Sunday, August 30, 2009

The best fruit fly catcher ever

Andrea Smith told me about this one. It is the only one I've ever tried that actually works.
Put some fruit in a tall glass.
Cover the glass top with cling wrap. Make it tight on the sides.
Prick a few needle holes in the top. I used a fairly large needle.
The little stinkers can get in but can't get out.

Another one about saving money

I’m sure you get tired of me harping on about saving money and shopping around but I am a firm believer that we really don’t have to spend a lot to have a beautiful home.

I got some new decorator fabric books from a supplier recently and was surprised to see the Liz Claiborn collection featured. It retails for $42.00 to $110.00/ meter. Fabricland has most of this collection at $24.00 to $32.00 and is on sale now at 50% off that. I have a decorator book of re-cycled fabric. All the fabric is recycled polyester; the fabric is perfect for heavy use furniture or outdoor areas. It retails at an average of about $50.00/meter and Fabricland has fabric that I would bet is part of the collection at $14.98. One of my higher end lines has a black flocked velvet in a great geometric pattern on taffeta, retails at $90.00/meter, at Fabricland it is $14.98. The lower priced fabrics aren’t copies.

I don’t get a commission from Fabricland, I would name any store that helped my clients save this kind of money.

I have the need for a tension rod on which to hang a curtain, the span is about eight feet. There are no tension rods on the market in Canada that will accomplish this. I could buy components from a drapery supply house in the States and try to put one together even if they say 84 inches is maximum. The components would cost about $50.00, and it might not work. So, I did some thinking and a bit of research and I’ve found a way to make a very sturdy rod that will span this 8 feet, won’t require a center support and total cost is about $10.00. I shopped around and asked a lot of questions and finally found the parts I needed at Lordco. Very helpful young lady in the parts department.

One of my favorite ask around finds: Awhile ago I needed a way to fit a finial of one size onto a rod of another, it had to be secure, easy to install, be fairly light, hopefully be a bit adjustable and be paintable. I went to G&H Ornamental (wrought iron masters) and was lucky enough to speak to George. I had the problem parts with me, I explained the situation and asked for help, thinking they could fabricate a part for me. After a few minutes of thought , George went outside and cut a small piece off his garden hose and showed me how to make it into a ‘gasket’. I keep a foot or so of clear tubing in my toolbox now; in different sizes.

I want you to go out there and make these great finds too. As the man with the vest says; ’Save your money’.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thread Count

You don’t have the time to research every home decor decision you make. It’s my job to help you. So here; I hope; is thread count explained and what it means in bedding. Please remember that there are no legal guidelines for listing thread count and there is no international standard for labeling bedding.

Lets start with how these threads are constructed. Fibers are spun to form one long strand. This is called a thread. Now, lets take 2 threads and twist them together. This is called 2 ply. This is what happens when yarn is made - think of unraveling a piece of yarn. Did you get 2 or 3 or 4 threads? If 4 threads are twisted together, it is called 4 ply. The 4 ply yarn takes up more space and if you were knitting a garment it would usually be thicker with 4 ply than with 2 ply.

Now lets weave that 2 ply ‘yarn’ into cloth. If we use 100 pieces of yarn per inch we have used 200 threads ( 2 threads per piece of yarn). This is 200 thread count. If we used 50 pieces of 4 ply yarn ( 4 threads per piece of yarn), we would still have a 200 thread count but there would be

fewer pieces of ‘yarn’ per inch. Usually the higher the ply, the shorter the fibers in each thread, and the less quality. Longer fibers produce a silkier feeling thread, they are considered higher quality; producing a more desirable fabric and a 1 or 2 ply fabric is more ‘delicate’ than a higher 3 or 4 ply.

There is some discussion in the industry regarding this method of calculating thread count. Some companies say one piece of ‘yarn’ is one thread count, no matter what the ply, some insist that 2 ply equals 2 threads. Few companies list the ply of the ‘yarn’ used, but if you can

find it on the label it is a good indicator that the manufacturer is using top quality fibers and is proud of that fact. So with this in mind and the fact that there are no guidelines or standards across the industry, the thread count of the sheet you are looking at really doesn’t mean as much as you have been lead to believe.

