The Fix Is In

From handbags to hot tubs, and pianos to patio furniture: the essential go-to guide for the repair-impaired.



If It’s Broke Get Someone Else To

Fix It

A Go-To Guide for the Repair-Impaired

 

Who ya gonna call and where ya gonna go to fix, repair, restore, refinish, refurbish, resuscitate, revive, service, or otherwise bring back to life the broken, banged-up, non-working, filthy, falling-apart, tired, or tattered items in your money pit (ahem, home sweet home)? The following, of course

 

By Laurie Yarnell with Marisa LaScala

Additional research by Samantha Pack,

Amy Rikoon, Andrea Tulcin, and Jennifer Wissner

 

Featuring Photography by Cathy Pinsky and Chris Ware

 

If you’re not handy with a hammer or skilled with a screwdriver, we feel your pain. Like many other county consumers, we’re not at all talented at fixing stuff. (Our other halves, you ask? Please, let’s not even go there.) Fixing dinner? Well, yes, we can do that (does take-out count?) And we are skilled at fixing up friends (one of our college roommates has been with her hubby for almost three decades, with only an itsby-bitsy bit of time off in the ’90s). So if you, too, are repair-impaired, relax. We’ve raided the Rolodexes and picked the oh-so-creative brains of our area’s most house-proud perfectionists, fussiest homeowners, exacting experts, and la-di-da designers to snatch the names and numbers of their most secret sources. And, while we can’t help you fix a horse race, election, or a broken heart, we can help you fix what ails just about anything of value in your house (but not, alas, your other half).

 

Heavy Metal: Replating 

 

Think Great Aunt Eloise’s silver-plated tea set is so dingy and banged-up that it’s beyond restoration? Then you obviously haven’t been introduced to Artcraft Silversmiths, Inc. (156 Mount Vernon Ave., Mount Vernon; 914-668-9486), the local source for silver, gold, brass, and copper replating, restore, and polishing since 1933. Headed by third-generation craftsman Robert Vitulli, Artcraft replates tea sets, trophies, water pitchers, ornate boxes, and vanity sets, as well as chandeliers, lighting fixtures, and door and hardware fixtures. It has performed restoration miracles in private homes, local churches and synagogues, and throughout Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater house. While no one can restore century-old heirlooms to look brand new, Vitulli says his metal workers come very close (and if they can’t, he’ll tell you beforehand). Restoring an 18”x 14” tray usually costs between $250 to $300, and a tea set between $600 to $800. For $125, Artcraft restored to pristine condition the silver-plated teapot shown in the “before and after” photo image on the cover of this issue. Depending upon the “before” condition of an item, most work can be completed within two weeks.

 

Shedding Light on What’s the Matter with  Electrical Systems

 

The next time you’re worried about wires or your fried circuits make you frazzled, don’t be left in the dark when it comes to the name of a good electrician. Phil Andrulis of PNA Electrical (914-776-1089) has been sorting out sockets for 28 years, having jumped into the trade straight out of high school before founding his own one-man business 14 years later. “I’m the guy going out to the job,” he says. “I don’t have anyone working for me.” But that doesn’t mean that Andrulis shies away from challenging projects. He recently brought light to a new North Salem house. “There was no electricity in the area, so we started from scratch,” he says. “I took power from poles to a transformer, and then to a main house that was 5,000 square feet and a barn that was almost 2,000 square feet.” Andrulis charges $90 an hour for repairs, most of which, he says, don’t exceed $200. And, as a bonus, he won’t wreck your house. “People say that when I leave the house, it’s usually cleaner than when I got there.”

 

Up on the Roofs

 

Beset by a leaking, creaking, and an all-around troublesome rooftop? Trusty, on-time, and never-over-budget roof specialist Vincent Casolaro of County Center Roofing (137 S. Saw Mill River Rd., Elmsford; 914-592-3427) is just the guy to stay on top of things (and throw down all those errant baseballs and Frisbees while up there). Casolaro’s been fiddling around on the roof for the past 44 years, fixing and replacing copper, slate, asphalt, shingle, and tile roofs, and cleaning gutters. “A lady called me to do a gutter cleaning right before a storm,” he says. “She was very thankful that I got people over there in time.” Casolaro and his crew have even turned into extreme sports enthusiasts, having been suspended from 60-foot ladders with safety lines to get access to the nooks and crannies on one challenging Yonkers roof. A repair can cost anywhere between $150 to $25,000, with slate or tile roofs the priciest.

