How to Clean Antique Furniture and Décor the Right Way

By Adriana Lopez, Guest Blogger from 

Keeping things nice and clean is an important part of good home maintenance. If you’re an enthusiastic antique collector or you’ve recently received an inherited piece of furniture from your parents or grandparents, it’s important to know how to clean a variety of surfaces and materials properly. When you know how to clean metal, wood, and stone the right way, you can restore antique furniture and other items back to their full glory. Read on to learn how to clean virtually any surface in your home without causing damage so that you can enjoy your beautiful antiques and special furniture for years to come.

Identify Your Antiques

In order to keep your antique items clean, you’ll need to start by figuring out exactly what you have. Examine the item closely to determine what type of metal, wood, or stone it’s made of. This also applies to antique fabrics and area rugs. Whether it’s silk, wool, or some other material, knowing what you’re working with will make it easier to clean the correct way, since not all materials are cleaned in the same manner.

To start, identify antique items in your home and determine what they’re made of. Do some online research to find the era, maker, and material of each piece. Catalog each piece, its materials, and how to clean it for future reference. Many homeowners have items around the house that are valuable antiques, and they may not even know it!

  • In the kitchen, look for vintage silverware, dishes, crystal, and china sets.
  • In the bedroom, examine old chairs, dressers, bed stands, and mirrors.
  • All around the house, look at accent pieces like tables, chairs, and benches.
  • Check your lamps, books, and bric-a-brac.

Materials that Can be Cleaned with Common Household Products

Some antiques can easily be cleaned using products you already have at home. You can also make your own organic cleaners that don’t contain any harsh chemicals, which may also help to prevent damage to your furniture. Here’s how you can safely clean and/or update most antiques — but do your research, because sometimes, stripping, painting, reupholstering, or making other modifications can significantly reduce the value of some pieces.

  • First, look for signs of pests like termites and furniture beetles that could chew up old wooden furniture. Gently shake the furniture and open drawers to confirm that there are no animal nests inside. Look for small holes and urine smells, and examine the entire piece from top to bottom, as well as underneath to make sure that there’s nothing hiding and that no pests will end up infesting your home.
  • Clean your furniture with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust and debris.
  • Use a microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and a mild household to remove grime from wood, glass, metal, and stone.
  • Scrub away grime in crevices and corners with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • If your wood or metal furniture is covered in layers of paint or flaky finishes, use sandpaper to remove it. Sanding the furniture will restore it to its natural state, and you can apply a new finish.
  • As you’re working, consider using some DIY techniques that will give antique furniture new life, like reupholstering a set of old dining chairs, stripping and staining an old wood dresser, or turning a large, old headboard into a chalkboard with chalk paint.

Furniture that Requires Special Handling

Some materials may require that you use specialized cleaning chemicals, or even hazardous materials to remove rust or old layers of paint. It’s up to you to decide whether this method is worth it or whether it’s best to leave the furniture as-is.

  • Take your antique item to a restoration specialist if it’s extremely old, rare, or valuable, since DIY cleaning can permanently damage it.
  • Remove rust from metals like iron or stainless steel with a calcium, lime, and rust removing product.
  • Shine silver or brass by rubbing it gently with a slice of cucumber to gently and naturally lift the tarnish away. You can also make a DIY solution of baking soda, water, and lemon to help restore these types of metal to their original brilliant shine.
  • Clean metals like copper, gold, silver, and aluminum with organic or natural cleaners. Avoid using chemicals on these types of metals whenever possible, as they could damage the finish.
  • Apply a coat of wax to restore shine to wood furniture. Beeswax has been used for centuries, but it can leave a sticky film on your furniture. Try carnauba wax if you want to restore the shine on original hardwood floors. For antique and vintage wood furniture, the best type of wax to use is mineral-based wax, since it won’t damage the original finish on older pieces.


