We at BobVila.com are dedicated to bringing you the most practical home improvement advice. This new chair from Flux struck us as the ultimate in smart design and small space solutions. Shown at the New York International Gift Show this week, the flat sheet of plastic on the right assembles into the chair on the left in just a few minutes (check out the video below). When we tried it out, we were amazed by its comfort and stability. You can buy cushions for the seat—though the chair was plenty comfortable without one—and wall hangers are available to store it flat.
Welcome to Bob's Blogs
- Interior Design >
- New Product: The Flux Chair
New Product: The Flux Chair
- Other Rooms >
- The Organic Mattress: My “Green” Nursery Challenge
The Organic Mattress: My “Green” Nursery Challenge
“You will never sleep again!” is something that people love to say to expecting parents. But, I decided my baby (and therefore my husband and I) would sleep happily, comfortably, and safely. On what, was the question.
My first nursery purchase was the ever-practical crib mattress. After reading a mattress article in The New York Times about harmful flame-retardant chemicals like PBDE’s (which have been found in breast milk), I knew that I wanted an organic mattress; one that was VOC-free and used natural flame retardants like cotton, wool, and natural latex.
At one national mattress retailer, their “organic” crib mattress had only 20% organic material—soy—the rest was memory foam with potentially toxic VOCs! Perhaps the way to go was the smaller, mom-and-pop shops. Of the indie sellers I located, none were within driving distance from our Jersey digs. I certainly wanted to test the mattresses in person (isn’t that half the fun?). And, if I didn’t pick a comfy mattress, I felt certain that our future soccer player would complain about it…at 4 a.m.!
- Tools & Workshop >
- Tool or Art? You Decide
Tool or Art? You Decide
When does a simple hand tool—let’s say a saw—become a work of art? For tool collectors, the answer is an easy one: when the tool bears some historic pedigree or exhibits the natural patina of a well-used, but well-maintained carpenter’s companion.
For attendees of local art shows, the answer can be quite different, as I discovered when I stumbled upon these works of art at a local craft fair. Rather than let unused saws go into early retirement, an enterprising artist decided to turn them into art forms. With a little acrylic paint and a masterful hand, he was able to elevate the basic, crosscut, ragged-toothed handsaw from being an article of work into the work itself.
- Major Systems >
- How To: Install a Light Fixture
How To: Install a Light Fixture
Since my current residence is only half finished, there are a lot of fixture-less light boxes in the ceilings—which means I am tripping over tools in the middle of the night more often than I care to admit.
Electrical DIY projects are not a favorite of mine; probably a result of being shocked as a child by the current from a cut phone line (or perhaps the innate fear of sudden death by electrocution). But for simple electrical work around the house, a little knowledge and the right tools can make the work slightly less intimidating and—more importantly—less shocking.
Here are a couple of things you should know about electricity and residential wiring before you get started.
- Kitchen >
- Demolition and Excavation: The 12-Year Kitchen
Demolition and Excavation: The 12-Year Kitchen
When you own a house built in 1920, you have lead—it’s in the solder on old pipes, and in the paint on old walls. When you have kids, you worry about lead—exposure can affect their learning, their breathing, their health. We do what we can, by filtering the water that comes out of those old pipes and by keeping intact layers of today’s lead-free paint over the old stuff. But when you start knocking down walls, you’re changing the equation.
So the first step of building our new kitchen would be testing for lead in the old one. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires the test, even though our house was almost guaranteed to fail it. And it did, of course. Interior and exterior walls all had lead-based paint on them, under a few decades’ worth of safer paint. That meant hiring an EPA-certified lead-safe demolition company instead of a bunch of guys with sledgehammers. (Ka-ching! Before we’d even started, we had the first $5,000 upcharge in our contract.)
- Green >
- San Francisco Grabs the “Green” Crown
San Francisco Grabs the “Green” Crown
In a new survey sponsored by Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit, San Francisco outpaced 27 other major metropolitan areas to win bragging rights as the greenest city in North America. Vancouver, New York City, and Seattle followed in the overall rankings, while Detroit finished last, just behind St. Louis, Cleveland, and Phoenix. Nine categories, ranging from land use and carbon emissions to air quality, transportation, and buildings, were used to calculate which urban hubs were doing the best job of cleaning up the environment.
A powerhouse on the eco-scene, San Francisco came by its first-place win fair and square. The city recycles 77% of its municipal waste, mandates composting, and boasts the longest public-transportation network in America. Retrofitting residential and commercial properties with water-efficient plumbing fixtures has been mandatory in the city since 2009, and San Francisco offers free low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators as well as rebates on toilet replacements—measures that will potentially save the city up to four million gallons of water daily by 2017.
- Lawn & Garden >
- New Product: Outdoor Dishwasher
New Product: Outdoor Dishwasher
I know what you’re thinking. An outdoor dishwasher? Well, for people who have an outdoor kitchen—or are considering one—an outdoor-rated dishwasher has been the one missing product from the all-weather appliance roster. That is until, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a leader in the outdoor kitchen category, introduced the model shown here earlier in the year at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Show in Las Vegas, NV.
Featuring a stainless steel exterior and interior for low maintenance and durability, the Kalamazoo dishwasher offers protected electronics and wiring to withstand the coldest winters and hottest summers. The unit holds up to 12 full place settings and includes an adjustable upper rack with fold-down stemware supports for wine glasses. With six wash cycles and six temperature settings, targeted cleaning zones, and a triple filtration system to ensure clean water throughout the wash cycle, the dishwasher delivers a powerful wash system made for outdoor clean-up. Add to that quiet operation and efficient water use—just 3.8 gallons per load—and you can understand why the industry and consumer fanfare.
For more on Kalamazoo products visit the company’s website.
For more on outdoor entertaining, consider:
- Kitchen >
- Getting Started: The 12-Year Kitchen
Getting Started: The 12-Year Kitchen
Space planning for our kitchen project took more than six months, but we were thrilled with the plans we agreed on. Now we just needed our builder and a building permit, and we’d be ready to go. We filed the plans with the city, and we called our first-choice contractor.
Keith Mazzarello is the best contractor in our neighborhood, a perfectionist we knew would do everything exactly right. He’d done some small jobs for us over the years, and he’d recently completed a renovation of our side porch that changed our lives—the room became a beautiful year-round part of our home instead of a drafty glorified storage room. He really does sweat the details, and he never gets caught by the unexpected—he anticipates everything, and he always has solutions for the quirky problems that inevitably come up when you work on an old house. The only question was whether we’d be able to afford him.
- Major Systems >
- How To: Install a Sink Disposal
How To: Install a Sink Disposal
Depending on what part of the world you’re from you may have heard sink disposals referred to as “garbage disposals,” “food waste disposers,” or, if you’re really proper, a “sink waste disposal unit.” Whatever you call it, switching one out or installing a new one is a fairly simple task.
There are essentially four connection points for a sink disposal:
- Where the disposal connects to the sink, under the drain
- Where the drain line connects to the disposal to remove water/waste
- Where the disposal connects to power
- Optionally, where the dishwasher connects to the disposal
The most important things to know are how the disposal gets power (either through a plug or direct connection) and whether or not you need a dishwasher line connected to the disposal.