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The toolkit: A butler's household advice

  • Akron Beacon-Journal
  • January 8, 2013 - 4:22 PM

Few of us have the luxury of a household staff like the one on "Downton Abbey" to attend to our every need.

But we can take some pointers from someone who ran a household and use them to run our own a little more efficiently.

Longtime English butler Stanley Ager shares a wealth of tips in "The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces," a classic handbook he wrote in 1980 with Fiona St. Aubyn. The book has just been re-released by Clarkson Potter ($21.99).

Some of the advice is outdated now. (Manufacturers of front-loading washers undoubtedly would balk at Ager's pronouncement that "you need to maintain a good lather when machine-washing clothes.") And some of the advice deals with situations few of us will ever have to worry about. ("The cardinal rule is never to tell your staff that you're entertaining royalty until just before the event.")

Still, we all can benefit from Ager's tips for setting a table, caring for shoes and packing clothes so they won't wrinkle. And he'll even teach you how to iron a newspaper, should a journalist ever come round to tea.

Tinted chalkboard paint

Love chalkboard paint but not the colors it comes in?

Benjamin Moore has introduced a chalkboard paint that can be tinted in any hue.

Consumers can choose from any of the 3,300 colors in the Benjamin Moore system, or they can use the company's color-matching technology to create an unlimited array of choices.

Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint is a latex top coat with an eggshell finish. It can be used on walls or other surfaces, such as furniture, closet or cupboard doors or ceramic containers.

The paint is sold in quarts for a suggested retail price of $21.99.

You can find a nearby store that sells Benjamin Moore paints in the store-locator section of its website, www.benjaminmoore.com.

Stainless steel scratches

Q My son's GE stainless-steel appliances have some scratches near the stove buttons and on the front of the refrigerator. How can he get rid of the scratches? I've seen products mentioned on message boards online, and I wonder if they'd work.

A Not all stainless steel is made or finished the same, so a product that works well on one appliance might not work on another. That's why it's always best to start by checking information from the appliance's manufacturer.

In your son's case, that's GE. That company says scratches on its stainless-steel appliances can't be repaired. The only option, it says, is replacing the parts.

Nevertheless, the Stainless Steel Information Center, which is operated by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America, says companies that specialize in fabricating or polishing stainless steel might be able to restore the finish, but it's expensive. If the refrigerator door has a replaceable panel, buying a new panel probably would be cheaper.

If the scratches aren't deep and your son can live with a finish that's slightly different from the original, he can try removing the scratches using a nonmetallic abrasive pad, such as a Scotch Brite pad, the information center says. (It doesn't specify which type of Scotch Brite pad.) Use long, uniform strokes in the same direction as the current polishing lines.

However, the center cautions that scratches are difficult to remove, and you won't be able to remove deep scratches.

AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

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