Furniture & Design

Refinishing Your Wood Floors: What You Need to Know

Friday, December 5th, 2014

staircase in the lobby 3d

If you have wood floors and you are considering refinishing them, there is a good deal that you will want to consider. First of all, it’s important to realize that most wood floor finishes on the market today are petroleum based and loaded with potentially dangerous chemicals. Especially when they are first applied, they can leave even those even those without chemical sensitivities shocked by the smell.

 

Yes, this noxious odor does go away eventually. But still the chemical nature of the smell should set off an alarm for anyone looking to avoid chemicals and the potential dangers that they represent.

 

Healthy Floor Finishing Products are a Must

 

Should you be obsessed with avoiding chemicals when refinishing your wood floors? If you are environmentally conscious, have kids or just want healthy products in general, then a healthier and safer floor-finishing product should most definitely be in your future.

 

Watch Out of High VOC Levels

 

Many wood flooring refinishing products are very high in VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs will stay in your home for a considerable period of time after they’ve been applied. Just because you no longer smell a wood floor-refinishing product that does not mean that it is no longer releasing VOCs.

 

Smell isn’t the only issue where VOCs are concerned. Chemicals ranging from benzene and formaldehyde and arsenic are all present in the many wood floor-refinishing options. These products can continue to “off gas” for extended period of times and, more alarmingly, could eventually cause organ damage and nervous system damage issues. In some cases, these off gassing issues can last not months, but years! In the short term, you might very well find you are frequently getting headaches being around your floors.

 

New Flooring Isn’t Necessarily the Answer

Yellow wood parquete construction

We should pause to note that installing new wood floors isn’t necessarily an answer either. The reason is that there are many different types of options for new floors, ranging from manufactured wood products to flooring that needs to be sealed with chemicals.

 

Installing new wood floors also means that you will still have to finish your floors in some fashion. In short, it is quite easy to find yourself in a situation where potentially hazardous flooring chemicals make their way into your home.

 

The best option for any homeowner is to protect his or her health by opting for a safe and environmentally friendly wood floor refinishing option. Let’s take a look at some of the best options available.

 

Stay Away from Chemicals and Your Body Will Thank You

 

When it comes to refinishing wood floors, the bad news is that chemical-laden options containing harmful ingredients, such as formaldehyde, are everywhere. They are also cheap to use. Adding to the complexity of the situation is that most contractors and hardwood flooring refinishers want to work with these products as they are fast, easy to work with and contractors and refinishers have experience using them. That is great for construction industry professionals, but that doesn’t mean that they are right for you and your family.

 

Talk to Your Contractor in Advance

 

If you want to have a healthy floor finish, you might very well have to work for it. This means asking your contractors (or floor refinishers) if they are willing to work with products that they may not be familiar with before you even hire them. This step could save you a tremendous amount of time and headaches when you are looking to refinish your wood floors with a healthy product instead of chemical laden product that could cause organ damage at worst and a decrease in air quality at best.

 

The Natural Oil Option

 

With all of this in mind, how should you refinish your hardwood floors? The first step is to opt for a refinishing product that can be trusted, which is easier said than done.   All kinds of products position themselves in the marketplace as being low VOC and environmentally friendly. Some of the best options include natural oil products such as linseed and tung oil, but there are others as well.

 

Linseed Oil

flax seeds, linseed

Linseed oil is gaining in popularity, as it is very hard when it dries and is considered to be very safe. Linseed oil is also known as flaxseed oil. Flax and flaxseed oil are consumed as a food and are, in fact, not just considered safe, but are also considered quite healthy due to their high level of omega-3s.

 

Linseed oil gives wood a great appearance, but won’t necessarily protect against scratching. However, on the plus side, it is very safe. Like most natural oils, it may take a little more effort to apply linseed oil, but the end product is worth the time.

 

Tung Oil

 

Tung oil is also called China wood oil. Tung oil dries relatively quickly after its exposure to air and has been used in China for centuries. Today, tung oil is used in many floor products to provide a deep rich look and feel.

