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White bronze nesting tables

White bronze nesting tables

JOHN LYLE Katherine Nesting Tables 003

Every so often, a piece of furniture comes along that can only be described as a work of art, or jewelry for the home.  These beautiful nesting tables are a prime example of this breed of goods – and vastly prettier in person than the images show.  The gleam of the highly polished metal base contrasts with the sparkle of the hammered finish of the tabletops in these distinctly contemporary pieces, while the detailing of the bases recalls more traditional design – crenellated castles, anyone?

The weight lets you know you are truly dealing with a quality piece, as does the sheer perfection of the finish and attention to detail. The finishes are like silk.

This is a magnificent melding of form and function in a pair of petite tables that will be at home almost anywhere.

Made of bronze, these nesting tables are available in a variety of polished and patina finishes (11 in all), including the three shown here.

Size: 11.5″ square x 20″ high

Please contact me for pricing if interested in adding these jewels to your own home.

JOHN LYLE Katherine Nesting Tables

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HIGH POINT — The American Home Furnishings Alliance is launching a program called Eco3Home that will allow consumers to research information on AHFA members and their products regarding safety, health and environmental stewardship.

It will be anchored by a consumer website, www.eco3home.com, where shoppers will be able to find out about AHFA manufacturer or importer members participating in the program, and also can research a particular piece of furniture in detail.

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So far, very few manufacturers have signed on to this program, but perhaps more will with time, as it becomes known.  The idea is certainly an excellent one, and I hope this program really takes off.

I sure hope that the high end companies like Dessin Fournir, Holly Hunt, and others that I am accustomed to using most frequently will get onto this sort of bandwagon.  There is progress happening in the industry, with more and more attractive furniture being made in green ways, so that environmental responsibility need not mean sacrificing style, but it still hasn’t hit the really top quality goods.

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Furniture Today reports about a London man who has suffered severe skin rashes and burns shown to result from the anti-mold chemical dimethyl fumarate, or DMF in his Chinese-made sofa, and was awarded a four-figure settlement for his claim.

According to further stories in the London Times, DMF is a common ingredient added to sofas and chairs by Chinese manufacturers Linkwise and Eurosofa, particularly leather ones, to help protect them from humid conditions.  Several other manufacturers are also being investigated.

DMF is packaged in little packets like the silica dessicants you are already familiar with that are often packaged with delicate goods, but these are inserted inside the seat cushions and between the leather and the cushion, so you won’t see any sign of them.

Unfortunately, DMF can evaporate when exposed to warm conditions, and soak through clothing to reach the skin resulting in some potentially very serious reactions.  Because gases are a very rare cause of skin rashes, it took a while to figure out what was going on, but a study in Sweden has  conclusively proven the connection.  Similar problems have also surfaced in France, Finland, Poland, and Sweden.  Apparently there have been thousands of similar injuries.

There have also been reports of similar reactions caused by some shoes as well.

As a result of these problems, the European Commission has now banned DMF and demanded a recall of all products containing DMF by May 1, 2009 and notification of affected consumers.  Unfortunately, not all retailers have complied, so there may still be thousands of these sofas and chairs out there, so please beware if you are purchasing inexpensive furniture, as much of it is made in China and may well contain this chemical.

If you have purchased new upholstered furniture in the past couple of years and have been experiencing any kind of problems with skin or respiratory irritation since then, this may well be the cause of it.

I haven’t been able to find any evidence that DMF been banned in the US, and it’s a good bet it’s present in furnishings sold here as well.  For starters, I’ve located suppliers of it in the US, and I’ve also found websites showing a furniture company by the same name in North Carolina and shipping information to a warehouse in Canada from Link Wise in China.  Because I also know that there’s a ton of Chinese-made furniture in our country, it would be a reasonable conclusion that this same contamination may well be found throughout the United States and Canada.

Please note that this is a chemical added by the furniture manufacturers, and is not used in the leather tanning process itself, so it should not be an issue for the vast majority of leather products, particularly high quality goods.

So how do you protect yourself?

First of all, don’t panic, even if you’ve recently bought leather furniture.  Call the store and ask where it was manufactured, especially if you’re experiencing any new and/or persistent respiratory or skin symptoms you haven’t found any other cause for.

If you’re just now looking to buy, start by asking questions in the stores or of the designer who is showing you the products about where the furniture was manufactured, and about any chemicals used in the process.  You may not be able to get an answer, but it’s worth trying – and if you can’t get an answer, do consider passing on that item, because the odds are high that it will indeed be from China, especially if you’re buying from a lower end store.  Likewise, if you think the furniture seems particularly well-priced or inexpensive, keep a very high index of suspicion, unless the store or your designer can assure you that it was manufactured elsewhere.

