Furniture & Design
Friday, September 11th, 2015
Ask anyone that has been working with wood for years and you’ll quickly learn that the benefits of woodworking go well beyond being “handy” or creating something beautiful and useful. Developing one’s woodworking skill is also an opportunity to relax and unwind. Woodworkers know all too well that woodworking can be an almost meditative activity. The fact that something useful and beautiful comes from the effort is, of course, no small bonus. Woodworking is fun, and the skills one acquires from woodworking last for a lifetime. Anyone looking to become more self-sufficient will love what woodworking has to offer.
If you want to be successful in the realm of woodworking you’ll want to first make certain you have the most essential woodworking tools; after all, having the right tools for the job always makes a world of difference. Having the right woodworking tools doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to get the supplies you need to begin woodworking.
Essential Woodworking Tool Number One-The Table Saw
Working with wood means you are going to need to of course cut wood. The reason that a table saw is so important is that it allows you to cut wood and do other jobs in a safer fashion.
Your table saw will often be the centerpiece of what you do in your woodworking and, for that reason, you’ll want to have a reliable, durable and versatile table saw. You can break the bank on a table saw, but there are many inexpensive options out there as well.
How do you know what to pick? A site like Amazon is a smart move for woodworking beginners. The reason is that you can read Amazon reviews and get a feel for what table saw seems to be the right pick for you. As a beginner, you’ll want to pay extra attention to safety features, such as the blade guard.
Working with saws is dangerous and you should never think otherwise. While you may be shopping on a budget when it comes to table saws, pay close attention to safety features. Once you’ve purchased your table saw, spend some time examining how these features work to protect you.
Essential Woodworking Tool Number Two-Your Circular Saw
A circular saw is also an incredibly important tool. The circular saw provides you with a great deal of versatility, as it is highly portable and can cut through a very wide range of materials. Additionally, a circular saw provides a good level of accuracy. There are plenty of great circular saws for all budgets. Just be certain to look for a circular saw with ample safety features and then consistently use those safety features.
Essential Woodworking Tool Number Three-The Jigsaw
If you don’t buy a jigsaw when you begin woodworking you’ll likely soon regret it. A jigsaw lets you cut a range of curved designs and shapes. Curved lines and shapes will see far, far less intimidating with a reliable jigsaw in your corner.
Jigsaws also feature blades that can be quickly switched out so that they can cut a range of materials. The bottom line is that the jigsaw is extremely useful and extremely versatile. It is lightweight, easy to transport and easy to use. Don’t skip this essential woodworking tool!
Essential Woodworking Tool Number Four-The Sander
All woodworkers need a good sander and this includes beginners. The right saws might be the foundation of your woodworking but without a good sander your finished pieces will look, well, unfinished. That is why every woodworker opts for a high quality sander. Just remember to wear safety goggles as wood fragments can be released at any time whether you are sanding or cutting.
Essential Woodworking Tool Number Five-The Drill Press
It is obviously difficult to limit our list of woodworking essentials for beginners to just five items. There are additional items worth considering such as a wood router and a wood-sharpening tool. That stated, our fifth woodworking essential truly does stand out. During your woodworking you will need to make cuts and holes and that is where the drill press comes into play. Without a drill press many of the projects you want to tackle will simply not be possible. Drill presses can be pricy so shop around!
Bonus Tool-The Power Drill
You’ll always need a power drill even if you aren’t a woodworker. Today’s power drills are highly reliable and surprisingly versatile. Cordless power drills have been a real time saver and game changer.
Many of the most simple woodworking projects will require you to screw pieces together, and the last thing you want to do is complete that task by hand. Instead simply reach for your power drill and save a whole lot of time while achieving a superior result.
Armed with these six woodworking essential tools, most beginners will be able to tackle a surprisingly diverse number of projects. So get out there and start creating your masterpieces!
The time that you invest in finding those tools is definitely time well spent and you won’t regret it! So before you roll up your sleeves and begin, first roll up your sleeves and do a little Internet research on the right tools for you and your budget. As a beginner, you’ll want to pay special attention to safety features and use those safety features while woodworking
Saturday, August 29th, 2015
Inexpensive furniture might not be quite as “inexpensive” as it seems, especially from a long-term perspective. While it may be tempting to purchase inexpensive furniture for a variety of reasons, consumers pay dearly for this decision over the long term.
