Furniture & Design
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Green furniture can be healthy furniture both for people and the planet. The idea behind green furniture is pretty great. Most mass produced furniture is made using potentially dangerous chemicals and even contains chemicals. For example, the stuffing using in a large percentage of furniture is made from petroleum-derived chemicals.
One of the more concerning aspects of this problem is that a many furniture options contain furniture that has flame retardant materials. Studies have shown that flame retardant chemicals in cushions actually don’t do all that much to retard flames. These flame retardant chemicals do, however, degas. These chemicals make their way into home and office environments, which can be particularly alarming for homes with children and toddlers. Since infants and toddlers put their hands and toys in their mouths with great frequency, these flame retardant chemicals pose a significant risk for children.
Green furniture options offer peace of mind and much more. The idea behind this type of furniture is that it uses low toxicity materials, can be recycled easily, has a long life, is durable, easy to repair and is manufactured as close to the purchase point as possible. For these and many other reasons, consumers who opt for green furniture often choose solid wood furniture.
5 Key Factors in Green Furniture
- Highly durable
- Long lasting
- Low toxicity materials
- Easy to repair
- Manufactured locally or regionally
Bamboo is Green But It Has Limitations
Solid wood furniture has much to offer in that it meets all of the criteria listed above. Many fans of green furniture like bamboo. Bamboo may function as a wood, but it is, in fact, a fast-growing and extremely durable grass.
Bamboo has many planet friendly benefits in that it requires very little or no pesticides to grow, however, pesticide use are still a possibility. Depending on how bamboo furniture is made, it still may contain harmful chemicals. Quite often, these chemicals are present in the form of glues and finishes. If you detect a strange odor coming off bamboo, this could be why.
Recycled Plastic is Planet Friendly But Comes with Concerns
Furniture made from recycled goods, such as recycled plastic, is becoming increasingly popular. No doubt such goods keep plastic out of landfills and the oceans; that is a big plus. In this regard, furniture made from recycled plastic is a true winner, but there is a downside.
The downside to recycled plastic furniture is that such furniture is that it may be lacking in durability, may still contain harmful chemicals and may still degas harmful chemicals into the air. Recycled plastic furniture has its strong points but determining just how healthy such furniture truly is can be tricky.
Many Green Furniture Options May Still Have Degassing and Chemical Exposure Issues
In terms of degassing, there are concrete steps you can take. At the top of the list is to opt for solid wood furniture. Solid wood furniture that uses natural wood finishes means low levels of VOCs.
VOC or volatile organic compounds are dangerous, as studies have linked such compounds to an increase risk of a range of diseases. Another step you can take to protect your family from VOCs is to opt for organic cotton furniture. Quite often, harmful chemicals are hiding in cushions. A lot of attention has recently been given to the fact that the average household sofa is essentially a giant chemical pellet – one that is constantly degassing dangerous compounds. Many people are stunned to learn that such a common and ubiquitous item is also a dangerous one, but that is the current state of the furniture industry.
Finding Your Best Furniture Option
So what is your overall best green furniture option? Some of the more interesting green furniture options can be very pricey and difficult to find. Solid wood furniture that uses natural finishes is a different story. When consumers opt for solid wood furniture that uses natural finishes, they are receiving a product that is simultaneously durable, green and price effective. Solid wood furniture lasts and does not need to be repaired with any frequency or replaced.
Make Sure You’re Actually Buying Solid Wood Furniture
One of the biggest problems with most “wood furniture” on the market is that it isn’t wood at all. Instead, it is a mixture of chemicals and sawdust. Such products are very cheap to produce, so they make manufacturers a great deal of money, they degas constantly and are not built to last. Cheap furniture in the form of MDF and other big box offerings is dangerously close to being a trick.
Consumers look at a given piece of furniture and believe, quite reasonably, that they are receiving a wood product. The reality is far different in that what consumers are really receiving is a low-grade product that is held together with an abundance of chemicals.
Solid Wood Furniture is the Ultimate Green Furniture Value
Adding insult to injury is the fact that these low-cost furniture options don’t last very long. Such furniture looks good for a couple of years, and then the wear and tear starts to show. By contrast, real wood furniture lasts not for a few years, but for a few decades or even longer.
In short, there is no comparing the value. Real wood is the best furniture value on the market and it is green. The world of furniture is full of illusions, but with solid wood furniture, consumers know what they are getting and what they are getting is an exceptional value.
Saturday, June 6th, 2015
When you mention interior design to most people, they think about an expensive and complex process. No doubt there are times when the best solution is a seasoned and professional interior design that is brimming over with creative ideas. That stated, there are also plenty of relatively simple and easy interior design challenges that you can tackle yourself and with a small budget.
A great deal of design boils down to creativity and making the most out of your space and your budget. With the right approach, a little creativity and some good old-fashioned ingenuity, you can transform your home in surprisingly little time.
Tip One-Start with the Foundation
When we state, “Start with the foundation,” we are not literally referring to the foundation of your home. Hopefully the foundation of your home is in good shape. (If it isn’t, you have bigger concerns than your interior design!) The real foundation of interior design is getting organized, removing clutter and dealing with obvious “disaster areas.” A wonderful home can look dreadful if there is tons of clutter, garbage and disorganization.
