Decorating in Red Hot…..is it pleasing???

Red is a very strong color and everything red around gets a bit over-whelming. It brings life and vigour to your decor but how much? Decide whether to make red the focus or the accent color in the room. Let us see how we can do it to make it dazzle your space!

The Floor Space

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Starting with the floor, try a dark wood, covered in the center with a red Oriental or cotton rug. Try to use reds which tend toward the burgundy or deep red rather than the flashy version of the hue. The depth of color brings with it a safe sophistication that warms the room. Decorate your sofa with golden or floral print cushions to make it more inviting.

Now the Wall Space

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One of the wall in your study could be painted bold red. Black and white or abstract pictures frames would make a statement of strength and stability.

Signature Piece of Furniture

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A signature piece of furniture…maybe an ottoman or a single chair or maybe just a bright red upholstery over a stool changes the look of the space. Try non matching chairs that still match the color scheme of your rooms, you can look out for this unique type of furniture on my website www.lively-wood.in rather than the big department stores.Its always recommended to break the monotony of the dark or light colour sofa set.

Bold Red Accents & Patterns

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If you do not want to indulge in too much red, patterns are simply wonderful for borders, backsplashes, floors, accent tiles. Patterns are especially good choices when you don’t have a lot of space to work with and also when you don’t want too much of red.

 

 

 

 

Books…Book Shelves…and more…

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I read a lot from the time I was little, maybe as old as 6-7 years. Since then, books have been with me all the time. After I moved back to India, I decided to start collecting them. Though a lot of times I think collecting books can be such a waste due to the amount of space they require and they are practically of no use once they have been read. But somehow having a good collection of books and having them around me, inspires me. I also lend my books to a lot of my friends and family, it does give me some kinda pleasure and satisfaction. Hence, I thought, why not deviate from the home decor subject to some thing else and make it more fun and
interactive. Scroll down to have some fun!

How much do you know about books? » Test maker

My brother has suddenly started taking interest in photography and is always waiting to take some nice pictures. Since I wanted to write on this topic, I asked him if he could take a few pictures of the books I have. He wanting to do more of it, took some wonderful pictures. Here are some of them….

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(All the above pictures are taken by Kshiteej Sumant)

Now lets move on to the Book Shelf topic….

I have written about how you should arrange your book shelves. I hope the tips have been useful so far. Here are some more quick 3 do-able tips without removing all your books –

1. Match colours and sizes of books.
2. If you have a shabby stack of books, hang or put a painting or a nice frame on a small easel in front of the books.
3. Use books as pedestals for art objects by stacking them on their sides and placing objects on top.

Hope taking care of books hasn’t been a hassel for you. If it is, then the best way is to give away your books to a book store which takes used books. Maybe you can earn some pennies from it and also make more space in your book shelf for some new ones!

 

6 Tips To Get Your Home Dressed Up To Impress Your Guests

Get your house dressed up and ready to impress. Have you got some friends who love to visit on a Saturday night? Somehow the house is always welcoming, the living space looks lovely and the dinner table is inviting.

Part of getting it right is in the planning. Allow yourself to prepare the food, tidy the house and get yourself ready. Your cooking might not be perfect but its the ambience that you create when you ask people around to dinner. Here are some ideas for you –

Table Styles

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Have your table set to the theme of the dishes prepared for dinner. For example, if you have traditional Indian food, have some flower petal decoration around the plates or if you have a drinks and cocktails, then arrange a nice bottle of wine with a few wine glasses on your dinning table. Or float a single flower head in a bowl at the centre of the table.

Switch Moods

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You can change your seating areas to bring about some change. If it a casual dinner, go for a low seating instead of your dinning table. Bring in floor cushions and use them around your coffee table instead of dinning chairs.

Candle or Tea lights, is that essential?

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Well yes, it creates intimacy that overhead lights can’t match. Did you know if you stored your candles in in the fridge for a while before lighting them, they will burn longer? If you happen to have diffused low lighting in your home, put them on because that will support the intimate ambiance.

Flower Arrangements don’t have to be “perfect

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Have small flower arrangements in your home. May be you can put them on your coffee table or at the wash basin or bathrooms where guests will certainly visit. Smaller arrangements can have just as much, if not more, appeal, charm, and beauty. As long as you like the arrangement, and as long as it makes you happy, it is indeed a “perfect” arrangement. To have your flowers last longer, add a little bit of salt and sugar or maybe a tablet of disprin to the water to make it last for a few days.