 

Green Products May Still Have Harmful Compounds

 

Regardless of what kind of floor finish you ultimately opt for, it is vital that you carefully read the full ingredient list. Many “green” products may not be that green at all and may even contain chemicals. Likewise, it is important that you test the odor of a product before applying it to your floors, for if the odor is too strong, that could indicate a problem.

 

Well Ventilated Spaces are a Must

 

Once you’ve applied any product, it is a prudent move to be in a well-ventilated space. Having a beautiful floor is, of course, a wonderful thing, but it should never take precedence over the health of you and your family. There are many hazardous flooring options on the market, but luckily there are an increasing number of healthier options now available.

 

Your contractor or flooring professional may try to steer you towards a chemical based product that is easy to apply, but it is important that you hold your ground and demand a floor finish that is safe. The end goal is to be able to enjoy hardwood floors that look good and make you feel good as well.




7 Ways the TouchPico Will Change the Future of Interior Design

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

 

Our evolving TV screens seem to require more space and less furniture. Widescreen and flatscreen TVs have inspired a wider console hutch or the flexibility of a console deck without a hutch. Projectors require as much wall space as possible and move the console deck aside to become a handy DVD cupboard. Computer screens are changing alongside TVs.
 
The TouchPico is an Android PC the size of a phone with a projector that turns any surface into a touch screen of up to 80 inches. Watch the video to see how versatile it is.
 
Switching to TouchPicos may change the way families set up their homes. Here are 7 ways the TouchPico could change home decor in the future.
 
 
It will redesign your office space:
 
If you still like your desktop PC, the TouchPico can replace your computer screen; you might begin designing your office with the desk a few feet from the wall. You may reconsider choosing a desk with a hutch, or you may keep the hutch but leave another wall bare for your second screen.
 

Lexington Desk from Amish Furniture Factory

A simple desk may be all you need when you don’t need to place a screen on it.


 
It saves your former TV space for other purposes:
 
Requiring no space for the screen makes the TouchPico a great electronic for minimalist style homes and small spaces. Instead of placing your TV on a stand or screwing brackets on the wall, you can use the vertical space you already have with your projector.
 
 
It will open up your living room:
 
The TouchPico can replace your TV if you use services like Netflix, shifting value from the TV stand to the coffee or end table.
 
Modesto Lift Top Coffee Table from Amish Furniture Factory

Some coffee tables even have lifting tops to aim your TouchPico higher on the wall.


 
It projects wherever you need it:
 
People with small children may create a space with a plain area rug to project a play space on the floor. The hardware’s mobility also makes it easy to project games low on the wall, at kid height. Imagine using a projected background for your kids to put on a play.
 
 
It is shiny enough on its own:
 
Granite or butcher block counters don’t make the TouchPico useless, but people looking to get new kitchen counters may begin to look at smooth, matte surfaces again. Likewise, people will become more selective of where to use tiles, and whether to stain wood or to paint it.
 
Carson Legged Dining Table from Amish Furniture Factory

To add more projection surfaces to a home, designers may choose flat colors.


 
It doesn’t push your older heirlooms around:
 
If you have a TV hutch, there is no need to give up on your prized heirloom when you want to replace your TV. You may prefer to paint the inside of the hutch a flat color and continue to watch TV with your hutch as the focal point of your living room. That said, you don’t have to give up your TV as soon as you buy a TouchPico, since it takes up little space and projects wherever you want.
 
 
It fits in every room:
 
If you can afford to, TouchPicos allow you to have several TVs or Android PCs in the house without having to find furniture for each one.
 
Ensenada Dining Table from Amish Furniture Factory

Your tiny dining nook can have a projector screen stored inside the table. The wall next to this table looks like a great place to watch TV.


 
As you can see, the TouchPico and competitors that may arise in the future could streamline the way we set up our homes to require less screen space and more projection space. The future of media could change our choices in furniture for the next generation.
 




