Dardonville Furniture Restoration, owned by the Parisian couple Christian Dardonville and Catherine Lheureux, who now call Shoreline home, has kept their humble roots but created a uniquely special business.
Just by walking into the woodshop one would never suppose the highest of French woodworking and artistic quality is assembled, refinished and restored right here in Shoreline.
Trained since his early 20s in Paris, Dardonville got into woodworking to pay for his college education.
“His dad wanted him to study law but he didn’t want that for his future, ” Lheureux said.
“I decided to get training for woodworking,” Dardonville says, finishing his wife’s thought.
His training lead him to Paris and away from his original plan to study psychology in the south of France. He began working with some of the best woodworkers and restorers in Paris, like Henri Desgrippes, and was offered a grant from the French Ministry of Culture. After only a few years and the renewal of his grant he was restoring furniture at Versailles, the musée Nissim de Camondo and at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
After his extensive training he decided to open his own business in Paris in 1989.
“I did that for 12 years and on January 1 of 2000 my family and I decided to move to the States,” Dardonville said.
His wife jokes about his first job in the new country, “He lasted a day and a half.”
The owner of the company didn’t think he could make a living using such old techniques. Dardonville has since proved this assumption wrong.
In 2003, he began working on his own, subleasing space at a shop behind University Village in Seattle. It was there that he began gaining his own following and building his reputation as a gifted and skilled craftsman.
In 2005 he moved his business to Shoreline and continues to utilize his many skills. He restores antiques, custom builds replicas of antiques, does some custom furniture building for commercial businesses, and works as an interior designer. Often times someone will bring him a picture of a particular piece they wish to have replicated and Dardonville uses the photo to guide him in his work.
“I work differently, I do very personalized stuff,” he states.
Recently Dardonville restored a Bergère that had a commercial finish, and some ugly old fabric. He used a French polish on it, and sent it to Manning and Son in Seattle to be reupholstered (2610 NE 55th street). The result was spectacular.
He admits he doesn’t have a favorite type of job but prefers having many projects. He has a project in September for a client’s living room:
“I have to stain the wood paneling on the walls to match the decorative antlers in the room,” he stated.
For many of his finishes he uses what’s called a French polish. He is the only person in Seattle using this type of finishing.
“I was very spoiled in Paris. I had all the supplies I needed. It has taken me a long time to find the tools here to reach the same level of quality I produced while in Paris,” he admits.
One of the most interesting things about Dardonville is his resilience. He’s basically worked his way up from the bottom in France and then had to do the same many years later when he arrived in the States.
Lheureux commends this resilience and attributes it not only to his talent but also to his work ethic and loyalty to his clients and family. He always comes home for dinner but some nights he can be found in his workshop until 2 a.m. finishing a project.