In addition to second-coating the paintwork, titillating the beading and having a general tidy up, I've decided to make a start on renovating the furniture. Today's post brought the net curtain, so I hung that - it's a lovely, heavyweight Jacquard cream net, in a pattern called Andrea, two metres wide, seventy-two inch drop, bought online for £7.69. In the picture you will also see two parlour palms, which I potted on today - I bought them from Gordon Rigg's at £1.99 each, the terracotta pots were from B & Q, at 75 pence each.
Here is the bureau, in its original state. This was an eBay purchase, which I won with a bid of £39.55. I collected it from Horwich, so no p&p (unless you count petrol money - but I usually try to combine picking up furniture with buying expeditions). I bought three other pieces from the same seller, which I'll show at another time. The bureau has a serpentine front, with a writing slide above a single drawer, whilst the bottom three faux drawer fronts form a cupboard door. The drawers have cock-beading, and it all stands on bracket feet. I'm guessing from the style and construction that it dates from the first quarter of the twentieth century.
The whole looks quite distressed, but it's nowhere near as bad as it seems. People often over-estimate the extent of damage to furniture, but nine out of ten pieces can usually be rescued with much less effort than you might imagine. Let's take a look at the top of the bureau.
Now this looks quite bad - it's scratched, dented, and has some white ring damage, either from wet wine glasses or hot cups (could be either).
You may be surprised how easy it is to put the majority of these faults right - here's a hot tip - all you need is some almond oil (olive oil can also be used, but doesn't work quite as well). I got a 50 ml bottle from a pound shop. Apply with a circular rubbing action, on a soft, lint-free cloth. If you haven't used it before, you'll be gobsmacked.
Most of the scratches and chips disappear as if by magic, but a little extra help was needed. I rubbed in some dark-tinted wax polish, buffed it over with a clean cloth, rubbed over the worst areas with very fine wire wool, then polished the whole with good quality wax polish. Don't be tempted to use aerosol wax spray polishes - they're fine for modern, everyday furniture, but not for anything with any age to it. Spend an extra couple of quid, buy some good dusters (or tear up old cotton sheets - but only cotton, not polyester mixes), and you'll see a difference. Over time, the wax builds up layers, and gives the wood a deep, mature colour. It also feeds the wood, as the fibres drink in the wax, making small cracks much less likely, and preserving your furniture. Try not to stand wax-polished furniture in direct sunlight - which dries the wood and bleaches the colour out of it.
Here's the top front of the drawer. This too looks badly scratched, but the same routine of almond oil and wax polish will soon put paid to the damage. The keyhole escutcheons are missing, but I'll replace them later.
I hung a wall cupboard in the corner of the room. Another eBay purchase, this time for £10, from Leyland. This is a modern piece - probably seventies or eighties, made to look like a vintage cupboard. It's quite a good quality example of its type, and has been looked after by its former owners. All it really needs is a quick polish, and the glass wiping over. The diamond leading in just self-adhesive lead strip applied over the glass door, to give the impression of leaded-lights. The back of the glass, inside the cupboard, has been puttied in, which would not have been done to a cheaper piece.
Finally, Mantids! I bought two baby praying (not preying) mantids online, and they arrived today. They are tiny (L2/3 instars - I'll explain this later), so I'm keeping them in old sweet jars, but they should, fingers crossed, grow to about 10 cms. I'm feeding them on micro crickets, and have ordered some wingless fruit flies. They are too small to photograph easily, and I can't be bothered setting up the macro options on my camera just now, but here's the best I could do at short notice.
Today's costs : -
Net curtain £7.69
Net curtain wire £1.00
Parlour palms (£1.99 x 2) £3.98
Plant pots (75p x 2) £1.50
Corner cupboard £10.00
Today's total = £63.72
Running total = £337.84