Why Solid Hardwood Furniture is Better

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

 

There is something intrinsically beautiful about natural wood. It is warm and inviting, like a living thing. Why settle for particle or flake board and veneers? You can have texture and grain, all hand-rubbed and polished, until it looks so deep that you feel like you could step right inside.
 
Your furniture can say a lot about you. Tell the world that you value beauty and possess beautiful values.

 

Healthier
Particle board and plywood use adhesives that can often contain formaldehyde which out-gases for up to five years after manufacture. People are exposed by breathing contaminated air from pressed wood furniture. Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen, an asthma trigger, and a suspected neurological, reproductive, and liver toxin. People with sensitivities should avoid these structural materials especially around children.
 
wall wood

 

Mentally Supportive
Wood makes us feel better. It connects us to nature through a reduction to our stress responses in our sympathetic nervous system. Wood is visually warm, contributing to social interaction and emotional support. We simply feel better in such an environment.

 

ceiling

We Prefer Wood
In a recent study, it seemed clear that humans are simply happier when surrounded by wood. It is psychologically reinforcing and evinces descriptors such as “warm,” “comfortable,” “relaxing,” “natural” and “inviting”. It was observed that the more wood detailing in a room, the more content the occupants were.

 

 

 

fire wood

 

Wood is Durable

After Hurricane Katrina people offered up all sorts of advice. One such piece was how to manage your clean-up after the flooding receded, and how to focus to keep your mental outlook positive. One thing they noted was that excellent quality solid wood furniture was almost always salvageable; particle board and other lesser materials were essentially dissolved and distorted. There is no doubt that solid wood is a good investment.
 
sleep
Sustainable
Wood is a sustainable crop and most used is from local sources that are responsibly harvested. Carefully hand-selected and then quarter-sawn to expose the best grain and achieve the minimum amount of waste.

 

Low Maintenance
Properly finished wood furniture doesn’t require much care. Clean up the inevitable dust and you should be happy. Solid wood furniture which has been properly stained, lacquered, oiled, and or waxed is almost invulnerable to conditions in your home. We’re happy to offer advice on the care of your furniture. Stains and lacquers are more durable than oils and waxes, but any can be used in the initial preparation of the furniture to give you the look you desire. Remember paste wax, if appropriate for your surface, can provide a hard durable layer of protection that can last up to two years. Liquid wax leaves a much thinner coat and must be replaced more often. Spray polishes are the least durable of all.
 
think

 

glow

That Glow…

That warm woody aura you see when the sunlight hits it just right in the late afternoon; the reflection of a lamp in its gleaming surface; the constantly changing highlights of the fireplace reflected in its details – all these can be yours with beautiful, handcrafted, durable, and reassuring wood.

 

 




The History of Cheaply Made Furniture

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

 

Modern furniture may be inexpensive, but it surely isn’t durable. Some seems downright flimsy and too delicate to actually use. What happened to the solid reliability of real furniture? Remember when you could sit on a chair and know that it would support you without even thinking about it; when you could set the table for a banquet and know it would not collapse?

 

Once World War II was over, people were very busy procreating… Houses started springing up all over the place. Grandma, Grandpa, Mom and Dad just didn’t have the resources to give or bequeath furniture to all the young folks starting out on lives of their own.

 

Industry was quick to pick up on the fact; they knew what to do. Quick as a wink they stepped up manufacturing to fill the need. But demand kept growing; they needed more and more. They nailerdeveloped newer, faster techniques to do away with time-consuming screws, glue, dowels, and clamps. They built bigger machines that could cut eight identical chair legs at one time; jigs where one man could snap together four seats in less than a minute, secure them with a nail gun and send them down the line to be upholstered.

 

But they wanted more and more; faster and faster; cheaper and cheaper. So they began to use wire staples to hold furniture together, but they weren’t very reliable; they needed something else. They came up with the corrugated fastener that fit in an unpowered hammer-like device. You struck between two joints and the fastener pulled it together.

