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The mental images that pop up when considering beautiful wood furniture are typically those of attractive tables and chairs or elaborate chests. A bunk bed or loft bed is not exactly the archetype for stunning wood craftsmanship. But as you may have already noticed, today's bunk beds and loft beds often feature the same attention to design as traditional beds. In fact, many deserve the level of consideration given to other fine pieces of furniture.

Day to Day Care Preserving your woodwork's natural beauty is hardly a demanding task. There is a myriad of products available for dusting and polishing wood at the supermarket, which will get the job done. However, some of these can carry hazardous chemicals and a heavy price. Alternatives such as olive or boiled linseed oil mixed with vinegar work wonders as safe, organic, and readily available polishes.

Whatever cleaner you choose, it is important to use a soft, lint-free cloth such as an old t-shirt or cloth diaper, and follow the grain of the wood during application. Make sure to lightly moisten the surface with a cleaning agent before rubbing, as dry fabric and abrasive dust can leave behind faint scratches on your furniture's surface. Immediately after dusting, use a separate soft cloth to remove excess moisture.

Temperature and Humidity No matter how thoroughly wood is dried, it still retains a certain amount of water, which makes it susceptible to temperature changes and humidity. Using your air conditioner during heat spells will not only keep you comfortable, but it will also help sustain wood furniture. In the winter, keep your wood furniture away from heat sources such as fireplaces, heat registers, and vents.

A humidifier in the winter and your air conditioner in the summer should make it relatively easy to maintain the optimum level of relative humidity (between 25 and 35 percent). Let common sense be your guide. If the air in your home feels too warm or moist for your comfort, it is probably out of the comfort zone for your wood furniture as well.

Light You may not realize it, but light is one of the principal threats to wood furniture. Direct sunlight with its ultraviolet rays is far and away the most damaging. But even interior light sources provide the necessary energy and heat to break down finishes and, in the most severe instances, damage the structure of the wood. When possible, keep your wood furniture out of direct sunlight and use drapes or blinds to filter or regulate the amount of sunlight that enters the room. Be sure to switch off interior lights when not in use.

Looks and Longevity It doesn't require a great deal of time or elbow grease to care for your investments. These simple precautions will ensure that your wood furniture - from bunk beds and loft beds to gorgeous heirloom hutches - looks its best and lasts as long as possible.

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