Before diving in and thinking about easy interior design ideas that will make a huge difference, take the biggest, boldest and best interior design step possible and remove the clutter. Clutter hides whatever good elements your home possesses and amplifies whatever problem areas that already exist. In order for your interior design ideas to take flight, they have to be given the room to soar. So say goodbye to the clutter, junk and garbage. Consider donating a variety of unused and unwanted items to charity. Your discarded objects are someone else’s treasures! And while you’re at it also remove all non-conversational items that are just plain odd.
There is no need to dwell on our second tip, “Painting.” The old saying, “It is truly amazing what a coat of paint can do,” has endured the test of time for good reason. A coat of paint, combined with a little strategic chalking, can truly breathe new life into almost any room. When it comes to painting don’t be afraid to consider bolder color choices. Does going bold scare you? It’s okay there is a solution.
Consider opting for a bolder color for your bathroom. A dramatic color in the bathroom can be a real winner. Bold colors in the bathroom are usually unexpected. If you really end up hating your choice at least you don’t have to look at it constantly. Just remember you do have to live with whatever color you select!
Tip Three-Invest in Long Lasting Solid Wood Furniture
Furniture made from real wood has a special trick; it lasts. Most inexpensive modern furniture falls apart, often with surprising speed. One of the easy interior design tricks in the world is to simply buy one or two well made all wood pieces of furniture to add to your home. The warm of real wood never gets old!
Tip Four-Your Own Scrap Wood Masterpiece
Do you have a big white wall that you would love to do something interesting and innovative with but lack the budget? Don’t fret, as we have a great idea. Scrap wood can be put to excellent use. Embrace your artistic side and create your own work of art by assembling scrap wood inside a large frame or on its own and mount it to the wall. This tip can take some trial and error but when you get it right you’ll love the results.
Tip Five-Please Don’t Forget Your Windows
What type of window coverings do you currently have? Much as you need to remove clutter from your home to give it any chance to shine the same holds true for removing old, dusty and dirty window treatments.
Window treatments can be shockingly, if not even perplexingly, expensive. You can easily break the bank especially with items like custom window shutters. Yes, window coverings can be pricey, but even inexpensive blinds can be better that old, dated and dirty blinds or drapes. Remember that finding window treatments that match your room can do wonders. A room that has been freshly painted that also has new window treatments will look much different.
Tip Six-Throw the Old Throw Rugs Out
Old drapes and blinds can drag down a room and so can old rugs. Make them disappear.
Tip Seven-Small Framed Mirrors
A couple of small framed mirrors positioned through your home will make a difference. One of the best spots in your home for such a touch is your hallway. Hallways are often overlooked when it comes to interior design. Any step you take to brighten up and liven your hallway will usually be a welcomed one!
Tip Eight-Invest in Shower Curtains
Few interior design fixes are as necessary and easy as a new shower curtain. Of course, if you have a shower door, you won’t have to worry. But everyone else has to tackle the shower curtain equation if they want to make the most of every room of their home.
A dirty shower curtain is a horrible thing and will destroy the potential of any bathroom. The money you spend to upgrade your shower curtain to a highly durable and mold resistant hemp shower curtain is money well spent! They have an earthy but warm look and are extremely easy to maintain.
These are eight easy tips but together they truly can transform your home. Before you dig in and begin looking at expensive and time consuming options, first consider what you can do with these eight very easy tips. Removing clutter, painting and added some durable, real wood furniture can go a very long way towards adding a new level of warmth and beauty to your home.
Friday, May 8th, 2015
There are many ways that we can make the most out of the resources that we have. Constructing new buildings and new homes takes up a tremendous amount of energy. And with that high level of energy use comes a greater carbon footprint. Many people are rightly obsessed with finding new ways to build and, in the process, save energy both in the construction phase and in the make a more energy efficient home. Nature has provided some pretty amazing and useful materials. Pioneers and experts are combining these materials and techniques to make the most out of sustainable building materials.
Sustainable building materials make the most out of what nature has to offer. The materials employed in sustainable building are durable, easy to work with, come with environmental benefits and are renewable. Unlike many other building materials currently used, sustainable building materials are more in line with the Earth’s natural ecology and cycles. Ultimately, these impressive building materials have too much to offer to ignore.
Bamboo-Lightweight, Super Strong and Versatile
There is no shortage of sustainable building materials. One of the first materials that we will look at is bamboo. Bamboo is not a tree, but is, in fact, a type of grass. It has some rather impressive properties. First bamboo is lightweight, flexible and strong. Increasingly bamboo is being used in construction and with great results. Bamboo has a compression strength that is superior to that of brick and rather surprisingly even concrete. Add to this the fact that bamboo has a tensile strength roughly equal to steel, and you have a tremendous building material. Perhaps the greatest single surprise regarding bamboo is that it isn’t used in construction even more often!
In addition to being strong and durable, bamboo also grows very quickly. Some species of bamboo can grow a couple of feet in a single day. Once bamboo starts growing, it grows very, very rapidly, which helps to make bamboo an excellent sustainable building material.