Stain Removers and Repair Techniques for Wood, Metal, and Fabrics

Stubborn stains and scratches can affect the beauty and integrity of your antiques. Here are some tips to help you remove stains and repair scratches the right way:

  • A simple mixture of gentle soap and water typically does a good job of removing stains from wood. If you end up with tougher grime, try some oil soap (you can find it at most home improvement stores) and a soft cloth to gently wipe the mark or stain away.
  • To remove rust from metal, start by gently sanding it off with low-grit sandpaper. If the rust remains, use gentle yet effective rust removing products. It’s best to do a spot test in an inconspicuous area first just in case the cleaner causes any damage or leaves a mark behind.
  • Use a wood filler to repair scratches and gouges in wood furniture. Make sure you choose the right color, so it matches as closely to the original as possible. Clean the scratched area with a dry cloth, then apply the wood filler until it’s filled in all the way. You can also use iodine, a colored furniture polish, or even instant coffee (depending on the color of the furniture).
  • To remove scratches from metal, try some vinegar or a powdered scratch removing product if the scratch is minimal. For deeper scratches, you’ll need to sand the area first, then polish it thoroughly to restore it and make it look new again.
  • Clean antique fabrics with a mixture of gentle soap and warm water. Hand washing most fabrics should do the trick. If you still can’t get the stain to come out, consider taking the item to a professional, but never wash it in the washing machine, as it could permanently damage the fabric.


How to Store and Display Your Antiques to Prevent Damage

Taking good care of your antiques will preserve the integrity of your furniture and other valuables. Part of that is making sure you’re storing and displaying everything the right way. With the right storage methods, you’ll be able to preserve these priceless items so they can continue to be passed down to future generations.

  • Store delicate items and breakables in a storage cabinet with a door. The door will keep everything protected from dust and dirt so that it remains clean and well-preserved.
  • Keep antique wood furniture out of direct sunlight at all times. The UV rays from the sun can cause discoloration and dry out the wood, which can result in warped or cracked pieces.
  • Apply a quality wood oil treatment to unfinished wood furniture at least once a year to keep it protected. For finished furniture, dust it regularly and apply a color-safe wood cleaner or furniture polish as needed.
  • Store your antiques in a part of the home that has a reasonable humidity level between the recommended 30 and 50 percent. Rooms that are too humid or too dry can cause furniture to expand and contract, which may cause in cracks and splinters.
  • Apply a protective coat to vintage textiles and fabrics to help prevent stains. Make sure you use the correct product based on whether the fabric is made for interior or exterior use (such as an antique outdoor area rug). Never wash vintage fabric in the washing machine, and avoid using cleaners that contain harsh chemicals.

Proper Antique Restoration and Care: Avoiding Mistakes

If you don’t know how to restore and care for antiques properly, it can lead to some pretty upsetting results.

  • If you take your antique to a professional restorer, make sure that you’re clear about what you expect. Some antique restorers might refinish that old chest you love rather than just clean it up, which can lead to disappointment.
  • Never use a cleaning product on antique surfaces unless you’re positive they will not cause permanent damage or discoloration. A good rule of thumb is to try DIY organic cleaners whenever possible, since chemicals can cause all kinds of problems. Test the cleaner on an inconspicuous section of the piece.
  • Avoid getting wood furniture too wet, or it may warp or swell. Always use the minimum amount of water needed to clean it up.
  • Unless you plan to recycle or upcycle old furniture, it’s best to simply clean it up and let its original beauty shine. Refinishing will completely change the piece — and may negatively affect the value.

Once you know how to clean and care for your antiques and antique furniture, you’ll be able to keep them in good shape for another hundred years or more. Know when to DIY and when to hire a professional to handle the task. With these tips in mind, you can start to clean and maintain your antique furniture with confidence.

Originally posted on

Grandmillennial Style Is All the Rage: How to Embrace this Design Trend in Your Home

Originally Published on Redfin by

With content provided by Eklektik Designers Kelly Wesson and Melinda Smith

Millennials are taking a leaf out of their grandparents’ book with a modern-meets-traditional decor style known as grandmillennial. Identified as one of the major design trends of this year, grandmillennial style is a throwback to the decor we’ve all grown up with and seen in our grandparents’ homes. The look aims to add personality and eclectic touches with bold patterns and textures, contrasting with the minimalist, modern styles that have been trending for years.

