Friday, April 18, 2014

Two Great Questions To Ask

I was checking out Renovating NYC and came across this re-post from Raina Cox, an Interior Designer based in Colorado titled "Is your client really ready? 5 questions you need to ask." I've lots of reasons for hiring an interior designer and questions clients should ask. I've even written some myself. This article asks some new questions of a prospective client.

  • “Do you have a realistic budget?” That's a natural!
  • “Are you prepared for the disruption in your life?”
  • “Are you comfortable with how long this will take?” 
  • “What do you think this project will do for you?” - Isn't that a great question? "While decorating can make home life easier by solving problems like traffic flow and space utilization, it cannot make the client a smarter or more well-regarded person."
  • “Is your life in order?” - "Decisions made in an emotional tornado are seldom the right ones, and Yoga Pants Mom will never be comfortable in a Z Gallerie glitz-fest."
Raina Cox has a follow-up to this article and quiz. See 5 signs a potential client my be crazy.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A New Series At Houzz: Off The Grid

Architect, Designer, Or Do It Yourself?

Renovating NYC carries an wonderful article by rjdiaz,  Should You Use An Architect, A Designer, or Do It Yourself? 

Interior designer Gail Green writes, "While previously relying on a professional’s expertise, client’s are now, for the most part, calling the shots. Design is motivated by the client’s desire to get the best possible price without realizing the inherent cost to them. Inherent because cost is not just comprised of the dollars spent, but something much more valuable: talent and expertise."

The article is filled with numerous examples of a fool and his money are soon parted. Great ammunition to convince your next prospective client.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Is Solar Power In Your Future?

Solar power is booming! Spurred by a 60% drop in solar panel costs in the last 2 ½ years, robust government subsidies and a technology that no longer appears experimental to mainstream America, rooftop photovoltaic solar is bursting out everywhere. About 200,000 U.S. homes and businesses added rooftop solar in the past two years alone – about 3 gigawatts of power and enough to replace four or five conventionally-sized coal plants. The U.S. is now generating via solar panels almost 10 gigawatts each year. That’s enough to power 1.5 million average American homes; that’s the equivalent of removing 1.9 million cars from the road; that’s like planting 236,000,000 trees.

Yet solar power provides less than 1 percent of the nation’s energy needs. Even in Oregon! Though our state has a reputation for clouds and rain, western Oregon actually receives as much solar energy as the national average. During a year’s time, an Oregon solar system will produce as much energy as the same system installed in Florida.

PGE says that solar systems generally cost $4.50 to $6 per watt. Home solar system sizes vary, but most are 1,000 watts to 4,000 watts (1 kW to 4 kW). As an example, a 2,000-watt (2 kW) solar system would cost about $9,000 to $12,000. There are two ways to offset the cost. The first option is Net Metering Billing which lets you offset the cost of the electricity you use from your local utility with the energy you generate. The second is the Solar Payment Option. Your utility pays you for the power you generate up to the amount of electricity you use.

Some utilities are changing the rules. They want to charge a fee for using the Net Metering Billing method. They are experiencing a decline in revenue that is threatening their ratings. Expect more organizations like Green Tea, a pro-solar group in Georgia consisting of Sierra Club members and Tea Party founders, to fight for consumers’ rights.

If you would like to investigate solar power for your home, why not click the right-sidebar HomeSolar101 banner for a free quote?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

New Maralunga Sofa

The history of furniture has always fascinated this writer. I've had articles about Klismos chairs and Chesterfield sofas,m etc., but never a Maralunga sofa. It turns out the Maralunga sofa designed in 1974 was the first upholstered sofa that incorporated movement. It was designed by Cesare Cassina.

"Legend has it that when Cassina first saw Magistretti’s prototype for the now-iconic 1974 Maralunga sofa, he disliked it so much that he punched it — hard. His frustration split the back of the model, which fell back over itself so that it resembled a headrest."

Now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sofa, 20 students from the Swiss art and design school ECAL have updated the sofa and it will be on display at Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan’s annual design week,

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Guest Post: The Future Of Office Furniture

 These are stirring times for office furniture. The world is progressing, and people’s needs when it comes to desks, seating and so on are changing too. With this in mind, below are just some of the emerging trends that are likely to impact on office furniture.

Floating around the office

Traditionally, office workers were tied to specific desks (not literally of course - or at least we hope!). This was seen as the most practical and efficient use of space. Also, it meant people could personalise their workstations with everything from their own stationery to pictures of the family guinea pig.

