Even the finest furniture has a way of coming out on the short end of a casual encounter -- say, with a teething puppy, an exuberant kid, or an errant cocktail. Fortunately there are talented artisans who regard such domestic tragedies as minor inconveniences. David Linker (216 West 18th Street, Suite 804; 337-3272) studied at the Parisian institutes that produced France's venerable ébénistes, the royal furniture-makers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but Linker (whose studio time is $90 per hour) is no snob about what he'll fix: everything from a modest, 100-year-old rocking chair ($100) to an eighteenth-century Dutch clock that fell over (65 hours of restoration, $6,000). Designer Samuel Botero observes, "He is a true ébéniste who loves furniture and treats it with reverence. He's worked on pieces for me that were worth a million and a half dollars as well as on more humble ones with no pedigree."
If it is the opulent, dripping ormolu on a picture frame or the painted surface of an object that needs first aid, Sheelin Wilson (315 East 91st Street, second floor; 722-2089) should be your first stop. "She's brilliant," coos Robert Denning of Denning & Fourcade, Inc. "I'd give her anything to do." A veteran of Sotheby's Restoration, Wilson charges $60 an hour and will work on anything from a lightly gilded chair in need of touching up (from $125) to extraordinary pieces with a noble provenance. She's even gilded basketballs for Shaquille O'Neal.
Grimy- or grubby-looking upholstery? Call Clean Bright Process (the plant is on Long Island, but calls are taken locally at 283-6400). The firm happily makes house calls; as owner Bob Kleber notes, "Why invite unexpected damage while removing and reinstalling an item?" Christine Cain, senior associate of the design firm Jed Johnson & Associates, says, "We've used them pretty much exclusively for the last several years. We're completely pleased with the work that they do."
Clean Bright tackles all things textile -- including upholstered headboards ($85-$125), chairs (club chair, $55; wing chair, $65), sofas (a six-footer, from $145), and draperies (from $3 per pleat to about $125 for a "fancy" window treatment) -- as well as more exotic decorations, like textile wall coverings, fabric-swagged ceilings, antique screens.