Whether you live in a contemporary home in Los Angeles, CA, or a cozy craftsman in Seattle, WA, you can easily incorporate this design trend into your space with a few simple additions. Here’s how to perfectly achieve the granny chic style in your home.

What is grandmillennial style?

Also known as “granny-chic,” grandmillennial style is ideal if you’re looking to repurpose hand-me-down decor items or break away from the minimalist aesthetic trending on social media. Grandmillennial merges modern-day design trends – think Scandinavian, mid-century modern, and minimalism – with retro elements to create a warmer, cozier approach to home decor with lots of color and prints. The style is about filling your space with items that let your personality shine through.

Components that make up grandmillennial style

The key to achieving grandmillennial style is to pair vintage with modern items in your space. It’s all about finding the right balance between the two – and not overdoing it – so you aren’t left with a space that’s more granny than granny chic. But, where do you start? Let’s break down the various elements that make up this popular home decor trend:

Patterned wallpaper

Patterns are essential to achieving a grandmillennial home design. Classic prints such as toile, chintz, chinoiserie, or florals are making a huge comeback and can be incorporated into your home design through curtains, upholstery, or wall coverings. When choosing to use these bold patterns, keep the color palette light and consistent to avoid adding an overly-cluttered look to your space. The aim is for the space to look cozy and layered. A good rule of thumb when deciding which pattern to use is to keep the room’s size in mind. The larger the space, the larger the pattern or print you can use, whereas the smaller the space, the smaller the pattern.

Bold fabric patterns and colors

Patterns and bold colored fabric choices are great ways to add personality and a touch of whimsy in any space. You can experiment with different fabric options on your upholstery and curtains, and it’s a bigger statement than simply adding patterned blankets or throw pillows, though these are great layering pieces if you’re just trying out the style. However, if you’re not ready to invest in a colorful couch or if you’re new to the style, start with a smaller furniture piece like an accent chair or ottoman.

“Grandmillennial style can appropriately be achieved by taking antique pieces directly from your grandparents (or an antique shop) and reupholstering them in new fabric. Applying a lush velvet in a bold color can enhance the antique piece’s look in an updated way. Alternatively, going with a large-scale pattern can truly combine the “granny” look with modern trends to create a fun and visually interesting piece that everyone will comment on. This is a great way to upcycle a well-built piece of furniture if you’re not wanting to spend a pretty penny on new items that may not be built as well as you hope they are.” – Kelly Wesson, Interior Designer, Eklektik Interiors

Rattan or wicker

If you’re dipping your toes into the granny-chic style, wicker and rattan furnishings are approachable options and can fit seamlessly into any aesthetic.

Brass, porcelain, and plenty of texture

Achieve the granny chic look by incorporating hues of brass or gold – think a brass Victorian-style mirror or gold candle holders. You can also use blue and white porcelain decor throughout, such as a vase or decorative kitchenware. Thrifting these kinds of decor items from an antique store or thrift store is a great way to truly achieve that unique, vintage look.

Dark stained wood furniture

Wood furniture in darker tones is right at home in grandmillennial style. Instead of trying to cover up the dark-stained pieces of furniture you already have with paint, keep them exactly as is. Side tables, cabinets, or console tables made of walnut or cherry wood are great darker-toned furniture pieces and can easily be found in thrift stores if you don’t already have one.

“A great way to incorporate this style is to pair modern minimalist art over a more traditional or antique buffet or console table. Finish it off with a glass-based table lamp, and some smaller décor pieces like fashion books and a trailing house plant to bring in some softness.” – Melinda Smith, Interior Designer, Eklektik Interiors


Grandmillennial style embraces the use of embellishments. Think trims such as tassels, ruffles, pleats, and fringe. These embellishments can adorn any piece of decor, from pillows and blankets to even lampshades. If you’re testing out the trend, try using embellishments in complementary shades to your existing decor and add texture to your space.


What was once a pastime reserved for your grandparents is now a hallmark of the grandmillennial style. Needlepoint is enjoying its resurgence as a newfound hobby and collector’s item among millennials. Plus, you may even already have embroidered pillows and wall hangings stowed away to display. If you have a deft hand with crafts, you can create your own embroidered pillowcase or artwork to display in a vintage picture frame or stitched as a sassy saying on a throw pillow.

