Question: When you find multiple pieces of the classic Drexel Profile dining set but there’s obvious damage, should you buy them? On the one hand, the Drexel Profile collection is rare and elegant — manufactured between 1955 and 1961. Not only that, a couple of pieces in this set included heavy travertine stone tops, something I’d never seen in person. On the other hand, refinishing wood and repairing travertine stone are investments when one plans to resell.
The deciding factor, as always: costs vs. profits. Could we afford to buy all the pieces, do the repairs, and recoup our costs with a bit of profit?
Sure, let’s go for it — because it’s a Drexel Profile dining set.
Amazingly, lightning struck twice this year. We found another Drexel Profile dining table and chairs set at an estate sale. And that’s not all. We encountered the matching buffet, cocktail table, and small cupboard. This time, the wood is light walnut:
We sold our previous Drexel Profile dining table, chairs, and buffet to an appreciative buyer a few months ago. John van Koert designed the collection for Drexel , which is a wonderful example of the clean lines of Mid-Century Modern design.
Pick Up Thrills: Drexel Profile Dining Set
David and Michael set off to pick up the furniture on the final sale day. Unforeseen delays — unloading other pieces at our warehouse, traffic, a train, and the trip down to St. Augustine — disrupted a simple pickup.
The estate rep left me frantic messages but I couldn’t reach anyone: neither David, Michael, nor even the estate rep. Technology — it’s great, huh?
Totally unknown to me, another couple of potential buyers hovered around our Drexel Profile dining set at the sale. They wanted it, and the situation looked brighter for them with each passing second because my pick-up team was missing in action. The clock ticked. David and Michael screeched to a halt in front of the estate sale a mere 25 minutes before closing.
The 6 chairs required the least amount of work. Of the three styles of chairs Drexel manufactured for the Profile collection, I love these spindle-back chairs the best.
The white vinyl is original. Usually we recover the seats, especially after 50+ years. but the material is in good shape. After a thorough cleaning, these chairs are ready for our booth.
When we found the first Drexel Profile table that’s now sold, it was pristine, with very little cosmetic damage over the years. Not so with this beauty. Years of exposure to sunlight caused the original finish to lighten. It presented a sunbleached finish, accompanied by scrapes, rubs, and deep scratches. David usually handles our furniture repairs, but when he needs a consult, he pulls in our wood whisperer. They talked and the wood whisperer agreed to sand out what he could and restore the lacquer top coat.
Look at this table with its 3 leaves. This baby goes on to infinity:
The buffet required the greatest amount of work. The wood needed refinishing. As with the table, the buffet suffered from sun bleaching. There were some minor veneer issues on the door edges and minor scrapes scratches on the cabinet. Our wood whisperer did a light 220-grit sand and sprayed several coats of lacquer to return the buffet to its original light walnut coloring.
Alas, the travertine stone didn’t just have a crack. It came in two pieces. Visually, this was the worst problem.
We’re speculating that someone — definitely not us — caused the break by trying to improperly lift the stone from the base. Most people will try to lift one end of the marble slab so another pair of hands can get a grip on the other end. But this method puts an incredible amount of stress on the unsupported center. Sometimes one gets away with doing that, but at some point this slab broke in the middle.
Public Service Announcement: Always lift stone tops from the center in order to evenly distribute the weight and the force exerted on the stone.
On the upside, the travertine comes from Italy:
David got an estimate for a new slab: $250 to $300, which would be fine if we planned to keep the buffet forever. But it want to resell it, so we needed another, cheaper option.
David talked to a countertop installer who could handle the repair. He’d make it strong enough to sustain future lifting — as long as movers did it properly. (See PSA above.) And with the repair, the buffet’s travertine would match that of the cocktail table.
The repair didn’t make the break totally invisible, but now one must look carefully to see it.
This is the buffet, without travertine top, in the Drexel Profile 1960 catalog . . .
. . . and glowing in our booth at Avonlea Antiques & Interiors:
That’s what the catalog calls it: cocktail table, not coffee table, with travertine top. It just required a cleaning and some mild restoration to the finish. David used Watco Dark Walnut Danish Oil to darken its finish.
Just look at this cutie, the final piece of our Drexel Profile dining set. It had a large piece of veneer missing on the left side at the lower edge of the cabinet. Our wood whisperer cut in a new piece of veneer, then sanded and sprayed on a new top coat. It’s back to the original coloring and looks brand new. Here’s my quick photo under fluorescent lighting, . . .
. . . compared with the Avonlea Antiques and Interiors official photo on its Market page:
Finally, the 1960 Drexel Profile catalog’s image of the cupboard:
Unfortunately without limitless funds, we’re always running up against costs vs. potential profits. Sometimes we roll the dice and gamble, but this wasn’t one of those times. We knew we’d have to invest in these pieces to get them ready for interested buyers. With the buffet, I’m hoping we can break even. But this is a fabulous set that deserved to be brought back to life.
We’ve decided to sell the pieces to this Drexel Profile dining set separately. The likelihood of finding a buyer who wants to purchase all the pieces is slim. So far, everything is in our booth except for the dining table and chairs. I can’t wait to see everything together. It’s really a glorious set.
Thanks for stopping by.
Ann Marie and David
The Dedicated House’s Make it Pretty Monday