 

Running Hot & Cold: Heating & Air Conditioning Systems

 

Your home climate-control systems are supposed to act like a good old-fashioned lunchbox thermos, with heaters staying hot and air conditioners staying cold. So how can you avoid mix-ups that have you breaking out into sweat or sitting in a deep freeze? Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, advises heating and cooling expert Ted Weinberg, owner of the 50-year-old AMHAC (365 White Plains Rd., Eastchester; 914-337-5555,www.amhac.com), winner of numerous industry awards. AMHAC’s 30 GPS-loaded trucks, stocked with parts from its 30,000-square-foot shop, hit the road at all hours of the day and night. “We have our own sheet metal shop and our own parts department,” reports Weinberg. “Unless it’s an odd system, our vehicles will typically have whatever parts are necessary.” AMHAC’s speciality? Unusual, large, and complicated multi-zone systems, including 5,000-bottle wine cellars and 50,000-square-foot homes. “We have a nearly 300-year-old house with five bathrooms, two boilers, and nine heating zones,” says one satisfied customer. “We see AMHAC almost quarterly, and I wouldn’t call anyone else.” AMHAC charges $95 for a diagnostic call, and 50 to 60 percent of all problems require only minor corrections, the company assures.

 

What if you have a problem that’s really out of the ordinary? “Once, we had to bring in a water fill line from the Long Island Sound at the Westchester Country Club,” says HVAC pro Mario Bruni. “I had to get in scuba gear and get a scuba diver.” Hopefully, his company, Bruni & Campesi Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, (300 Central Ave., White Plains; 914-946-5558) won’t need to break out the fins and snorkel to fix your plumbing, heating, or air conditioning problems. But if a nasty leak does spring up that threatens to turn your new bathroom into an aquarium, its emergency services are available 24/7, “when customers need it, not just eight to four, Monday through Friday,” says Bruni, who has worked on “Rockefeller estates, welfare apartments, and everything in between.” After the problem is diagnosed, customers are given a flat rate for the repair whenever possible, so that, says Bruni, “there are no surprises at the end.”

 

Yes, He Does Do Windows

 

Are your home’s big, beautiful, vintage windows in desperate need of repair? If the windows are the eyes of a building and yours look a little bloodshot and sleep-deprived, you might want to be aware of John Seekircher of Seekircher Steel Window Repair (2 Weaver St., Scarsdale; 914-725-1904), a.k.a. the “King of Casements.”

 

“I fix about 6,000 windows a year, and we never have to replace them,” Seekircher says. His specialty? Repairing steel casement windows from houses built in the ’20s and ’30s, especially English Tudors. He repairs them using the stash of vintage windows he’s accumulated. “People have become more interested in preserving buildings and architecture,” he says Seekircher has been approved by the National Park Service to work on any historic building in the country. Among his most noteworthy projects are the Vista house, an Oregon house featured on Hillary Clinton’s American Treasures list, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s internationally renowned Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA. “Not too many

people do what we do, because most people who work with windows would rather just replace them because it’s more profitable,” he says. “Our typical homeowner would rather live with the problem until he can find a way to fix it than do the quick rip-and-replace.” Though it’s hard to put a price on such historic preservation, Seekircher estimates that the cost of fixing steel windows is approximately 10 percent less than the replacement cost (A steel window costs $2,000 to $3,000). As for the timeline of his projects: “It’s up to the windows,” he says. “Some need more attention than others.”

