Time and nature are patiently working to reclaim—everything.
Wood furniture has lasted hundreds and even thousands of years, simply because of a combination of loving-care and “friendly” environments.
Finishes (on many things) most simply serve as a protective barrier.
For wood furniture, the biggest negative force to protect against is rapid swings in moisture exchange; fluctuations in relative humidity-(RH).
The best finishes can only retard this action, it cannot be stop completely.
(An environment of 68 degrees (22° C), and RH of 60% is quite good.)
We can’t manipulate the weather, but we can limit its impact with education and common sense.
For most furnishing, simply closing the windows of the house is quite sufficient during extremes in our weather.
For the collector, a hygrometer and environmental control system is recommended. (www.microclimate.biz)
Light. Ultra violet radiation (UV) and heat are two damaging affects to eliminate, or at least minimize. Do not allow your furniture to be exposed to direct sunlight through a window. Sunlight will heat, bleach or change the color of the affected area. Blinds, window tint, outdoor shade sails, even trees are fair ways to curb UV light from entering a home; and keep it cool also.
The employment of adjustable low-voltage (less heat) UV filtered lighting, and or UV filtered fluorescent lighting is always encouraged. Consulting a lighting designer that has worked for museums is a sound decision.
Aside from the above, furniture upkeep is very basic and only requires a simple dusting, or a monthly wiping down with a slightly dampened cotton cloth. Whether we realize it or not, we are all conservators; in our own little way.