If you’re working with a designer, he or she should be willing to ask the showroom for you and get back to you if she doesn’t already know the answer.

If any furniture salesperson asks you about allergies or chemical sensitivities, run like the wind, because there have been reports of unscrupulous salespeople and shops still trying to sell this stuff even where it’s been banned.

And always buy quality goods – the very best you can possibly afford, even if you have to purchase it one item at a time over a period of time in order to be able to afford better quality.  You really do get what you pay for with furniture, in so many ways.  In the end, high quality furnishings will last and look beautiful for decades, while cheaper stuff will fall apart and look shabby quickly and have to be replaced much more frequently, often at greater overall cost in the long run.  In later blog posts, I’ll cover how to tell good furniture from the rest, both upholstered and casegoods.

Also, given all of the reports of various other contaminated products coming out of China these days, including drywall used in many new homes, I hate to say it, but it might be a good idea to be extremely cautious indeed about learning the origins of anything you purchase, and to possibly just say no to Chinese products altogether.  Yes, you can get a lot for your money with cheap, mass-produced Chinese furniture, which accounts for a huge percentage of the mass market furniture sold in the US, but between these kinds of health risks and the negative impact on our own economy, and given that there’s a lot of top quality product out there coming from the US itself and other countries that do not have these problems (and is much, much greener/more sustainable in many ways), are the risks really worth it?

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Furniture tipping over can create a significant hazard in the home, particularly to young children, although the frail elderly and the disabled may also be disproportionately negatively impacted as well. Top quality furniture has always resisted tipping over as a result of use far more effectively than cheaper goods, because best manufacturing practices and materials create structure that builds this in to a large extent.

However, particularly since most people purchase mass market goods, much of which does not come anywhere near meeting these kinds of inherent quality standards, it’s important to read the press release below, and to be alert to the hazard, as well as to ways you can mitigate it.

In earthquake-prone areas such as California, it is particularly important to bolt taller pieces of furniture to the wall in order to prevent tip-over in an earthquake (although that still won’t help with the problem of poorly constructed drawers falling out). In an earthquake, all bets are off as to what will or will not tip over due to construction quality, and you’ve got to assume that everything will fall over. Securing tall pieces to the wall is just plain a good idea everywhere else, too, for the reasons outlined below, just on general principles, and is the reason this new voluntary standard has been developed.

In future posts, I’ll address the question of what to look for in furniture construction of various types of furniture in order to ensure you get the best possible quality, which contributes to safety, comfort, usability, durability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness, as well as pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Please click on the posts feed button on the top right side of this blog’s home page if you’d like to subscribe to this blog to be automatically notified about any new posts, and on the comments button if you want to follow the comments.

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(05/18/2009) AHFA Will Use Consumer Website to Help Educate Parents About Furniture Tip-Over Hazards
By: Jackie Hirschhaut, 336/881-1016

HIGH POINT, N.C. – ASTM International has released a revised furniture tip-over standard requiring manufacturers to include a “tip restraint” with each chest, door chest and dresser taller than 30 inches.

“Tip restraints attach the piece of furniture to an interior wall, framing or other support to help prevent the piece from tipping over,” explains American Home Furnishings Alliance Vice President Bill Perdue, who served as co-chair of the furniture safety subcommittee that worked on the revised standard. “Furnishings that comply with the new standard also will carry a new warning label that cautions parents not to open more than one drawer at a time, not to place televisions or other heavy objects on the top of the product, and not to allow children to climb on drawers.” (more…)

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Italian Boar Hunting Scene Screen

This stunning hand-painted 4-panel screen with a scene of an Italian boar hunt would be spectacular in any room of the house, either as a room divider, to hide an unneeded door or unattractive architectural “feature”, or even just hung on the wall like the artwork it is. The soft, soothing blues and greens combine to create a trompe l’oeil image that will make small rooms look larger than they really are.

W90″ x H80″

Retail price: $10,065

Hoechstetter Interiors price:  $7,811.43, plus freight

(Prices subject to change without notice.)

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remodelling-buyers-market

If you’ve put remodelling and redecorating plans on hold because of the economy and thinking you can’t afford to do it right now, it’s definitely time to rethink that position, for a variety of reasons.

If you’re like many people, you’re likely spending more time at home these days instead of out and about, eating out, going to theater and concerts, travelling, etc. So why not be sure the space you’re spending all this additional time in is your dream place to be?

