Natural Wood makes a great feature in any room. Georgian,Victorian & Edwardian houses frequently had Mahogany or Oak Handrails and more prestigious buildings had Hardwood Doors and architrave.
Softwood Doors and architrave were usually painted, grained or stained to look like Hardwood. Stripping pine furniture became popular during the 1960s, in an effort to create a farmhouse or old period style. During the Victorian era however, nearly all softwood was seen as cheap and usually painted.
Restoring your natural wood features or adding new feature like Oak Cornice, Panelling will add value to your property as well as enhancing your interiors.
The image right shows a typical 1930's Oak handrail with a Medium Oak colour that has been cleaned and coated with a gloss varnished.
The image below right shows solid Oak Cornice that has been added to enhance a period property and is finished in a satin varnish.
Wood has the advantage of being able to be stained/Bleached to a colour that will suit your interior design.
Tudor black and Jacobean Dark are common stain colours used for a darking wood to give a strong traditional look. Wood such Oak can be 'Limed' a process of Bleaching then filling the grain to give a light interesting look of old wood.
Below is an actual piece of Oak that has been stained in a variety of colours starting with Tudor Black Oak left to a Natural (aged) mid oak centre and Limed Oak right.
Most houses have some room furniture made from Brass, Chrome, Copper or Stainless Steel etc. These items are often door handles, door finger plates, key escutcheons plates & light switches. Over years of use metalwork becomes tarnished or rusty regardless of whether it is has been lacquered or left natural. Certain Metals like Brass & Copper can be easily cleaned and polished to bring back there former lustre and enhance any interior or exterior.
New or Antique Look?
Before restoring or cleaning metalwork it is necessary to decide your preferred finish. You might want to only lightly clean your brass if you want to keep an 'antique' look. Right is an example of two Zinc plated Art Nouveau finger plates, when new they would have been very bright and shiny but now being around 100 years old the zinc plate has mostly worn off. The plate on the left was lightly polish to highlight the design while the right plate has been left natural.
Lacquer or Polish finish?
It is also necessary to decide if you want to lacquer the item or leave polished (which will require more frequent cleaning) this depends on the ware you expect it to get, brass letter boxes generally get a lot of use and any lacquer can quickly become scratched, so traditionally they were polished weekly by household maids or servants. It is usually recommended to lacquer brass items mostly for the ease of up-keep.
Is it solid brass or brass plated?
Brass plate is a thin coating which will ware away if polished too much, so it is important to find out if an object is plated or solid. The easiest way to find out is to hold a strong magnet against the brass object, If it sticks together, it is Plated not solid as brass is not magnetic.
John's Guide to Cleaning Brass
1. Check to find out if its Solid or Plated brass by using a magnet, if it sticks its Plated if it doesn't it's Solid. Plated Brass can still be cleaned but only very light cleaning with Brasso Wadding is recommended.
2. Take the item apart if possible, Remove dirt by washing in warm soapy water and drying with a cloth.
3. Remove old lacquer with Varnish/Paint remover using an old paint brush and plastic scraper AVOID scratching the item.
4. Polish the Brass, use guide below for cleaning levels
LT = Light tarnish, use Brasso with soft cloth or Brasso Wadding.
AT = Average tarnish, use WireWool grade 0000 with Brasso/metal polish cream
VT = Very tarnished, (years outside) you need to use course/med. Wire Wool and use then use Average/Light tarnish processes.
5. Wash the brass lightly with luke warm water & Washing up liquid to remove any polish residue then immediately dry.
6. Lacquer the Brass with a Aerosol Spray or brush version available from hardware DIY stores apply 3 light coats if necessary in well ventilated area.
The Image Above Right shows an actual Victorian door handle owned by John in 'Before' and 'After' states using the cleaning process above.