Posts Tagged ‘Saving Money’

Image from Sparkly Like a Holiday

OK, I admit it.  I’m stealing this topic from Paul Anater, over at Kitchen and Residential Design.  But I’m not going to say the same things.

Yes, I quite agree that chalkboard paint is overdone – and way overdone in several of the images he shows.  It’s old.  It’s boring.  It’s dated.  There are clearly limits to its usefulness, safety, and definitely to its appearance.  Not only can it be toxic when it gets into your food as Paul mentions, but chalk dust can also be a major problem for people who have allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities, so it would not foster an accessible design for people who suffer from such afflictions.  It would also violate universal and visitability design principles, as it could create a similar hazard for other users of the space, particularly visitors whose sensitivities might be unknown.  Chalk dust doesn’t do anything for overall air quality, either, so that lowers the green design reusability quotient of the paint, never mind what the VOC content of it might be.

Now that we’ve looked at the potential health hazards, let’s focus more on the visual elements.

Looking at the images Paul posted, the ones that really offend me the most are the refrigerator fully covered in the dreadful green version of the paint, that huge, frightening expanse of black wall and door, and yes, that hideous kitchen. (more…)

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Tax incentives proposed for home furnishings purchases

Bill would give deductions, credits to consumers, retailers

Larry Thomas — Furniture Today, July 31, 2009

WASHINGTON — Two Georgia congressmen have filed a bill that would give a variety of income tax deductions and credits to consumers and retailers who purchase home furnishings and building products.

Known as the Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy (Hire) Act of 2009, the bill is designed to stimulate two industries the congressmen say have $67 billion in economic value.

“Not only would this bill help stimulate the manufacturing market for home furnishings and building products, it would save and create retail jobs, generate billions in revenue and increase home values at a time when we really need a boost,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill with Republican Rep. Nathan Deal.

The bill would provide a tax deduction of up to $2,000 for families with household income of $300,000 or less who purchase qualifying home furnishings or building products through Dec.31, 2011.

The deduction could be taken even if the taxpayer doesn’t itemize other deductions.

For lower income families, the bill allows a tax credit of up to $500 for qualifying purchases. The income ceiling for the credit was not immediately clear.

In addition, retailers and contractors who purchase home furnishings and building products for resale to consumers are eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the wholesale purchase price. The credit would be capped at $10,000 annually.

The applicable deduction or credit would be doubled if the products meet recognized environmental standards such as Energy Star or LEED, according to the bill.

The bill defines qualified building products and home furnishings as those which are used in the taxpayer’s principal residence and installed within six months of the purchase date. Electronics, appliances, housewares, artwork, photographs and “other home decorations” are not eligible for any of the proposed deductions or credits.

The measure has been endorsed by the International Sleep Products Assn., the American Home Furnishings Alliance and the National Home Furnishings Assn.

The three groups are among 14 trade associations that make up the American Home Furnishings and Building Products Coalition, which was formed last December.


Even without tax incentives, and even if you don’t live in Georgia, this is a great time to invest in at least some of the wonderful new things for your home that you know you’ve been dreaming of!  Not only will prices never be lower (and in some cases, may already be discounted), but it would still help stimulate the economy, which can only benefit us all.  Plus, you’d then get all that enjoyment of your newly redesigned home for years to come!

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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.

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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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One of the many ways an interior designer can save you money is by ensuring that the design for your home or office is completed and that all details are hammered out and all materials are selected before you start to make purchases, do construction, etc. It is always cheaper to make changes and iron out details on paper before you start actually making changes, purchases, etc. – often by quite a lot.

Particularly when undertaking a complex project such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, there can be literally hundreds of decisions that must be made, many of which depend on decisions made before that, and most people who have never been through it before really have no idea how involved this can get.  Even a single chair may potentially have as many as five or six  or even more fabrics, trims, and/or finishes involved; the complexity increases exponentially when you move beyond that into a full scale redesign or remodel of an entire space.

It ought to go without saying, then, that it’s best to wait until the design is complete before you undertake activities like demolition, installation, or purchasing anything, for the same reason – not to mention keeping your designer sane and happy.