Very inexpensive furniture is, not surprisingly, cheap for a reason. The reason that cheap furniture can be so inexpensive is that it isn’t exactly what it seems. MDF or particleboard furniture is really nothing more than sawdust mixed together with glue and chemicals. These chemicals are often dangerous and degas into the air.
MDF and particleboard furniture, in addition to being of inferior quality, also emit formaldehyde and other chemicals into the air. If you want great indoor air quality, then you’ll want to stay away from inexpensive furniture. Manufacturers of inexpensive furniture build their furniture to look attractive and even seem durable, but over the long haul such furniture literally is not built to stand the test of time.
Manufacturers also know that low-grade furniture will have to be replaced much sooner than real wood furniture, and that means a sizeable boost in profits. In short, inexpensive furniture is a “lose-lose’ proposition and one that you definitely will want to avoid. Let’s explore three of the main reasons why you’ll want to avoid inexpensive furniture. The simple fact is that there are significant hidden costs to buying low-grade furniture. In the end, you’re better off investing in real furniture made from real wood.
#1 Reason to Avoid Low-Grade Furniture – Some Assembly Required
When you buy cheap furniture at a big box “value” store, you have to be ready with for what comes next. Part of the “value” comes in assembling the furniture. Usually this means a considerable investment in your time, effort and aggravation. It is rather common for cheap furniture to have issues with construction and instructions that often fail to make sense.
The notion that consumers should put together their own furniture has become commonplace, but it is also comical. Most consumers are not skilled craftspeople, and the idea that the average consumer should have to put together his or her own furniture to enhance a company’s bottom line is laughable.
When you opt to purchase low-grade furniture you are in fact helping to buy into a process where you are expected to do the work that the manufacturer should have performed for the money.
Don’t you have something better to do with your time? Of course you do! Putting together furniture for a large company isn’t a prudent investment of your time, effort or energy. Additionally, since most people are not skilled craftspeople, the furniture they assemble will not be of the highest quality possible and often the instructions will be completely incomprehensible. Many consumers have even encountered instructions for putting together furniture that is full of errors!
#2 Reason to Avoid Low-Grade Furniture – Harmful Chemicals are Used in the Manufacturing Process
It is understandable that most people never give much thought to the chemicals that go into the making of the cheap furniture they purchase. After all, a great deal of effort goes into making low-grade furniture look like real, substantial wood furniture. Reasonably enough, most people don’t realize that the furniture they are buying is in fact held together with glues and chemicals.
Unfortunately, many low-grade furniture products contain dangerous chemicals, which degas into your environment around the clock. It is important to note that the idea that degassing furniture only degasses for a short time is a myth. A great example of this fact is foam cushions used in chairs, couches and more. These foam cushions are usually infused with flame retardant chemicals, which have been proven to be both hazardous and cancer causing and amazingly enough not very effective at stopping the spread of fire.
These chemicals make their way into their environments and show up in dust. They have, in fact, been shown to be very hazardous for infants and children. For those looking for a healthy indoor environment, the most prudent move is to skip the low-grade furniture and opt instead for high-quality solid wood furniture that is free of chemicals and hazardous finishes.
#3 Reason to Avoid Low-Grade Furniture – The Good Looks Don’t Last
Buying furniture is an investment in your time and energy. Not only do you have to pick out the furniture, but you usually also have to waste time assembling it, when you opt for low-grade furniture. The “deal” that low-grade furniture seems like at first is nothing of the sort, as you have to buy new furniture just a few years later. In the end, you lose money and you lose time.
The initial good looks for low-grade furniture don’t last because they can’t last. Furniture that is constructed from low-grade materials and essentially fused together with chemicals was not designed to last. The furniture was not designed to stand the test of time like real wood furniture.
When all the factors are added up, the superior furniture choice truly couldn’t be any more obvious. Real wood furniture is an investment and one that will last. It is not a winning proposition to assemble your furniture only to watch it slowly fall apart.
The true winning proposition is real wood furniture. Real wood furniture is healthy furniture and represents an amazing value. It will last for years, decades and even generations.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
It seems as though there is something new to worry about every day. Some concerns are overblown and others are right on target. There can be little doubt that one of the world’s most ubiquitous and dangerous air pollutants should be avoided. Formaldehyde is dangerous and no one really disputes this fact. For years science has known that formaldehyde should be avoided, but that is easier stated than done.