However, this orthodoxy is being challenged. Increasingly, experts are advocating a freer approach whereby employees can essentially float around the office, choosing workstations that suit their needs at any given time. They might start their days at desks working on their own and move to communal, brainstorming areas later on, for example. A typical office of the future may have zones including restaurants, coffee bars, meeting spaces, breakout areas and private rooms where people can get on with their tasks.

Home working

Increased home working is another key trend. Companies are switching onto the benefits of letting their staff operate remotely. This can save them office space and, when done well, it can boost productivity.

In some cases, firms are providing good quality furniture to their workers to help ensure they are able to function properly at home.

Local hubs

As well as working from their houses and flats, more and more people are setting up shop in local hubs. These communal working areas are a response to the potential isolation of working alone at home. They can also provide people with an opportunity to network, which is especially handy for freelancers and business start-ups.

Greater choice over technology

It’s hard to imagine life these days without all our gadgets by our side. What would you do if one day you awoke to find your computer, tablet and smartphone had disappeared? We know what we’d do, and that’s panic!

As workers become ever more dependent on technology, there is a trend towards giving them a greater say over the devices they use. Many people are still simply plonked in front of PCs and told to get on with their tasks, but over coming years this is likely to change.

More unusual furniture

There will always be a place for comfy chairs that promote good posture, but alongside these products, other objects may be commonplace in the office of the future. Already, some companies are providing their personnel with more informal items like beanbags as a supplement to traditional seating.

A number of companies are also embracing the idea that exercise can help to stimulate the mind. By encouraging their workers to use exercise balls, static bikes or simply to stand while getting on with their work, they hope to boost productivity. It remains to be seen whether this will catch on or not!

Author Bio - This article was written by Carly Lincoln, who is known in the furniture industry for her specialist knowledge. She researches her articles on various sites, including

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

This Is Stanley

Back in 2007 we hosted Stanley 101 and announced the introduction of  Stanley Young America lineWe said at the time "Young America easily adapts to (family) changes, and grows right along with your children. Imagine you can go from the changing station to toddler to teenager..."

Today, Stanley announced it is discontinuing the Young America line and will concentrate instead on the "'... profitable and growing Stanley brand." The company said it plans to honor orders of Young America products placed on or before April 28.

We thought at the time Young America was a great idea. We are sorry to see this part of their business cancelled. However, our respect for Stanley continues. With Stanley and your interior designer, we want to help you create your dream home with quality, stylish furniture that’s affordable. Stanley offers furniture in contemporary, transitional, traditional, and cottage styles and meets the needs of almost everyone.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bernhardt Furniture, one of the largest family-owned furniture companies in the country, will mark its 125th anniversary in 2014 with a year of activities to honor its culture, heritage and a legacy of giving.

“We are all very proud of our long heritage,” says Alex Bernhardt Jr., CEO and president of Bernhardt, Lenoir, N.C. “At this milestone, we reaffirm the company’s founding values of making quality furniture and building a strong community for our employees.” Central to the company’s 125th anniversary celebration is a new Web site,, paying tribute to the company’s cultural legacy and to Bernhardt associates who are making outstanding contributions to improve the lives of people in their local communities.

The Web site will feature 12 individuals--nominated by their peers and chosen by a steering committee--in monthly segments, with the goal to engage and inspire people in the causes of community responsibility and cultural preservation. The company will make a donation to a charitable cause championed by the featured employees. This month features Dawn Barrett who founded "Dress to Impress." For over 15 years, she has organized an army of 70+ community volunteers to dress girls every spring who could not afford a prom gown.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A New Level For Uttermost Lamps

"Striking new introductions that feature unique materials such as rich gold leaf and organic cast iron are ushering in a new level of style and sophistication for the Uttermost lighting collection for 2014."

Here's an example:


Hammered cast iron finished in an aged rust bronze. The round hardback drum shade is a rust beige linen fabric.
Designer:Matthew Williams
Number of Bulbs:1
Dimensions:35 H Shade 16 Dia. (in)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest Post: The Science of Eco-Friendly Furniture for Responsible Consumers

Responsible consumers are able to do a number of things to cut down on their carbon footprint, such as reusing fabrics from old clothes (think thrift store vintage), reupholstering old furniture and staying away from vinyl at all costs but does everybody know why these things are important? The science behind responsible choices, such as furniture that off-gasses cancer causing VOCs, may be alarming enough to get America thinking. Something as simple as purchasing a new sofa can impact the environment in a number of ways depending on the material it’s made out of.