 

wire staples

We all know what happened. Furniture began to fail and fall apart. At first people tried to fix things; then the prices dropped and it was simply cheaper to replace it with something new. We grew into a consumer society that didn’t appreciate quality.
 
Now the pendulum has swung back. We’re wondering why were we always replacing things? Can’t they just make things better so that they last?

corr fast

 

The Truth
Actually they never stopped making exceptional things, at least not all of them. But before the internet and the World Wide Web you had to actually go and find the artisans. If you stumbled across one of the Amish Communities it was like finding a gold mine.

 

Stepping Back in Time               

Suddenly the clock slowed down; people here took life at a livable pace. There was no rushing to meetings; no planes to catch; no sales target to meet. They just did their daily work, with humility and dedication. It pleased them that people took the time to appreciate their skills with furniture. And they could support their community by doing what they did best.
 
The English (non-Amish) started to come in droves; here was quality they had not experienced in their lives. This was the furniture of legend; the sort of things that had been in their grandparents’ homes.

 

Handcrafted by master builders; created by people that had been doing it for their whole lives, with skills passed down from generation to generation. If you only want to buy a piece of furniture one more time in your life, and you want to hand it down to your heirs, and they to theirs, you’ve finally found the right place. Stop throwing your money away. This time you are going to invest in something that will have value forever.




From the Past to the Present

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

 

Not all old furniture is good. Some of it smells funny; some of it is deteriorating; some of it is too heavy or too light for your needs. There’s little argument that furniture used to be made better than we’re used to seeing nowadays, but maybe you haven’t looked in the right place to find the good stuff.

spindly

 

chair

 

Modern
Furniture made the old-fashioned way is durable and has quality built right in. But that doesn’t mean it has to look like you raided an ancient castle to obtain it. Taking those same skills from yesteryear and applying it to furniture with a modern look gives you the best of both worlds.

 

Do you want a recliner? Several models are available in a number of styles with dozens of material choices, including available leather; with features like a wall hugger it need not stick obtrusively into the room to operate; it can swivel as well; it can have electric control and the Dream Back feature. So don’t think it has to be old-fashioned because it’s made by fine artisan Amish craftsmen.A recliner open

A recliner
 
If you have a home theater you will need proper seating for it. And it is available right here!
 
theatre seating
 
Perhaps you need a plasma TV stand or a media center. There are many styles and pieces to choose from.
 
media cent
 
Or maybe you need a sleek lift-top coffee table? It can provide a convenient place to hide all the day-to-day clutter! And yet you have only scratched the surface of the possibilities.

 

lift top CT

Rustic
Rustic doesn’t mean you can’t have something primitive looking but engineered to exacting standards that assures its durability is just like any other piece of Amish furniture. Triple lacquered natural wood logs show you have a sense of style but appreciate natural wood too. Four natural-log uprights for your bed, constructed with Mortise & Tenon joints, for incredible strength and powerful nature overtones. It would be perfect for a cottage or lodge.
 
rustic bed
 
Simplicity

On the other hand, maybe you prefer the straight-forward designs of the Shaker or the Mission styles. Sometimes our eyes just need a rest from interpreting everything. The simple lines of these styles quickly convey function and unobtrusively show style, workmanship and function at a glance. No strain on the brain – they just work!
 
shake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional
But even traditional furniture can conceal modern day functionality. How about a complete office hidden inside a Traditional Style Computer Armoire? Pop it open to work, and slide it closed to forget and carry on with your vacation. And a three drawer filing cabinet in solid wood makes a stunning addition to complete your office when combined with fully featured solid wood office chairs.

 

comp am

 

Got fishing on your mind? Traditional rod racks for five rods or as many as twelve! You will never run out of space… Or maybe some solid hardwood bookends to hold your favorite book selections – they deserve a nice place too! And if you need something for outside, don’t forget our frame or chain suspended swings, as well as gliders for your enjoyment.