The Wonders of Cork
Cork is another simply amazing building material. The majority of cork is produced either in Portugal or Spain. Part of why cork is considered to be a very sustainable building material is that cork trees are not cut down, but instead their bark is stripped to make cork. The end product is a very impressive one.
Cork is good for far more than wine bottles, as cork is lightweight, very strong and has acoustic and thermal insulation properties. Insects and rodents will generally not eat cork, and it is highly resistant to moisture and mold. It is no accident that cork is used to keep liquids in bottles, whether it is wine, olive oil or other liquids.
Additionally, cork is naturally flame-retardants, meaning that highly toxic flame retardant compounds do not need to be added. These factors combine to make cork a truly exceptional insulation product. Currently, cork is being used for insulation across Europe, but the impressive properties of cork will likely make it a key insulation, flooring and sound insulation product in the coming decades.
When it comes to inexpensive and renewable building materials, rammed earth has much to offer. Rammed earth structures have a long history as they date back to 5000 BCE and can be found all across the world. Their construction involves compressing a damp mixture of materials, typically clay, sand and gravel into a mould. From there, the shapes are built into larger structures.
Rammed earth may not have the strength and durability of other materials such as concrete, but the price is very tough to beat. It is also possible to mix rammed earth with concrete to produce a very durable building material.
There are also energy saving benefits to rammed earth. Rammed earth has a high thermal mass, and that means it can absorb heat during the day and release it at night. Overall, rammed earth buildings can help to cut, often dramatically, heating and cooling costs.
The energy efficient nature, low cost and sustainability of rammed earth buildings means that rammed earth may very well have a bright future. Combing rammed earth with solar power could prove to be one of the future’s great building combinations.
Papercrete, Straw-Bale Construction and Reclaimed Building Materials
Other notable sustainable building materials include Papercrete, straw bale construction and reclaimed materials, ranging from reclaimed wood to reclaimed stone and brick. All of these materials are quite sustainable.
Papercrete combines re-pulped paper fiber with Portland cement or clay. The end result is a partially recycled material that can be made into a durable building material. The reason that Papercrete has drawn a lot attention is that it is lightweight, has a high R-value and is durable.
Straw-bale construction, much like rammed earth, has much to offer. Straw-bale construction goes back centuries and is an inexpensive and sustainable building material.
The future is bright for sustainable building materials. They are renewable, take less energy to work with and come with an array of energy saving benefits. In a future where climate change and energy consumption are likely to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, from builders and homeowners to policy makers, we can expect to hear more about this impressive natural wonders.
Saturday, May 2nd, 2015
The doors that go into your house are one of the most important home-related purchases that you can ever make. Most of us don’t think too much about our doors until something goes wrong, of course. Yet, the right kinds of doors add value, security and beauty to our lives. Selecting wood doors for your home has many different components, and ignoring any of them can result in complications and problems in the long run.
So can you find the perfect wood door for your home? Definitely and, with the help of this article, you’ll love your final results.
Investing in Wood
Wood doors are so common because they last. Metal security doors have become popular, and they have their benefits, but they also have their drawbacks. On the top of the list is the fact that metal doors usually lack the charm and beauty of wood. Another problem is that once a metal door is dinged (and metal doors do tend to get dinged or caved in) they instantly look cheap. Even a high-end metal door with a small ding looks cheap. However, because people expect some degree of imperfection from wood, it can weather life’s little problems with greater ease. People often even find the imperfections in wood to be quite charming or even beautiful!
Opting for a wood door also means that you have a door that is far easier to repair. Scratches and even small missing pieces can be repaired with relative ease. Yet, the same cannot be stated for metal doors. A wooden door can, for example, be sanded, refinished, stained, painted and repaired in a range of ways. Your options, on the other hand, with a metal door are dramatically limited by comparison.
Sizing Issues Shouldn’t Be Ignored
The old saying, “Measure twice and cut once,” is certainly good advice. When you are selecting wood doors, be certain to know exactly what size you need. Getting the wrong size door can be a major hassle and one you want to avoid!
Matching the Style of Your Home
If you are thinking, “any old door will do,” think again. Your home is an investment and one of the most commonly viewed items in your entire home is a door, especially your front door. One of the first things that people notice about your home is the door that they use to enter. If your front door doesn’t match with the rest of your home, everyone will notice it. For this reason, it is prudent to take the design, look and feel of your home into whatever wood door you select.
You can also do a whole lot with interesting and innovative doorknobs. If you have an older home, look for a vintage door and lighting store in your area. They may be able to advise you on the best knobs to match the period during which your home was built.
The older your home, the greater the potential challenge when it comes to selecting a wood door, as modern doors often don’t match the look and feel of older homes. What should you do if you have an older home and are in need of new doors? If preserving the look and feel of your home is important, you may want to venture online and try to find doors from your home’s time period. It might take a little research but restoration companies specialize in giving a second life to old wood doors. By investing in reclaimed wood doors, you are lowering your carbon footprint, investing in a tiny piece of history and helping to preserve your home’s original look and appeal.
Interior Door Options
Not all interior door options will work for all situations. There are many different options, ranging from French doors and swinging doors to sliding doors and bi-fold doors. Panel doors and flush doors are extremely popular and often make up the bulk of interior doors that one sees in most homes.
