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Archive for the ‘cleaning and care’ Category

Perusing HOUZZ, this article’s very title compelled me to read it:

not my books!

The story begins with a conversation:

Years ago I was chatting with an acquaintance, and she referred to a weekly meeting she attended without naming it. I asked her what it was.

“Overreaders Anonymous,” she said.

I froze. I had no idea there was such a 12-step group, but if anyone was an overreader, I knew I was. And then my auditory memory caught up with my fervid imagination, and I realized she had actually said, “Overeaters,” and I resumed breathing.

Like author Alison Hodgson, reading is my drug of choice. I must say, in my defense, that much has been amassed over the years that interests me still: favorite authors, authoritative texts on history, fascinating biographies. For the most part, my books ARE books that I cherish and dip into, and yes, sometimes, re-read.

But what of those “lesser” books, gifts or really-wrong purchases. Why are those still in my house?!

Alison Hodgson uses a two-fold system to winnow out the duds:

Do I love it?

Will I read it again?

If your answer, over and over again, is “yes” – take a look at Houzz and get some ideas for shelves, like these:

library books

Alison has also included a “housekeeping” section to her article, as well as a link to Lisa Frederick’s article on “accessorizing with paperbacks”. (One of her thoughts: Group by color!)

If more shelves, carousels, and book nooks are not in the cards, and “downsizing” your library is a must, don’t forget to read Alison’s “4 Obstacles to Decluttering — and How to Beat Then.”


This guest blog is by Michellebofabric_sprayed

A week after I sprayed a light filtering shade and a piece of black out fabric with Scotchgard, I am ready to give them each a little spritz of water.  The water beaded up on both treated fabrics.  I was interested in comparing a non-treated piece of black out fabric to the piece with Scotchgard.  As you can see from the photo, the treated fabric repelled the water, while the water on the untreated piece disappeared. My preliminary results are positive.  Applying Scotchgard to our fabrics does help them repel moisture more than a fabric left untreated.  What remains to be seen is if there is a long term effect of the spray on the fabric composition and whether it will continue to repel water over time without reapplication.

This guest blog is written by Michelle

When you invest money in a product for your home, such as shades, you want to know that they will last for years and maintain their original color and shape.  We already offer a 10 year warranty, so the durability of the operating mechanisms is covered, but keeping the shades clean is up to the customer. The two living spaces that are most susceptible to dirt and stains are the kitchen and bathroom.  A recent fabric question on Houzz got me thinking.  How would our shade fabrics stand up to stains and spills?  What can our customers do to keep their shades in like new condition?

Although the shade fabric is dust repellent and can be vacuumed, I wondered if using a repellent spray would help prevent any stains or splatters.  Light filtering fabrics can be washed in a tub, as mentioned in our FAQ.  I ventured to the store and got a can of Fabric & Upholstery Protector by Scotchgard and started my experiment.


Note: this experiment is not endorsed or sponsored by Scotchgard.  All fabric protectors may work differently, I stuck with a name brand so customers may replicate my results in the future.

I am testing a light filtering shade that will be installed in a window here in our facility.  I have also sprayed a piece of the Black Out fabric since it normally should not be exposed to moisture and might benefit the most from a repellent spray.

For the light filtering shade we want to see if the Scotchgard degrades or discolors the fabric over time.  I will also spray the shade with water to see how well it repels water in a week, 6 months and 12 months. I have applied 2 coats of Scotchgard to the front and back of the shade (following the directions on the can) and will install it tomorrow.  You can see the shade at right.  It is made of 116 Cadenza Double Cell Light Filtering fabric with Smoothy Top Down Bottom Up lift (and special order Bronze hardware).

For the black out material, I am going to see how the Scotchgard spray repels the water spray as well.  I have just sprayed a scrap piece for this particular test.  I applied the same 2 coats as the light filtering shade.

I’ll update you all in a week!

yard-saleAt a typical YARD or GARAGE Sale, you’d expect to see what’s presented in the illustration above: clothes on a coat rack; old stereo or TV popped somewhere they fit; books and blankets in boxes. HOUZZ recently ran an informative article called “14 Ways to Make More Money at a Yard Sale — and Have Fun Too.”

Are Yard Sales fun? The one sale I held was to raise some funds from my mother’s past shopping sprees. She had gone through a love of all things SWEATER. Was it a success? yeah, we sold some clothes – but although the prices were cheap, many wanted bargain basement sale. I think I sold more to the neighbor and her sisters than anyone driving by. Were we on a busy street? – with items displayed so as to entice the casual passerby? you bet: BUT the busy street also meant people just drove on by.

