The Art Of Maintenance

Sometimes spending more up front can cost you less in the long run and be far more satisfying.

The trick is knowing how to maintain the quality over time. There is skill involved in refurbishing and repairing the things you love as well as just showing them the TLC they deserve to keep them looking their best.

 

Susan has a beautiful leather bag she bought at least 14 years ago and it’s still her go-to bag today. Why? Well in part because it was made to last out of very high quality leather by skilled artisans and it has improved with time. Whenever it starts to look a too beat-up, she rubs it down with Soft Touch which is a treatment for leather that helps restore some of it’s natural oils.

Before
Before
After
After

 

There was a time, not that long ago, when you could repair the parts in your car too but now there are so many plastic and electronic “components” that you practically have to throw out the car if something breaks because replacing the part is almost that expensive anyway! No wonder so many people choose to lease a car and simply replace it every 3 to 5 years.

 

I can still remember my 190 SL Mercedes, I loved that car and I rebuilt the motor and just about every part in it. Even the clock in the glove compartment door was mechanical (you wound it by hand). It was the last great Mercedes sports car because afterward they introduced fuel injection and the whole design started to become too complicated.

My furniture tends to be made of hard wood, which means that if it gets dinged, I can easily repair it with regular hand tools, fine sand paper and stain. More importantly it isn’t made with a laminate over particleboard so that if it does get a scratch it’s ok – it’s ok to let things age naturally. When you own a piece of furniture for a lifetime it will actually reflect bits of your life. Each scratch and ding will remind you of the story behind it just like those notches on the door frame that mark a child’s height.

Natural aging is a good thing. Just think of solid wooden stairs in an old house and how they have a dip in the middle where a thousand feet have stepped. Or the creaking of old wooden floorboards that you just won’t hear with laminate flooring.

But things can’t age that way unless they are built to age that way. For example, the problem with laminate furniture is that when it gets a ding in it the particleboard shows through and before you know it the particleboard itself will start to shred and look really unattractive. There are no memories associated with the shredding particleboard, its just crumbling of its own accord, otherwise known as “falling apart”.

This house has the original squeaky Douglas Fir floors.
I love the way they show their age ( born in 1924)
An old Upper Canada maple table that is due for some care but looks nice anyway.
A favourite sweater - it has been worn hundreds of times and is a joy to wear.

That old sweater someone knitted for you is the same. You will have it for years and it will become an old friend that you say hello to every year when the weather changes and you start to feel a chill in the air. It may have been mended here and there, and it might have stretched out a little over the years but that’s ok because you’re the one who stretched it to fit you just the way you like it!

I try to fill my world with things that will get old gracefully alongside me. Things that can be repaired, things that are tried, tested and reliable. Yes I have to use technology but I still try to go with things that are as reliable as possible. Quality is more important then quantity – long-term enjoyment is more rewarding then newness and fashion.

Great (yet old) knife block
I can feel this old knife handle, that I purchased in 1973, in my hand as I type this.
A favorite antique Scandinavian chair
You can tell this Peugeot Pepper Mill gets a lot of use - it must be 30 years old now!
Even though there are some dings in this little table it looks great. It was made in the 1930s.
The arm of "my" 15 year old chair - before treating it.
The arm of "my" chair - after treating it.
I love my chair - it feels like home.

I will be writing lots more on the subject of how to care for the quality materials used by artisans' in their products. There will be help tips and instructions on caring for everything from your handwoven shawls to fine jewellery. If your going to buy something to last a lifetime you better know how to take of it. I hope to learn a lot about this from our members too so – stayed tuned!

But I see the ottoman needs some TLC
Here it is after treatment - I can do this because it is made from a high "quality" leather!