Scent has a powerful effect

When your guests walk into a room and there is a wonderful scent, it immediately says “welcome”. Sometimes Indian food tends to have a strong aroma and if you want your home and linens to smell more inviting, then spray a fragrant room freshner, light some scented candles or simply arrange naturally perfumed flowers.

Your Entrance, Porche and Hallway should not be ignored!

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Always remember not to neglect your entrance, porches and hallways. Your guest will pass through these areas leaving the first impression of your place. If you decorate your interiors fantastically and overlook whats on the outside, it will throw a jumbled impression on your guest. A simple tip would be potting a plant at your door step or making a rangoli and placing a small diya at the entrance or simply placing some pebbles or cactus which makes the entrance look warm and welcoming.

Entertaining at home should be relaxing for your guests and pleasing to both of you. The best way to do this is to plan the occasion to avoid stress and mess.

 

 

Can Diwali be Economical & Eco-friendly?

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Above photo is taken by Tanmay

Diwali, or the festival of lights is a beautiful mélange of pooja ceremonies, lamps or diyas, floral decorations, fireworks, etc. but also a reason to clean and decorate your home and to break the monotony of our mundane lives. The festival is such a beautiful blend of all the above elements. While we walk through the few days of it, we cannot forget and avoid the environmental and health hazards it causes, but in our small ways, we can definitely celebrate this auspicious festival keeping in mind to help and save our environment.

Cleaning & disposing……is it a waste of time?

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Don’t even think of cleaning and decorating your home in one day! Assign your work to all your family members. Most of all, try to reduce clutter from your home by removing all the unwanted things like glass and plastic bottles, newspaper, old clothes, shoes, etc. Make a list of things you need to dispose and and give them away. Start by giving the used glass bottles/ newpapers to the recycle vendors, make a neat heap of your clothes and shoes and donate them to orphanages or needy people. Start your Diwali by helping, organising and disposing unwanted stuff by not just throwing it in the trash but by making sure it its re-used and recycled.

Splurge on embellishements from home!

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Just because it is Diwali, it does not mean buy, buy and buy a lot of unnecessary things. Lets talk more about splurging on things that you have at home. Decorating the house can include making a beautiful rangoli with flowers. Now-a-days we find non-toxic rangoli which mixed with soil does not contaminate it, or drapping old sarees as curtains instead of plastic streamers, or using floor rugs. You can also use old scraves or duppattas as table runners or table cloth. Filling up old bronze and brass pots or urns with flowers and displaying them at the corner of your living space also makes it look ethnic and festive.

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Above photo is taken by Tanmay

Welcome Nature this Diwali

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Bring in some indoor plants and pots. Make the house look cosy. If you already have plants, re-arrange your furniture and plants to make it look different.

Diwali is about lights…

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Yes, I totally agree with it but how can we bring radiance in our home while still help our surounding? Use paper lanterns with CFL bulbs instead of the traditional yellow bulbs which are less energy efficient. Light earthen lanterns or diyas instead of lights in the house. Though earthen lamps need oil the quantity is less and will make your home sparkle and save energy bills.

How can we forget Diwali Feasts???

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Impress your guest with being traditional. Use banana leaves to serve sweets and meals. In place of glass or plastic glasses, use those made out of mud. This will not only give your party that uber-ethnic edge, but it will also keep it natural.

Fire-crackers….is it a must?

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The photos above and below are taken by a budding artist Tanmay

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Being Diwali, its hard to not indulge in firecrackers. They cause serious hazards not only to the environment but they also affect animals. Instead of buying traditional chemical cracker, go for eco-friendly crackers. Eco-friendly crackers are made up of recycled paper and the sound produced by these crackers is under the decibel limit defined by the Pollution Board. These crackers produce paper fluffers and different color lights instead of sound on bursting.

 

Semblance of Feng Shui & Vaastu Shastra

A lot of us believe in Feng Shui or Vaastu Shastra or either. Both the beliefs are a science of construction, architecture and in general help us to improve life. The Indian-derived Vastu Shastra is said to be the basis for Feng Shui and has recently gained Western popularity for its eco-conscious appeal while Feng Shui is based on the idea that everything in your outer surroundings affects the course of your life. 

Although different, Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra share some common core timeless design approaches. A home is where you spend a lot of your time, let it reflect your individuality or the uniqueness. I will mention a few easy and doable tips to enhance your daily lives.

Surround yourself with things you like:

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When you look at your things what do they say to you? Do you look at your furniture and/or art and say “I love that!?” This is where you should keep or get rid of things that don’t make you feel good. If you have negative associations with objects in your home then pass them on.