Would I do it again? probably not. But then my shopping sprees are for books and we all know the one thing that sells worse at a Yard Sale than clothing: BOOKS! (see the 50-cent bargain box in the picture above!)

So it was with great interest that I read through the HOUZZ article. And you must read the comments; they are HALF THE FUN! I found myself agreeing with so many who said, After selling all day, who has energy for a party (see hints #1 & #14).

  • Hint #1 — Make it a Party, with Profits: invite the neighbors for a Block Sale.
  • Hint #2 — Embellish Your Goods: upgrade furniture with paint, or change out the knobs on Aunt Dolly’s old dresser. (Houzz writer Laura Gaskill admits that this tip may not be for everyone.)
  • Hint #3 — Think about creative ways to display your wares-for-sale: give the old cardboard boxes a miss and get folding tables, wicker baskets, or wine crates.
  • Hint #4 — Have a Sales Concept: Avid gardener: offer cuttings or plants along with Uncle Steve’s collection of pipes. Or, Maybe the kids would like to sell refreshments.
  • Hint #5 — Advertise Your Sale! (BTW, there are free and/or low cost ways to ‘advertise’.)
  • Hint #6 — Make your Garage or Lawn Festive for the Sale: Why not dig out that bunting or those lanterns or maybe just some balloons.
  • Hint #7 — Make Pricing Simple: My sweaters were all priced the same, no matter summer or winter clothes, used or never worn.
  • Hint #8 — Never forget, You will be ASKED for CHANGE and a BAG.
  • Hint #9 — Display Clothes well: – tumbled will not help you past the “jumble sale” mentality.
  • Hint #10 — Give the SMALL items their due space: Jewelry can get picked-up as well as picked-over, hanging earrings on a board or around a tea cup might keep them in their place.
  • Hint #11 — Let There Be Light: are you selling a lamp or electrical appliance; give the buyer the opportunity to try it out for him/herself. An extension cord could prove handy (but be safe: do this yourself).
  • Hint #12 — Create Vignettes: Have tableware AND flatware? — display them together — someone might want to keep them together. After all, The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon.
  • Hint #13 — End on a High Note: once all the goods and shoppers have vanished: Pick up and go home.
  • Hint #14 — Get Help! If not a Block Sale, then get others to pitch in — especially if you’ve items left over and face having to bring in what you’ve brought out.

As mentioned, the comments are useful too. I especially like the one that mentions Carolyne Roehm: she gave profits to Charity. Another comment brought up the website

Sunday, 23 September 2012 is open house for the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, here in Burlington, Vermont. Why a celebration? They’ve just undergone a $2.2 million renovation, which includes the replacement of seats. MUCH ink has been spilled lately about the “de-squeaking” of the auditorium! And more ink and type utilized to tweet and shout the fact that the “iconic” red upholstery is gone and a “lichen” green is now the new normal.

Change is never easy; you can read about the “Color Controversy” in the Burlington Free Press and 7 Days.

The Flynn Theater has been a staple of the area. Can’t say I recall its earliest days, but in the 60s and 70s when it showed theatrical releases (ie, movies), I remember it very well. The last film I saw there was, I believe, North Dallas Forty. It had been a good decade since seating was allowed up in the balcony; the theater was half filled and fairly frigid — with that cool “church” atmosphere of the never-sees-the-light-of day building.

Then the theater closed.

It could have stayed shuttered; instead the Flynn transformed into a performing arts space. The Flynn has its own roster of performances; there are also spots on its calendar for such as The Lane Series, Lyric Theatre Company, and even “First Night” (taking place on New Year’s Eve).

According to the 7 Days article, these seats had seen service for 65-years! Talk about “ready for retirement”!!

My colleague and I were talking retirement the other day, in terms of window shades — as she unpackaged another shade that had come in for repair.

Michelle was joking that the age of a shade should be calculated like the age of a dog. Although she thought seven years per calendar year didn’t quite cut it. I was silently thinking: If we sat in a window for 10 or 12 years, we’d be broken, dirty and sad-looking too.

