A gentleman phoned our store last week and wanted to discuss selling his furniture and he wanted us to know that is was "brand new". "We never even used it!" he exclaimed. When he struggled to describe the set, couldn't recall how he acquired the pieces, how much they cost him or what store they were purchased from, I became concerned that his items were stolen. After asking a few more Colombo style questions, I uncovered that the set was purchased between 1965 and 1969. That explained why the man couldn't remember much about the purchase process. But it was the fact that he described his furniture to be "brand new" that initially threw us for the loop.
This is actually a fairly common conversation with our potential consignors. In accentuating the point that they took great care of the their furniture assets, they will tell us that a sofa was only sat on five times or that the dining set was used on Easter 3 years ago and that was the extent of its use. But what they don't often realize is that their furniture endures a lot of unintentional and unnoticed abuse.
Furniture finishes and upholstered items often break down due to the natural elements and cleaning practices. Here are some ways to keep your furniture in showroom condition without screaming "don't touch that!" at your kids.
- Be aware of the sunlight in your room. Sun is one of the great destroyers of furniture. A dining set may never host a single family dinner and yet can get walloped by the sun every day. Ultraviolet rays on your furniture will cause significant bleaching, discoloration, peeling finish and flaky wood. It is important to pay attention to the times of day and year when the furniture will be exposed to these direct rays. Installing blinds, a film over your windows, or rotating your furniture periodically can help to slow the sun's damaging effects on your prized pieces.
- Living in New England with the crazy weather patterns that we experience can put furniture through the ringer. Especially in the Spring and Fall when we have the heat on in the mornings and then turn it off during the day, it can be literally torture on your furniture as it absorbs and releases moisture causing it to expand and contract. In these months, close the heating vents in the rooms that host your nicest furniture. Do your best to position furniture away from heating and cooling vents.
- Believe it or not, dust build-up on your furniture and how it is removed can cause your finish to scratch. We see dining tables and dresser tops that have been cleaned in a circular motion and under direct lighting, circular scratches are very evident. Dusting with a damp, clean cloth, is generally the safest and best way to keep the dust mites from compromising your prized finishes.
Caring for your furniture is as much about understanding the elements that exist in your home and being aware of how they effect your home furnishings. Furniture doesn't need to be sat on or used to endure wear and tear. We often have the ugly job of pointing out the results of this unintentional furniture abuse to proud owners who thought they were doing the best for their furniture.