Exterior Door Options
When it comes to exterior door options, there are many choices ranging form steel and fiberglass doors to solid wood and engineered wood. Many people buy engineered wood exterior doors not realizing that they are not, in fact, getting a solid wood door.
Engineered wood is not built to last, but is instead assembled from layers of low-quality wood that mixed with chemicals and then compressed together. In short, this is not a product that will last, as it wasn’t built to last. It was designed to look good and be cheap, but it is not a high quality product. This is especially true when compared to a solid wood door.
A solid wood exterior door is a must. Solid wood exterior doors will outlast engineered wood and can be easily repaired if damaged. If you want a door that provides security and looks great at the same time, then your best choice is always going to be wood!
A Wood Door Is Durable, Looks Great and Will Prove an Excellent Investment
A wood door will stand the test of time. You will not have to worry about replacing a wood door after a couple of years. You will also not have to worry about your wood door looking cheap after it takes a couple of hits, which is all too common with metal doors.
Solid wood is always a smart investment and one that you will not regret. It might cost more upfront, but in the end you’ll save money. Why replace a door when you can install a solid and reliable wood door instead?
Saturday, April 25th, 2015
You might be thinking, “I’m no woodworking expert,” but you don’t have to be knowledgeable to create your own useful, DIY woodworking projects. There is no need to be intimidated. After all, DIY woodworking projects can be fun even if you are a novice. (That stated, however, it is always important to practice proper safety such as only operating equipment that you understand, working in a safe and well-lit environment and avoiding distractions.)
We are going to look at a few DIY woodworking projects that we know you’ll love. Don’t worry whether you are an expert or this is your first DIY woodworking project, you’ll find our ideas to be easy and simple!
Should You Buy Plans?
When it comes to DIY woodworking projects one of the first decisions that you’ll have to make is whether or not you should buy plans. Buying plans largely comes down to how complex of a woodworking job you are planning on tackling. The DIY projects we’re suggesting in this article are easy projects. Keep in mind that there are plenty of free plans online regardless of DIY project complexity, so look around!
1. Stumped Where to Begin? We Have You Covered with the Stump Table
Want to make a super-easy and super-cheap side table? Then you might want to head over to a slightly unexpected place in the form of Home Depot. The Home Depot community has great plans for a Stump Table that requires very little know how and money. Simply drill three holes, screw on some legs and you have yourself an instant, dirt cheap table that will last for years and years. This is one of those ideas that will leave you saying, “Why didn’t I think of this and why don’t I already have a couple of these tables?” You’ll find the Stump Table is a great addition for your guest room, garage or even your living room. Learn more about the cheap and versatile Stump Table by visiting http://ext.homedepot.com/community/blog/diy-decor-tree-stump-side-table.
Whether or not you want to paint or finish the Stump Table is up to you. Either way this project won’t take long and as long as you can safely handle a drill you should be good to go!
2. Feeling Artistic? You’ll Love the Openwork Cube Pendant Light
If you were thinking that DIY projects meant clunky, then think again. A good deal of creativity and inspiration went into the creation of the Openwork Cube Pendant Light. This light looks like a million bucks but is, in fact, about as inexpensive as our Stump Table.
The skill level on this one is pretty low, but you’ll need a little more patience than with the Stump Table. The cool geometric design looks far more complicated than it really is. All you need are a few pieces of wood and a little time on your hands and you’ll be ready to create a real work of art. Perhaps the best thing about the Openwork Cube Pendant Light is that it is one of those DIY projects that not only looks expensive, but also looks difficult to do. Your family and friends will think that you’re developing a whole new side of yourself with this clever little project.
Check out an easy step-by-step guide at Vintage Revivals http://www.vintagerevivals.com/2012/03/openwork-cube-pendant-light.html
Don’t be afraid to pretend that this project was a hard one. It will be our little secret!
3. You, Yes You, Can Make Your Own Unique Headboard
Have you always wanted a very unique, cool and impressive looking headboard, but just didn’t want to pay those huge prices? A striking looking headboard can be an expensive purchase, but we have uncovered a DIY Pallet Headboard from the people at This Old House that is worth the time and effort.
So what will you need? You will, of course, need a pallet to get things started. Pallets can be pretty inexpensive and surprisingly tough as they are meant to take a lot of abuse. In just a few hours on a Saturday, you can use this idea to totally transform your bedroom and do it for just dollars! http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20672101_21278317,00.html
The process begins with sanding and painting. From there, we move on to measuring and finding studs in the wall for mounting. You can also see other ideas from these creative minds, such as a DIY Mud Bench with Herringbone Wall by visiting www.theroosterandthehen.com.
More Creative Pallet Ideas
Bob Villa also has his own ideas for inexpensive pallet ideas. He suggests taking pallets and repurposing them into a range of different kids of useful household items from sectional sofas to desks and even kitchen islands. You can see more about Villa’s ideas on what to do with the humble but very durable pallet by visiting his site, which outlines five easy DIY projects for beginners. http://www.bobvila.com/articles/5-things-to-do-with-shipping-pallets/
Follow Bob’s advice and you’ll be making daybeds and even a desk for almost free. Here is a link for an inexpensive desk that Bob found on Instructables. http://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-desk/ (Don’t let this one fool you as it is actually easier than it appears at first glance!)
