If you can't finish what you start, someone else can

May 15, 1994|By Karen Harrop | Karen Harrop,Special to The Sun

Most of us like to think we have outgrown our fears of the closet monsters. But in reality, it's the closets, garages and basements of our homes that we strive to avoid.

That's where you'll find the jumbled pieces of projects started, never finished and abandoned to the unseen areas of your home. The once-enthralling craft project buried in the hall closet. Family photos strewn throughout the house. The basement full of broken, worn furniture.

Just the thought of those projects is enough to overwhelm most of us.

Relax. For most domestic ventures that never reached completion, help is only a phone call away-- whether it's re-caning a chair, balancing a checkbook or reassembling the pieces of a dishwasher lying in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Baltimore is home to a wide range of companies that offer professional services to take that unfinished venture to completion, without breaking the bank.

Before calling for help, however, consider this: Sometimes, finishing a project is more difficult than working on a fresh one, and as a result, the cost may be higher than if you had hired help to do the job originally.

Most companies provide an estimate of the final cost and length of time to complete the project. But unseen mistakes can increase the final price and the amount of time involved.

Below are a few names to get you started. You'll want to interview them yourself and check their references before agreeing to let them finish a project dear to your heart. And be sure any firm you hire to work in your home is licensed, bonded and insured, if appropriate.

With this in mind, you're on your way to seeing those nagging projects completed.Becky Kuhn and her specialists at Finish It ([410] 529-0380) can help you realize your needle dreams. They specialize in needlepoint, cross stitch, crocheting, crewel, embroidery, knitting, sewing and quilting and have taken on some more involved projects, such as mending quilts and helping a historical re-enactment group finish a replica of a British military hat.

"We have completed many types of projects, but we usually don't do antique restorations because that's a whole different area," says Ms. Kuhn, who started her company in the White Marsh area more than eight years ago. "We also have completed pieces that someone left unfinished at their death, which often means a lot to the families."

Finish It asks that clients provide all materials and charges by how much work is required. The minimum fee is $10.

Curtains are another project that look deceptively simple -- until you try. "If you don't have the time or decide you can't do it, bring the fabric back and we can help you or we can finish it for you," says Luke Johnson of Dannemann Fabrics ([410] 252-7900) in Timonium. "We charge, based on style and measurements, to make curtains, but not if we're just providing technical assistance."

Robert E. Sabel, co-owner of Uniquities ([410] 355-3774) in Baltimore, often completes portable projects in his antiques shop. He has completed dollhouses and grandfather clock kits and has helped out those who are stymied by repairs on mechanical, wind-up toys.

"As long as it is portable and is finer work, such as carving or repairs or completing projects, I can do it," says Mr. Sabel, who avoids furniture refinishing. "Sometimes I advise people so they can finish things themselves, and other times I finish it. My prices are minimal because I have to be in my antique shop anyway."

"If you really get stuck on a project, you can come to us for therapy-- it's cheaper than a shrink and can do more for you than you ever imagined," says Deborah Bedwell, executive director of Baltimore Clayworks ([410] 578-1919) in Mount Washington. "We also can finish clay projects or even repair a clay teapot. If it's anything with clay, we can do it."

Baltimore Clayworks also does clay parties for birthdays and other events, which cost about $10-$15 per person, depending on the project, the number of people, and the materials. Children prefer figures or clay hats, while adults often opt for more useful projects, such as ice buckets or wine coolers.

Old and new

Remember the class you took to refinish or reupholster that half-finished chair in your basement? Don't let your embarrassment keep you from seeing the job done.

"When you get to the point that you throw up your hands, if you haven't ruined it, we can finish it," says Ed Rose of Hughes Furniture Service ([410] 837-2332) in Baltimore, which specializes in furniture refinishing, repairing, restoration and upholstering. "Many times people just don't have the proper tools or materials to complete a project at home."

Paul Sloane, of 83 North in Towson (828-9391), agrees. "We sometimes get pieces that were started and abandoned because it was too difficult or because they ran into trouble trying to work in small places."

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