One of the most difficult situations to work with is when clients get in such a hurry that they think they are speeding things up by hiring a contractor and starting demolition before they’ve hammered out all of the details of what’s going to replace what’s already there, or if they run out and select the paint colors and paint the whole interior on their own before we finish deciding on the furniture and fabrics and other finishes.  In reality, the exact opposite is true, and this sort of thing is just going about the whole remodeling and design thing rather bass ackwards.

What ends up happening is that the design usually has to be completely reworked in order to accommodate these hasty actions, which invariably will cost you at least double what it would have cost to just put the brakes on and go about things in an orderly fashion in the first place, not to mention taking a whole lot more time.

Yes, I can probably find some way to cobble something together that will work with the pea green, orange, and turquoise paint scheme you’ve just put up, at least sort of, but it will take many more hours of time in showrooms, sifting through fabrics, in order to find it than it would have to start with the basic scheme and all soft goods, and then to select complementary paint colors, or have it custom blended to match exactly.  Paint is easy, but it’s dramatically more time consuming to match fabrics or rugs to paint than vice versa, and it limits options tremendously.  When any kind of construction is involved, the potential problems just multiply way beyond this.

And all of that extra time involved to work around what’s already been done out of order will cost you money.

Since most designers now charge on an hourly basis, this isn’t the end of the world for us, since we’ll just keep on billing you to redo the job until it’s finished. It’s annoying for everyone, though, because it compromises our ability to do a really stellar job for you at a reasonable price, and may well cause your job to go over budget, which everyone hates. And we hate, hate, hate having the design screwed up this way, with clients often ending up with something less than they would have had otherwise, all while paying more for it. Jumping the gun like this is usually a lose/lose proposition all the way around, for all of these reasons. We don’t like having to bill you to redo a design – or losing the chance to do the best possible job for you – and I have yet to hear of a client who actually likes having to pay for it.

If you want to make changes midstream, or to start construction on one part while something else is still in progress, or to incorporate elements you did not initially include such as those new antique rugs you picked up in India, that’s certainly your prerogative as the client, but do at least run your thoughts and any product selections by your designer before you do take any action to find out what impact on the overall project such changes will have.

If your project also happens to be a charity project or something else that the designer has for some reason elected to do for you pro bono, however, and you put the cart before the horse, you have now also just thoroughly ticked off your designer as well as cost her a lot of money, which is not exactly going to get her to want to go out of her way to keep on working on your project, or to do others for you at another time.

I have no problem reworking a design if what I come up with initially isn’t quite right and we need to tweak it or even start all over again in order to ensure it’s exactly what is right for that job and that client. That’s part and parcel of the whole process. But when I’ve worked my tail off to create something wonderful for a client – especially when it’s a freebie – only to find that they’ve just now changed the whole ballgame by putting the cart before the horse, then that does not make me a very happy camper at all.  And I know that you aren’t likely to be as happy with the end result as you would have been otherwise.  Stuff happens, and unexpected obstacles crop up that force design changes often enough as is.

So, yes, I know you’re champing at the bit to just do something you can see once you decide to undertake a design project, but do yourself a favor, and rein yourself in until you’ve got the whole design finalized, at least on paper.  Your pocketbook will thank you, your money will go further, and you’ll be much happier with the end result.

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Move over, Japan; these Dutch designers may give you a run for your money in the department of joinery without screws or glue.

The innovative new office of Amsterdam ad agency Nothing was designed by Alrik Koudenburg and Joost van Bleiswijk using nothing (hah!) but interlocking pieces of reinforced cardboard – 500 square meters of it, and 1,500 separate pieces. That’s it. No glue, no screws, no tape, staples, etc. Just interlocking parts, like a giant custom-made Tinkertoy set.

The detail is amazing. Look how much it looks like actual steel beam construction.

Talk about green – and an incredibly economical way to fit out a new space.

I wonder how well those desk and table surfaces will hold up, though, especially once someone inevitably spills coffee or food on them. Maybe they’ve been treated with some kind of sealant – hopefully a green one.

Photos by Joachim Baan – more available here.

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