Formaldehyde is everywhere and often found in unsuspecting products in your home. Particleboard has become commonplace in many homes around the world. It is very cheap and it is also very toxic, as it off gases formaldehyde and other harmful airborne contaminants. Rather alarmingly, it isn’t just “cheap” furniture that often contains particleboard. Expensive furniture options also have particleboard as well.
Reason #1 to Reduce Formaldehyde Exposure-It Never Stops
No doubt formaldehyde is bad for human health. Unfortunately, formaldehyde like many chemicals that make their way into our homes never stops degasing. For example, particleboard furniture will degas for years.
That television stand or even bedframe that you bought years ago and no longer give a second thought is still degasing dangerous formaldehyde and other chemicals into your air.
Reason #2 to Reduce Formaldehyde Exposure-It Is Horrible for Children
Formaldehyde exposure harms children and adults like. However, the cells of children are dividing at a much faster pace than the cells of adults and that can translate into more significant problems. Reducing products in your home that contain formaldehyde can help protect children from DNA damage.
Reason #3 to Reduce Formaldehyde Exposure-Formaldehyde Harms Indoor Air Quality
Formaldehyde can dramatically impact the quality of indoor air. In modern society, most people spend a large percentage of their time indoors and that comes with a range of dangers. At the top of the list is poor air quality.
Indoor air quality is often several times more polluted than outdoor air quality. Opening a window, having plants in your home, investing in an air purifier and changing your HVAC systems air filters frequently can make a tremendous difference in improving indoor air quality.
Reason #4 to Reduce Formaldehyde Exposure-Send a Message to Manufacturers
Money is the main focus of the vast majority of companies. Refusing to buy products that contain formaldehyde and other damaging chemicals sends a powerful message. If companies see sales falling they will research why. Once they learn that people are skipping their products or opting for competitors due to the toxic nature of those products they will make changes.
Often those changes are window dressing but if the public votes with its dollars you can expect to see results. One of the single best ways to eliminate harmful formaldehyde from your environment is to simply refuse to buy toxic products.
Reason #5 to Reduce Formaldehyde Exposure-Help the Planet
Products that contain harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, have no place in your home. These chemicals also have no place on the earth. Unfortunately, of the tens of thousands of chemicals currently in use only a small fraction have been tested for their impact on humans, and even fewer of these chemicals have been tested for their impact on wildlife and the planet at large. When you avoid formaldehyde containing products you are doing something to help the planet.
Key Ways to Avoid Formaldehyde
Yes formaldehyde is in a very wide range of products, but there are concrete steps you can take to reduce your exposure. Tobacco smoke, in addition to all of its other ills, is also a potent source of formaldehyde. That means you shouldn’t smoke and you should try to stay away from smokers as much as possible.
Buy Solid Wood Furniture
As we mentioned earlier in this article another prime formaldehyde offender comes in the form of particleboard and MDF or medium density fiberboard. Both of these products such toxic glues to hold products together and these products contain formaldehyde. Cheap furniture and building materials are usually packed with formaldehyde producing chemicals. Opting for solid wood furniture is one easy way to bypass this source of formaldehyde.
Look for Low VOC Paints
Another key source of formaldehyde are paint and varnishes. In fact, paint, varnishes and floor finishes can be a powerful source of formaldehyde. That “paint smell” you hate is your body’s way of telling you that something is very wrong and that you need to avoid it.
The bad news is that paint can be a source of formaldehyde, but there are plenty of low VOC paint options including many from large manufacturers. Consumers demanded safer paint and to an extent the industry did in fact respond. There are low VOC paints that are very durable and will provide essentially the same performance as VOC laden paint options.
Take Proactive Steps Such as Air Purifiers and Plants for Fighting Indoor Air Pollution
Fighting formaldehyde means taking proactive steps such as investing in plants and air purifiers. Plants such as snake plants and ferns have been shown in NASA air quality studies to work wonders for breaking down harmful gases including formaldehyde. Air purifiers can be expensive but they can also keep VOCs at bay.