 

 

 

The Suburban Super to the Rescue: Odds & Ends

 

The answer to a hapless homeowner’s prayers? A suburban-style super on speed dial, ready, willing, and able to tackle all those niggling, thoroughly frustrating fix-its that crop up with frightening regularity right after you sign the mortgage papers. Home Services Shop (41 Washington Ave., Pleasantville; 914-769-1100, www.homeservicesshop.com) can help you cross off from your to-do list just about anything that needs to be fixed, mounted, hung, or replaced. For $110 for the first hour, and $85 for each additional hour, the full-time fixer-uppers in this shop will tackle lotsa little jobs in one shot, like getting those closet doors back on track, fixing a leaking bathroom faucet, installing lights, putting up shelves, and hanging up a coat rack.

 

Or let Captain Fix-It, Robert Schwarz of Team Service (35 Abington Ave., Ardsley; 914-591-4231), repair your leaky shower, hang that “new” dining-room light fixture that’s been sitting in the carton since the first Bush administration, or update old electrical plates. The cost: $65 to $75 an hour (larger jobs are done on a per-job basis). His fans swear that he’s reliable, reasonable, and up-front about admitting when something is beyond his expertise; fortunately, not much is.

 

Another great handyman whose name, after much cajoling, one of our most demanding (somewhat neurotic, really) friends gave up is a self-described “jack-of-all-trades,” handyman Philip Scott (914-656-8578); our friend relies on him for one-stop repairs to her pristine antique 1780s home in Bedford, where he’s sorted out a jumbled stew of electrical wires, installed a sophisticated stereo system, and built and repaired stone paths and a terrace. A British transplant who studied engineering at Oxford (which means you can pretty much assume he’s smart), Scott came to the States six years ago to help his sister redo a former laundry into her delightful Sticky Fingers and Boo Girls shops in Katonah—and lucky for us, he decided to stay. Scott charges $35 and up an hour, depending upon the the job.

 

Sound & Light: TVs, DVDs, VCRs, And Stereos

 

It’s called the family room. And where the family hangs out, things inevitably break—or worse. Fear not: there are those who can come to your aid when your combo DVD/VCR is jammed with G.I. Joes and your stereo is soaked in maple syrup. For a no-fuss, no-muss experience, head over to Nu-Sonic Radio (261 S. Central Ave., Hartsdale; 914-949-2500, www.nusonicradio.net), a service-only business with no sales department; you’ll never get one of those not-so-subtle hints that your TV should be scrapped for something shinier (and no doubt more expensive; plasma perhaps?). It services the normal range of TVs, VCRs, DVDs, and stereos, and repairs are guaranteed for 90 days. Best of all, Nu-Sonic promises to be easy on the wallet—beginning with free estimates.

 

If your equipment is old—really old—it’ll be right at home with the antique radios, phonographs, and vacuum-tube TVs at Bovine Brothers TV & VCR Repair (269 Columbus Ave., Tuckahoe; 914-793-2591). It’s the perfect spot to bring your oh-so-cool, but-oh-so-broken, garage sale finds to get them back in working order. Of course, this shop will fix your new stuff, too. “I’ve been servicing a lot of the combination DVD-VCRs,” reports co-owner Charlie Bovine. “A lot of the parts are plastic and they break easily.”  Estimates are $10, and repairs can take anywhere from a half hour to a few days.

The electro-doctors over at Tele-sonic TV (177 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco; 914-666-3902) actually make house calls (for a charge of $75 and up), and if they can’t fix the problem in your home, they’ll truck your broken stuff back to the shop themselves. And these electronics experts promise to stay current and informed. “Electronics is the fastest changing business out there,” says Joseph Bueti, who co-owns the shop with Michael Williams. “We went to college to study electronics and we take courses at places like the National Institute of Technology in Washington every time something comes up.” Bueti and Williams also install home theater systems, satellite televisions, Direct TV, and Dishnet, so they’ll know how to untangle that mess of RCA cables behind your home entertainment system.

 

Dream Weavers: Rugs & Carpeting

 

Spot had an unfortunate accident on one of your priceless Oriental rugs? Junior’s cleats got caught on your precious Persian carpet? Rug & Home Gallery’s own “Rug Lady,” Antoinette Lombardi (50 Lafayette Pl., Thornwood; 914-741-2486, www.rug-lady.com), and her trio of weaving wizards are the experts other carpet-store owners and flood insurance restoration companies trust to painstakingly restore, repair, reweave, and clean torn, frayed, or stained hand-loomed area rugs. All work is done by hand on the premises (nothing—not even cleaning—is performed elsewhere) as many times as necessary (until the customer is completely satisfied, Lombardi says) and at no additional charge. And, not only does the shop pick up and deliver, its staff moves furniture without grumbling, unlike some spouses we’re wed to.