Unlike the money you spend on vacations and the like, which brings fleeting joy, the money you invest into your home may pay back when it comes time to sell, but just as importantly (or even more so), it will also reward you psychically and emotionally every single day you live there by making your home even more comfortable for every day living. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come home at the end of each day and feel that thrill of being in a space that you love and that nurtures you no matter what else is going on in your world? To have a home that you actually don’t even want to leave?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, if you don’t want to or really can’t afford to – even just a fresh coat of paint, some new throw pillows, a new painting or area rug, or moving the artwork or furniture you already have around to different locations can give you a facelift and needed boost. New lighting, new fixtures, and new hardware for your doors and cabinetry are other inexpensive upgrades that can pack a lot of punch.

Don’t know quite what to do, and can’t afford to hire a designer to do the whole thing? Most will consult on an hourly basis to give you any needed advice that can help you avoid expensive mistakes, and to get you pointed in the right direction to complete the job yourself.

However, if you can possibly come up with the cash, now is very definitely the time to go ahead those more major remodelling projects you’ve been putting off, or to remodel a home you’d hoped to sell but now find you have to remain in.

(more…)

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Many building materials and products used in interiors, including the foams used in furniture construction, are required by the building code to be treated with fire retardant chemicals – even those products used in the residential environment. In addition, many fabrics are required to be treated with these chemicals, including clothing and bed linens, and all textiles used in the commercial environment.

There is a tremendous and growing body of evidence that these chemicals accumulate in the body and cause a number of major medical problems including cancers and neurological, reproductive, thyroid, and developmental problems, as well as genetic mutations. Studies have shown that many marine mammals and household pets are dying as a result of the accumulation of these chemicals, and children in particular are becoming seriously ill as a result – many more than would likely die in the fires these products are intended to mitigate. It is inevitable that many of the increasing medical problems that we are all experiencing in this day and age are a result of these widespread practices as well.

Obviously, this is a major public health issue of incalculable proportions that affects not only people living today, but will affect future generations because of the genetic mutations and impossibility of getting rid of these chemicals. And yet, because these products are actually required by the building codes, we either cannot buy products for buildings or interiors without these chemicals already impregnated, or we as designers and architects must actually actively and deliberately specify them separately.

Yes, we are actually required by law to use products in your homes and businesses that are known to put the health and safety of every person who ever enters a building at clear and obvious risk every single day.

This is particularly ironic in light of the arguments that ASID and other pro-legislation groups are putting forth about how designers who go through their mandated educational, experience, and testing pathway are specially trained to protect the health and safety of the public, how this particular training pathway is necessary for us to know how to do that, and how no one who doesn’t have this particular cocktail of experiences could possibly know anything about protecting the public. This is one of their primary arguments for why interior designers should be licensed – but they are obviously basing the requirements on “knowledge” and codes that actually cause considerably more harm to people and the environment than it could ever prevent!

And what’s more, the harm resulting from these chemicals is happening even without them burning. Once they do ignite in a fire (and eventually, they will still burn), then even more toxic chemicals are released into the environment. All burning materials do this, but when you burn nasties like these compounds, you get even more and nastier gasses released into the air.

I wonder how many interior designers actually know anything at all about these issues, especially those who do have professional training? I know that I was certainly never taught about them in design school at either of the two prominent schools that I attended. Sure, they taught us about the codes requiring these chemicals and testing procedures, but definitely not about the hazards inherent in them (or how the tests for flammability don’t actually translate to real life conditions and are therefore themselves invalid as predictors of safety, but that’s a topic for a separate post).

And needless to say, this sure as heck isn’t a very green practice, either – and yet we are required to even apply these toxic chemicals to the most green of materials.

Please read the article below from the Green Science Policy Institute website for more details. (more…)

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What do you do if you want the look of a lot of books (or space for actual books), but your space is too small to install bookcases? Do faux books look real enough if you don’t have enough of the real thing? How can you make the most of the space you’ve got? A question from a reader on an Amazon.com discussion forum about faux books got me thinking about these things the other day.


Faux books look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Faux books often look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

No, most faux books don’t look even remotely real. Because neither they nor the “shelves” they are on are real, they lack depth and characteristics such as shadows that would show in actual bookshelves with real books. They can be fun on things like cabinet doors or utility room doors to conceal them, but the moment someone goes to pull one off the shelf to look at it, they will immediately see what’s up for sure, and your hoped-for erudite image will be blown, so these things are not a great choice for other spaces, especially offices or libraries, where one would expect to find real books.

If you want the look of books but really cannot spare enough floor space to install bookcases for real books, or do need to just conceal an unsightly feature, one decorative (and much cheaper!) option is to just paper one or more walls or the offending element with a wallpaper design that shows books. There are several book designs available commercially, such as Brunschwig & Fils’ famous Bibliotheque design below, by Nina Campbell,

brunschwig-bibliotheque

but you could also make your own collage using photos of books that you take yourself or find elsewhere – or actual pages of books, magazines, or newspapers – and create a highly-personalized, one-of-a-kind design, which will save even more money, plus be unique, as in the chic bedroom image below. You could use images of books on shelves and try to make it as realistic-looking as possible, or tile and overlay the space with images of book covers, or get creative and play with angles and overlaps and adding in other elements as well, just for fun.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com.  Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com. Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

The best way to have the look of books, of course, is to have real ones – and naturally, finding enough space in a small room if you do have a lot of them can be quite a challenge, so what’s a bibliophile to do?

