Home Improvement, Special Section

Yes he can(e)!

By Edwin Folven, 2/28/2013

Tony Brienza has been refinishing furniture and re-caning chairs for 60 years


Craftsmen like Tony Brienza are becoming hard to find. He’s been refining his skills for more than 60 years and is still going strong. (photo by Edwin Folven)

Restoring old furniture can be a more affordable alternative to buying new items, and House of Brienza, located on Robertson Boulevard, specializes in giving new life to wooden chairs, cabinets, tables, armoires and other pieces.

Owner Tony Brienza has been honing his craft for decades, following the classic credo that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” He specializes in refinishing and restoring furniture that some people may think is beyond repair.

“We don’t just refinish them, we specialize in restoring the pieces to their original beauty,” Brienza said.

Brienza said the tough economy has prompted an increase in people seeking to refurbish their furniture, and older pieces can withstand the test of time with a little care. Brienza said he does every job by hand, meticulously restoring the natural appearance to wooden pieces.

“We take vintage antiques and restore the look without removing the old finish,” Brienza said. “It helps the old furniture keep its value.”

Brienza, now 80, learned carpentry as a youth in Italy, and opened his first shop in the Melrose District in the 1950s. He moved to several different locations until relocating his shop on Robertson Boulevard in 2005.

Chair re-caning is becoming a lost art, but at the House of Brienza, you can still find the craft being done by hand every day.

In addition to restoration, Brienza’s craft includes building custom pieces from hardwoods such as mahogany, oak and teak. He specializes in re-caning and re-weaving wicker chairs and other wood pieces.

Many clients have turned to Brienza to repair antique furniture, even the owners of the Original Farmers Market, who commissioned him to restore pieces from the Gilmore Adobe. Brienza attributes his longevity to a love of working with furniture, and bringing something back to life that may have otherwise ended up in the trash.

“What I tell people is not to throw it away, because it can be restored,” Brienza added. “We emphasize service, and there is client participation in the process. We get their input, and let them know what it is going to take. When it comes here, we want them to know what they are getting.”

House of Brienza is located at 2358 S. Robertson Blvd. For information, call (310)839-9254.




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