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Easy fix-it solutions for common design dilemmas

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Home & Garden

Easy fix-it solutions for common design dilemmas

Q: Can I spruce up my old painted wicker patio furniture?
– Irene Chan, Vancouver

A: Start by using a wire brush to scrape off any peeling paint, then apply two coats of an oil-based primer. Once it’s dry, paint the furniture with exterior oil-based paint using either a stiff-bristle paintbrush or – ideally – a paint sprayer.

Keep it looking great throughout the summer by giving it a regular wipe down with a rag and a mild, nonabrasive detergent, as well as diluted bleach (one cup of bleach for about every four litres of water) to inhibit mould and mildew. Avoid soaking wicker furniture with the garden hose, as the furniture will take a long time to dry and may and may warp as a result.

Q: I collect canvas oil paintings. Is there a safe way that I can clean them at home?
– Justine Reyes, Montreal

A: Before attempting to clean an original canvas oil painting on your own, it’s best to have it assessed by an antiques or art expert. Valuable paintings should be cleaned by professionals, which can cost as much as $200 per canvas. If your pieces are modest, however, consider my DIY method.

1. Remove the canvas from the frame and lay it on a flat work surface. To support the canvas during cleaning (and to prevent it from stretching), wrap a book in plastic and place it under the canvas.

2. Dust the surface with a soft paintbrush. For larger pieces, use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment.

3. Remove a clump of doughy bread from the centre of a fresh loaf and gently rub it over a small (two- to three-inch) section of the painting. Don’t laugh: This works! The spongy bread draws out the dirt. As the bread gets soiled and begins to break up, replace it with a fresh clump and repeat the process over the entire surface of the painting. If this doesn’t sufficiently clean the painting, you can purchase solvents at your local art supply store that are specifically designed to clean oil paintings.

This story was originally titled "Design Dilemma" in the August 2012 issue.

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Home & Garden

Easy fix-it solutions for common design dilemmas