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De-clutter your home:

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Home can be where you go to rejuvenate. Environmental chaos can clutter your mind too. Remove all the unnecessary things and make your home more spacious and open.

Colors cue moods:

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The palette to embrace is one that satisfies the range of human emotion: pink and orange trigger joy; green and blue create calm; red inspires passion; black and white embody grace. Decorate with colors that please you and positive energy will flow undisrupted. 

Illuminating spaces:

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The choice of lighting sets the tone for a room. Flooding the home with early-morning light refreshes the mind. Lower the lights and it will trigger relaxation. 

Mother nature can come in too:

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Going green at home can help you form a connection to the natural world. It soothes and refreshes the mind and body.

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Taste of Indian Heritage

Everybody talks about India and its heritage, culture, etc. Even though we talk about it, we tend to ignore the character of all the little things that make this country so versatile. I think I am a part of this negligence but things changed a bit when I visited this place called Choki Dhani in Pune. This place takes you back to who we are and how we have changed through the years. It is a fantastic combination of entertainment hand in hand with reminder our skill and tradition, long lost and forgotten.

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It all started with a fanfare of the traditional dhols and a folk dance from Rajasthan. Just the grand welcome made such a difference to the entire visit to this place. I loved the beats of the traditional drums; they did make the audience move. Not only that, the rhythm got so many people on toes which ended up being a huge parade of dance and music! That was the very moment I realised how much of our own art is lost and hardly valued. I did make up my mind to see, study and observe each and every form of art and understand much more than what we actually see.

After the grand greeting we went to see the puppet show. I’ve always loved the vibrant colours of the puppets. They sure look charming with their string moves in their little theatre. While talking to one of the performers, he added that puppetry started off as a custom to ward off evil and to bring rain and prosperity in the lives of villagers. The play was based on the story of Amar Singh Rathore narrated by the members of the show. The performers produce sharp, trembling and shrilling sounds as a part of the dialogues of the play. Though I’ve seen this so many times, this time was different because I did not watch it for entertainment but as an art, so creative! I also came to realise that puppetry must also be an expensive form of art or entertainment. My curiosity did make me ask the puppeteer about the elements involved in the process of the show. He started off with a long list which in no doubt surprised me to the core. The art involves drawings, paintings, wood carving, carpentry, plaster cast making, clay modelling, costume designing, story, script writing, dramatization, song and music composition. It surely was beyond imagination!

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Our next halt was an astounding performance of a rope walk done by a boy not more than 13 years of age. He was an antic entertainer who performed on the beats of the dholak. It was stunning to see the little boy balance, sleep, jump, sway and do all sorts of antics of the one inch rope. Later after the show, he said he came from a small village in Rajasthan where most of the people have ropewalk as their profession. He also said that for generations they have been performing and hardly remembers anybody who had not mastered the art of rope balancing. He got the maximum tip and appreciation from a lot of people. He certainly did steal the show. It was so unfortunate to see this art almost completely lost in time.

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Followed by the rope acrobats, we entered a small theatre where a group of women presented the Bhavai dance. In this dance the veiled women move to the beats with nine brass pitchers over their head. They also have unusual skills like balancing and dancing at the edge of a sword or glass. It is so fascinating to see colourful dance which looks even more graceful due to its spectacular attire and dazzling ornaments.

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And hence the evening of unusual events continued with mehendi and tattoo, followed by the chudi wala where he made lacquer bangles in the colours and size we wanted. The potter also stole the show by letting us make miniature pots. The whole evening was a blend of art and crafts, special and interesting in its own way. By the time we finished visiting all the affairs, it was time to have dinner. Our day ended with a sumptuous Rajasthani food of dal bhati, kheer, bjre ki roti with lasan chutni and a wide range of sweets. I wish I could write more and more about that evening but I will leave it to some other time. For now, the rope walk, dance and puppet show really impressed me above the rest, hoping to remember this day that opened my eyes to something so age old and prized.

Quick & Easy Monsoon Care Tips for your Home

All of us are awaiting the monsoons after the rising and scorching heat of the summers. Though we wait for them, we also dread them in some ways. Its just a beautiful thought of feeling and experiencing the lush freshness in the air but at the same time facing the mould and moisture on everything we see around us. Since we are stepping into this beautiful season, I thought I’ll give you a few tips on what to do and what not to.

Closet Care.
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1. Use good quality camphor balls to combat moisture and insects.
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2. Neem leaves help to keep Silverfish away which is a common insect seen during monsoons.
3. Silica sachets also keep the place dry and mould free.
4. If possible, install a low-watt electric bulb in your shoe rack. This will keep it dry and odour free.
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5. Sprinkle a few clove pods among your clothes to keep your clothes from smelling damp.
Leather Accessories

1. If you have leather accessories, use it as much as possible in dry places. Do not store leather in plastic bags. Its best to store it in airy spaces.
2. Do not wipe it with a wet cloth. In case it gets wet, just let it dry at room temperature. Do not attempt to blow dry with heat from the air blower. The leather will loose its natural oils and lustre.
3. If your leather couch or goods catch fungus, take a tablespoon of dettol in half a litre of tepid water. Rinse the cloth in the water and wipe the fungus affected surface. Once it is dry, you can also apply a high-quality natural oil cream which can be bought in any leather store.

Carpets, Rugs & Upholstery

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1. Whenever you get a chance, put your pillows and rugs out in the sun, so that the moisture evaporates and removes the musty smell.
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2. The best thing to do is roll up your carpets and rugs and put some pouches of silica inside them.

3. Spray fabric freshner on the upholstery and rugs, they keep the surface dry and odour free.
Some general do’s & don’t’s
1. Keep windows open. Make sure there is enough cross ventilation.
2. Put silica pouches next to electrical gadgets.
3. Do not let water accumulate anywhere close to you. Its leads to mosquito breeding.
4. Start your home projects like painting, water-proofing, etc. after the monsoons.

Top Tips for Laptop and Health

How many of us face discomfort while we work on our laptops? All of us right? Using a laptop all the time is not only inconvinient but can also lead to back pain. Since we can move a laptop around the house really easily, we neglect little things which can cause serious damage to our back. Before you damage your back, you might want to think about just how you use your laptop. Here are some suggestions.

1. Keyboards & Mouse
Ideally you should use a separate keyboard and mouse while working for extensive period. The screen should be at arm’s length while the keyboard needs to be pushed closer to the body which is not possible as you extend your hands while working on the laptop. This leads to slouching causing upper back pain.

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2. Stable Base
Always have a stable base for your laptop where there is support for your arms, and not on your lap. Use tables with one end suspended so that it slides under your sofa bringing the table closer to your body instead of you leaning towards the screen.

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3. Posture
Use laptop holders or tables in order to adopt good sitting posture with lower back support.

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4. Take breaks!

Take regular breaks. If you’re moving, there’s a lot less stress on your muscles and joints.

5. Good Habits
Get into good habits before the aching starts. Back pains build up slowly and can cause severe damage.

Tibetan Art & Architecture

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Just recently, I came back from a trip to Sikkim. Now you might think that the article is titled Tibetan Art and I am talking about a visit to Sikkim. The fact is, Sikkim is heavily influenced by Tibet and its culture. Most of the people in Sikkim have direct origins from Tibet and have migrated to India in the last 100 years and more. The place is so surreal, untouched, spiritual and colourful that I couldn’t help but write more about the art and architecture. It deeply inspired me to implement it in my work but before that I wish to share it with all of you.

Tibetan Architecture

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Tibetan architecture is one of the most simple, colourful and splendid form of art. Its simplicity brings out the temperament and character of the lives and people of the place. Tibetan Buddhist architecture, in the cultural regions of the Tibetan people, has been highly influenced by China and India. For example, the Buddhist prayer wheel, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every temple in Sikkim. Many of the houses and monasteries are typically built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south. Rocks, wood, cement and earth are the primary building materials. Flat roofs are built to conserve heat and multiple windows are constructed to let in the sunlight. Due to frequent earthquakes, walls are usually sloped inward at 10 degrees .

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Tibetan Furniture

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Furniture from Tibet has always been quite rare. Except for the wealthy, Tibetans used very little furniture in their homes, and the population of Tibet has always been so small that not much was ever made. Most of it was probably always found in the monasteries, and of course most of these monasteries were destroyed by the Chinese during the “Cultural Revolution” along with huge amounts of furniture. Made primarily from pine and other Himalayan soft woods, it is noted more for its sometimes lavishly painted surface and/or carved decoration than for its joinery.