These easy and fast DIY woodworking projects show that you don’t have to be a woodworking expert or experienced carpenter to make something useful and beautiful. Great DIY woodworking projects have been outlined for you on the Internet and the free price tag is impossible to beat!
Sunday, April 19th, 2015
If you are like most people you probably don’t give too much thought to where your furniture comes from, its origins or how it was made. Let’s face it, the hectic nature of living day-to-day life often means that you just lack the time and energy to think about how your products are made, by whom and out of what kind of materials.
However, the simple fact is that how your furniture is made can impact not just the health of local ecosystems, but your health as well. There are also other concerns, such are you really getting a good value for your dollar? In this article, we will turn our attention to the origins of furniture and why those origins should be of concern to you!
One of the most commonly overlooked factors in furniture is value. Cheap furniture is usually cheap for a reason, and that reason is that cheap furniture just doesn’t last. Furniture that is made out of real wood is highly durable and will last for many years to come. However, the overwhelming majority of cheap furniture is not made out of wood. Instead, cheap furniture is usually made out of MDF.
MDF is, simply stated, something that you don’t want in your house and is a poor investment. The reason is that MDF is essentially nothing more than wood fragments and sawdust held together with glues and binders that are usually chemical in their origins. These chemicals degas and usually do so for many years. MDF furniture contributes to poor indoor air quality as it degases a range of harmful and even cancer causing chemicals into the air.
Not only does MDF potentially harm your health, but it is also a poor investment. Sawdust and wood fragments held together with chemical binders and glues probably doesn’t sound too tough to you, does it? Facts are that the low quality and inexpensive furniture available in most of the big box stores are not built to last. Instead, this furniture is built to be cheap and look good. Sadly, this furniture will not stand the test of time like real wood. Not only do you have to buy new furniture in a just a few years, but you also have to invest the time to find that furniture and put it together. If you want the best value for your furniture dollar then avoid low quality furniture and opt for solid wood furniture instead!
Factor Three-Your Carbon Footprint
Usually low quality furniture made from the poorest materials possible are created in overseas factories that are often several thousand miles away from their final destination. The end result is something of an environmental disaster. The “cheap” furniture that you buy at a local big box distributor has usually been placed on transport ship and shipped across the ocean. The unpleasant fact of the matter is that the cheap furniture you may have purchased has been created using polluting and environmentally damaging chemicals that make their way into the water supply. It takes a lot of energy to get your low quality furniture across an ocean and that harms the environment a great deal. Large transport ships are amazing polluters. If you want to lower your carbon footprint then it makes sense to buy locally as much as possible.
Factor Four-Does Your Furniture Stimulate the Regional Economy?
Buying locally also stimulates your local economy. Buying real wood furniture from regional manufacturer, even if that manufacturer is on the other side of the country, is far less polluting than buying furniture from overseas. Plus, it also is much better for the economy. Real wood furniture made in the United States lowers your carbon footprint while stimulating the economy. As an added bonus you also benefit financially, as you receive a higher quality product that will stand the test of time.
Factor Five-True, Real and Lasting Beauty
The inexpensive furniture sold in most big box stores is an illusion. There is an illusion of quality and durability, but real wood furniture is different; real wood furniture is the real thing. MDF and other low quality furniture is just pretending to be what wood actually is. Opt for real wood furniture and you will get what you pay for and more.
Real wood has a lasting and real beauty that MDF and other low grade furniture can’t hope to match. When you opt for the knockoff wood furniture sold by big stores, you are losing money in the long run. You are also losing the substantial beauty that real wood furniture can provide. Are you better off having less furniture than furniture that isn’t built to stand the test of time? In a word, “Yes!”
Factor Six-The Social Factor
The bottom line is that where your furniture is made and how matters. Many foreign manufacturers pay pennies an hour and expose workers to harmful work conditions. By refusing to support such labor and business practices you are making an important statement with your dollar. In time, businesses will notice and respond accordingly! Buying locally eliminates the concern while you benefit by receiving a higher quality product. Buying real wood furniture is, in the end, the best choice possible. You’ll have furniture that will look great and provide you with superior functionality for years to come!
We always get what we pay for and with furniture we all want something that is real and reliable. Real wood furniture is just that, real.
Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Don’t you just love wood? One of the greatest things about this material is that it works so very well in all kinds of interior design. Wood is so versatile and can be used in so many ways that it is no wonder that designers often call on wood to “dress up” all kinds of home. The simple fact is that versatile wood can provide warmth to a home that is difficult to make any other way. Here are seven great tips for integrating wood into your next interior design project!
Wood and Interior Design Tip One-Furniture
When it comes to using wood for your interior design projects, one of the simplest steps is to opt for wood furniture. You have plenty of furniture options, but none are able to beat wood for its overall warmth and appeal.