1. Look up

Bookshelves don’t have to sit on the floor, and you can get a lot of mileage out of putting them on the wall, and virtually double your usable space. Hanging shelves over a desk or sofa, above and surrounding doorways and windows, and even completely encircling the room near the ceiling level with one or two shelves can add a lot of extra storage space without taking up any precious floor space at all. Use smaller furniture, too, and less of it, and you’ll be able to fit everything in.

via Cote de Texas.  Is this your image?  Let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

via Cote de Texas; attribution unknown

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

You can even store them in the rafters, if your ceiling is open.

from Apartment Therapy

from Apartment Therapy

2. Look around

Try narrow bookcases (maybe with pull-out shelves) on either side of a chair or sofa instead of or behind your end tables. Match these up with the shelves above the sofa and you’ll create a custom niche for the furniture but use very minimal floor space.

3. Look inside

· Use built-ins or systems furniture (even Elfa shelving, if you can’t afford custom cabinetry or ready-mades) instead of free-standing furniture to maximize the use of space, and integrate cabinetry wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Even a tiny 10’x10’ room can hold a complete library and all possible office equipment this way; I’m working in a space just like this as I write.

from Circa Lighting website

from Circa Lighting website

by Meade Design Group

by Meade Design Group, http://www.themeadegroup.com/

· Is there a closet in the room? Add at least one more shelf above the rod, or, if you can spare the space, fill the closet entirely with shelves. Or hang a closet organizer designed for holding clothing or purses and fill it with paperbacks instead. The clever pantry shown below could just as easily house books or anything else you might want to store and/or display.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

· Look between the studs. Yes, remove the drywall and build it out a few inches, installing shelves between the studs, refinish it, and voila! – a whole bookcase anywhere you want one that only protrudes a few inches tops into the existing floor space of the room. Or replace the whole wall with a bookcase – maybe backed by a translucent plastic to let light in from (or lend it to) the next room over.

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

· Store some inside a multifunction piece of furniture, such as a storage ottoman.

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

· Build a window seat with shelves or a drawer in the base and/or side walls of the nook it’s in. Where drawers are shown in the images below, you could just as easily use open cubbies as bookshelves instead.

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

by Waldo Fernandez

by Waldo Fernandez, http://www.waldosdesigns.com


4. Look behind

If you’ve got as little as 6″ space behind a door when it’s open, with the addition of a large hinge, you can build a bookcase onto the back of the door. Or put the shelving on the front of the door. If you have the space, you can even do this on a bi-fold closet door, or a rotating door.

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

You could also try the Sticklebook, a really cool invisible bookshelf you could install on any wall, for about $28. http://www.sticklebook.com/index.htm

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison

sticklebook2


5. Look down

Line up or pile books underneath your desk, occasional tables, or even the sofa, if you’ve got one that sits on relatively high legs and has no skirt. You can even put some shelves underneath the desk. Pile books artfully around the room on top of tables, desks, windowsills, and on the floor, and display your decorative objets sitting on top of the books. And finally, if your obsession becomes too great, do as Sharon Stanley Ruggiero confessed to resorting to at http://www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2008/08/living-with-books-lots-of-them.html in Joni’s fabulous post on living with masses of books, and place them between the spindles of the banister on your stairway.

6. Books as furniture

Forego one or more end tables and coffee tables altogether, and just use stacks of books. This can either be a permanent solution, or used just until you can afford (or locate) the perfect furniture piece. By themselves or mixed with other items, books are great decorative objects.

Webb Design stacks of books

Webb Design, Cote de Texas

//thepeakofchic.blogspot.com

Keith Irvine via http://thepeakofchic.com

7. Don’t forget other rooms

You don’t have to fit all of your books in one room; where else in your house can you place some? Even the bathroom, kitchen, and hallways are fair game for creative book storage.


8. Edit, edit, edit

Yes, it’s anathema to a book-lover, but eventually, almost all of us have to prune our book collections to some extent, so take a good, hard look at how many, and which, books are most essential to you, and find new homes for as many of the others as you need to, when the time comes.

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NOTE:

– Please pardon any formatting errors or oddities; I’m still learning how to use this software and deal with the graphics.

– For any images without attribution, if you know the photographer and/or designer, or it’s your image, please let me know and I’ll update it with your tag line.


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