Antique furniture in the modern home is becoming an increasingly popular feature across the country. Rather than buying antique pieces to admire or purely as an investment, collectors are selecting items that will be functional in their daily lives. Although antique furniture was made to last for many years, it requires care and consideration to keep it looking its best.
Antique furniture and the atmosphere
Direct heat and humidity levels can affect vintage furniture, more often than not causing damage that may not always be repairable. When you consider where to place your piece of furniture, don’t position it too close to a radiator or fireplace. The heat may cause the wood to shrink and split, which may be worse with veneer. If antique furniture is suddenly placed into a centrally heated room following years of being stored in a cool room, the wood may split and damage could be caused to the surface.
The humidity of a space may also cause damage, especially if the air is particularly dry. Air dried timber was mainly used to make antique furniture and this has a high moisture content, unlike today’s modern furniture. The dry atmosphere draws the moisture away from the material and into the surrounding air, leaving the wood dry and prone to splitting. To counteract this problem, you could consider a humidifier, or even placing bowls of water around the room.
Many problems occur due to dry air, including joints becoming loose as the glues dry out, doors becoming warped, preventing them from closing, and drawers sticking.
To prevent some of these problems, place a barrier between a source of heat and the furniture.
The sunlight may be a welcome addition for most people, but it can cause damage to vintage items. Position your antique bedroom furniture, or other pieces, out of direct sunlight. Although gentle exposure to sun over a long period of time can result in a mellowing of the colour, harsh exposure will cause uneven fading and may even dry the wood out.
Polishing antique furniture
Spray polishes should never be used on antique furniture, as it contains silicon which, along with the spirit contained in the polish, can strip wood of its natural oils and create a sticky build-up of residue.
Most furniture, like walnut bedroom furniture, just needs buffing with a clean soft cloth on a regular basis. A couple of times a year, you should apply polish that is beeswax based to the furniture. Ideally, leave this overnight and then the following day use a soft cloth to polish the item.
General care of antique furniture
Care should be taken when moving pieces of antique furniture, especially heavy items like antique sofas, as dragging across a room could cause the legs or feet to become loose or to even damage the frame. Lift the item correctly, without holding the arm of a chair or any other place that may be delicate.
The correct care of antique furniture will ensure that it lasts in your home for many years.