How to Look After Your Antiques?
Let’s begin with the good news: In our view, antiques are to be used. There is no reason to have a lounge like grandmother’s; the one that no one was allowed to touch, much less sit on. Antiques have survived for over 100 years and throughout their lifetime, they probably experienced a number of traumas from bumps and knocks when moving from house to house, to being left outside far too long under the bleaching sun, to having drinks spilt on them. In order for these beauties to survive, we just need to give them prudent care, made up of regular maintenance and lots of common sense.
Leather and Furniture Rule Number 1 - Position, Position, Position:
Never leave antiques in direct sunlight, or directly over ducted heat vents or damp areas. The main cause of furniture or upholstery fading is leaving them too long in direct sunlight. Over years of this mistreatment, the furniture will fade, or suffer discoloration. The same goes for leather and fabric; prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will cause the leather to crack and the fabric to lose it rich colour.
Now for an easy tip: Each morning, draw the curtains or blinds only enough so you can still see the outline of your prized antique and know it’s now protected from too much streaming sunshine. Damp conditions also affect antiques, so if you have a room which is always slightly damp, that is certainly not the room for your antiques. Whether your room retains dampness, or too much sunshine, or your antiques are positioned over a ducted heat vent – each of these factors can cause furniture to warp or split, and especially so with constant temperature changes.
Leather- Be careful, think first, and avoid that “Oh, no!” feeling:
Leather will mar if scratched, and permanent indentations can be made on that leather, if items – especially heavy ones - are left on it in the same place over time. Leather desk tops are very easily marred by ink pens. Here, again, common sense applies: Make sure there is a solid writing pad, or mat placed as a buffer between the surface on which you’re writing, or some object you may leave on your desk. . And another word of warning: Make sure the mat has a smooth underside – not a rough one - which could mar the leather if dragged across the desk’s or table’s surface. It’s common to want to have items accessible on a work desk. So if they could be damaging to the surface on that desk, simply invest in some inexpensive felt; affix that felt to the rough surface, thus protecting your leather desk or tabletop from needless scratches. Before placing that felt on any surface, be sure to make sure the felt has nothing within its material that could stain the desk. A prudent, common-sense measure – just to be on the safe side. Leather chairs are often subject to a lot of everyday, unnecessary abuse: Don’t ever leave books and magazines on of them for prolonged periods and definitely do not throw your keys across their leather surface. If this sounds simple, that’s because it really is!
Leather Cleaning and Maintenance- Everybody loves a drink:
Leather is a porous material that needs a wash and clean every six months. By that I mean we should use products recommended and developed specifically for cleaning and maintaining leather - not soap and water. I have found the cheapest and best leather cleaning products are the same as those used in the horse industry for saddle care. When you notice the leather on your furniture is getting dusty or dry-looking, that is the time for maintenance. If properly cared for in this way, leather has a very long life, and its general wear and tear will give it a handsomely mature look.
Wooden Furniture- Be wary of friends and strangers:
The biggest danger to antique furniture is not you, but visitors. The amount of times I have had a friend place a coffee cup on a sideboard, table, even a finely carved inlayed table is too uncomfortable to recall. Those friends treated my furniture as they did their own; that is, like traditional furniture that has no heart or soul. So, just politely take their cup and place it on a protective mat. No need to say anything; your friends will immediately know you want them to be more careful.
Wooden Furniture- Looks can be deceiving:
Wooden furniture can be deceiving. If items such as car keys, boxes, or groceries are left on the sideboard or table, this may seem harmless, but over time, scratches and wear-and-tear will emerge. If the mars or scratches are not too severe, they can probably be sanded and polished out. However, the best option is to avoid such unnecessary repairs all together. Just train yourself, friends and kids to get into better, more responsible habits.
Wooden Furniture- Everyone gets thirsty sometime:
As with leather, if you’re living in hot or humid conditions, give the wood on your furniture a drink at least every six months. Use only proper wood cleaners with soft cloths, and always avoid silicone-based cleaning products, using instead only wax bases, such as bees’ wax. And again applying common sense, always do a test on a small portion of the wood - maybe the underside of a cupboard, draw, or table - before doing the cleaning to ensure your cleaning agents will do no colour damage.