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The Big Fix


Upholstered-Furniture Cleaning

Although the carpet-cleaning businesses above also do on-site furniture-cleaning, carpets are their specialty. Conversely, the businesses listed below also clean carpets, although upholstery is their main line of work. Just about all upholstered goods can be cleaned on site in your home.

Yet another family-operated shop, Fabra-Cleen is owned by Brian Kornet, who describes his business as "textile maintenance cleaning." It undertakes all things textile, from sofas, chairs, and benches, to draperies, window shades, and blinds, even the metal or vinyl variety. Fabra-Cleen has even gone on-site to clean a mammoth, soot-covered 150-year-old silk tapestry in a church. Cleaning upholstered furniture starts at $16.50 per foot (measure across the back of the sofa); a club-style chair is about $50 to $60; a dining-room chair ranges from about $20 to $30, depending on whether it has an upholstered back. Loose pillows are about $6 each. (111 Albany Avenue, Freeport; 212-777-4040, 718-776-3564, or 516-377-0993.)

Leather Furniture and Objects

Italian-born Dino Carlino bought the Robert Falotico business a few years ago and continues the leather restoration for which the company is known among decorators and antiques dealers. Whether the leather is on a desktop, a wastebasket, a screen, a card table, or a small object, Carlino can repair and revitalize it. Although he prices his time at about $75 per hour, he will do small jobs that may require slightly less time.

Two brown woven-leather country-style dining chairs required new leather straps and reconditioning of the existing, unmarred ones ($175 each). To replace the leather on a desktop, one of his most common repairs, Carlino excavates (from the edges) all the old, shabby leather, repairs and cleans the surface as needed, then reapplies new leather, which runs about $75 per square foot, including the gold tooling around the border. Additional gold-tooling ornamentation runs $10 per foot. If the top is clean and the customer supplies the leather, then it is $55 per square foot for his labor. He also reconditions leather sofas and club chairs, work that can run several hundred dollars depending on the condition of the item. Repairs of small items, like a cache box, cost about $25 to $30. (315 East 91st Street; 369-1217.)

For large leather furniture, Precision Leather Crafters is an ideal resource. It can work in diverse skins and will recondition and refinish sofas, chairs, and oversize or odd items, including trunks and barber chairs. Reupholstery of a full-size leather sofa starts at $2,400; reconditioning of a three-seater starts at $600, of a club chair, at $250. A client recently had a chocolate-brown trunk from John Philip Sousa's band that required refurbishing, refinishing, relining with canvas, and replacement of all the leather handles and grips ($850), but lesser jobs (like repairing and reconditioning the leather on a humidor-style cigar case) might be $45. (73-34 Bell Boulevard, Bayside; 718-465-3661 or 800-547-6808.)

Lamps and Appliances

At AABCO A/C, TV, and Vacuum Repairs, there isn't much that the deft repairpeople don't fix, but you'll want to remember them for their ability to rewire lamps, recondition and restore old sewing machines, and even resuscitate vacuum cleaners. They can handle floor and table lamps with bases constructed from wood, brass, steel, glass, iron, and ceramic. Simple rewiring starts at $29.95; halogen repairs start at $39.99. (1594 York Avenue, at 84th Street; 585-2431 or 585-2463.)

Although the repair department at Gracious Home fixes everything from small electrics like irons and coffee-makers to vacuum cleaners and humidifiers, one thing it gets plenty of calls for is lamp rewiring. Replacing a socket on a basic three-way lamp starts at $10; rewiring the whole thing (socket, switch, and plug) starts at $25. Replacements on an old-fashioned standing floor lamp with three separate bulbs start at $50. Gracious Home will convert a European lamp into a domestic-current lamp, starting at $5. It also takes halogen lamps, with repairs starting at $30 and dimmer replacement starting at $50. (1220 Third Avenue, at 70th Street, 517-6300; 1992 Broadway, at 67th Street, 231-7800.)


