It’s safe to say most of us don’t live a museum lifestyle - meaning that we actually use our stuff. We plop our feet on the coffee table, we play fetch with the dog and laugh as he digs his ball from under the chair, and we move our furniture a lot (ok, that’s more of a personal confession—but I know there are others out there who perpetually think the couch would looks better over there).

After all, it’s a home not a showroom! Am I right, people? Okay, if you’re with me, then you need some tips to keep your lived-in house from looking worn out. Here are some of my favorite quick and easy furniture repairs that will help you cover up dings, scratches and other “life happens” events.

  1. For small scratches, use furniture repair markers:
    These are essentially markers filled with a specific color stain, and you can find them in your favorite home store in the paint section. If you can’t exactly match your furniture color, usually close is good enough. Simply shake the marker well, daub it on your scratch, wait, then wipe lightly with a soft cloth.
     
  2. Have a hard to match color? Use a permanent art marker:
    If you can’t find a furniture repair marker close to the color needed, or you don’t have time to make a special trip to go get one, you can use a permanent marker—the type used for arts and crafts—and follow the same steps listed above. I’ve done this many times and it works well.

     
  3. Looking for an affordable DIY fix? Use tea bags:
    Yes, regular old black tea bags (make sure it’s black tea, not an herbal, green or white tea). Place the bag in cup and pour a little hot water over it. Let it steep until it’s approximately the color of the finish you’re trying to match—the longer it steeps, the darker it gets. Use a Q-tip or cotton swab to apply the tea to the scratch. Wipe off excess with a soft cloth. If your finish is dark, you may need to repeat the process.

     
  4. Use furniture polish (Old English) for scratch repair:
    This is sold in most discount stores in the furniture polish section (and you may find other quality brands). Simply use a soft cloth and apply according to directions. You’ll find a light or dark version; select the one that will blend with your furniture finish the best.

     
  5. In a pinch? Use shoe polish:
    You can use either the wax or the liquid. I prefer the wax as it seems to cover and blend better, and I find it easier to work with. Again, choose the color closest to your finish and apply with a soft cloth, then buff to blend it in.

These approaches work well for smaller nicks and scratches. If you have a bigger area that needs repair, you may need to break out the big guns—sanders, stain and finish. If that’s the case, you may consider refinishing the entire piece to create a new look. Good luck with your repair work. Just remember, well-worn furniture often reveals a well-lived life!

Now what will you do next to love where you live?

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