The Flynn took the plunge: not only updating the seating (*new* seats), but also updating the aesthetic (*new* color). The Flynn took their cue from an anonymous Donor. Michelle and I still wrack our brains as to how to alert people — gently — that their shade may be past its prime. It wasn’t long ago that I took in a group of shades for repair which were so grubby that the lunch their arrival interrupted went uneaten. Since these have now been re-strung, I have to assume they are now hanging in their designated windows…. (shudder)

The Flynn took a “Stains Happen” approach to their choice of fabric and color. We all know that only so much can be done to clean an item, any item. Our conundrum is how to point out what pristine-out-of-the-box cellular shade fabric looks like versus shade fabric that’s been exposed to sun, dust, dirt, stains, use (and sometimes abuse), for 365-days for the last 5- or 7- or 12- or 19- years. Getting samples is one way – so if you’ve an old shade you contemplate fixing, maybe you should order a swatch of the fabric: it’s FREE!

* * *

See The Flynn Theater in pictures — past and present — on their Pinterest board. Drop by and see the Pinterest Boards for while you’re there! We’ve boards for Home Decor, Recipes, Travel, Books & Reading.

At we are all about sustainability!

If more shades can be repaired, that means less will end up in landfills. A big “hurrah!” for the planet, today and for all the tomorrows to come.

A broken string on a Symphony Shade is just one repair easily handled by our Production Team. The person doing the repair just might be the very person who built your shade!

I spoke with a women yesterday who called CWS in frustration: the online company that sold her her shade was proving less than helpful in getting her shade repaired.

The longer we spoke, however, something far more insidious cropped up:

Originally (in 2002), this customer had ordered a Hunter Douglas shade. In 2008, she sent in her shade for repair; got a working shade back in return. Now – 2011 – she’s again got a problem; sent in the shade to Hunter Douglas only to realize that three years ago she didn’t receive her own shade back, repaired, she received a replacement shade! Hunter Douglas sent back her shade with the phrase that cut direct to the end of the tale: “Not our shade; contact the manufacturer.”

Surprising that she had not noticed the switch, but it made me think of small print websites might have about repairs…

With you can be sure that the shade you ship to us, returns to you!

Shade modifications such as a cutdown or fabric replacement may be possible to save your shade, but you also want to ask yourself “Is this shade worth repairing?”

A good rule of thumb is to calculate how much a new shade would cost; factor into that calculation what your current shade looks like: Is its fabric in good condition? If it is dingey, can it be cleaned?

If the shade fabric looks like the shades in this post and the photo at right, it is probably impossible to get that shade back to “almost good as new condition”: The top shade came in for repair, but it is the same fabric and color of fabric as seen in the bottom half of the photo. (Eeek!)

When the cost to repair is more than ½ the cost to replace the shade (depending on age), you probably should elect NOT to repair or modify the shade. We have, once or twice, sent back shades that, due to age, were not good candidates for the modification desired. Most restring requests have been attempted, even when the fabric has the looks of a very used car filter. We do always ask, however, that you vacuum your shade, and please do not use packing peanuts!

The other day a couple sent in three aged cell shades for fabric replacement. They was tired of the well-worn and wanted to begin partly anew. Trouble is, they must begin more anew than they had hoped! The shades they sent in are past salvaging.

There does come a time when even the best product is so tired, worn, dirty, sunned that the best thing you can do is start fresh. Just think, if, like this couple, you owned your cellular shades for 17 years!

Let’s play a little game, for which I will round up calculations for a bit of easy math:

Say you pay today $200 for a shade, and that shade looks sorry after 20 years of being in constant use in a dusty environment; forced air heat in the winter, open windows in the summer. Do the calculations: that shade “cost” you only $10 per year! Gosh, that’s barely 2½¢ per day. It gave great service, no? But it looks a bit worse for wear now…

Certainly you could look into replacing the fabric; rather like a car getting a new engine or at the very least some  bodywork to take care of rust and a new paint job! But you still maybe have something no longer ‘state of the art’. Strides in the blindcrafting industry happen every day. One thing to weight in this decision is the cost of “updating” your old blind versus the cost of something totally new — all the parts seen and unseen.

Only you, the homeowner, can make that decision.

To get back to my older couple: They are in a bit of a hard-spot. Their product is not quite being made anymore! Comfortex, who manufactured their original shades, have not only changed and upgraded the shades in this model line, they have changed the specifications. My couple can no longer obtain what they had due to the SIZE of their shades, which are no longer made to the modest width (57-inches) they had been able to purchase in 1993. (Today’s specs are under 36-inches for one model; under 48-inches for a second model.) They have no choice but to continue to “make due” (which no one should have to do!) or to scrap what they have and search for a totally new shading system. A tough choice, especially in this economic climate.

Your Source for Insulating Cellular Shades

CWS offers custom-made cellular shades in both double and single cell light-filtering or blackout fabrics.

CLICK to Visit Our Online Store!

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