Vintage and valuable -- or just cherished and not-so-valuable -- watches, precious and costume jewelry, precious-metal objects, and clocks of all sorts can generally be repaired at Murrey's Jewelers. Owner Earl Kahn boasts, "We try to make it like the day it was born," and with nine jewelers and watchmakers on staff, Murrey's truly can tackle all types of projects. Jewelry repairs range from the routine (like a simple soldering job starting at $8.50) to the dramatic, like redesigning and transforming a dated piece into a fresh bauble. One woman recently presented Kahn with an unstrung strand of 7-mm. pearls, along with an eighties tennis bracelet; Kahn designed a knockout three-strand pearl bracelet with diamond stations and a diamond clasp for $1,500. A male customer, in possession of an antique Roman coin, wanted a ring, but he insisted that both sides of the coin be visible. No problem: the ring shank sports a gizmo that allows the coin to swivel ($1,000). Murrey's will resize diamond eternity rings ($150 and up) and can adapt rings for arthritic fingers with swollen joints, using an expandable shank mechanism that opens at the knuckle and closes at the base of the finger ($275 and up). (1395 Third Avenue, at 79th Street; 879-3690.)

Carmen Riascos proudly tells her fairy-tale story: coming to the United States in 1976 from her native Panama not speaking a word of English, and landing a job as a messenger for a jewelry store. Drawn to the beaded gewgaws and trinkets in the shop, she studied the jewelry, bought beads, and taught herself the art of stringing. By 1980, she was copying famous makers' wares and working for a tony Madison Avenue shop. Shortly thereafter, she went out on her own, and today she does the complex and intricate bead- and pearl-stringing for firms like Verdura and Fred Leighton. She charges $25 a length ("length" usually means a choker length, about sixteen inches). Pearl-weaving for chokers starts at about $35, depending on the complications. (42 West 48th Street, Suite 501; 398-3566.)


The plastic on the old Philco radio still gleams, and the case is a masterpiece of design, but the guts inside gave up the ghost a long time ago. Fear not. At Waves, owners Charlotte and Bruce Mager can get you back in tune. Originally collectors of old radios, they wound up with too much stuff and started to sell off their wares. Along the way, Bruce had to learn how to expertly repair these tube models and wind-up phonographs; he maintains an immense stock of old capacitors and resistors and observes, "We can fix anything from Atwater Kent to Zenith." They charge $15 to look at an item and prepare an estimate; most repairs start at about $65. The most common brands they see are Philco, Fada, Emerson, Grundig, Telefunken, and RCA. (Chelsea Antiques Building, 110 West 25th Street, Suite 1005; 989-9284.)

Whenever you see oddball but stunning pieces of silver, vintage umbrellas, beat-up carving sets, ladies' embroidery scissors, or anything else with an exquisite handle but a beyond-repair body, think of Mort Klein. The former special-effects magician for TV commercials uses his alchemy nowadays to metamorphose unusual and unusable handles into original magnifying glasses, makeup brushes, lorgnettes, letter openers, and anything else that requires a grip. Klein's stock-in-trade is repairing walking sticks, but he also relishes making these novelty items, marrying the old with the new, with sterling silver or gold. Prices range from $35 to $150. (860-5631 or 800-fix-stix.)

Whether it's a graceful vintage lace parasol, a clunky golf bumbershoot, or a magician's trick umbrella, just about anything it's missing -- spokes, tips, handle -- can be found in the workroom of Uncle Sam Umbrella Shop. Long recognized as the purveyors of brollies of every size, shape, color, style, and fabrication, the company also repairs, rewires, and reworks them. New tips are $2; retooling broken ribs is $10 to $35; and recovering an entire frame starts at $50 for regular umbrellas and $150 for beach umbrellas. Uncle Sam can also mount a silver band on a handle so you can have your initials engraved on it. (161 West 57th Street; 582-1976.)


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