 

To restore and clean machine-loomed rugs or broadloom, interior designers recommend Cornell Carpet (226 Main St., Mount Kisco; 914-241-1227). Cornell repairs borders that have come apart or need rebinding. Owner Peter DiPaola promises that most patches will be invi-sible, thanks to the experienced hands of his skilled craftspeople.

 

The Fairest of Them All: Mirror and Glass

 

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Mirror, mirror, had a fall? Trust Modern Mirror and Glass Co. (100 Lake St., White Plains; 914-946-7346, www.modernmirrorandglassco.com) to put it back together again. Four generations of Fugazzis have been designing, restoring, and repairing mirrors, shower doors, glass tabletops, and just about anything else made of glass since 1927. “We still carry on the master craftsman tradition that was started by my great-grandfather,” says Gina Fugazzi, who has helped out in the shop since age 10. “We still do the hand-wheel engraving”—a process for engraving flower designs on mirrors—“that’s really a dying art, and we still use some of the original machinery that my great-grandfather used to produce mirrors.” Because it’s one of the few companies capable of handmade restoration work, the company works with many antique dealers and it counts among its clients royalty, lots of celebrities, politicians, and statesmen (Henry Kissinger among them). Pricing is based on materials used and labor; the price for restoring a hand-engraved mirror starts at about $150. Most repairs take two to three weeks; pick up and delivery service is available, with fee determined by distance and size of item.

 

Also check out the glass gurus at Hudson Glass Company (219 N. Division St., Peekskill; 914-737-2124). “We repair windshields, car mirrors, sideview mirrors, and glass on windows, doors, tabletops, storefronts,” says co-owner Herb Lewis. Hudson Glass also repairs stained glass, and stocks and repairs bent glass, a decorative glass often used in china closets. “We have very experienced technicians,” says Lewis. “People often come to us after they have been to other glass shops. We can repair a lot of glass that others can’t.”

 

A Clean Sweep: Fireplaces & Chimneys

 

There’s nothing more relaxing than cozying up to a toasty, crackling fire on a chilly winter night—except when the fireplace is overrun with soot, the masonry is crumbling, and the chimney leaks in the rain. Though a chimney sweep may be lucky as lucky can be, it’s best to leave this job to the pros, e.g., the Mad Hatter Chimney Sweep (23 Roundtree Ln., Montrose; 914-736-0173). Especially since its owner Bob Pelaccio is seemingly so intent on saving clients a buck or two. “I keep my prices in check,” he says, advising customers to call before the busy season (fall through Christmas), because, he notes, prices are lower off-season (when the workload, we presume, is also lower).

 

Typically, he reports, “everybody waits until the last minute, but in spring and summer, I take $10 to $15 dollars off.” The company cleans chimneys, fireplaces, furnaces, and wood stoves; installs chimney caps to keep out the elements; cleans gutters and dryer vents; reworks masonry; does flashing work when the chimney has leakage from rain; and repairs interior fireplaces. Pelaccio proudly reports that those who call often become regular customers. A typical cleaning ranges from $99 to $129 and usually takes about a half hour.

 

You can also seek help from Donald DeSandre of DeSandre Santangeli, Inc. (680 Pelham Rd., New Rochelle; 914-636-5702). He’s been in the fireplace biz for 35 years, learning the trade from his father while earning a degree from the Mechanics Institute in New York City. “Fireplaces are peculiar,” he says. “There are things you can’t see like air movements and down currents.” In addition to being able to repair your chimney screenings, DeSandre can build a new fireplace from scratch. An average fireplace takes about four to eight days to install and costs $15,000. “It’s not an inexpensive job to do,” he admits.

