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New Life for Heirloom Treasures

PRESERVING HISTORY: Emmanuel Alexander and Biancha van Holthe tot Echten of Naples Antique Restorations combine trusted techniques and careful precision to refurbish heirloom furniture.

When maintained well, antique furniture tells the story of time passed, while it increases in value. Emanuel Alexander and Biancha van Holthe tot Echten have dedicated their careers to preserving such period pieces, the last three years while in Naples.

The married team runs Naples Antique Restorations out of their home at 4244 1st Ave. NW in Naples. They relocated from Holland, where Alexander entered the business in 1985. Biancha joined Alexander in business years later, and now specializes in gilding frames.

Alexander earned a top reputation over the years, restoring antique furniture overseas and for high-profile clients such as former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands James B. Culbertson. Licensed and insured, he also became a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation and a member of the Enterprise Risk Control.

Together, the pair creates a quality of work that combines trusted techniques and careful precision.

“We work by the old European way. We try to get everything so perfect that it’s museum-quality,” Alexander says. “With years of experience, you feel how far you can go with restoration.”

Reviving these relics requires a delicate balance of polishing and preserving, so details such as colors that occur over time are not lost. It also requires clear communication so that customers can care for their treasures correctly.

“One of the most important parts of conserving antiques is to educate the client on how to handle the piece,” Alexander says. Antique furniture is sensitive to its environment and can accumulate underlying issues over time.

“It’s like a car,” Biancha adds. “When you bring a car in for service … there are more problems to consider.” But customers are never kept in the dark. “The client gets involved in each and every step of the process.”

Project price varies by size and scope of work, but Naples Antique Restorations always offers upfront estimates.

“We are very transparent and very clear in pricing and the way we work,” Biancha says. That transparency builds trust for customers who have multiple items to restore. “Most of them, if they have one piece, they have more because they value the furniture,” Biancha says.

The couple fully understands—and shares—that sentiment for historical heirlooms.

“We are involved in a family that only had antique pieces, because the family is 800 years old,” Biancha says. “[Alexander’s] dad would tell him about his history, generation by generation, through those pieces.”

She adds, “When you love the process, you see a very different kind of result, and that’s why [Alexander] is very successful.”


Photo Credit: Courtesy Naples Antique Restorations
Published: February 2021

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