How to Protect Your Biggest Decor Investments
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Safe Keeping1 of 10
By Mariel Goodson
Throw pillows may come and go, but bigger decor buys should be in it for the long haul. With a little TLC, that pricey chandelier or luxe leather chair can look as good as the day you got it. Read on for easy tips on how to protect your most cherished at-home investments.
Save Your Hide2 of 10
To preserve a leather chair's natural finish, situate it away from sunny windows and radiators, which can prematurely dry out the hide. Leather also requires a little moisturizing, says Noa Santos, co-founder and CEO of Homepolish, an online interior design company. Once a month, work in a leather conditioner with a damp cloth then blot up any excess residue. To camouflage minor scratches, "Gently rub your finger along the scuff," suggests Santos. "The natural oils from your skin make scrapes less noticeable."
Shine On3 of 10
Rather than removing each crystal to restore a chandelier's sparkle, try this timesaving trick: "Lay a large plastic drop cloth beneath the hanging light fixture, then spray the crystals with a streak-free glass cleaner like Perfect Glass," says Sabrina Fierman, vice president of New York's Little Elves Inc. "The excess cleaner will drip onto the plastic, bringing dust and dirt with it." Afterwards, use a lint-free rag to hand-dry and polish any crystals that need a touch-up.
Better Bedding4 of 10
High-end bed linens are the ultimate luxury, but daily use can turn bright whites a dingy yellow. Lotion and makeup are prime culprits, so wash your face before bed, no matter how tired you are. To treat stains on light-colored linens, soak in a mixture of water and oxygenated bleach like OxiClean—chlorine bleach is highly corrosive. Wash fine linens in warm water, turning embroidered pieces inside out or placing them in mesh bags.
Ground Work5 of 10
Carpets were made to withstand wear and tear, but adopting a "no shoes" policy will significantly reduce the amount of dirt that gets ground in. To curb sun bleaching, consider applying UV film to windows, and "protect against indentions by placing cushy furniture pads beneath tables and chairs," suggests Fierman. Rather than relying on professional carpet cleanings, "which, over time, weaken the rug's fibers, making them more prone to staining," warns Fierman, simply vacuum loose debris and spot-treat small spills with Campoo Carpet Stain Remover.
Haute Seat6 of 10
An upholstered sofa serves as a key focal point in any room. To guard against spills and stains, spray it with a sealant like EvoSolvent WaterTight, which also offers UV protection to prevent fading and sunspots. To ensure cushions don't sag, "Flip them once a month so everything gets equal wear," says Santos.
Curtain Call7 of 10
Floor-grazing curtains create the illusion of taller ceilings, but "anytime your drapes kiss the ground, they're more susceptible to staining," says Santos. For spotless hemlines, mist with fabric sealant so you can easily wipe away any buildup. When drapes need refreshing, suck up dust with your vacuum's brush attachment and enlist a fabric steamer to eliminate bacteria and relax wrinkles. "Never send curtains to your dry cleaner, they can come back shrunken or warped," he warns.
Table It8 of 10
Whether you opted for a formal antique dining set or a farm-style trestle table, protect its finish by serving food on hardback placemats instead of the paper variety, which can soak straight through. Clean wood with a mild mixture of liquid Ivory soap and water, but skip the Murphy's Oil. "It leaves a residue that is excruciatingly difficult to remove," says Fierman. "To conceal nicks and surface scratches, use wood stain pens," says Fierman. "They're like magic markers for grown-ups."
Heavy Metals9 of 10
After you've prepped a home-cooked meal, that gleaming stainless steel stovetop can look like a disaster zone. Your instinct may be to scrub, "But avoid anything abrasive—particularly steel wool—since stainless steel is scratchable," says Fierman. To remove baked-on gunk, try Comet Soft Cleanser Cream and extra-hot water. "Always wipe in the same direction so the finish looks shiny and uniform, not streaky," says Fierman. Iron burners can be scoured with a Brillo Pad or run through the dishwasher. "Just don't leave them in standing water, or they'll rust," she says.
Counter Culture10 of 10
"Marble has become a popular choice in chic kitchens and baths, but it's permeable and very prone to staining," says Fierman, so it needs to be resealed yearly. To keep blemishes at bay, immediately wipe up water and spills, and clean with a mixture of liquid Ivory soap and water, "It's very gentle and won't strip the sealant," explains Fierman. With polished marble, you can buff away light scratches and watermarks with an etch remover, but for deep gouges and discolorations, you'll have to call in the pros.
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