Chennai-based Wooden Diaries restores vintage furniture that have stories to tell
When you ask Preethi Prudence what is the best part about her job — she tells us that it is the joy of recreating memories. As a vintage furniture restorer, dealing with memories and nostalgia is all in day’s work for the entrepreneur who recently launched her showroom, Wooden Diaries, along with her partner Abdullah Khan. Located on Greams Road, a visit to the boutique store finds us in a homely set up with vibrant rustic undertones thanks to the quaint wall paintings and murals. As we wander around the rooms, we find curious artifacts perched on a heavy chest of drawers and unusual bamboo weaves on a meat shelf door.
Polish and shine
Preethi is a self taught restorer who started dabbling in interior and furniture makeovers as a hobby, way back in 2017. Known for her keen eye for vintage beauties, she had a pop-up of her finds at a local gallery in a year, with restored furniture collected from across her travels. They were sold-out on day one of the three-day showcase. It was just a matter of time before Preethi moved from furniture to interiors and homes. Their boutique is packed with quaint furniture and wall art — and the couple has our attention as they tell us fascinating stories associated with each project.
Writing on the wood
Abdullah, who has dabbled in films (he is actor Khushbu's brother), tells us that for him it was the process and the end result that found him hooked to this art. “There was that one time that we both were sandpapering a piece delicately because the lady who owns it told us that there were some etchings on the table that she vaguely remembers from her childhood. After days of scraping away layers and layers of paint and varnish — when we reached the original wood and found the etching intact — it was magical,” he says, adding that the joy on their client’s face was priceless. Preethi, a hands-on restorer, does concede that more than a business it was the passion that drove her too. Treasuring a personal collection of exquisite tiles — Preethi often incorporates them into a table or shelf adding that extra colour and texture to the piece. She would go miles to find that perfect knob for a cupboard or recreate a bamboo weave which is intricate and the artisans hard to find — every piece is a personal accomplishment for this artist.
Price on request.
■ Collected from a demolished home — this coffee table is made from bits and pieces put together. The table top is made from pieces rescued from a table that couldn’t be saved and the legs are from another.
■ A wooden chest which had a newspaper stuck inside and the couple decided not to dislodge it even though they had varnished the box back to its old glory. Well, the newspaper is dated 1949 and that makes for a great conversation starter!
■ A sofa set, this one has the most unusual cane weaves — that needed restoring. The seat slides down at an angle, and the wooden design is hand carved — making it worth the intricate and painstakingly done weaves.