Meet Stef Socki, The Charming Restorer...
I started my business nearly 20 years ago and have lived in the UK for over 30 years. Given my passion for antiques, historical architecture and cabinet making, it’s a romantic irony that I was born and raised in Philadelphia, once one of the foremost centres of cabinet making in early America.
From a very young age, I worked on a local farm where I learned and acquired my carpentry and mechanical skills. It was during weekends and long, hot summer holidays working there that I also developed my love and appreciation of the construction of 19th century oak-framed barns.
Following an early career as a car mechanic, I moved to the UK in 1990 when I joined the American Air Force as a Radar Controller within Air Traffic Control. Since then, I have always worked in and around carpentry, building projects, antique restoration and conservation, deciding in 2001 to turn my life-long talent and passion for restoring and conserving things into a skilled qualification by studying for a BA Honours Degree in Furniture Conservation & Restoration at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University. I graduated in 2007 having already set up my own business in Rockwell End in the Hambleden Valley.
Since then, I have worked all over the world including the US, Europe and across the UK either on restoration and conservation projects, project management and the design and build of large scale exhibition projects.
I'm a passionate expert in conserving something in its present state, to protect and lock it in that moment in time so that it can be made useful. As much as possible, I will restore something back to its original beauty using aged timbers, only using new materials when it’s absolutely necessary. I also love the challenge of transforming something that someone else thinks is ready for the skip, turning it into something stunning again.
I work out of my workshop in Rockwell End which gives me brilliant access not only to Henley on Thames but to the whole surrounding area; Oxford, Reading, Wargrave, Twyford, Marlow, Maidenhead, Windsor, High Wycombe and further afield into The Cotswolds and London.
In my spare time, I love restoring old classic vehicles and boats, skiing and can be found treading the boards with the Henley Players and Henley Amateur Operatic Society.