Bad material choices start with endangered species.
Too many consumers don’t know about the endangered wood species that make up their beautiful dining room table. Reclaimed wood or wood with a certificate from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified are the environmentally friendly options. Notice that a “chain of custody” (CoC) certification is not the same thing as an FSC, so don’t deal with retailers who promise this CoC.

Don’t close your eyes to the problem of buying exotic tropical hardwoods like Brazilian Cherry. This wood has become the number one export in Brazil, which is in extremely high demand and goes toward the support of illegal logging in the Amazon Rain Forest.  With all of the alternatives  on the market not contributing to the loss of unique ecosystems and the ever greater threat of global warming, why choose endangered wood?

Why vinyl should be a figment of our shameful past.
Vinyl is cheap, but it costs the environment a pretty penny. All of the vinyl patio furniture, table cloths, and toys are destined to lay in landfills till the end of time, or until they start to degrade. The degradation of vinyl gives off a poisonous gas that harms the liver, lungs, kidneys and cardiovascular system according to the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Vinyl can seem like a harmless plastic, but it’s not a plastic at all. It’s just a chemical compound that is made using an extremely hazardous waste known as vinyl chloride. Vinyl chloride is used to make the vinyl, but interestingly enough it is found in landfills. You might expect to find it near the manufacturing plants and hazardous waste sites, but the fact that it is found in landfills has tipped researchers off to the degradation of vinyl. How could we expect the apple to fall so far from the tree?

Shifting values with our power as consumers.
Part of the planetary health puzzle involves choosing wisely when making purchases and then again when something breaks or is grown tired of. Choosing durable, eco-friendly furniture that will last through generations will stop the landfills from piling up choices.
Furniture covers can extend the life of quality outdoor furniture and keep it out of the landfills for a longer period. In the technological age that we are in, is it really a surprise that eco-friendly options exist? Look for breathable fabrics like this alternative to vinyl or vinyl coated polyester covers that only breathe if vents are built into them.

The mindset of making repairs rather than dumping the old pieces for a new model also must be adopted. This mindset along with good choices in picking out the furniture in the first place and protecting it from wear can go a long way in reducing environmental impact.

Don’t get too excited about your VOC-free hairspray yet.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are everywhere. They are a family of chemicals that are off-gassed from manufactured products, the most common in households are flame retardants and formaldehyde. Cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruption have all been linked to VOC consumption. Going forward, buy furniture certified by Greenguard which ensures low toxiciity or buy used goods.

Lisa Henfield is an environmental activist and freelance writer. She contributes to Mother Earth Living and spends her days thinking about her city’s carbon footprint. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Stress Of Downsizing

We hadn't thought too much about downsizing until Mike's step mother decided to sell the big house after his father died. People accumulate "stuff" over 30 to 40 years. When the house just becomes too big or maintenance overwhelms, a smaller place is logical. Then the stress builds. It's not just the elderly, but 80 million boomers will retire over the next ten years. Many will want to move to warmer weather and smaller quarters. It can be painful to worry about all the collectibles, the furniture, and clothes in the smaller space. Naturally, the person downsizing wants to make the smaller space look bigger.

This is my cue to mention how an interior designer can help you in this situation. Interior designer Donna Overly, ASID, of Vogue Interiors in Bonita Springs, Florida helps relieve the stress. She's mentioned in an article in The Naples Daily News.

An interior designer can show you how to make a space look bigger by using colors, arranging furniture, and picking a few of your precious articles for display. How about closets? An interior designer can help with closet systems to "...triple the usable space and storage capacity of any closet..."

Until now, I hadn't given any of this much thought. This article opened my eyes.

For more on downsizing, WikiHow has 12 steps to downsize your house.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What To Know Before You Buy A Sectional

Becky Dietrich, Interior Designer, and Houzz Contributor has written a fine and detailed article that just appeared in Forbes Magazine titled "What To Know Before You Buy A Sectional."

She concludes her article with this advice, "Don’t even consider sectional shopping without a meticulously drawn floor plan. The good news is that the right sectional will bring comfort, style and function to your room that few other furnishings can provide."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Five minutes and $10 can save you $1,000

I had no idea what a little damage in a shower can lead to and is easily preventable. Steve Cloninger Special to the Post-Dispatch has written an article that we all should read if we are responsible for the maintenance of our abode. He writes:

A small hole in the grout will allow water from the shower to get in. It may not be much at first, but chances are the damage is already beginning. Water getting to the drywall behind the tile will damage the drywall, even if it is “water resistant” drywall. When drywall continues to get wet, it has a consistency of something like wet cardboard. When it gets to that point, the tile won’t be able to stick to it any longer and your shower wall will feel soft and moving somewhat. At this point, the only thing keeping the tiles from falling down is the small amount of grout that surrounds the tile. But, this won’t last long, and the tiles will begin falling.