Absolutely nothing has the charm and character of wood. Wood transforms a room like no other material and its versatility means that pretty much any room can benefit from the incorporation of wood furniture. A well chosen piece in a room can completely transform the environment and take it from dull to classy and warm.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Two-Using Wood in Unexpected Places
Wood really shines when it appears in unexpected places. A great example of this fact is to use wood in the bathroom. Wood used a material in your bathroom, such as in your cabinets or vanity, can be a real eye-opener. People no longer expect to see wood as often in the bathroom, but wood cabinets and vanities can look stunning, especially when coupled with wood flooring.
Wood flooring in the bathroom may present a challenge due to moisture and other factors, but it can be done. Cork flooring, for example, looks great but cork is also very water resistant, super tough and is an exceptional sound absorbing material. So look around your home for areas that one might not expect to find wood and give wood furniture, flooring or other ideas a try!
Wood and Interior Design Tip Three-Wood Instead of Drywall
The never-ending versatility of wood, in part, helps to explain its eternal charm. Another way to put wood to use in your interior design is to switch out drywall for wood paneling instead. Wood has many advantages over drywall, especially for those who are chemically sensitive or want to cultivate a rustic look.
Many people have discovered that wood can work quite well, for example, in bathrooms. Instead of tiling on walls, intrepid home and business owners are opting for wood instead and the results can be visually striking.
Of course, it is necessary to treat wood in your bathrooms with something like an acrylic finish to help combat moisture, but the results are worth the effort. If you want to make a striking statement, then wood in your bathroom provides an excellent option.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Four-Wood in the Kitchen
In recent decades, the trend has been away from materials such as wood in the kitchen. However, wood in the kitchen has been making a comeback. Wood butcher-block countertops look warm and rich. If you want a very natural look in your kitchen, then wood butcher block might be the way to go. And it’s durable and can stand up to wear and tear just as well as many other countertop materials.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Five-Using Wood for Contrast
Wood contrasts nicely with other materials. If you home is more modern, you may find that adding wood either in the form of wood furniture or other additions can work to provide a good deal of unexpected contrast. The fact that there are many different types of wood and stains available means that you can likely find the perfect fit for any room.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Six-Use Woods Colors and Textures to Your Advantage
Since wood comes from all sorts of trees, it is possible to get all kinds of looks, colors, textures and patterns. As a result, wood can be used in a virtually endless number of ways in interior design. Many homeowners and interior designers turn to wood due to its exceptional versatility. Whether you want to add more or less color or texture to a room, wood can get the job done.
Wood furniture, wood flooring and wood paneling can be mixed and matched together in an endless number of ways. The end results can range anywhere from shocking to subtle.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Seven-Cultivate a Vintage Look
No way around it, if you want to cultivate a vintage look, then wood is one of your top options. Wood is an ancient building material and as such resonates in a way that modern building materials can’t match. If you want charm, warmth, elegance and a touch of nostalgia, then it’s impossible to beat wood!
Seven Tips for Interior Design Results
By using these tips, you can easily incorporate wood into your interior design and make a big impact. Interior design should be fun, and the versatility of wood helps to provide endless fun design options. Try contrasting different types of wood against one another in your design.
Also, remember that a few well placed pieces of wood furniture can work to instantly transform almost any room. In our technological society, wood still endures. Wood has stood the test of time as a design material because it is tough, beautiful and extremely versatile. What more could anyone ask for from a building material?
Sunday, April 5th, 2015
Keeping your furniture clean is important if you want your furniture to last. Poorly maintained furniture just won’t stand up to the test of time. While it is important to clean your furniture from time to time, it is also vital that you do so in a green and safe way. Many furniture cleaning options can be harmful to both people and the environment. So let’s take a look at how to get your furniture clean without all the harmful chemicals.
Now you might be thinking that dusting is pretty basic and in one way you are right, but not all dusting is created equally. Dusting furniture is a good idea. But when it is done the wrong way, dusting can actually release a lot of potentially hazardous dust into the air. The solution? If you have very dusty furniture, for example, furniture that has been in storage for years, consider dusting first with a damp cloth and then washing that cloth. Dust often contains potentially harmful compounds that settle on furniture. These compounds can range from flame retardant chemicals found in furniture to toxic compounds from electronics. This fact also underscores the importance of frequently vacuuming and dusting.
Two- Vacuum with HEPA Filter
Another prudent step is to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Many vacuum cleaners have a range of attachments. Some vacuum cleaners earn higher marks than others for the power and effectiveness of their attachments. Two HEPA vacuum cleaner models that have highly functional attachments are Dyson and Shark. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and good attachments can work wonders for not just keeping furniture clean, but for also tackling those hard to reach spots throughout your home.
One very common mistake that people make with HEPA filter vacuums is that they forget to clean their filters. Poorly maintained vacuum filters can actually release more contamination into the air than they capture, so clean your filters often!
Three- Use Oils Rather than Furniture Polish
Furniture polish can help your furniture look great, but it can also harm your health. Many furniture polishes are really little more than low-grade chemical mixtures. Pets, children, adults and the planet as a whole can suffer from exposure to these products. The solution is to skip these products and opt for something more environmentally friendly.
A little oil can go a long way in maintaining your furniture. One of the best options is jojoba oil, but linseed oil also works very well. Adding a few drops of lemon to olive oil is another option that many people like. What furniture polish could be easier than this one? After all, most people have both lemons and olive oil in the kitchen somewhere. If you don’t, they are both inexpensive and easy to buy.