So how do you choose a good sheet? The best advise I can give you is to buy from a retailer who knows about sheets. Ask questions. I talked to Ginny at Victorian Impressions ( go in and see her 1000 thread count sheet) and she shared some specifics you might want to know about. Ginny sells beautiful upscale bedding ( and home decor items, lingerie and women's clothing). She carries one particular brand of sheets from a direct supplier. This means she is not dealing with a middle man and her prices are reflective of this. She has dealt with this supplier for quite a few years and knows their products well. The quality of the cotton used in their products is superior and the workmanship hits a very high standard. One of her sheet sets list the ply of the yarn ( 2 ) and she can tell you how each sheet washes; what the feel will be after laundering. This is important. For example, her sateen sheets will retain the smooth, satin-like finish after washing. This is because the fibers used are of the highest quality and that fact coupled with the weave of the sheet is what produces a sateen finish; not a chemical applied to the product. Have you ever seen what happens to 'chintz' after washing? This is a highly polished, tightly woven cotton that was used quite a bit in home decor in the late 80's and early 90's. When washed, the finish came off and the leftover fabric looked, and felt, like a rag. The chemical finish is what gave it a stiff feel. This sizing is often applied to inferior cottons to give it a more substantial feel. If you think a fabric may have a lot of sizing, you can check by pinching a layer of the fabric between a moistened thumb and forefinger. Hold it tightly for 5 seconds or so. Release the fabric and check how much 'stick' there is on your fingers. This is the stuff that will wash out. You may find a bit of 'stick' on some sheets and the more inferior the quality of the sheet, the more 'stick' you will feel.

Considering that we spend about 1/3 of our life in bed, a good quality sheet can make this time a lot more enjoyable. Polyester and cotton blend sheets are usually less expensive than 100% cotton and they won't wrinkle as much but when I think polyester, I think 'plastic'. It doesn't breath like cotton and most polyesters do not absorb moisture well, making for a less than comfortable sleep on those hot nights. I. personally, will opt for comfort over wrinkles every time.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Arranging Pictures

I'll be posting some lighting information within the next while. Bit busy in the workroom right now..

One of the most interesting picture walls I’ve seen was a compilation of about 60 pictures, all different subjects, all different sizes and frame styles that were displayed on a wall; covering the wall from the ceiling to the floor, wall to wall. What made the arrangement work is that each picture contained the exact same shade of blue. This is one of the keys of good picture arrangement: a commonality. In this case it was the blue, it could be the subject - all pictures of nature, or pictures of the dog , it could be the frame, it could be the color - all sepia toned for example. To unify an arrangement, there needs to be some reason for all the pictures to be together.

A client of mine was the keeper of the family photos. She had photos everywhere; every book shelf, every wall, every table top. The clutter this created finally got to her and she asked for help. We used the big piece of paper technique and hung all the pictures on the wall behind the sofa. A real rogues gallery. 10 years later she has changed the arrangement to accommodate new photos but the gallery is still the focal point of her living room and she is quite proud of it.

A few ‘guidelines’:

Just like picking an area rug, the picture arrangement shape takes its cue from the space it is going to occupy. A rectangular shape suggests a rectangular or oval arrangement, a square shape suggests a square or round arrangement.

The arrangement should never be wider than the object over which it is placed. If your sofa is 80 inches wide, the arrangement over it should not be more than 80 inches wide unless you increase the visual width of the sofa - with lamps on tables, or a large plant for example.

There needs to be at least one ‘suggested’ horizontal and vertical line.

The spaces between the pictures should be consistent.

I am often asked 'How high do I hang pictures?' You hang pictures so the center is at eye level. Will the person viewing the picture be sitting or standing? If there is one main picture in the grouping, place the horizontal center of it at a height where it will be viewed straight on. If you have a grouping on a dining room wall, this picture should be placed where the center will be on level with someone sitting at the table, if that is how it will be viewed. In a long hall arrangement the horizontal center should be placed for someone standing. If all the folks in your home are really tall, mount the pictures higher.