I am grabbing my flashlight before the Blazers play tonight.

Friday, March 07, 2014

From Zillow This Week

Synergy Staging
Oregon City, OR

Portland Oregon area Home Staging company specializing in showcasing vacant homes for sale with beautiful and stylish staging.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014



Darksky Blog has an article about the top five trends in outdoor furniture that I found useful:

  1. Exterior design - Outdoor furniture must be more than merely functional and durable. Exterior living is an extension of the interior living.
  2. Deep seating - No longer do home owners want a park bench feel when doing outdoor activities. They want outdoor seating options which include the deep, comfy cushions.
  3. Mix and match furniture - The eclectic look is taking off in 2014.
  4. Bold textilesbold prints is an emerging trend.
  5. Refurbishing - If budget is an issue, buy one key piece, like a couch or a dining table, and then supplement your set with used chairs. 

Sparks To Close

Steven Lane/The Columbian)

Sparks Home Furnishings, downtown Vancouver's oldest business, is closing after 132 years. The economy and the high sales tax were to reasons mentioned by Tom Craig. The building at 1001 Broadway is being sold to a downtown developer for $1.7 million in a deal expected to close in June.

We bought our Woodard outdoor furniture from Sparks many years ago. We had our own furniture business on Macadam before we represented Woodard. We were struck by Sparks' refusal to give us a designer discount. The Woodard outdoor furniture still serves us well on our deck and looks as good as the day we brought it home.

One more furniture store lost to the economy and the big box stores.

See related story:  Old cash register found in store wall (at Sparks).

Sunday, March 02, 2014

I was looking at Pangaea Interior Design and came across a post about "porter chairs."
porter's chair was a type of chair used in medieval England and later France. Usually formed in a high-grade leather or red velvet, it was placed by the front door of an estate or home for use by a gatekeeper servant who was in charge of screening guests and visitors. This was necessary since the door knocker might not be heard throughout the house.
Since there were often cold breezes near a front door, the chair was designed to envelop and keep the servant relatively warm in his task of remaining at the door for long periods. It is best described as a hollowed-out egg shape, very high and enclosed back, standing on end, four legs, with handrests and usually with a notch for a lantern at the side, allowing the person to sink back into it out of the wind and await visitors' knocks. 
Here are two examples of a beautiful porter chairs; a single porter and a double porter::

Five Design Trends For 2014

According to mosaik design & remodeling five design trends have emerged for 2014:

  1. Blues
  2. Drama & Glamour
  3. Lighter Wood Tones
  4. Charging Stations
  5. Quartz Countertops
There are some very nice photos illustrating the trends.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bold Ceiling Colors

Interior designer Jennifer Ott writes at Houzz, It'standard operating procedure to paint your walls a color while keeping the ceiling white. We've been told this makes the room feel larger and brighter. While there's no doubt a white ceiling will brighten a room, certain ceiling colors can actually make a room appear more expansive. The key to using a bold or dark color on the ceiling without the space becoming cave-like is to make sure you have adequate lighting or limit the adjacent wall colors to white or another light hue."

Two ceilings that wow me:

Beautiful Counter Top

Denise McGaha Interiors has the photo of a green counter top that wows:

Learn A New Word


Thanks to interior designer/stylist Scot Meacham Wood, I 've learned a new word. Bobeche is the little cup at the base of the candle.  It's usefulness is a hold-over from an earlier time when the bobeche would catch dripping wax from the burning candles.  In modern pieces, especially in the crystal fixtures, they are also used to hang decorative prisms.  As a more decorative element, it is also used at the top of the fixture - just below the mounting "hanger loop."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kravet Fabrics And An Old Sofa

I love the creativity of taking a classic, but tired sofa and applying some fresh ideas.

"What was once a shell of something beautiful, has been transformed into a striking settee with a great sense of humor. We used rich chenille Kravet fabrics to make a statement from any angle and the convenient double sided seat cushion gives it a new personality everytime it is flipped over."

Don't Be Afraid Of Color

Came across IBB Design and an article on color. This room grabbed my attention:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Zillow Digs of the Week

My Zillow email arrived today and this time featured:

Shannon Ponciano
Architecture, General Contracting, Interior Design, Home Building, Portland, OR

Vidabelo is an interior design company that works with both residential and commercial clients on projects of all sizes. Whether you are building new construction, remodeling, or simply need a few hours of design advice, please call or email to set up an initial consultation.