Keep out of direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can have a negative effect in several ways: The heating of one area more than another can lead to differential expansion and cause cracking. The drying out of the wood from heat from the sun can cause shrinkage, and strong sunlight has a bleaching effect on the wood itself and breaks down the finish applied to it. It is best to keep wooden furniture away from direct sunlight, but if it needs to be near a window then you can control the effect of sunlight with shades, blinds and shutters.
Maintain humidity. Just like us humans, a large component of the weight of a piece of healthy wood is water, so in order to maintain that wood in good condition it is important not to let it dry out. Keeping a plant or two in the same room, or vases of flowers, or a small bowl of water in an inconspicuous place, will all help to maintain adequate humidity but, if the climate is very dry, a humidifier may be needed.
Avoid placing near sources of heat. Wherever possible, avoid placing bespoke furniture in front of radiators or near open fires or any other heat source. Not only is the heat damaging in terms of drying out the furniture, but the change in temperature from when the heat is on or off will be disruptive to the dimensional stability of the furniture.
Always use coasters or mats. Hot or cold drinks, plates and crockery should always be placed on coasters or mats, not directly on the wooden furniture. Even a clean, cool glass of water has the potential to cause damage due to moisture condensing from the air around and underneath the glass penetrating the surface and causing discolouration.
Use protective pads under fixed items. Decorative items such as bowls, vases, figurines and ornaments that are to have a semi-permanent home on the furniture should have protective cork or felt pads fitted underneath, or be placed on a coaster or mat. Regularly moving items around will help to prevent differential discolouration.
Dust regularly with a soft dry cloth. A soft micro-fibre cloth is ideal. Remove marks with a lightly moistened cloth, then dry with another cloth.
Deal with spillages promptly. Spillages of drinks or food should be cleaned off promptly with a clean, lightly moistened cloth. The surface should then be dried with a clean dry cloth. Spillages that are left for any period of time will penetrate into the grain of the timber and then be impossible to remove completely.