Of course, one of the greatest weapons in your fight against VOC and formaldehyde is to open plenty of windows, clean your air ducts and HVAC systems annually. These steps are not always inexpensive, but they do greatly contribute to improving indoor air quality, often dramatically
Monday, July 20th, 2015
A home makeover can do much more than make your home more livable. Your home can become both more livable and more sellable when the time comes to sell. Home makeovers range from the simple and easy to the more complex. By following the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll find that there are many effective ways to increase your home’s value.
Tip 1 Appearances. Appearance. Appearances.
Yes, when it comes to real estate location certainly does matter, but so does appearances. One of the cheapest and easiest of all home makeover tips is to simply remove any clutter around the outside of your home. Clutter or trash can instantly make any home look less desirable. First impressions matter, and that goes for homes too! So think about what you can do to improve the outside appearance of your home.
Tip 2 Give Your Garden a New Look
There are many ways to upgrade the exterior of your home. Removing clutter and trash is a very inexpensive way of boosting your home’s appearance and resale value. A yard makeover is another.
It is particularly important to consider upgrading or improving your front yard. A great front yard full of beautiful and colorful plants and flowers serves to make your home attractive to buyers. It isn’t just the color that helps to make your home more attractive, but also what the garden represents. A well-kept and well-planned garden tells prospective buyers that you care about your home. When it comes to making that all-important first impression, a beautiful garden goes a very long way!
Tip 3 Insulation-Save Money Now and Make Money When You Sell!
Not having enough insulation in your home can really cost you a bundle in energy saving. It might also cost you a bundle when it comes time to sell. Adding insulation is a job that you can potentially do yourself if you take the right precautions and do your research.
Today insulation is far different than it just ten years ago. Eco-friendly options, such as blue-jean insulation, wool insulation and other options, have high R-values. One of the best things about insulation is that unlike many other home improvements or upgrades adding insulation, particularly to the roof, can start saving you money almost instantly. If you are looking for a way to invest in your home and see a return quickly, then it is tough to top what insulation has to offer!
Tip 4 Goodbye Carpet Hello Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors look great. Carpet has its advantageous, especially in certain areas of the home, but hardwood is a true winner. Not only does hardwood look wonderful but also it is also easy to maintain and gives a home a more elegant, cared for and warmer feel. Even if installing hardwood yourself isn’t in the cards, this is an investment that is well worth considering.
Removing old carpet is a relatively easy and cost effective way to boost your home’s value. You might be tempted to opt for a engineered wood product instead of hardwood when you replace your old carpet, but resist the temptation. Increasingly homeowners are getting wise to engineered flooring products. Real wood is the way to go because real wood lasts and looks great. Don’t remove the carpet only to but a fake product on instead. In other words, always stick with the wood.
Tip 5 Painting Can Transform Almost Any Home
Painting both the interior and the exterior of your home is another straightforward and easy way to increase your home’s value. Few home makeover tips work quite as well as this one.
A fresh coat of paint to a home’s exterior really can work wonders. The same can be stated for painting interiors as well. Rooms that seem lifeless can bounce back with the right coat of paint, but there is another benefit as well.
Cracks in walls and peeling paint instantly make a home seem run down. In older homes, the sight of peeling paint may also scare off buyers with children because peeling paint often means dangerous lead paint, especially in homes built before 1978. Keeping your home’s interior walls is an investment in beautiful, safety and resale value.
Tip 6 Try Staging and Real Wood Furniture
Staging is an art form and a bit of a science as well. The reason is that staging works to highlight all that is great in your home. If you want to spotlight all that your home has to offer, then staging is a must. There are many ways to approach staging, but with a little planning you can get a true staging edge. How? High quality, real wood furniture allows you to convey a message.
People see real wood furniture and think, “Hmm…that will clearly last and stand the test of time.” This is exactly the message you want prospective buyers thinking when they enter your home!
Real wood furniture makes people think about value, durability and beauty. And to make things even better, when you invest in real wood furniture. you are getting furniture that will last and last.
First Impressions Always Matter
Impressions matter. When a buyer is considering your home he or she takes in a range of factors in making a determination as to whether your home is “worth the money.” Simple steps ranging from cleaning up clutter both in and around your home to painting, insulation and painting to staging with real wood furniture all combine to give buyers the right impression.
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.