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Any stylish furniture you have in the room will serve as the primary backdrop for some of the smaller décor items. This is especially the case for antique furniture, such as a vintage sideboard or a collection of vintage chairs. These items all serve to give any room a classic and retro appearance without sacrificing too much modernity. Classic furniture, however, also needs to be periodically maintained in order to preserve its original appearance. The following guide explains some insider secrets and tips for caring for old-style furniture and accessories.
Homeowners often want to give their furniture a nice shine and gloss. However, refrain from using sprays or creams that contain any type of oil as this leaves behind a residue that can cause long-term damage. If the furniture contains metal, silver, or copper parts, it can also cause a patina to form. This is a greenish film that forms over the surface and is caused by prolonged exposure to oxidation.
It is recommended, though, that you polish the wood using furniture wax. Avoid silicone-based products and stick with natural ingredients, such as those made from beeswax or paraffin. This is a simple step that should be applied every six months to your vintage sideboard, tables, chairs, and any other furniture that contains real wood. For tables, signs of wear will typically show in the center, while chairs will often show signs of wear in their front legs. These are areas to focus on when you perform your biannual waxing.
While you do want to frequently wipe the furniture to prevent a buildup of dust, be careful not to use any type of cloth with a rough texture. This could scratch the surface and leave behind noticeable nicks. For this reason, you should also avoid feather dusters. While you may think that feathers are as soft as they come, broken feathers can expose sharp quill edges. Consider using a microfiber cloth, similar to those for wiping a pair of glasses.
The placement of your furniture is also important. As a rule of thumb, avoid positioning furniture directly opposite a window. This exposes it to ultraviolet rays during the daylight hours. For a vintage chair or other furniture with padding and fabric, this can cause its surface to degrade and discolor.
If you must keep the furniture directly in front of a window, then limit exposure by keeping the blinds closed on sunny days or consider using some kind of furniture cover. This is all the more crucial when it comes to furniture placed outdoors. Either use furniture covers or move them in the garage when not in use. This may be a hassle, but it will keep your furniture from needless exposure to the weather, which makes it susceptible to rust and discoloration.
Speaking of the sun and weather, humidity is another issue that comes into play. High humidity and antique furniture do not go well together. Excess moisture can cause water vapor to seep into the wood, which can cause the wood to rot or mold to form. On the other end of the extreme, dry humidity is not good for the wood either. Wood is supposed to have a small amount of moisture, and low humidity can cause the wood to dry out and warp in shape and size.
To keep the humidity at the optimal level, use an air purifier to remove excess vapors in the room. You should also occasionally test the wood’s moisture level content using a moisture meter. This is a small device that comes with prongs that you can stick into the wood and get a reading of its moisture level. The ideal moisture content differs depending on the type of wood but is generally around 5%. Testing your wooden furniture for moisture is one of the most important maintenance steps but also one that too many homeowners neglect to do.
As mentioned, dry humidity can just be as much of a problem. This is especially the case for regions known for dry winters. Increasing the thermostat also increases the amount of dry heat in the room, which further increases the furniture’s susceptibility. If your area is known for dry climate, consider adding a humidifier to increase moisture.
There is also the issue of water rings. This can be avoided altogether by using coasters. However, to clean up an existing wet spot left behind by a drinking glass, wipe away the water immediately. Rings that are left behind can create a permanent white circular mark. For newer furniture roughly less than 50 years old and that has a lacquer finish, a white water mark can be removed using a mix of water, baking soda, and ammonia. For older furniture and especially those with a varnish or shellac surface, you will need to bring in a restoration specialist.
Antique furniture, of course, doesn’t just come in the form of chairs, tables, and dressers. There are also vintage lamps and other smaller collectibles that make a great addition for the living room, bedrooms, and home offices. These items must also be cleaned and maintained in order to retain its appearance. If any part of the lamp contains wood, then all the aforementioned steps for wooden furniture care also apply for the lamp, even if the wooden component is fairly small.
When it comes to cleaning antique wooden furniture, it's important to take extra care to preserve its original beauty. Start by removing any dust and debris from the surface using a clean, soft cloth. For a homemade cleaning solution, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. Dampen a clean cloth with the mixture and gently wipe the surface, following the grain of the wood. Avoid using any harsh household cleaners or chemicals that can damage the wood finish.For a deeper clean, you can also use a mild oil soap diluted with water. Apply the mixture to a clean cloth and gently wipe the furniture, again following the grain of the wood. Be sure to only use a small amount of the cleaning solution and avoid oversaturating the wood. After cleaning, wipe the furniture with a clean, dry cloth to remove any excess moisture.To restore the shine of your antique wooden furniture, you can use a small amount of olive oil. Apply a small amount of olive oil to a clean, dry cloth and gently rub it onto the surface in circular motions. This will help to nourish the wood and bring out its natural lustre. However, be cautious not to use too much oil, as it can leave a greasy residue.Remember to always test any cleaning solution or oil on a small, inconspicuous area of the furniture before applying it to the entire piece. This will ensure that it doesn't cause any damage or discolouration. By following these steps and practising regular maintenance, your vintage furniture will continue to shine and be a beautiful addition to your home.