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Posts Tagged ‘Storage’

Canned Foods (Consumer Reports)

Image courtesy of Consumer Reports

Almost everyone knows by now that many of the refillable water bottles we love are lined with an epoxy-based material that contains carcinogenic chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA). Public outcry has resulted in several manufacturers now offering bottles with alternative, non-epoxy-based linings.

What is not quite so well known, however, is that the linings of most food and beverage cans are also this same type of epoxy resin that also contain BPA. This is the chemical that is responsible for the vastly longer shelf lives of canned foods in this day and age, which is why it’s become so ubiquitous.

Consumer Reports recently tested a variety of canned foods for its presence, and found that even organic foods, and those made by manufacturers who make a concerted effort to avoid the epoxy resins still have significant levels of BPA in the food samples tested. Only one manufacturer, Eden, has so far managed to find a source of cans that was even willing to address the problem and attempt to make cans without BPA.

Despite being packed in cans made by the Ball Corp. with the oleo-based material previously known as “corn enamel”, which was common in food can linings prior to the 60s, testing still found measurable levels of BPA in Eden’s foods (although vastly below those found in other brands), suggesting that there may be multiple sources of exposure to the chemical in the food chain, not just in the cans.

You can read the rest of the whole article about this, and learn about the FDA’s new assessments of what a safe level of BPA exposure may be on the Consumer Reports blog.

So should you clean out your kitchen cabinets, throw away all of your canned foods, and never buy any more? In the ideal world, perhaps yes, but we all know that we don’t live in one. BPA is one of the highest volume chemicals in the world, though, even found in dust and water samples from all over the world, so at this point, it’s completely unavoidable in the environment, and it would be a reasonable assumption that this is one of the additional sources Consumer Reports speculates about. Eliminating BPA from food can linings may help, but until that happens, you can at least dramatically decrease your exposure to it by avoiding canned food wherever possible.

So what does this have to do with interior design?

Kitchen Storage

Kristi Stratton, CountryLiving.com

Well, clearly kitchens are where food is stored and prepared, and most are now designed with as much storage space as possible for both housewares and packaged foods. You may find, however, that as you reduce your reliance on canned goods and other processed foods, that you may need different types of storage, and it may need to be configured somewhat differently. Many things can be packaged in glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic or cans, but both glass and ceramics tend to be a lot heavier and bulkier than cans and plastic containers, and of course will break if dropped, so you’ll need to pay careful attention to how your storage is laid out so that they are easily – and safely – accessible. Increased refrigeration space may be required as well, in order to accomm0date a wider range of fresh produce and other foods.

It may be that you won’t actually even need as much space, though, because the shorter shelf lives of fresh foods and those that come in jars instead of cans means you’ll probably be shopping more often, but for smaller quantities. Or perhaps you’ll start buying in bulk and doing your own canning and preserving.

Well Stocked Pantry with Preserved Foods

Library of Congress via TheSustainableKitchen.com

You’ll be chopping up more things, so ensuring adequate preparation space that suits your needs and ideally allows you to work while seated as well as standing will be useful.

You may need or want additional cooktop burners or additional and innovative cooking sources like the marvelous new steam or combination steam/convection ovens. Steaming is one of the best possible ways to prepare food, locking in both nutrients and moisture, and these ovens make it so incredibly convenient that you wouldn’t believe it.

Miele Steam Oven

Miele Steam Oven

And because it’s healthier for both you and the environment, avoiding canned foods and learning to make your own fresh, more healthful meals from scratch, you’ll also be being much more green. True sustainable design doesn’t end with the cabinets and other finishes used; it translates through to how the space is used, how waste is removed, and much, much more.

So, if you’re designing a new kitchen, you’ll need to take these changing food preparation habits into account, and communicate your desires to your designer, so that the space can be optimized for food preparation patterns that are less common today than they used to be, and with which you yourself may not yet be as familiar with the requirements of and ways to optimize.

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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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