Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to Check Wood Furniture for Quality

The kind of wood that is used has a lot of bearing on how long your furniture will last. It can be made of hardwood, softwood, or engineered wood. Generally speaking quality furniture is made out of hardwood coming from deciduous trees such as oak, maple, mahogany, teak, walnut, cherry and birch. The wood will be air-dried and then kiln dried to remove all the moisture. Coniferous trees such as pine, fir, redwood and cedar produce soft wood. It is possible to find good quality furniture in these woods also, but these woods are more prone to scratches and dents. Modern furniture is very rarely constructed of all wood. Plywood, or engineered wood is used extensively because it provides strength, and helps prevent splitting or warping. It can make for sturdy, long lasting and highly attractive furniture when used with high quality veneers.

The way a piece is constructed can contribute to its beauty; functionality and also how long it will last. The joinery and sturdiness of a piece will tell you a lot about its quality. Mortise and tenon, and dovetails are two of the oldest ways of putting together furniture, and also make for the strongest and best looking joints. Good joints can also have dowels or screws, but will never be stapled. Any glue used will not show outside the joint. Corner blocks add to the strength and stability of a piece. Back panels that face the wall are the generally attached with screws to help ensure the lateral stability. Backs and unexposed parts should be sanded smooth and well fitted. Drawers fit well and have glides to allow you to effortlessly move a drawer in and out of its station. They will also have stops to prevent a drawer from being pulled out or falling. Doors will close neatly be flush with the cabinet front, and good quality hardware will be used. Test for sturdiness, by trying to rock or jostle the piece. It should not squeak, twist or wobble. Check if it is level with the floor.

A quality finish involves sanding, staining, and finishing. Neglect at any of the stages can affect the overall quality of a piece. Sanding is the first step in the finishing process, and a good piece will be smooth so that when you run your hand over it there will be no rough patches. Inspect the finish from different angles to check for blotchiness or scratches. A good stain enhances the natural beauty of wood and adds color and character to the wood.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Outdoor Furniture

If you’re looking for the perfect summer getaway why not take a trip to your patio? The latest offerings in outdoor furniture, sets as well as single chairs or tables, are all geared for relaxing or outdoor entertaining. You can easily turn your garden or patio into a stylish outdoor living retreat.
The main functions that people want an outdoor space or patio to perform: provide comfortable place for lounging and relaxation, and provide versatility to help with outdoor entertaining, and do all of that with style. Outdoor spaces can be as inviting and usable as the indoor. Turn your patio or backyard into a stylish extension of your home using the same principles of design that you use in your other living areas. The outdoor living area has the potential to become the most attractive part of your home.
When considering comfort in outdoor furniture, chairs that are deeply cushioned and comfortable lounge chairs are important. Plenty of outdoor selections offer cushioning and comfort along with refreshing spa colors. Look for deep seating and plush cushioning. You can even get recliners for your patios and porches, and they are just as comfortable and stylish as the indoor ones.
Versatility is especially important for home furnishings purchases, as people expect furniture to serve two or more functions. Many manufacturers have now built multi-function into their new outdoor furniture. Tables with drop leafs, storage benches, and chairs versatile enough to use outdoors or indoors are some of the choices available. Fire pits and indoor/outdoor lamps convert patios into warm, attractive areas that can be used for entertaining at night as well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Basic Interior Design Principles

When you know the basic interior design principles you can transform any space to look fabulous. In design, balance creates a feeling of equilibrium. It is all about equalizing or approximating the visual weight of objects. Balance is created not just through shape, but through color, pattern, and texture as well.
As in music, rhythm in design is all about creating patterns of repetition and contrast to create visual interest. You can achieve this by using the same color or shape at different intervals. Its purpose is to move your eye around the room. For instance, you can establish a rhythm by using a color in the pillows, picking it up in a painting, and echoing it again in a rug. These repetitions will help carry your eye around the room.
Harmony is created when all the elements act together to create a unified message. Just as rhythm can create excitement, harmony creates a sense of restfulness. For instance, you can create harmony by using just one color, even though your forms vary greatly in shape, size and texture.
A room where everything gets equal importance will seem either scattered or boring. You need an anchor. Architectural spaces often have points of interest such as a fireplace or a window with a beautiful view. You can choose to enhance the built in focal point by arranging furniture around it to emphasize it. In a room that lacks such a built in point of interest you can create one through groupings of furniture or using an unusual or large piece.
Proportion is the ratio between the size of one part to another, and scale is how the size of one object relates to another or to the space in which it is placed. For instance, a large overstuffed sectional in a small room will be out of scale.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Top 10 Furniture Trends of the Decade

1. Furniture going green. Green furniture has always been available, but now it seems to be going mainstream.

2. Furniture with a smaller profile. Since our living spaces are shrinking, this decade has seen furniture with a smaller profile.

3. Multifunctional Furniture. When space is at a premium, you need furniture that can perform multiple tasks.

4. Technology Driven Furniture Design. The use of modern technology has determined furniture design as well. It is most apparent in the design of entertainment centers.

5. Popularity of Vintage Furniture. Vintage furniture has really come into it’s own. Vintage furniture is green on many counts.

6. Globally Inspired Furniture. The globe seems to be shrinking, and other cultures no longer seem as distant. The idea of bringing the world to our homes is catching on.

7. The Growing Importance Outdoor Furniture. Casual furniture or outdoor furniture has made leaps and bounds in the last decade or more.