Display your collections

While “knickknacks” were once considered clutter, they are now essential components of this emerging trend. Maybe you’re an avid collector of China teacups, dishware, figurines, crystals, or some other kind of trinkets or baubles. With grandmillennial style, any of these items that are packed away in storage can now be brought out and displayed to bring a touch of granny-chic to your interior design. These display items can also include practical components such as vintage candle holders or old jars repurposed as plant holders. To prevent the mix from looking cluttered, group similar items to create a cohesive look and pull your collection together.

The key to grandmillennial style is to keep it fresh

Decorating your home in grandmillennial style needs balance, and it can be easy to go overboard. The goal is to get the right blend of a sleek modern loft in Manhattan, New York, and the cozy vibes of your grandparents’ home in Phoenix, Arizona. But one step too far, and it can look more granny than grandmillennial. Pick key items in your home that will make the most significant difference rather than changing everything in your home at one go.

Originally published on Redfin

Maximalist Vs. Minimalist: A Conversation with Designer Kathy Anderson

There is no place like a home that functions for you on every level.  Does your current interior design reflect you and the way you want to live? Do you prefer simple lines and a monochromatic color scheme, following the minimalism trend? Or do you prefer something more bold, bright and colorful, leaning toward a maximalist approach?  Kathy Anderson, founder and principal designer of Eklektik Interiors, takes a very personal and customized approach to her designs.  She believes there is room for both minimalist and maximalist persuasions in a home, and she is a master at blending the lines between styles.


“Great design can be lost with all of the ‘stuff’ we surround ourselves with,” Anderson explains.  Minimalism is focused on what is absolute in terms of need and function.  It simplifies your life and your home by eliminating the unnecessary visual noise and highlighting a few great pieces. “When a space is beautifully designed and curated,” Anderson says, “less can definitely be more.”

Her favorite part of incorporating minimalism:  Helping clients go thru their belongings and simplifying their lives by keeping only those items that really mean something. Thoughtful curation tells a meaningful story.

Her favorite space for minimalist design:  I prefer a minimalist approach in personal and intimate spaces. I think that is important because everyone needs a place to retreat to find solace and comfort from the hectic world that we live in.


“Modern Maximalism is more about personalization than perfection,” says Anderson. Maximalism is comfortable and livable without being messy or random.  There is an art to it.  It is dramatic, colorful, and outside the box, but is not cluttered, garish, or overly done.  A lot of books, art, accessories, fabrics, and textures can be displayed with purpose and thought in a personalized style that is dramatic and fun. “That’s the great thing about design,” says Anderson. “Rules are made to be broken but with careful consideration. There can be a fine line between fabulous and frightful.”

Her favorite part of incorporating maximalism:  Solidifying the space with rich color for a dramatic background to pop the bright colors, textures, and collectibles.

Her favorite space for maximalist design:  Living spaces, a study, or a home bar are fun places to add color and showcase curated collections.  These spaces can function for gathering and spending time with family and friends, while also telling a client’s unique story.

The most important part of Anderson’s job is highlighting the function of a space and aligning it with the lifestyle of each client. “That is what I love about what I do,” says Anderson,  “every engagement is different because every client is different. They are each unique in how they live, what makes them tick, and what brings them joy.” Whether a client prefers a minimalist or maximalist approach or a combination of both, Anderson strives to satisfy each client’s needs so their homes enrich their lives.

The Importance of Home: What 2020 has Helped us Discover in Home Design

Reflecting on all that we have faced with the beginning of a new decade, a pandemic, a presidential election, social unrest, and natural disasters, one thing keeps coming into focus: the importance of home. 2020 indeed has had its share of challenges, but because of those challenges, we have all had the opportunity to reprioritize and discover what is truly essential in our lives.  When the pandemic hit and we all stayed home, our thoughts focused very quickly to what the word ‘home’ meant to each of us personally.

