Photo by Chad Chenier

Designer tip: Allyson Hicks on salvaging water-damaged furniture

Baton Rouge has dealt with its fair share of life-changing events in the past weeks, many of which affect not just the way we live our lives, but where we do so. Especially in the midst of recent flooding, many residents must deal with damaged homes, wondering which items of furniture—among other things—can be salvaged. Allyson Hicks, the design consultant behind Allyson Hicks Design Consulting, LLC, has a few tips that might help.

“Once everyone is safe, houses are cleaned out, and this unimaginable ‘new norm’ sinks in, it will be time to address the damaged furniture,” she says. “Being able to restore some pieces can offer pride, familiarity and a memory of just how lucky so many people were to make it out alive. These material things over time have the ability to keep the story alive from generation to generation.”

The first step doesn’t involve much beyond an assessment and cleanup of visible damage, then being creative with reconstruction.

“To get started, move furniture to a dry location as soon as possible,” she says. “Keeping the air circulating with fans will help, too. Long term, drying indoors is best because prolonged sun exposure can cause further damage by warping wood. And mildew and dirt should be removed first with a damp cloth diluted with alcohol if necessary. After drying is complete and the furniture is clean, any broken pieces can be glued back together. Woodworking tools and clamps will likely be necessary. If your solid wood furniture is already warped, it can be salvaged, and you can paint it or stain it to finish. If you aren’t up to the task yourself, the Baton Rouge area has many reputable refinishing companies to bring your furniture back to life.”

Hicks also used and The Disaster Handbook as resources.

For details on how to preserve other treasured items like books, documents and photographs after they have been damaged by water, click here for a comprehensive guide prepared by LSU experts.

For more information about Hicks, visit