 

Let There Be Light (Again): Lamps & Lighting Fixtures

 

The Powell family knows first-hand that “many hands make light work”—in their case, repairing broken vintage or period lighting. Their third-generation shop, Powell Accessories (33 Tarrytown Rd., White Plains; 914-948-8866) was founded in 1949 by matriarch Ethel Powell, and the shop is now run by her grandson, Brian. “I’m an old-fashioned lamp-maker,” he says. Powell specializes in reconditioning lamps, upgrading fixtures, and making new lights from scratch. “The biggest challenge is preserving peoples’ memories of the things they had growing up,” he says. “They want to preserve the stuff electrically, but as time goes on, it becomes more difficult to get parts and pieces.” Although Powell specializes in restoration, he has advice for any homeowner: “Every 20 years, it’s good to upgrade the light sockets. There’s the old saying, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’ but sometimes people wait a little too long.” The store charges a flat hourly rate of $75, and on average repairs take a couple of weeks.

 

 

In Focus: Cameras

 

You’re ready for your close-up, but your old 35mm is not—it’s in desperate need of a good cleaning, lubrication, and resealing. Or, you’ve snapped a whole bunch of Junior’s first-day-of-school pics on your sleek new digital camera and, while uploading them to Grandma and Grandpa, you accidentally deleted them. What’s a shutterbug to do? Don’t panic. Chances are, you’re not too far from a Sam’s Camera Exchange (979 Central Ave., Scarsdale, 914-725-1616; 43 Quaker Ridge Rd., New Rochelle, 914-576-3878; 195 N. Bedford Rd., Mount Kisco, 914-666-3383; www.samscameraexchange.com), and the shop’s photo equipment pros can help faster than you can say “Cheese!” Though it handles repairs on all photographic equipment, Sam’s specialty is getting the bugs out of digital cameras: solving printing problems, recovering lost images on memory cards, transforming unrecognizable photos into clear ones, etc. A county staple since 1939, Sam’s repairs can take a minimum of two weeks.

 

But if your photographic expertise lies less with the scan-and-download crew and more with those who love their old-fashioned cameras, you’ll find kindred spirits, Saul Kaminsky and Anthony Rinella of KievUSA (248 Mill St., Greenwich, CT; 203-531-0900, www.keivusa.com), situated right on the border between Greenwich and Port Chester. Kaminsky got started in the business after collecting a bunch of non-working cameras at a Russian flea market, and the duo still manufacture and import professional cameras from Russia and the Ukraine (hence the name). Their technicians repair just about any make of camera, even those headed for museums. “Some people have very sentimental attachments to very old cameras,” says Kaminsky. “We service them.” Repairs start at about $85 and can take about 10 days to two weeks.

 

Can’t bear to be without your camera? Kiev offers a unique repair option: an immediate exchange of refurbished equipment. And with its in-house technicians, some repairs can be made while you wait.

 

Plugged-In Appliance Pros

 

Fridge on the fritz? Dishwasher DOA? These appliance specialists can get your dryers drying and ovens operating again. In addition to selling and repairing all types of major appliances, Albano Appliance and Service, (83 Westchester Ave., Pound Ridge; 914-764-4053) fixes almost everything it sells (no Sub-Zeros though), as well as appliances you bought elsewhere (provided that the warranty has expired). With its in-house staff of technicians, it guarantees service on products it has sold within 48 hours of that first SOS. “When people call us, they won’t get a machine,” says Phil DeRoberts, who co-owns the shop with Fred Albano, grandson of the store’s founders. “They get a person. We’re like the Last of the Mohicans over here—we use our own staff to repair appliances.”

 

So just what kinds of challenges has Albano tackled? It’s come across washers and dryers in rooms so small that they have had to be completely disassembled in order to be removed and repaired; it’s delivered machines by dropping them through stairwells and windows; and once it had to put up scaffolding to access a faulty air-conditioner that was 15 feet off the ground. Basic repairs on domestic models average $125; repairs on European brands, whose parts are often more expensive, can go as high as $200.

Unsure about sinking money into an ailing appliance? If it’s more than 10 years old, Albano says skip the extensive repairs and buy a new model instead.

