follow us on the MPF Conservation Blog to be informed of our documentation of this project when posted.

Additional side tables of many shapes and sizes (shown above) can be found in the Imperial Collection in Crater Lake National Park (also check out the Library Tables), in the Monterey collection in Oregon Caves National Monument, the Drop Leaf Table page (yes, actually more of a side table) of the McLoughlin House NPS, and on the page featuring the Berkey and Gay collection.

If you are interested in other wooden objects, see below: