Homeware & Furniture Care Guide
We make all our furniture with the intention that it will be part of your home for many years to come. However, a few simple cleaning and maintenance habits can really help in ensuring that your pieces stand the test of time. That’s why we’ve written this Homeware and Furniture Care Guide giving you advice on how to take care of your treasures. You’ll find these organised by material below. If a product is made of two or more materials, we’d advise consulting all the respective sections of this page.
All wood moves a little bit depending on the ambient temperature and moisture levels in a room. For example, the joints in a piece of wooden furniture that is kept in a hot room by a radiator might shrink, and in a damp/cold room the joints might expand as it takes on moisture.
Direct sunlight can bleach any type of furniture including wood.
Mango wood is highly sustainable due to its cultivation as a fruit tree. The trees grow to maturity after about 15 years, which is relatively quick for a hardwood. At this point they begin to produce less fruit or stop growing altogether. Mango farmers plant new mango trees every 7 to 15 years before the older trees become barren. This creates a sustainable cycle of plantation and harvest, with only the least fruitful trees being chopped down for wood. Using mango wood also means that there is less pressure on more endangered trees, such as teak.
To keep mango wood looking its best, keep it away from direct sunlight and radiators, which will dull the rich tones. Mop up any spillages quickly using a lightly dampened cloth, do not let these sit on the surface for any length of time. Avoid using harsh chemicals. Instead, gently buff with a little beeswax and a dry cloth every so often to help protect your item.
A hearty strong wood, Elm lends itself well to sturdy pieces like dining tables and chests of drawers. Elm is a quintessentially English timber. The main attraction is the grain of elm which twists and intermingles as it grows, such that it is resistant to ’tearing’.
To keep elm wood looking its best, sweep away any dust, dirt or crumbs with a slightly damp cloth. Avoid using any harsh acidic liquids.
A staple for furniture makers, pine wood makes for beautifully crafted pieces that can be both steadfast and finely detailed. Pine is light in colour, usually with a creamy white look, although the shade can vary. The light colour makes pine easy to stain to achieve nearly any colour, or a simple clear coat can be used to protect the wood.
To keep pine wood looking its best keep the temperature steady (keep bright sunlight and artificial heating to a minimum) as this will improve the longevity and allow your furniture to breathe. Pine is considered a softwood, so protect it with coasters and placemats to reduce the risk of dents and scratches. Keep clean with a lightly dampened cloth.
Rattan is derived from the rattan palm, a natural vine that is native to Southeast Asia. Rattan palm is sustainable as it grows more rapidly than trees. It grows best under some sort of tree cover and, as a result, rattan planting indirectly protects forests. When rattan palm is processed, it is usually split into two parts: The core reed (rattan) and the thin interior (cane). Wicker-style furniture is normally made from rattan.
You usually only need a dampened cloth to dust rattan off but, if it’s dirty, you can use a wood soap or a mild detergent in warm water to clean it. Make sure not to use too much water. You can allow rattan to air-dry unless the rattan is overly wet, in which case you should dry it with a soft cloth. Use a toothbrush to remove any build-up in the weaving. Rattan can become brittle or damaged when exposed to heat, moisture or excessive sunlight so avoid these and treat your rattan with boiled linseed oil once a year.
Like rattan, bamboo grows without the need for fertilisers or pesticides. While growing, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees and, because it can grow up to a metre a day, regenerating after five years, there is little soil erosion. Best of all it absorbs four times more CO2 than a forest. It is also strong and has a tensile strength stronger than steel.
Furniture made of bamboo can look great for years, but its longevity relies on proper care. Use a dust cloth regularly to keep dust from settling into the joins of armrests and legs. If you need to clean your bamboo, you can use a mild detergent in warm water and then allow it to air dry. You should apply furniture oil to your bamboo, ideally one that is specifically suited to it. This will protect your bamboo by ensuring that it will flex rather than crack and also give your bamboo a beautiful shine. For outside furniture, you should look out for any small cracks, sand these down, fill them with wax paste and apply an outdoor sealant.
Cane is derived from the rattan palm, a natural vine that is native to Southeast Asia. While rattan includes over 600 different species of solid timber vine (unlike bamboo, which is hollow). Cane is actually a specific part of rattan, which is removed from the thorny outer skin of the plant. It is naturally very light in colour, somewhat shiny, and far less porous than other parts of rattan—making it exceptional at repelling liquid spills. It is used for thin woven elements such as the back of a chair or a cabinet door.
You usually only need a dampened cloth to dust down, and if it’s dirty, you can use a wood soap or a mild detergent in warm water to clean it. Avoid exposing cane to heat and keep it out of direct sunlight as this may dry out and discolour your furniture, leading to tears and breakages. Instead, keep cane moisturised. Give the backs and undersides of cane furniture a monthly spritz with an oil or glycerin-based soap that’s been diluted in water. Don’t spray the top side to avoid an oily imprint on the seat and let chairs fully dry before adding back any cushions. To avoid cane seats sagging, distribute weight evenly on top of them using chair pads and cushions. Never kneel on cane or use it as a stepping stool.
The Perfect Finish
As nature lovers, there is nothing we love more than pitching up in the campervan and exploring the surrounding woodland. We believe in taking care of our trees whether they are in the ground or given a second life in our homes as beautiful investment pieces. As G&G our wood is individual and unique; no two pieces are the same because no two trees are the same.
Care for your pieces according to the finish applied with our tips below.
Wax is a natural way to protect furniture as it is not sealed. This means it can absorb elements from its surroundings, such as moisture in high humidity rooms and smoke from an open fire, so bear this in mind. Spillages may work their way through the wax too, so keep your wooden furniture protected with mats and coasters and clear any messes up immediately. Waxed wood needs a little love so periodical waxing is advised depending on use. An occasionally used chest of drawers may need a wax once a month, whereas a table top used daily requires twice a month. This may change the tone of your wood subtly over time but it will also keep the wood hydrated to avoid splitting and keep the colour sharp.
Lacquered wood provides a strong layer of protection from daily spills, heat rings from coffee cups and colourful crayon marks, as it has a glossy finish that seals the wood; however, we would still recommend your furniture is protected with mats and coasters and any messes are cleared up immediately. Wipe away dust with a soft cloth and polish and clean stains with a damp cloth.
Wash finishes like white-washed wood offer a soft rustic look. As a water-based finish, avoid damp cloths and lingering liquids, which will thin the paint and remove it when cleared away. Use only soft 100% cotton cloths to clean instead of microfiber or scrubbing cloths in order to maintain the look.
Oil brings out the natural beauty of wood, making the grain pop and nourishing it by replacing the natural oils. For oil-based products, be sure to use a cleaner which has no water, wax or furniture polish in it that could build up on the surface of your wood and dull its appearance. Oil-based finishes pick up dust more quickly than others so regular dusting going with the grain will keep your pieces looking good.
TOP TIP: For an effortlessly smooth drawer, rub a little soap along its edges to loosen up any stiffness.
METAL AND STONE
BRASS AND COPPER
Hammered, embossed or engraved, these have been used as a decorative flourish on furniture throughout history, Brass and Copper accents are a key modern design trend and an easy way to add luxe and warmth. These metals will mottle and tarnish naturally to create a beautiful antiqued patina that adds to its charm.
However, if you’d prefer, you can keep brass and copper glowing by buffing with a soft dry cloth and a suitable polish or paste. Don’t worry, fingerprints are normal as the metal reacts with natural oils in the skin but you can easily buff these away with polish and a cloth.
Bring an industrial touch to your home with iron. It is prone to rust so keep your ironwork strong by blotting any moisture with a dry cloth and steer clear of abrasive cleaning materials that could erode this metal. Blot any moisture with a dry cloth.
Polished aluminium pieces can be cleaned using a soft fabric cloth, preferably cotton. In case of a spot or dirt mark on the piece, this can be removed using a specialist cleaning agent and again needs to be wiped with a soft cotton cloth. For cast aluminium pieces in a gold finish, these have a top coat of lacquer with a gold pigment added to it and can only be cleaned using a soft cotton fabric. Please do not apply a cleaning agent as it will spoil the finish.
With the G&G HQ based in Bath, a world heritage site famous for limestone, we’re big fans of limestone’s warm honey colour and nod to classical architecture. Acids like lemon and vinegar can erode this naturally grainy stone.
Keep your limestone pieces protected by soaking up spills with a clean damp cloth and avoid using chemical cleaners on them.
Ancient and magnificent, the inky veins and shimmering lustre make this covetable stone a luxurious touch for interiors.
To retain the polished exterior of your marble pieces, use coasters and mats to prevent scratches that may permanently etch the surface. Ensure hot/cold drinks and condensation do not linger as this can leave marks. Avoid using chemicals as these can erode marble fast.
BONE, SHELL AND FEATHERS
A G&G signature, our bone inlay collection is exquisitely handcrafted by skilled artisans in Udaipur, India, using techniques passed down through generations. Every flourish and floral piece is carved from reliably sourced cow and camel bone and pressed into resin by hand over many weeks.
As a natural material, bone inlay is porous so be wary of using harsh chemicals or cleaning liquids on it, and don’t allow moisture to settle as this can discolour the pattern, as well as cause it to become brittle and crack as it dries out. Coasters should be used to keep your piece looking as good as new. To clean, gently wipe down with a dry cloth and use a little bit of natural clear wax to retain moisture. Bone inlay is delicate and susceptible to fracturing if knocked or dented, so a gentle hand is required when settling your piece into its new home.
Iridescent Mother of Pearl remains a popular choice. Like bone inlay, this material is hand pressed into resin to make decadent designs that will last a lifetime.
Although delicate and subject to splintering if knocked, it is more resilient to daily wear and tear than its bone counterpart, but coasters and mats are still advised. Just a quick clean with a lightly dampened cloth will keep dust and dirt away.
Ethereal and delicate, soft feathers adorn lampshades and line duvets at Graham and Green.
To keep your feathers light and fluffy, shake or steam gently so the wisps can spread their wings and you can shake away any lingering dust.
LEATHER AND HIDE
The long hair of the New Zealand sheep keeps them warm in the rugged mountains and provides a cosy touch when draped on seating and beds in your home.
To keep your sheepskins soft, brush them gently every now and then with a soft wire brush (a pet brush does the trick) to remove dust and particles. When it feels particularly bogged down, take it outside for a good shake and let it breathe in the fresh air. Don’t leave it outside too long though – too much sun and heat will damage it. For any spills, dab with a dry cloth and then wash by hand with cool water and a gentle sheepskin shampoo.
Soft and supple, or structured and regiment, leather is both luxurious and hard working. Air can naturally pass through this material, leaving moisture to evaporate and allowing it to breathe freely.
Keep temperatures steady to allow even ventilation and never apply direct heat or place leather in the sun. This will cause it to shrink and dry out too quickly, making it crack and weather faster. All it needs is an occasional wipe down with a clean damp cloth to remove accumulated dust, dirt and abrasive particles.
Dappled in black, brown or peppered grey, cowhide gives a stylish look. To maintain its rich tones, never place it in bright sunlight and close any blinds or curtains during the day to keep your cowhide soft. Too much moisture or humidity can cause the hide to stiffen and crack, so keep your cowhide pieces breathing in well ventilated areas.
Swiftly sweep up any spillages with a lightly damp cloth, making sure to go with the grain and then pat dry with a soft dry cloth. Remove crumbs, dust or dirt with a vacuum or a brush, just be sure not to push the vacuum against the grain of the cowhide hairs as this will weaken and snap them.