There is no reason to opt for expensive and potentially toxic furniture polishes when a simple and fast fix like lemon juice and olive oil is readily available. Not only do these mixtures work but also you can make them in only a few moments. Using this mixture is as simply as putting a little olive oil and lemon on a cloth and polishing the furniture.
Just remember to test a small area first and see how you like the results before jumping in and cleaning all of your furniture. Also different woods may respond differently to different oils. So just because one option works well for one wood that doesn’t mean it’s a great pick for all your furniture.
It is not your imagination that many furniture polish options smell simply horrible. Keep these harmful compounds out of your body by using natural polishing options. You won’t regret it!
So far we’ve focused on green cleaning options for wood furniture. The needs of wood furniture are far different than upholstered furniture. Upholstered furniture presents a unique challenge in a variety of ways. One problem is that most modern upholstered furniture is stuffed with stuffing that has been treated with dangerous flame retardant chemicals. Your best option is to phase out this kind of furniture for a safer option, such as wood, or a non-flame retardant option as soon as possible.
What About Upholstery?
With that stated, there are some important dos and don’ts where green cleaning of upholster furniture is concerned. First, many carpet cleaning services offer upholstery cleaning. Unfortunately, the majority of these services use chemicals to clean both carpets and furniture and should be avoided. A second point to consider is that by opting for a green upholstering cleaning option, you can avoid consider chemical exposure.
Vacuuming your furniture often, even weekly is a great place to start. All the pointers we’ve mentioned in this article that apply to vacuuming your wood furniture with an attachment apply to vacuuming your upholstered furniture as well. Stains can be treated with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide if they are more stubborn. A little elbow grease, patience and hydrogen peroxide will go a long way in treating stains.
These tips will help you clean your furniture is a safe and green fashion. Green cleaning methods are not just safer for you and your family, but also for your furniture as well. Over time, harsh chemicals may damage your furniture. But the mixtures and green cleaning approaches covered in this article will likely do no harm to your furniture whatsoever. If you want to save money, protect your health and help the planet all at the same time, then follow these tips!
Saturday, March 28th, 2015
Congratulations if you are moving into an older home. It is important to realize that there are some major differences between moving into a newer home as compared to moving into an older home. Simply stated, the two types of homes are very different and ignoring those differences can be costly. Old homes enjoy a charm that is often missing from more modern construction and that charm is almost impossible to replicate. With that stated, it is also true that older homes can have some substantial challenges and concerns. In this article we will look at five of the most important things you should know before moving into an old home.
Old Home Factor Number One-Lead
Lead paint is no longer used, but it can be an issue for old homes. Ignoring lead paint when remodeling or moving into a home, especially if you have children, is one of the worst life decisions that a person can make. Lead is a heavy metal and it can be very dangerous, again especially for children. Lead has made its way into homes via lead paint as well as lead pipes. Under normal circumstances lead paint is the greater of the concerns.
Before moving into a new home or undertaking construction projects that involve painted areas, it is important to perform a lead test. If you discover that you do, in fact, have lead in your home, then you’ll need to consult with a reputable and proven lead expert. Simply stated, lead is no joke and any contractor to acts in a caviler manner about lead is one that you shouldn’t trust. The statement, “Lead isn’t that big of a deal,” should be a serious red flag!
Old Home Factor Number Two-Repairs
Even a well maintained old home is likely to be in the need of some repairs and some old homes need more work than others. So don’t be surprised if you encounter ongoing issues and have to keep your plumber on speed dial.
On the flipside of the coin, old homes are often enjoyed superior construction to their new home counterparts. There are several reasons behind this fact. At the top of the list is the fact that older homes are more likely to have been built using old growth wood. Old growth wood is tougher and tends to last and last.
New lumber might be just fine but it doesn’t compare to the durability of old growth wood. Old growth wood is hard to come by, and that is part of the reason that old homes are often very sought after.
Old Home Factor Number Three-Heating and Cooling
Many people who move into an older home are shocked to discover that their old home can be expensive to heat and cool. Even worse, some old homes may seem nearly impossible to cool off especially on the second floor.
There are two main reasons for this situation. The first reason is that old homes often are lacking in roof insulation, wall insulation or both. Old homes did not have modern insulation and you can really notice this when temperatures get very hot or very cold. The second factor in the old home heating and cooling problem is that many old homes don’t have the proper ductwork installed or have underpowered HVAC systems. All of these problems can be fixed, but the costs certainly can add up! It’s something to think about before you purchase an old home, especially if you live in an area that can get very hot or extremely cold.
Old Home Factor Number Four-The Roof
Old homes have seen a lot and weathered a lot. As a result, an older home’s roof might be in need of some care and attention. A roof will usually last longer than the stated lifespan, but that stated it is also common for homeowners to forgo roof repairs due to the expense. You may discover that your old home has serious roofing issues, and that can be both costly and aggravating. Finding a good roofer can be tricky, as there are lots of roofing companies and they run the quality spectrum.