 

train BS5 rod12 rodswing

 

We’re here for you
Take advantage of our versatility; combine styles, or specify accents. You deserve quality furniture that will last for generations. Don’t settle for less.




Quality and Skill in Perfect Balance

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

 

It doesn’t take much knowledge to detect the quality of a piece of furniture. If you go into a typical “Big Box” store in search of a sideboard or china cabinet you’ll many times be able to see the uneven gaps around the doors and drawers. As soon you open them you can immediately see that the separators for cutlery are covered in felt to hide the fact that the dividers themselves are made from particle board. At least the grain of the wood looks okay, until you realize it’s just veneer over plywood. And look at the sides and bottoms of the drawers – they’re not even stained or finished – just raw wood.

 
This may sound familiar. There’s an unnerving rattle of loose glass as you struggle to open the too tight, skewed door of the china portion. Tap lightly on the back of the cabinet, but be careful! If it was any thinner, light would pass through it… Is this really what you want?
 

You deserve better!
colbran dowelsbridgeport bench
colbran dowels2
 
Furniture used to be built for the long-haul. It was solid wood, durable and sturdy; there were no plastic laminates, flake or particle board or plywood. Furniture wasn’t something that you purchased, used for a couple of years, and then donated to charity or threw away with the trash. I grew up with furniture that was over 100 years old, sometimes two centuries or more. It was crafted by experts, finished in beautifully fine detail, and often signed or marked by the creator.

 

There are still Craftsmen like that; true Artisans that put every bit of skill and knowledge into creating not just fine furniture, but Art that will last for generations. Hand-finishing to perfection, not until the end of the shift; carrying the job through to completion, not until it is “good enough”; those are the secrets of a job well done. As we all know, “Good Enough is not Good enough!”

 

When others don’t finish all of the exposed surfaces, whether with stains, varnish, oils or waxes, the wood it left vulnerable to experience uneven moisture and humidity, swelling and shrinking joints with the seasons. The connections loosen; the moving parts jam or wedge. It can deteriorate in just a few short years.

 

Quality even where you never look
With quality furniture, everything is stained and finished, even the parts you can’t see. Just because something is out of sight doesn’t mean it can be ignored. If you order a dining set, all the pieces will be finished by one artisan so that all the pieces will be the same color and match perfectly. Typically we don’t want an oddball chair that doesn’t match the rest of the set.

 

After all, isn’t that what craftsmanship is all about? Pure, unmitigated, unassailable quality at every step; driven by ability and tempered with humility; and combined with select materials to fashion the very best for you.

 

Your job is easy in comparison. You just have to look at it, fall in love with it, and take it home.




Traditional Elegance: Queen Anne Style Furniture

Friday, June 27th, 2014

 
Straight edges are popular in decor these days, while curves are lauded as naturalistic and innovative. However, the curvy Queen Anne style of furniture design has been around since the dawn of the 1700s. Let this video get you started on the best features of the Queen Anne style.
 

 

Granby Dining Table from Amish Furniture Factory

Granby Dining Table from Amish Furniture Factory


As you can see, the Queen Anne style allows the furniture’s beautiful woodgrain to show as easily as straight-edged Mission furniture. Besides the foot, a defining feature of the cabriole leg is being curved in two places: outward near the top, and inward near the foot.
 
In addition to using cabriole legs, Queen Anne furniture has other curvy design elements to help you build a timeless room…
 
 
Central Chair Splat

Berkshire Dining Chair from Amish Furniture Factory

Berkshire Dining Chair from Amish Furniture Factory


 
It’s more gracious than it sounds. A Queen Anne chair splat is a single ornately shaped vertical support in the center of a chair back, also known as a fiddle or vase shaped back.
 
Woodturning

 
Skilled handcraftsmanship is always beautiful, but if you’re not a woodworker yourself, nothing is a more obvious sign of a woodworker’s skill than woodturning. When it uses cannonballs and spindles, Queen Anne furniture shows off its heirloom quality. Our Berkshire Dining Chair above doesn’t only show a carved splat but turned legs as well. Below are more Queen Anne pieces that use woodturning.
 
