Sunday, September 20, 2009

Color Interpretation for Your Personal Inspiration

Why is purple one of my favorite colors while my best friend places it low on her list? We do know that color is a result of light and how each person’s unique retina interprets the color and sends a signal to the brain via the optic nerve.  But science just hasn’t identified all involved with the brain’s ability to interpret color.

Could our feelings about colors relate to the symbolism that’s been associated with each color?  Maybe it’s the meaning that cultures place on a color.  Black is associated with mourning in our Western culture.  Instead in India and other Asian cultures, white is used.

So what colors inspire you and are most beneficial in your life?

Primary Colors

Red is the color of blood which is vital to life.  Red expresses power, energy and courage.  Think about the red power tie.  Remember reading “The Red Badge of Courage” where Henry, a young soldier, questions his inner strength and courage?  Red makes a bold statement in the design of a room so perhaps consider using it sparingly.

Yellow symbolizes knowledge and wisdom and stimulates thinking.  Consider using yellow in a kitchen because it is believed to benefit digestion.  Or have your children do their homework in a mustard-yellow room so they’re at their mental best.

Blue is soothing.  What’s more relaxing than gazing at the blue sky off in the horizon or at the gentle blue ocean waves lapping against the beach!  We use water to cleanse so blue is associated with purity.  Consider painting the ceiling of your bedroom sky blue so you have a calming environment for rest.

Secondary Colors

Orange helps inspire creativity.  Place it in an office area or your workspace so you are at your creative best.  Orange is often used in settings to convey vitality and to lift our spirits. Feeling depressed?   Surround yourself with orange.

Green calms and helps ground us.  A farmer associates a green field with a bountiful crop.  Think about the rustling sounds as the wind gently blows through the leaves of a tree.  A little green in your life can help balance a stressful day and is a great color for bedrooms.

Violet was one of most difficult colors to make, according to historical records.  In ancient times it was created by squeezing the murex sea mussel called ‘porphura’ in Greek.  Because of the challenge and expense to make purple, it became associated with royalty and power.  Ranking priests wore purple vestments.  Purple also is believed to hold the power to heal.  Purple connotes valor and honor and when a soldier dies in battle; the Purple Heart is given as our military’s the highest honor.  Saturated purple walls can make a powerful statement in an interior space.

Now that you know more about the meaning of color, decide which colors are best for you and incorporate them into your environment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Shop for Custom Upholstered Furnishings

In today's world of shopping for bargains, you may ask, "why spend a lot more money on a piece of custom furniture when less-expensive furnishings are available?" We are bombarded with enticing deals on websites and in catalogs showing attractive, affordably-priced sofas and chairs. But what's underneath less expensive, fabric or leather upholstered goods?

I worked for a furniture manufacturer that prided itself on quality workmanship and once again witnessed the making of a beautiful, well-crafted chair. Last week Kravet's Steve Bolick, who heads quality control for Kravet's furniture division, demonstrated the work involved in creating a quality piece of furniture. Susan Lorenz, who is Kravet's vice president of sales for furniture and showrooms, filled in details about the company's commitment to building high-quality pieces.

Here's what any consumer should look for when shopping for upholstered furnishings:

  • The frame should be made of kiln-dried hardwood solids and engineered hardwoods. Using engineered wood is good and helps give added strength to the frame. Quality engineered wood is made by turning a hardwood log with machinery to cut long, thin pieces of solid wood that are stacked and glued under high pressure. (Remember that engineered wood is not the same as pressed fiber board made from wood chips and pieces. Avoid furniture that's made with fiber board.)
  • Look for an eight-way tied coil spring system. Sinuous springs can also used in areas like backs to give reinforcement.
  • Foam made from petroleum and soy-based products should be used in strategic areas of the frame. (For instance along the front edge where the upholstered frame meets the loose cushion.) This eliminates sharp edges and adds to the comfort of the piece.
  • Cotton-blend batting is added between the foam and the decorative fabric. This additional fiber helps give a luxurious feel.
  • Stretchy fabrics like chenille and silk need to be backed so they upholster nicely and are more durable.
  • Patterns should match up. There's nothing worse than stripes or patterns that don't line up from the front to the back.
  • Another good sign of a quality upholstery job, is the piece's decorative fabric also is used on the deck under the cushion. This fabric should line up and match with the other exposed fabric.
  • All fabric should be pulled tight when it's stapled to the frame. Staples should run along the frame so not to be seen.
  • Skirts on sofas or chairs should be added so they are the same length from the floor all the way around. Furniture manufacturers like Kravet make skirts to fit each specific piece. That means a skirt is added as one of the last steps in the upholstery process.
  • Decorative trim like welt is added to hide staples while giving a beautiful finished look. Look for welt cord made with bias-cut fabric. Steve pointed out that he takes care to turn hidden welt cord seams all in the same direction so that the welt stands up nicely.
How can you find out if the furniture you are looking at is well-crafted?
  • Ask questions of the representative who is helping. Do they have any literature from the maker? Visit the maker's website for more info.
  • Lift up cushions. Look under the chair. Push gently on the sides and outback to make sure they are tight.
  • Engage an interior designer who can identify the best furniture resources.
  • Designers can also help you select fabric that are best suited for your needs so that your investment holds up for years.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bananas Too Ripe?

Do you throw away bananas that are too ripe?

Stop! Peel and put them in the freezer so you can make banana bread or muffins later.

I just made two batches of banana bread with bananas that I've frozen. No one would ever guess that the bananas were frozen. My grandma Floy would be proud because she found a way to use any left over ingredients in her kitchen. Nothing went to waste -- a trait of a Depression era gal! So let me share her recipe for banana bread with you.

Floy's Banana Bread

1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1/4 c. plain low fat yogurt (I've added this ingredient so you have really moist banana bread.)
2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. mashed bananas (from the freezer or fresh if you like)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) optional

Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs and beat. Add yogurt and bananas and beat again. Add sifted dry ingredients, then nuts and vanilla. (Now don't over mix your batter.) Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. You can also make muffins from the same recipe. Bake for 45- 50 minutes at 325 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!