Old Home Factor Number Five-Foundational Issues
Yes, old homes are great, but foundational issues are never great. If you are considering buying an old home or already own one, it is important to keep an eye on your foundation. A major foundational issue can considerably reduce your home’s value. There are many repairs that you can look the other way on but foundational issues are not on the list. A foundational issue must be addressed immediately!
So periodically check your basement and monitor any cracks or leaks. Water damage is serious damage and has to be treated as such. Water can damage foundations and leave you with a tremendous headache. The good news is that by maintaining your basement and taking preventative measures you can prevent substantial headaches in the future.
Older Homes Have an Undeniable Warmth, Charm and Appeal
Together these five tips will help you get ready to move into an old home. Older homes tend to be better constructed than their average modern counterpart and that has an array of benefits. In addition, older homes also tend to have a level of charm and sophistication and warmth that many homeowners feel is missing from modern homes.
By investing the time to keep an old home in good shape you can protect your investment for years to come. The durability of many old homes is undeniable.
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
Let’s face it. Try as you might to get outside more, you likely spend most of your time indoors. Statistics show that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. That’s exactly why the quality of your air is so important. Unfortunately, when people select the wrong furniture, they can quickly degrade the quality of their indoor air. Once toxic fumes come into your home, they often can’t escape.
The EPA has said that indoor air quality is the fourth greatest threat in terms of pollution. It’s way more polluted, on average, than outdoor air. That’s definitely saying something! And it’s not just your furniture that is harming your air quality; it is everything from plastic items to cleaning products and dry-cleaning chemicals.
Dangers to Even the Smallest Humans
When you think about who is exposed to these toxins, it quickly becomes rather alarming. Many of these chemicals are in products that are even commonly used to create a new baby’s room. For example, crib mattresses are typically loaded with chemicals, and new paint on the wall will commonly contain chemical gases. Baby furniture can be loaded down with harmful compounds like formaldehyde. Busy expecting parents may be fixing up a cute room for their little one not even thinking about all the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.
This point underscores exactly why certifications are so necessary. They will point you in the direction of where you can buy products that are safer for you and your family.
No matter what furniture you may buy, it is offgassing. The point is to find items that aren’t synthetic and offgas hazardous chemicals. Even if your item isn’t synthetic, if it is treated with synthetic chemicals it may have the same issue.
What is the Problem with VOCs?
You probably have heard people mention VOCs before. These off gassed chemicals are linked to birth defects, cancer and issues with the endocrine system. Two commonly used VOCs that come into play with furniture are formaldehyde and flame-retardants.
Poor indoor air quality is a major concern for homeowners and building owners as well. We are lucky that some entities have emerged to promote sustainable efforts and safeguard our environment. In the process, they support families and communities as well as employees and corporations.
You may have seen GREENGUARD certification on items of furniture you’ve bought over the years. What does this mean? GREENGUARD certification is a special assurance that products mean limits for chemical emissions. The products that have been GREENGUARD certified have been screened for more than 10,000 chemicals.
When you buy these items, you do not degrade the healthy of your air quality. While this standard is on furniture, you’ll also see it used on finishes, cleaning products, building materials and even electronics.
If you go to the GREENGUARD website you can even find information about their GREENGUARD Gold Certification. This label is even more in depth and designed for sensitive individuals. For example, it is often used in healthcare facilities and schools.
SCS Global Services
Another certification that you can look for to ensure that your products support a healthy interior environment is SCS Global. This certification not only analyses furniture, furniture and building materials but also floor surfaces and floor adhesives. This company handles “third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification, auditing, testing and standards development.”
The SCS Indoor Advantage and SCS Indoor Advantage Gold focus primarily on office furniture. So while SCS isn’t necessarily designed as a certification for furniture in your home, it will cover that which is in your office. If you’re sitting in a brand new office chair for 8 hours a day, you just might want it to be certified.
BIFMA is the trade association for business furniture manufacturers. They publish safety standards on furniture and influence national codes. Their designation is called level® and is described as “the multi-attribute, sustainability standard and third-party certification program for the furniture industry.”
level® not only takes materials and health into account, but also energy us, and social actions of a company. You can find out more about this certification at http://www.bifma.org.
Another indoor air quality certification that has emerged is called Intertek. This organization specializes in testing furniture and measures chemicals, flammability, safety and sustainability. This organization also tests for VOC emissions to make sure that they adhere to ETL Environmental VOC requirements.
Other Air Quality Issues
Even aside from your furniture offgassing, there are yet more issues to be aware of, for example, mold growing on furniture can also be an issue. Since mold spores exist in the air, they can start to grow in moist spots. Once this begins, you can end up with a serious issue.
If you think that your home is susceptible to mold, consider using dehumidifiers. They will reduce your indoor humidity by 30-50 percent. Also try to keep the temperature in your home higher so that mold doesn’t end up as condensation. Also if you keep any furniture outside, be sure to keep it out of shady areas, as that is exactly the conditions where mold thrives.
One general rule of thumb that you can follow is to avoid pressed wood. These types of woods often contain the highest levels of volatile organic compounds. When you do buy new furniture, unpack it and let it air out outdoors.
Are you looking for more specifics about where you can find products that have been certified for air quality? You can easily find a directory of products that are GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO Certified by visiting http://productguide.ulenvironment.com/QuickSearch.aspx.