Treasure: Dr. Lori shares her antiques care tips

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

She’s back! Fans of Dr. Lori Verderame and the History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” — which follows the world’s longest running treasure hunt — won’t want to miss this weekend’s Novi Home Show at the Suburban Collection ( Verderame, aka “Dr. Lori,” a University of Michigan graduate, will offer free appraisals of the audience’s family heirlooms and estate and yard sale finds, and share tips on how to make money “flipping” art and antiques.

Five lucky Homestyle reader winners have won a free appraisal and breakfast with me and Dr. Lori at the event (watch for those appraisals in future columns). In preparation for the show, I chatted with Dr. Lori from her offices near Philadelphia, where she shared tips on caring for antiques.

What are the most common mistakes when buying and caring for antiques?

The most common mistakes are over cleaning or repainting antiques. Don’t be overzealous when cleaning aging objects. Consult with your local museum to recommend an expert to restore your particular antique or work of art.

What about upkeep? What kind of products do you recommend or not?

For general maintenance, I recommend dry dusting with a white cotton cloth once every five days to remove surface dust, particularly in winter. Removing dirt will prevent long term damage to your aging treasures.

What about natural cleansers such as white vinegar?

Natural white vinegar is a very popular product and it doesn’t leave a residue. I recommend one part distilled water and one part white vinegar to clean your crystal or glassware. For cleaning pottery, dust first then rinse with warm water. Hot or cold water can crack a piece of glass or pottery.

What do you consider the biggest threats to antiques?

Lack of information. Bad things happen when people don’t take the time to find out about what they have. Don’t be the seller who sells a $50,000 Picasso for $2.50 at their yard sale. That really happened to one of my audience members. Losing that kind of money is a big threat to unknowing sellers. Don’t let it go until you know what it’s worth.

What should collectors be on the hunt for now?

Art deco objects are going to spike in value about 2020 when the movement reaches its 100th anniversary. Art deco objects are cheap right now but will get very expensive soon.

Best and worst ways to store antiques/art you're not using?

Avoid attics and basements for storage. Also, avoid spaces in your home where temperature and humidity changes. I tell people that art and antiques want to live where you live — on the main floor, away from dampness, in a comfy heated room.

If you are storing antiques, plastic tubs are best and avoid cardboard or wooden boxes. Bubble wrap is not for storage as it retains heat and moisture. When storing, wrap antiques in acid-free paper. Don’t stack paintings or china plates as the weight will damage them. Novi Home Show exhibitors, experts in their own right, will be on hand with home solutions like dry basement contractors, security and storage solution companies, as well as display case manufacturers and cabinetry installers.

Other general tips for antique lovers?

Always negotiate when buying antiques. Be polite and pay with cash. Your ability to walk away from a bad deal is your biggest negotiating tool. When it comes to antiques, understand what makes an object valuable in the marketplace. When selling antiques, condition is paramount and trends matter.

You can reach Verderame at