 

Atlantic Appliance (50 Triangle Ctr., Yorktown Heights; 914-962-2608) also sells and services most major household appliances, whether or not they were purchased from its shop. Plus, if Atlantic can’t fix an appliance, it promises to replace it within 24 hours—a comfort if you’re expecting a horde of hungry guests and your double oven keels over and dies. Indeed, Atlantic clients are particularly thankful for its services when November rolls around. “People forget their stoves aren’t working until two days before Thanksgiving,” Sales Manager Tom Garrett says, “and they’re very happy when we can fix it at that time of year.”

 

What’s changed most since Richard Leahy founded the business 30 years ago? “The products are getting more technical, which presents a bit of a challenge,” Garrett admits. “But our technicians get ongoing training sessions through different manufacturers to keep current.” A service call costs $69.95, and the customer is charged only for the parts used; there is no hourly rate for minor repairs, and repairs usually take anywhere from 15 minutes for a minor problem to an hour for, say, fixing the transmission in a washing machine.

 They’ve Got You Covered: Quilts

Restoring old, heirloom quilts is what Nancy Rosenberger, owner of The Quilt Cottage (414 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck; 914-777-1333) is most often called to do. Though her shop is only one-and-a-half years old, Rosenberger brings to her craft 20 years of experience in the textile business. “A lot of the work is done by hand to get the same look as the original, and to keep the same seams,” she says. “Some people have just heirloom quilt tops, and we finish those to make quilts, too.” One of Rosenberger’s most challenging projects was turning one client’s 25 100-year-old handkerchiefs into a quilt. “It was treated like a restoration project because of all the care that was needed, since the handkerchiefs were so old,” she explains. Pricing depends on size, condition, and amount of handwork needed, with a typical restoration requiring at least two months.

It’s About Time: Clocks

Seventy-five-year-old former commercial artist Frank Machera, Jr. (42 Wheeler Ave., Pleasantville; 914-741-5130) brings half a century of experience with a paintbrush to his highly specialized craft: hand-refurbishing and repainting clock dials. A member of the National Association of Clock and Watch Collectors since 1991 (the same year he started his local business), Machera scrapes and cleans the zinc, iron, wood, marble, or reverse glass dials of shelf, wall, grandmother, and grandfather clocks, repainting numbers ($100-$150) and restoring illustrations ($100-$700). Many of the clocks he works on are more than 100 years old. What Machera doesn’t do: fix clock innards or anything mechanical. “Sometimes a clock’s running perfectly, but the dial really looks bad,” he explains. Machera has restored a marble dial on a clock in the Yonkers Metro-North station, school clock dials of marble and milk glass, and hundreds of timepieces belonging to owners throughout the country. But he says one of his most challenging assignments was refurbishing an iron clock dial damaged by fire. “The greatest joy was when the owner said, ‘I thought I’d never see the original clock again; you brought my wish to life.’” Typical projects take between one and two months.

Furniture Fix-Ups

If you’ve struck gold in the fields of Stormville or Brimsfield, but your fabulous find needs a little TLC before assuming its rightful place, you’re in luck. The county is home to a number of expert craftsmen who specialize in restoring and refinishing furniture, especially wood antiques. Aniello Imperati, owner of Furniture Restoration Center (510 S. Columbus Ave, Mount Vernon; 914-949-5056; www.thefurniturerestorationcenter.com) has become used to the most discerning of clients gushing about his many talents. With four decades of experience already behind him, Imperati started working in 1969 for the business he now owns (located until a year ago in White Plains). Imperati strips, refinishes, repairs, re-glues, re-veneers, and reupholsters woodwork and both new and antique interior and patio furniture of wood, metal, iron, or aluminum. His work includes the restoration of items for the Museum of the American Indian, a commemorative plaque given to the Japanese emperor in 1865, and a number of 300-year-old hand-carved cherub chandeliers in a Sicilian church. He has also done work on composer Percy Granger’s home (now a museum opened to the public), magic props for Penn and Teller, and, more recently, a pair of almost 14-foot-long church pews for The Westchester Arts Council. New York City antiques dealers send pieces to him to be repaired so that they will be presentable on the selling floor. (And, oh yes, Imperati has also fixed folding chairs from Ikea.) Costs and timing varies.

