September 8, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Recovery: What Can You Save?

In: Interior Design


As the cleaning and rebuilding process after the effects of Hurricane Harvey begins, we have received many calls from friends and clients requesting advice on what items can be saved after a flood.  Hopefully, you never need this information, but we thought it would be helpful to share the many restoration tricks and tips we have collected over the years. Whether it is a treasured family antique, a well-loved post-modern leather chair or just a great find from Round Top, we would much rather see you “salvage and repair” instead of throwing it to the curb.

The Houston Chronicle featured a very helpful article written by Diane Cowan this week with tips on repairing wood floors, furniture, art and even photographs. We have also received numerous emails from our knowledgeable vendors and antique dealers on how to save some of your items.  Below is a synopsis of the tips that we think are the most helpful:

Hardwood Floors:

– Open the windows and doors to your home and set fans in each room to accelerate the drying process

– Turn off the AC as you have your windows open

– If the wood is wet or cool to the touch, it has not dried completely

– Call a wood flooring expert to come assess your floors

– Hardwoods have a pretty good chance of surviving a flood, but you will most likely have to refinish the surface

– Wood floors in a pier-and-beam home have a better chance of being saved since air can flow above and below the surface.

Wood Antiques and Furniture:

– Immediately move the piece of furniture to a dry, safe. Most experts suggest not opening the drawers to remove the contents. If you can resist, allow a week or two for the piece to stabilize

– Remove all hardware to avoid leaving stains

– Set furniture on small wooden blocks to allow air to get to the end grain of the leg to let it dry from the bottom.

– Do not use big fans or humidifiers on wooden furniture, a small fan on low is better

– Be patient, you need to continue this for 6 – 12 weeks

– Make sure that pieces are standing level while they dry (don’t stack anything)

– If your piece is solid wood it can usually be restored even if it has been sitting in water for some time


Upholstered Furniture:

– Upholstered furniture is tricky to salvage, but experts recommend to take the pieces down to the frame and clean them as soon as possible

– Keep them dry – put fans on them; move them outside into the sun if necessary

– The fabric and cushions will need to be replaced

– The wood finishes will need to be redone

Leather Furniture:

– Remove the dust cover underneath the piece to let air circulate and allow the inside to dry

– Keep the piece of furniture in an air conditioned space

– Keep fans on the furniture to dry

– Apply apple cider vinegar to the damaged areas of the leather, foam cushions and wood. This will help kill the mold and disinfect the furniture. Apply the apple cider vinegar 2-3 times to disinfect completely.


– If your rug was damaged by rainwater from a leak, it should be restored as soon as possible. There is a good chance it can be saved.

– If the rug was sitting in rising flood water, the chances of the rug being saved are low, but in some cases, it can happen. Rug companies have no guarantees and usually require a disclaimer stating that they are not disinfecting the rug since it is impossible to remove all contaminants.

– If a rug has come in to contact with sewage, most companies will not consider servicing your rug

– Experts say that unless your rug is six times higher than the value of restoration it isn’t worth salvaging due to problems that come up weeks or months down the road


In addition to rebuilding your own home, there are many ways to help and rebuild the city and our Houston neighbors. The response and aid given to national and local organizations to help Hurricane Harvey victims has been overwhelming. Listed below are efforts within the design industry that are close to our heart.  Please help as you are able.

  • Houston Design Unites – Started by the showrooms and designers in the Decorative Center Houston to raise money for members of the Houston Design Community (designers, architects, showroom associates and design vendors) that serve our industry and have unfortunately been personally affected by this disaster.
  • #TexasArtistsStrong — A pop-up exhibition by Texas artists for Texas artists on September 9, from 2 to 7 PM at Spring Street Studios. 100% of proceeds will benefit the Disaster Relief Fund for Texas Artists.


We continue to pray for Houston and the cities along the Texas Gulf Coast. We love the resiliency of our Texas family and know we will come back stronger.

Sources: Diane Cowan with the Houston Chronicle, Rug Mart Houston, Clean as a Whistle, Inc., Total Leather Care, Inc., Wirthmore Antiques, Susan Neptune
Photo Sources: 1stdibs, Lee Industries, Knoll, Rifle Paper Co.


“The greatest good is what we do for one another” – Mother Teresa

Join the Conversation