Q: I want to improve the look of my furniture. What are some things I can do myself?

BUFF CITY Scratches, dings and dents in your wooden furniture can make your place feel unkept and outdated. Using furniture paint markers to minimize the appearance of any damage is an easy and quick solution. There are a variety of brands and colors on the market so be sure to pick up a few samples in order to find the best color match. Use a light touch and keep the buffing cloth nearby to make sure that you don’t go overboard. In case of deep scuffs that are harder to cover, color or clear wax sticks are the answer as they fill in any gouges or small holes resulting in a shinier, smoother look.

FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND Where would our tables be without their chairs? After years of being pushed and pulled from the dinner table, chairs can often suffer from loose joints and rungs popping out of their legs. The simple solution is to re-glue them. Make sure to remove the old glue first and then sand the end of the rung to create the best surface for re-attachment. You can add clamps to hold the rungs in place while the glue dries though most wood glues these days dry faster than you realize. This fix should last you several more years.

PACKET OF SUGAR An uneven table is annoying when you are out at a cafe or restaurant. It’s even more frustrating when you’re trying to enjoy a meal at home and a folded napkin tucked under the faulty leg just won’t do. Luckily, there’s an easy fix and it doesn’t involve shortening any of the table legs nor adjusting your floor. Instead, purchase glides at your local hardware store and affix them to the problem leg. Glides are essentially a small pad with a nail in it that can be attached to the bottom of a table leg. Though they are designed to keep the legs from scuffing the floor, they are also extremely useful to level an uneven table.

HANDLING IT YOURSELF After continuous and prolonged use, door handles can loosen and come off in your hand without warning. The problem is that the holes holding the screws have become enlarged over time from constant pulling and they need to be fixed. The easiest solution is to buy wood putty, remove the handle and fill the holes with the putty. Make sure that you check on the label that you are using putty that can be drilled into. Once the hole is filled and dry, drill fresh holes in the hardened putty and re-attach the handle.

SEAMLESS INTERVENTION Sometimes older furniture can start to separate at the seams where two pieces of wood come together. A simple solution is to add flat corner braces to the problem areas. Braces are inexpensive and readily available at local hardware stores and home centres. Affix the brace in an inconspicuous location like the back of the piece that needs repair. This addition eliminates the need to drive screws through a seam in the hopes of pulling the gap closed and possibly ruining the finish.

THE COMMITMENT If you truly love a piece of furniture despite the burns on its surface or severe water damage, then it’s time to bring out the heavy artillery, roll your sleeves up and make a weekend of it. There’s no easy or quick fix but once you decide to do the job right, you will be thrilled with the outcome. Start by stripping the finish, then sand the surface and finally, apply a new finish. Lots of elbow grease is required but it is not terribly complicated and it is so worth the effort.

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Kim Bartley, Principal of Kim Bartley Design, brings 25 years of business ownership and management to the table. Kim’s keen eye for design lends her rooms an edgy sophistication while remaining current and functional. Her philosophy is that your home should make you happy and reflect your lifestyle and changing needs. Focusing on unparalleled client care, Kim aims to make the design experience positive and enjoyable at each phase of the project. She works collaboratively with her clients to develop spaces that are clean and modern but still warm and approachable. Kim believes that everyone deserves to live in a beautifully designed space and focuses on truly “getting” her clients.

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