Home has taken on new importance as it literally has become our place of refuge, safety, and peace, and with this focus has come new trends in home design.  As our homes quickly became our everything, it has also become very important to have more defined spaces for family gathering, personal renewal, work, and entertaining. Looking into 2021,  here are some of the home design trends that we are seeing as a result of living through 2020.


Homes are really all about the kitchen.  It is where life centers.  A custom kitchen, designed to cater to the way you cook, eat, and gather, will add value to your home and your life.  Because the kitchen has become the hub of social activity even more, we’ve seen a continued trend in open floorplan kitchen renovations, which include many amenities such as islands, multiple sinks, larger refrigerators, and other customized appliances.  Beautiful countertops, fabulous hardware, and an exquisite lighting plan are also priorities in the kitchen. With a new warmth and comfort associated with these trends, the kitchen becomes a pseudo second family room.

Kitchen Favorite:  Natural stone countertops and walls create a beautiful focal point.  Quartzite is a fabulous option for natural materials. There are also some amazing porcelains on the market that are not only beautiful but are a ‘work horse.’  I, personally, am not a fan of marble in the kitchen. I know there is a lot of debate on this, and yes, marble is absolutely gorgeous and yes, it will patina over time, but typically, a LONG time. There is a big maintenance issue and if your kitchen is just for ‘show’, then go for it. But if you really live in your kitchen, I would suggest other products that perform much better and are easier to live with.


With the stress and chaos that we all live with, a resurgence of creating a space to renew and relax is essential for self-care.  Bathrooms are an interesting space to design because they are so private.  This allows for a lot of creativity in the aesthetics.  A well-planned bathroom, catered to the way each client personally finds ways to renew and refresh, can serve as a spa-like retreat.  Statement slabs in the shower, mixed with different tiles and textures and plumbing finishes, can bring an elegance that creates a peaceful haven to start and end your day.

Bathroom Favorite:  Having a beautiful, comfortable bathtub available creates space for effortless relaxation that is not replicated by any other home amenity.

Home Office:

As the majority of the workforce moved home this spring, spaces that had served other purposes, were quickly transformed into home offices.  We are seeing a trend now to design these work from home spaces to be organized, functional, and also fun, as you add personality to the space you spend so much time in.  2020 has given us all the gift of time at home to analyze your life, goals, and what you are ultimately wanting for your own personal space. Office spaces tend to be a catch-all and sometimes chaotic.  Letting go of “things” and holding onto just a few statement pieces that you love can give you a sense of purpose and freedom as your home meets every need you have. Simplify your life and your home. You will be happier for it.

Home Office Favorite: Layered lighting is functional and fabulous.  Lighting is so important in an office space.  Window and lighting placement make a huge difference in the look, feel, and usability of a space.  Including a designer as early as possible in the construction or renovation planning process is highly recommended, as the details decided in the earliest phases of design determine the final aesthetic and functional feel of a space.

Home Bar Area:

When remodeling, more homeowners are wanting to incorporate a bar area into their home. With the trend of entertaining at home becoming more commonplace, along with the recent “stay at home” mandates around the globe, specialty spaces in the home set aside for entertaining have been utilized more than ever. Whether that is a wine storage space, a bar or beverage serving area, or a full-on lounge, the typical homeowner is looking to have that special place in their home to “belly up to the bar!”

Interior designers love this trend in home design because it offers an opportunity to utilize significant spaces for practical needs, while also offering the chance to create an unexpected and exciting focal point. A beverage serving area can add beauty and function to your home and can be utilized not only for intimate personal or family time but for entertaining clients or friends.

Bar Area Favorite: Creative storage options can add visual interest to the space.  A flashy or exotic backsplash is usually a good place to start. Shelves that hold liquor or beautiful wine racks add to the decor, while below the counter cabinets can hide various bar tools and appliances to keep the area uncluttered. Storing glasses is best when in a closed cabinet and even better if that door has glass and lighting on the inside for drama.

Looking ahead:  Even as we hope life will soon return to ‘normal,’ we can be grateful for what we have gained this year in wisdom as we have refocused our priorities.  Here is to looking forward to 2021, and to holding on to this new-found focus, hoping it will remain as we take more time to savor every aspect of life at home.