Local decorators gush similarly about the work of Dennis Cummins and his partner Milton Austan of Modern Upholstering, Furnishing and Decoration (269 W. First St., Mount Vernon; 914-664-2545). After almost three decades refinishing and restoring furniture for other businesses, Cummins pooled resources and expertise 16 years ago with Austen, an upholsterer, to start their business (formerly known as Furniture Tech). “If we can’t do it, it can’t be done,” says Cummins, who has worked on entire Victorian houses as well as 400-year-old Tudor houses. The shop was recently asked to repair an expensive dining room chair that had been broken. “When we were done with it, the owners couldn’t tell which of their dining room chairs had been broken.” Pricing varies depending on the job, estimated in advance. Major jobs generally take three to four weeks, with smaller ones requiring one to two days.

The Antique Restoration Shop (495 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco; 914-241-3050) specializes in the restoration of wooden furniture, especially antiques. “I like repair work the best,” says owner William Bagley. “You can throw something out of a window five stories up, and it can be fixed.” Fortunately, his customers are not tossing furniture out of windows; they more typically need chairs and tables re-glued, touched up, or refinished. Bagley recently restored a large desk damaged in a fire. “Half of it was burned,” he says. “I had to make it look like it was never in a fire.”And? “The customer was really happy.”

Bagley opened his shop in 1979. “I never realized there was a business for this kind of work when I was young. But my uncles and grandfathers worked in the wood business, so repairing wood came naturally to me.” Nearby pick-up and delivery is free, with fees charged for longer distances. Prices and timing vary; repairing a chair typically takes a day or two while refinishing a dining table usually requires about a month.

Seeing What Develops: Photographs

If legendary World War II photographer Slim Aarons of Katonah trusts his photographs to twin brothers Tom and Joe Kiley, owners of Katonah Image (22 Woodsbridge Rd., Katonah; 914-232-0961), you certainly can, too. Graduates of the School of Visual Arts, the Kileys restore photographs—repairing cracks, rips, stains, folds, dust spots, wrinkles, bleaching, and fading. Because old photos are fragile and continue to decompose, they prefer scanning a copy of the image and restoring the scanned photo; that way, the original photo can safely be kept away from light sources. (While they can do restorations from a new negative, 90 percent of their work involves scanning.)

Founded in 1989, Katonah Image has restored early Civil War photos as well as old wedding portraits. “When someone brings a photograph here, it stays here,” says Tom Kiley. “It’s not sent out, so it won’t get lost.” Repair costs depend upon photo size and condition; a 5”x 7”or 8”x 10” original will run from $12 to $65 for a scan, plus $35 per hour for restoration, with a typical photograph requiring about two to six hours of work to restore. “Everything is repairable,” Tom Kiley assures. “It just depends on how much money you want to put into it. I’ve seen 8”x10” restorations cost all the way up to $600.” Work can sometimes be done the same day or within three to five days, depending on condition and subject matter. “Because there are more details in faces and hands, photos of people are more difficult to repair than those of beach or sky scenes,” Kiley says.

Of Whole Cloth: Textile & Needlework

Moth-bitten cashmere sweaters, torn lace wedding veils, and vintage silk jackets marred by cigarette burns are routinely brought back to life by needle artisan Betty La Casse (PO Box 36, Gedney Station, White Plains; 914-948-7573). La Casse, who learned her craft from her Austrian-trained parents, who founded a needlework school for women in Manhattan, has been working with textiles since she was 12. Recommended by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Conservation for delicate lace restorations, La Casse has mended by hand (always by hand only) everything from vintage beaded dresses to the cigarette holes in the late Nat King Cole’s sweaters. She prides herself on her ability to reweave any fabric and match any yarn. “It’s an intricate process to repair a hole in knitted or crocheted fabric,” she says. “I recreate the fabric without a knitting needle, using a sewing needle and yarn.” Prices vary depending upon fabric condition and repair work required; a sweater hole might cost $20; a lace tablecloth, $800 (depending on how intricate it is).