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Tibetan Motifs

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The eight Buddhist auspicious symbols consist of – a parasol, pair of golden fish, the great treasure vase, a lotus, the right turning conch, the endless knot, the banner of victory and the wheel of dharma. These originated from a group of early Indian symbols of royalty which were presented at special ceremonies such as the coronation of a king. The symbols differed between different groups, for example the Jains and Newar Buddhists. In Buddhism these symbols of good fortune represent the offerings that were made by the gods to Shakyamuni Buddha immediately after he attained enlightenment. Brahma appeared offering the thousand spoked golden wheel as a request to Shakyamuni to turn the teaching wheel of dharma. Indra appeared presenting the right spiraling conch shell as a symbol of the proclamation of the dharma and Sthavara presented the golden vase full of the nectar of immortality.

Sri-Yantra

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The Sri Chakra or Shri Yantra is formed by nine interlocking triangles that surround and radiate out from the bindu point, the junction point between the physical universe and its unmanifest source. It represents Sri Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance on all levels, in abstract geometric form. It also represents Tripura Sundari, “the beauty of the three worlds.” Four of the triangles points upwards, representing Shiva or the Masculine. Five of these triangles point downwards, representing Shakti or the Feminine. Thus the Sri Yantra also represents the union of Masculine and Feminine Divine. Together the nine triangles are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles in a web symbolic of the entire cosmos or a womb symbolic of creation. This is surrounded by a lotus of eight petals, a lotus of sixteen petals, and an earth square resembling a temple with four doors.

Identify & Renew Antique or Old Furniture

Like all other material, furniture wears out over the years. Sometimes the entire finish is worn or heavy-use spots are seen. Even if wear and tear adds character, there are some technique which help in restoring furniture.

Let’s start with identifying different finishes. Before you decide to film or recoat the piece, it is essential to determine the finish of the furniture. Try small tests to identify between polish, varnish, paint, shellac, varnish, lacquer, etc.
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1. Wax Polish
This is a semisolid polish and does almost no harm to the wooden surface and is widely used in India. It involves a lot of physical labour. Since it is stable and durable, it needs to be applied infrequently. Polish gives a natural and penetrating appearance rather than film-building look to the furniture. It usually has a dull sheen look to it.
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2. Varnish
Varnish is a combination of drying oil, resin and a thinner. It usually gives a glossy look though it may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss look. Usually varnished surface is sanded carefully and then varnish remover is used which can be found in hardware stores. Be careful because there are some varnishes that stay permanent.
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3. Paint
It is easy to indentify paint on wood due to its different colour. Most paints are oil based and can be removed with thinners or paint removers.

 

 

 

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4. Shellac Finish

Shellac is derived from a resin that is secreted from an insect native to certain forests in Southeast Asia. Shellac is non-toxic and can be added to any colour very easily. To determine shellac finish, use mineral spirit or turpentine and rub it with a white soft cotton rag in an inconspicuous area. The apply denatured alcohol to the spot and leave it for 5 minutes. If the colour dissolves and the rag picks up the colour of the furniture, then it is a shellac finish.

 

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5. Lacquer Finish
Lacquer is a coloured or clear varnish which produces is very hard and durable look. It comes off effectively only with the lacquer solvent.

Simple home cleaner and more….
Always buff and sand the piece of furniture you want to restore.

 

1. Utensil Detergent
Use warm water and detergent to clean finishes and leave it to dry for a while. Mostly it does works on painted and clear finishes. Do not pour the solution on the wood as it may open up the wood grain and cause damage to it. Soak the cotton rag in water, rinse it dry and then work in sections by wiping it. Take another clean rag and dry the surface again.
2. Thinners
There are several types of thinners. You can find paint, polish, metal…etc thinners at any hardware store. They are easy to use and are very widely used in cleaning surfaces in India.
3. Mineral Spirits or Turpentine
Mineral spirits and turpentine are two different solvents which have similar applications. They both are very good in case there are grease or oil stains and work great on painted and primered surfaces. This one is widely used in restoring furniture. In India turpentine is widely used though working with mineral spirits is easier and safer. These are usually available at paint shops.
4. Denatured Alcohol or Ethanol
Denatured alcohol is weaker and slow-working and good to clean light surfaces. It helps to more easily remove the excess dust that results from sanding wood, because it does not open the wood grain. It is widely used for shellac finishes.
5. Lacquer Solvent
Lacquer solvents are strong and will dissolve them quickly. They are used on lacquer finishes only.
Hope you have got an idea about the different types of finishes that appear on the piece of furniture you want to restore. I will certainly talk more about removing spots, grease and water marks in my next article. For now please try to understand and care for your furniture. Always remember, old is gold. Restore and treasure it as much as you can!!