8. Custom-made Furniture. Customization of furniture seems to be a trend that continues to develop and evolve.

9. Specialty Sleep Surfaces. An interest in specialty sleep surfaces began with waterbeds and has grown and developed over the years.

10. Leather Furniture. Leather furniture has a newfound popularity because now it comes in different shapes and colors.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Designing your Media Room

Home theater is all the rage now, especially with fuel costs and inflation in general keeping people at home more. Although this sort of luxury had previously been popular among those with more disposable income, families of more modest means now find that with a few changes they can make an existing room into a home theater without shattering their budget.

A home theater, after all, is an area that is optimized for movie viewing, with comfortable seating and good-quality equipment arranged according to a simple formula that allows every viewer to see and hear the feature fully without strain. Ideally your home theater will include a wide-screen TV and surround sound, but if you don’t have those big-ticket items yet you can start with what you have and then upgrade, as you’re ready to. If you feel your room is too small to accommodate a home theater set-up, you may be surprised. Consider the extra flexibility that a corner media unit will afford you as it helps to maximize the available space.

Situate the television against the wall where it works best according to this simple formula: your seating should begin at a distance that is twice the horizontal width of the TV screen. The back row of seating should not be farther back than five times the screen’s horizontal width. Leather is the ultimate upholstery choice for home theater seating, but microfiber also works well and can handle the spills that are bound to happen sooner or later.

If square footage allows, you can also set aside a corner of your newly transformed media room with a comfortable chair for listening to music. A pleasant but not too busy piece of art on the wall or a small sculpture on a table will contribute to the relaxing atmosphere, allowing for fuller enjoyment of the songs.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spring Cleaning

When the weather starts to get warmer, people long for a clean, fresh house to match the fresh outdoors! Don't get caught off guard. Be prepared for the warm weather by starting your Spring Cleaning early! Follow these steps to get a jump-start on spring, and shake off that winter dirt!

Plan your attack. Don't plan on doing it all in one day. Make a list of tasks for each room. Talk to your family about your plans and get them involved, too. Assign each person an area and a day, so they know in advance. Clean the woodwork and corners, clean the windows inside and out, and clean drapes. Dust lamps, accessories, electronics and pictures frames. Start tackling your laundry. Enlist family members to help out folding and putting away!

Store away all of the winter clothes. Donate any clothes that are in good condition and won't fit next year. Store all of the winter boots and jackets, too. Make sure everything is clean and dry before storing. Sort through your cabinets and drawers, get rid of or donate anything you haven't used in the last year. Wipe out the bottom of each drawer and cabinet. Clean out your office. Go through your inbox, sift through your papers and get rid of the clutter. Prep your outdoors for the warm weather. Check your patio furniture and clean if needed. Check your lawn mower, start to clean up your flowerbed, and clean out the garage.

Every time you finish something on your list, take pride in crossing it out. Spring-cleaning doesn't have to be the dreaded chore it sounds like when it's broken down into manageable pieces. Set achievable goals and you'll be done in no time. Now for the most important part, remember to reward yourself after each milestone…grab some hot chocolate and go for a walk with your sweetie, take a long hot bath in your freshly cleaned tub, or put up your feet and watch a movie.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How to Hang a Picture

You’ve found the right art, you’ve found the right spot and now it’s time to display your beautiful piece for all to see. First, check your hanging surface. If your work of art is a large heavy piece that is going on drywall, you may want to use two picture hooks to make sure it gets plenty of support. Drywall, the most common surface, it is also the softest and inserting a picture hook is fairly uncomplicated. However, because drywall is the softest, it is recommended that you use an electronic ‘stud finder’ to locate a vertical beam of wood in the wall and hang your picture there, using a screw instead of a nail.
For bigger pictures hung on drywall, a fastener may be required. Besides using two picture hooks, a more reliable way to provide support is to install a toggle bolt. A toggle bolt has ‘wings’ that slide through a hole drilled into the wall and expands after it has been pushed through. It grips the wall from the inside as it is tightened.

Although plaster tends to hold fasteners better than drywall, when it comes to plaster, forget about the nail and hammer. You’ll want to drill a hole and use a wall anchor in this case. A wall anchor is a sleeve inserted into a drilled hole that will expand as a screw is driven into it. This will give a little extra grip in supporting the frame and makes sure the screw doesn’t slip back out. Brick or masonry will be the same as plaster- except this time; a little bit of epoxy might be inserted into the drilled hole. When you insert the screw or hook this time, be sure it is large enough to support the weight you need. Once it goes in and the epoxy dries, it’s not going to easily come back out.

Now that you have decided on the location your art should hang, it’s time to take a look at the wire that will be supporting the weight of the frame. The heavier the frame the, thicker the gauge of wire needed. This wire should then be attached to screw eyes, which are driven into the wood of the frame about 2/3 up from the bottom. The wire should extend up into the middle of the space between the top of the frame and the screw eyes. If you can see the wire over the top of the frame, you’ve gone too high. This is where it can be really handy to have a second person’s help. While the other person holds the frame up to the wall, you can stand back and decide which height is best to display your picture and then mark the wall lightly with a pencil at the top center of the frame. Flipping the frame over, push the wire on the back of the picture up towards the top of the frame and measure the distance from the peak of the wire to the top of the frame. Then take the same measurement and mark an X below your marker line on the wall. Now hang your picture and, with the help of a level, adjust it to your taste. If the picture seems too high or too low, adjust the wire on the back of the picture to achieve the desired result. Now your favorite art piece or your family picture is ready and on display for all to admire!