Before the guests arrive: It’s cleaning time!

It’s almost Thanksgiving…





Give ThanksSource: Elle Decor




And you might think it’s enough that your home is decorated with attractive furniture positioned just so atop beautiful rugs, while great art hangs on the walls and collected curios adorn the appropriate surfaces.





But it’s not.





If there’s a smudge on the wall, a ring on the table, and a dent in your fancy painting, all eyes will be drawn there.





Living room with labSource: Elle Decor




Sure blemishes happen–because life happens–but they can make your carefully designed rooms look worse for wear.




The good news is there are tricks to remedy such things. Designer trade secrets, if you will.





Here are some of the best of them.






Abstract paintingsSource: Unknown



Dented canvases: I have fixed two canvases I thought were surely dented and wrinkled for life with this method. The remedy is as simple as using a wet sponge to saturate the back of your canvas in the area of the dent. Important: wet only the back of the canvas, never the front! Set the canvas outside to dry with the moistened back facing the sun. As the canvas dries, it will shrink and tighten. As a result, the dent will (almost magically!) disappear.





Scratches on wood:  A scratch on dark wood floors or furniture appears light and draws attention to itself. In order to blend it into obscurity, we need to make it dark again. This can be done with a felt-tipped furniture marker in the right shade (available at your local home improvement store). Make sure to draw only on the scratch, not the surrounding area. Brown shoe polish also works wonders.




Recently, I tried a new remedy mixing 1 tablespoon coffee with 2 teaspoons of hot water.





Coffee mixtureAnd I got this.






Using a cotton swab, I applied the solution to the scratched leg of a chair that our new puppy has recently discovered.






Teeth marks chair legAh, puppies. Gotta love ’em, or at least keep reminding yourself, “This is just a stage!”






Apply coffee mixtureApplying the solution, like so.





After letting the solution soak in a moment, I wiped away the excess. While the indentation is still there (oh, puppy teeth) now that it’s the same color as the wood, it’s barely noticeable.






Chair leg afterSo much better!







For light, all-over scratches on hardwood floors, I use a product called Wood Floor Refresher by Bona. You apply it the same as you would a hardwood floor cleaner and it can make an old hardwood floor look new again.




Scuffs and smudges: Who doesn’t have scuffs and smudges on their baseboards, doors, and walls? Not you if you use Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. True to its name, it lifts marks like magic and with ease. A word of caution: because it can dull an otherwise high-gloss surface, test it in an inconspicuous spot, first.




Rings on wood: True story: My Ostrich egg-esque ceramic vase that I loved so much from West Elm (the one on the far left if you click on this link) leaked and left behind crusty mineral deposits on our wood buffet.  To fix it, I made a solution of equal parts olive oil and white vinegar. Using a paper towel, I rubbed the liquid into the ring, making sure to rub with the grain, until the ring disappeared. I feathered out any extra liquid and used a clean paper towel to wipe the entire surface clean.





Remove furniture ringsThe solution (in both senses of the word).






Ring on tableThe Before. Bad ring, bad.






Wipe tableThe During. Action shot.







No more ringThe After! Ring, what ring?





Holes in walls: Stop. Are you using picture hangers to hang your artwork? If not, you should. They make the tiniest of holes and are sold by the weight they can handle so you’ll never risk hanging a piece that won’t be properly supported. But what if you hung it wrong the first time and need to make the evidence disappear? While wall spackle is best, in a pinch white toothpaste will fill holes 1/4″ and smaller. Squeeze it into the hole and use a credit card to remove the surplus. Allow to dry. If there is any shrinkage, repeat as necessary. Touch up with a spot of paint, if needed.





Black and white gallery wallSource: Unknown, Cat: adorable.




Keep it straight: So you found the perfect spot to hang your art and then you walked back into the room and it had shifted. Breezes, sinking holes, poltergeists, whatever the cause, hung art can move and you can keep it straight with QuakeHold Museum Putty. It comes in a shade of buff and with the consistency of previously chewed bubble gum–but with none of the gross-out factor. Pinch off a small amount and roll it into a ball. Place a ball behind each corner of your wall-mounted art and press the art into place.





Gallery wall gold framesThese don’t actually look straight to me. And it’s not my photo so I’m happy to point that out. Do they to you? Source: Charlotte Moss (what’s up Charlotte, no scale handy?), Lonny Magazine





Streak-free: For streak-less mirrors and windows and glass on framed pieces, make your own natural cleaner. You’ll avoid the cost and chemicals of the store bought stuff and have a superior product. Pour equal pats white vinegar and warm water into a spray bottle; mist your surface and wipe clean with newspaper. Undiluted vinegar can be used to remove the sticky price tag residue off the glossy surface of a newly purchased mirror.





Mirrored globe in kitchenIsn’t that a neat (and very streak-free) kitchen pendant? Source: Cristina Cleveland



This post is an adaptation of my column Design Intervention and originally appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press.




Happy (it’s almost here) Thanksgiving!


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