Shopping is the easy part for some - the thrill of the chase, the flutter of excitement at bringing a new treasure home, choosing a new paint color or materials for a remodel. But what happens to those glorious finds and finishes months or years later? Before you give in to the urge to shop for new stuff, consider some home maintenance to show off what you have in the best possible light. You may find that after giving what you already have a little extra TLC, your craving for new stuff fades. You never know; you may even find yourself falling for your home and decor all over again.
#1 - Maintain Upholstery
Regular maintenance can go a long way toward keeping upholstery looking as good as new for as long as possible. Vacuum the fabric and rotate cushions each time you clean the living room, and clean spills and mend small tears right away.
Even if a stain has been there for a long time, it can still often be removed with stain removal or hydrogen peroxide; treat it repeatedly until it fades. Just be sure to test new cleaning products on a less-visible area of fabric first.
#2 - Remove Scuff Marks and Touch Up Paint
Small things like scuff marks from shoes and bags, tiny dings and chipped corners can make a space feel worn out. Spend a day scrubbing, patching and touching up paint, and you'll notice a world of difference.
#3 - Make Furniture Gleam
If you can't remember the last time you polished your wood furniture, doing so will probably make you wonder why you don't do it all the time - the difference is amazing.
The type of finish on your furniture will determine what you use to polish it. Midcentury teak pieces are often finished with oil alone, so simply rubbing in a bit more teak oil from time to time will suffice. Finished wood pieces may respond well to a furniture paste or wax - read the directions thoroughly before trying any new product.
#4 - Remove Stains from Marble
This porous surface is prone to staining, so it's important to wipe up spills immediately. Of course, there are time that just doesn't happen. No matter how or when it happened, there still may be hope for restoring the beauty of your marble. Check the chart available from the Marble Institute of America for methods of removing all sorts of stains. If you still can't get it out, call a pro - improving the counters you have is still cheaper than getting new ones.
#5 - Care for Wood Counters
Remove scratches and stains on your wood countertops by gently sanding the area; then rub in a food-grade mineral oil with a soft rag. To prevent future damage, always use trivets under hot items, wipe up spills quickly and cut items on cutting boards, not on the counter.
#6 - Refresh Old Wood Floors
Even if you don't want to have your wood floors refinished, there are still ways to make them look their best. What you use to refresh your floors will depend on the type of finish your wood floors have.
Floors with a natural oil-rubbed finish can be shined up with wood oil. Really old, worn floors may do well with a wax. Floors finished with polyurethane can be cleaned with a solution of white vinegar and water. Just avoid getting the floors really wet by applying the solution with a barely damp mop and wiping dry with a towel immediately after. Excess water on wood floors of any type can potentially cause damage.
#7 - Refluff Area Rugs
Fluffy rugs like flokatis and sheepskins look amazing when you first bring them home, but... less amazing after several months of wear and tear. Most small natural flokati and sheepskin rugs can be hand washed (or even machine washed on delicate) in mild soap and then air dried.
Between washings, simply shake out and then brush your rug with a dog brush. Just be sure to read the cleaning instructions before deciding on a method.
#8 - Deep Clean Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
Regular vacuuming and spot cleaning will get you only so far. Every once in a while, it pays to rent, borrow or buy a steam cleaner to give your carpeting a deep clean. To help the floor dry as quickly and completely as possible, wait for a dry day ant set up a dehumidifier in the room afterward.
#9 - Condition Leather
Leather furniture can actually look better with age, provided that it is properly cared for. Use a leather conditioner a few times each year to keep the leather from drying out and cracking.
Keep it looking fresh by vacuuming and then buffing with a dry microfiber cloth as needed. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen, using a dry cloth to soak up any liquid.
#10 - Brighten Whites
Slipcovers, pillow covers, curtains, towels and more can all use a good refreshing from time to time. If you don't want to use chlorine bleach on your whites, try an oxygen - or hydrogen peroxide-based nonchlorine bleach instead.
#11 - Touch Up Appliances
Years of use can create all sorts of stains and scratches on the once-pristine finish of your washer and dryer. If new appliances are not in the cards, consider painting yours with a product designed for the task, like the Appliance Enamel paint from Rust-Oleum. You can also use appliance paint on wornout finishes to the dishwasher. Do not use it on surfaces that get hot, like stovetops.
#12 - Stock Up for Proper Maintenance
Beyond your usual cleaning tools, if there are any special items that would make it easier to care for your home and belongings, go ahead and make the investment. If you have lots of carpeting, for instance, a good steam cleaner could be a worthy addition. Leather conditioner, wood oil, furniture polish - having the little things you need at hand can help you keep your home looking its best.