And if it’s good enough for museums and historic agencies all over the world, Textile Conservation Workshop
(3 Main St., South Salem; 914-763-5805, www.rap-arcc.org/welcome/tcwsite) should be good enough for your Aunt Tillie’s tattered shawl. This not-for-profit laboratory’s professional conservators lavish painstaking care on textiles of artistic merit, sentimental value, or historic importance, like the flag that cradled President Lincoln’s head after he was shot. It works wonders on any fabric, from tapestries, flags, and needlework to sacred objects and christening gowns.

It's All Geek to Us: Computers

Can we type—sorry, word process—the verb “hyperventilate?” Your computer’s crashed, caught a virus, pooped out from pop ups, or otherwise just isn’t working. You could try hanging out for hours on the (quote, unquote) help line, begging the 12-year-old next door to troubleshoot, or, if you’ve really had it, banging it with a baseball bat. A better option would be to obtain the talents of your very own nerd (sorry, IT expert) like Dylan Hall of the two-year-old Geeks on Wheels (407 Rte. 202, Somers; 914-862-1800). Your hard drive will be in capable hands. Not only will Hall come to your home and set you up so that spyware (and hackers) stay out of your system, but his geeky gurus are often able to recover files after colossal computer crashes. His services also include upgrades, installations, wiring, and geek-to-average-Joe translations.

“It’s our job to resurrect computers from the dead,” says one staffer at Astral Computing (3 Spring St., Hastings-on-Hudson; 914-478-9100, www.astral-computing.com), and, from the sound of it, he isn’t joking. Owner Frank Angiolelli recalls a time that his crew received a computer clogged with 2,000 spyware components and 1,400 viruses—and revived it.

Think your computer is immune? “The average computer has about 36 components of spyware on it,” he says. Astral Computing offers pick-up and delivery for a nominal $20 charge and can help with any virus, spyware, networking, lost data, or hardware problems. Among those serviced are some of Westchester’s finest computers: the ones in many local police stations. Most repairs are completed in less than two hours, and cost $95 per hour for work done on-site and $80 per hour for labor done in-house.

The three-year-old Robits Computer Services (914-948-9735), founded by techie Bob Barbella, is another expert to call when your CPU is a mess. Barbella often builds computers from scratch so, when he says he knows the machines inside and out, he means it. He’ll travel to your home and, if the problems can’t be fixed there, he’ll bring your ailing machine back to his shop at no extra charge. And you won’t need to break the piggy bank for his savvy services: he charges $50 per hour for the initial visit and $25 per hour for every hour.

Chris Rie, a former Compaq consultant, launched his Crest Connect Communications (120 S. Lawn Ave., Dobbs Ferry; 914-673-6831, www.westchesterpcfix.com) five years ago. Rie has protected the PCs of many businesses including local branches of Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Ann Taylor. Slowly operating computers are his specialty, and he gets them back up to speed by upgrading the memory and removing the spyware and viruses. He’s also a wiz with wiring (or, if you prefer, wireless networking) and can take on telephone repairs. Rie will come to your home, and he charges $90 an hour with a typical spyware call usually lasting two hours or less.

Let 'em Blow: Lawnmowers & Snowblowers

Nature has a way of intruding upon the suburban dream, whether it be by delivering piles of leaves or mounds of the (surprisingly heavy) wet stuff. And it’s hard enough to find a place that can repair these tool—shed staples, let alone at a reasonable price and with quick, friendly service and pick-up and delivery. Telesco Lawnmower, Inc. of Scarsdale (914-723-1767) is one of the best-kept secrets around (until now, of course). Last November, one of our most trusted household sources sent in his snowblower for service, with arrangements for its return on a Tuesday in December. However, when the county was walloped with a huge snowstorm on the Friday prior to its repair due date, he arrived home after a brutal commute from Manhattan to find his repaired snowblower ready and waiting to do its thing. Because Telesco said it felt it had a responsibility to deliver as many snowblowers as it had in its garage to help customers clear their walkways and driveways, it continued delivering snowblowers until the roads became impassable. Just try getting that kind of service from Home Depot! Most people throw out their snowblowers when they expire; these guys can save antiques. Telesco repairs lawnmowers in a jiffy, too.