Cannon Ball Bed from Amish Furniture Factory

Cannon Ball Bed from Amish Furniture Factory


Wrap Around Bench from Amish Furniture Factory

Wrap Around Bench from Amish Furniture Factory


 
Class and Opulence

3 Hook Oak Turned Wall Tree from Amish Furniture Factory

3 Hook Turned Oak Wall Tree from Amish Furniture Factory


 
The Queen Anne style developed as part of rococo style in the 1700s. Rococo design was known for pulling out all the stops in ornate carving, mixed colors, and gilding.
 
 
While our table in the video is not full of individual carvings, what curves it has make it look unusually rich. Of course, some Queen Anne pieces are so ornate, you may wonder what is the point of it all?
 
 
Large Queen Anne Jewelry Armoire

Large Queen Anne Jewelry Armoire from Amish Furniture Factory… Yes, the Queen Anne style allows you to dedicate an entire armoire to jewelry.


 
Sometimes, that is the point.
 
LaGrange 4 Door Hutch from Amish Furniture Factory

Lagrange 4 Door Hutch from Amish Furniture Factory


 
Queen Anne is the most famous traditional style of furniture, so in the modern day, we often use “Queen Anne” to name furniture bearing elements of other styles from the same time period. Thus, looking for Queen Anne furniture can let you see a range of opulent styles that could be closer to what you need.
 
Woodmont Dining Chair from Amish Furniture Factory

Woodmont Dining Chair from Amish Furniture Factory


 
Being a glider, the following piece mixes modern function with Queen Anne curves.
 
Swan Back Glider with Ottoman from Amish Furniture Factory

Swan Back Glider with Ottoman from Amish Furniture Factory


 
To browse more Queen Anne furniture in our store, simply find Shop By Style on our home page. The variety of available styles includes Traditional Furniture. Here you will find pieces in the Queen Anne and similar styles.
 
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
 




Our Furniture Finishing Process: The Stain and Coat Woodshop

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

 
You may recall our post detailing the meticulous finishing process we apply to each piece of our handcrafted furniture. Today, we will begin to break down the process for you in a series of videos on staining. For our first video, we visit small-town Wakarusa Indiana and the stain and coat woodshop where we send all our furniture.
 
The family run shop employs people from the local Amish community. To ensure a quality staining job, craftspeople disassemble the furniture; this ensures that they will be able to stain and seal every nook and cranny of this heirloom furniture.
 

 
As you can see, we’ve hardly begun to show our three-day finishing process, so stay tuned for more videos.
 




The Breckenridge 4 Drawer 3 Door Chifferobe

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

 

 
The Breckenridge 4 Drawer 3 Door Chifferobe is 58½” of heirloom luxury. The 1″ solid wood top features crown molding that embellishes this sleek Shaker chifferobe.
 
In case this is your first look at a chifferobe, let me explain that chifferobe is a tall piece of furniture with both drawers and a space to hang clothing. It is a type of armoire.
 
In the case of the Breckenridge, the right side features 4 full extension soft close drawers with side mount drawer slides. Behind the top right doors is an adjustable shelf. On the left, the half-wardrobe has a hanger bar.
 
This substantial hardwood chifferobe is sure to add elegance wherever you use it in your home. It is also a solid member of the Breckenridge Bedroom Set.
 




The Classic Heritage 3 Drawer Night Stand

Friday, June 13th, 2014

 

 
The Classic Heritage 3 Drawer Night Stand is shown in quarter-sawn white oak, but you can select from 8 wood options. This nightstand is designed to show off the beautiful grain of its solid hardwood construction, with cathedral raised side panels. The top drawer protrudes slightly for more elegance, while the base is intricately carved in the Jonie style. Any member of the Classic Heritage line will add heirloom class to your bedroom.