Unless you treat your space like a museum, sooner or later your furniture is going to look used — and slightly abused.
Whether you’re finally getting around to repairing that wobbly chair, scratched dresser, sagging couch cushion or you want to make over a vintage find, here’s a roundup of five common furniture problems and some simple DIY ways to fix them.
There are several methods to try, depending on the severity of the scratch and what you have lying around the house.
For minor scratches in the wood finish, try lemon juice and vegetable or olive oil. Mix equal parts of each, and apply to the scratch with a clean cloth. Rub firmly in the direction of the scratch until it vanishes.
Or—fun fact—you can use a nut. For real: try a walnut, pecan or brazil nut. Just break it open, and rub it along the scratch. The nut oils should darken the scratched area.
For light-colored scratches in dark wood, try fresh coffee grounds. Use a cotton swab to dab them into the scratch with a soft touch, then let dry before adding more coffee grounds if necessary.
Not a coffee drinker? Give black tea a try. Make a dark brew by steeping tea bags for several minutes in just a few tablespoons of hot water. Use the cotton swab, as above, and dab tea onto the exposed scratch until you get the color to match the surrounding wood.
Color in light scratches with eyebrow pencils or wax crayons. Simply match the browns as closely as possible (you knew there had to be a use for the old makeup cluttering your bathroom), and use a steady hand to fill in the scratch. You can try this with shoe polish, too. Just apply with a cotton swab and wipe off the excess.
If you want to go a more official route, try a marker specifically designed to fill wood scratches.
If a small piece of wood is actually missing, as in a deep scratch, first use light sandpaper or steel wool to gently remove any rough edges around the nick. If the nick is relatively shallow, or in an inconspicuous spot, you can simply touch up the exposed wood using a matching paint or varnish, or—for very small nicks—using any of the methods described above to cover scratches.
For larger nicks, you can fill in the space using wood filler. Apply with a flat knife (a cut-up credit card also works nicely). Let it dry, sand lightly if necessary, then cover with color, as above. Or, try filling the nick using a wax stick, and covering with a wood-stain pen.
You can try fixing dented wood by working a little magic with a damp cloth and a hot iron. Wood expands with water, so the idea is to plump the dented area back to its original state.
Be careful: Some types of finish can turn white when exposed to heat or steam. Make sure to test the process below on an inconspicuous area of the wood before tackling the dent.
Soak a paper towel or cloth in warm water and press it to the dent. Set your iron to high and heat it up. You will want to use lots of steam. Press the iron to the cloth, and work in constant, circular motions (don’t let the iron stand still, or you might burn through to the wood).
Check your progress after a minute or two. Keep going, if necessary, until you get your result!
Wobbly Chair Rungs
Wobbly chairs are usually caused by loose stretchers (the rungs between the chair legs). There are a number of ways to fix them—including taking apart the entire chair and gluing the joints back together. But here is a Martha Stewart-approved shortcut:
1. Use a 1/16-inch drill bit to make a small hole right at the point where the loose stretcher meets the chair leg. You want to drill into the stretcher bar at a 45-degree angle, and into the leg. (Tip: flip the chair upside down, with the seat on a table, as you work.)
2. Fill a glue syringe with wood glue. Chair Doctor Glue is one to try.
3. Inject the glue into the hole you drilled, and wipe away the excess with a clean cloth.
4. Use a rope or clothesline to bind the four legs of the chair together while the glue dries.
5. With the chair upside-down, wrap the rope around all four legs. You can use a wooden dowel (or a pencil or pen) as a tool to twist the rope as tightly as possible. Let dry for at least 24 hours before using.
Uneven Table and Chair Legs
You could experiment with adding wooden or felt discs to the bottom of the shorter chair or table leg, or with shaving a bit from a leg that’s longer. But here is a much quicker fix from home improvement guru Ron Hazelton: Simply use a craft glue gun to squirt a dollop of glue on the bottom of the short leg. Let it dry. Since the dried glue is both firm and flexible, it should act as a little shock-absorbing cushion, restoring your sense of balance.
An obvious solution would be to avoid drinking red wine and coffee when sitting on your sofa, but that would be no fun. Here are a few ways to remove stains using items you probably have around the house.
For red wine stains: Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with a cup of hydrogen peroxide. Blot the solution onto the stain with a paper towel, and use a dry cloth to soak up the extra moisture.
For coffee stains: You can try blotting mild detergent directly onto the stain with a damp sponge. Work in a circular motion until the stain disappears. If that fails, you can also mixing an egg yolk with lukewarm water, and rubbing the mixture on the stain.
For an eco-friendly all-purpose upholstery stain remover, try whipped detergent. Use a manual hand-mixer, or an electric mixer on low speed, to whip a 1:1 mixture of water and detergent to a froth. Use a cloth to dab it onto the upholstery stain, and follow by dabbing plain water.
Also on Yahoo Makers:
Have your hours of HBO-watching dented your couch? Fluff up those cushions and you’ll be watching Hannah Horvath’s escapades from a comfortable seat again shortly.
For back cushions and throw pillows: Remove the cushion covers, and stuff hollow areas using polyester fiberfill—this fluffy material is available at most craft stores.
For seat cushions: Follow a similar procedure, but use quilt-batting fiberfill instead—it comes in sheets that you can wrap around the cushion. This will keep the new filling from developing lumps when you sit on it. Take the cushion completely out of the cover, and wrap with batting several times. You can add a light coating of spray adhesive between the layers to keep the batting in place.
Rips and Tears
Let’s say, oh, for example, that you bought an amazing vintage love seat from a costume designer for the bargain price of $50, and your roommate snagged the upholstery on a screw sticking out of your doorframe while kindly helping you get it into your apartment. OK, you should have hired a professional. But what to do about the rip?
1. Strong nylon thread in a color that blends with your upholstery
2. A curved upholstery needle (looks a bit like a scythe)
3. FrayCheck, which stops edges of fabric from fraying, if your upholstery rip has started to fray.
Apply the FrayCheck, if needed, then turn the frayed edges under to give yourself two clean edges to work with. Use the curved upholstery needle to stitch the tear closed. (Gilleland recommends pinching the two sides together as you stitch, rather than pinning, since pins can make the fabric pucker.)
Tie off the thread with a secure knot.
Also on Yahoo Makers: