Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How To: Store Your Wine Collection in a Small Space at Home

A reupholstered chesser drawer used as a wine storage unit

Many of us that are not wine enthusiast per say, still enjoy the idea of a good glass of wine from time to time. 
If you are anywhere like us and enjoy traveling, you may encounter a good bottle of wine in your traveling ventures of which you may want to collect for that special family event. 

Conversely, many do not have the ability or the space for that matter to store their collected wine gems. With this idea in mind many may be tempted with the idea of displaying there collection in a glass enclosure for the world to see and admire. Nevertheless many wine experts will say, this is not a good idea

Conventional wisdom also teaches us that wines should be stored at an ideal humidity of 70 percent. In theory dry air will tend to dry the corks of wine bottles, which may cause air to filter into the wine compromising its quality. 

You may have already seen or heard of Thermo electric wine coolers or cellars. Now,unless you live in the desert area or in extreme arctic conditions, the possibility of humidity compromising the condition of the corks may be close to none. 
Also keep in mind that most wines are best enjoyed within a couple years (2 to 5 yrs) of their release.

Note: With that being said, If money is not an object and you are looking to buy wines to MATURE over time, you should consider investing in some professional grade storage. (A total different animal.)

Some Basic simplicity for storing wine effectively are:

1. Cool is the way to go

What ever you do keep it cool. Heat is a public enemy number one for wine. No matter what you heir about temperatures of wine storing, always remember this is not an exact science. People are different, palates are different and no wine is particularly created equal. Nevertheless, don't fret too much about a couple degrees higher or lower in temperature. 

2. Common Sense  

when it comes to storing wine, some common sense goes a long way. Your refrigerators normal temperature is 45 degrees on lower in order to prevent foods from going bad. So this option is not necessary because you are not wanting to prevent your wine from going bad per say (at least not in regards to spoilage).

Your attics temperature fluctuates way too drastically from season to season, hence storing wines in attics are a complete no,no. 

3. Flip off the switch

Potential problems can arise due to light,especially sunlight (direct or indirect). The sun's UV rays can degrade and prematurely age wine. The light emitted from indoor lighting may not necessarily damage the integrity of the wine. Nevertheless fluorescent bulbs which do emit minimal amounts of ultraviolet light should be avoided and or kept to a bare minimum.    

4. Are you seeing things sideways?

Traditionally, wine bottles have been stored on their side as means of keeping their corks from drying up (in theory that is). Conversely, if your bottles have alternative closures such as(caps, plastic corks or screw caps), this is by no means necessary. 

5. Again, Where should my wine be kept?

If your living conditions are not necessarily blessed by having a cool,basement that can be used as a cellar, you can indeed improvise by using racks. Please avoid areas like the kitchen, laundry room, sun room, etc. Have you got the drift ! 
These areas will filter in too much constant light and or sunlight, hence compromising your prized sweet tasting pleasures over time.

If you like your wine cool'not chilled'. Then you may consider investing in a wine cooler following the same guidelines. Maybe there is a small closet space you could partition for storing wine? As long as the space is deprived from constant light or any sunlight, not too damp or dry and not too warm, it should work just fine. 

If this is not the case, then a standalone cooling unit may be your best bet if you are indeed the wine aficionado.      

NoteIn this short post for whom I would like to say, the common non-wine experts out there like ourselves,we will focus more on the budget friendly and chic way of storing your wine collection in a small space of your home. Especially, if you have just a couple precious bottles you have collected on your most venturous travels.  

Publishers note: (Steps on how this gorgeous furniture you'll see below was upholstered and put together will be posted in the near future...) 

A reupholstered chesser drawer re-purposed  as a wine storage unit

A reupholstered chesser drawer re-purposed as a wine storage unit

Above you can admire how this gorgeous (if I may say so myself) piece of re-purposed chesser drawer furniture was transformed into a Chic Wine Storage, perfect for a small space.  
Wine Glasses displayed in an Reupholstered Chesser Drawer

We used the top drawer to store most of the wine glasses. If you place heavy wine bottles in a top drawer, it may cause the furniture to topple over if it's the only shelf that's fully opened. 

If you decide to place wine bottles on the top drawer, best practice is to keep it to a minimum (as we will show below),to avoid the topple over issue.

Wine bottles and glasses stored and displayed in a re-purposed chesser drawer

Wine bottles and glasses stored and displayed in a re-purposed chesser drawer

In the second and third drawers we began to carefully lay the bottles according to our own desire (Year, Countries visited, etc.).

How the bottles are laid into the drawers are also a matter of choice. If your drawers are deep enough, you may choose a more vertical layout as opposed to the slanted view you see here.  
A Marble 12 X 12 tile used as a cutting board & Fine Cutlery

No need to break the bank. We went for this inexpensive 12 X 12 nonporous white marble tile, and used it as a cutting board that perfectly blends in with the white upholstered color of the unit.  

A Marble 12 X 12 tile used as a cutting board, Fine Cutlery and Wine bottles stored in a Re-purposed chesser drawer

Resting on this Re-purposed drawer we simply placed some useful embellishments(white marble 12 X 12 cutting board,wine bottle opener,fine cutlery and an ornamental gold sphere)which sets the tone for the evening. 
These choices shall make this small, thrifty and chic wine storage unit a perfect " serve yourself " nook for the next gathering event.   

Food for thought ! 

When you think of wine and where to  store it, Think fruit
In other words, since wine obviously comes from the sweet grape vine, and if you have had the privilege of tasting grapes in their different environments, you will notice that the taste varies depending on where it is grown, at what temperature it has been kept and how long it has been sitting on your counter or fridge. 

If you haven't, give this little tasting experiment a test. 

The Vine
The fruit while its on the vine it's shaded by its wide deep green foliage. This protects it from the harsh sunlight UV rays. This is where the juicy taste of "new wine" per say, is the sweetest.

The Storefront 
When the fruit arrives at the store shelves, depending on its origin, it has already lost some of its moisture, therefore affecting its original flavor somewhat. Nevertheless it still tends to remain fairly tasty.

The Counter top or Fridge
when you bring these bunches of delicious sweetness home you may choose to leave them on the counter or store in fridge. Leaving them on the counter in a hot humid environment will compromise its texture and taste more rapidly than refrigerating them.

If you are eating them rather quickly, leaving them out of the fridge will be the tastier choice.

Ups,I think these are going bad !  
If left too long the grapes will become wrinkled and almost juice less. If you tried an old grape you may have left on the bunch for too long, you will notice an almost fermented raisin like flavor to it. The taste is no longer that of a grape. Hence if dried properly it may now become sweeter than its original fruit form.    

In this same manner, all wines are created differently by means of selection, process, and STORING. 

Conclusion: When you think wine storage, always keep in mind how the environment affects the fruit itself,this in turn will help you decide what's be best ambiance for your precious savory liquid goodness.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How To: Refinish Wicker Outdoor Furniture

An outdoor wicker chair refinished for indoor use

Outdoor Wicker furniture refinished for indoor use

Wicker furniture have been around for centuries and the styles of furniture built with this material has evolved into very sophisticated shapes. 
Wicker comes in various types of fibers that can be either natural like (Rattan/Rotan Palm, Bamboo) or Synthetic Resin (which is mainly a man made material like plastic). 
The natural form (Rattan Palm) is mainly found in the forest areas of South Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines, but not complete unknown in North America.

Image of a rattan palm

These woody stalk will normally climb to a height of 600 plus feet in height and anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in diameter with a solid inner core called a reed. Somewhat resembling that of hard wood. 

The 2 inch inner reed of these poles are normally used for constructing the framework of the rattan furniture while the outer skin where the flat reed comes from is used for weaving together the intricate parts of furniture, baskets, and planters if you will. 

There are other materials currently used when building these gorgeous and timeless outdoor furniture pieces. For instance, Cane stalk is normally used today as a weaving material to wrap the joints of wicker resin or bamboo furniture and also for weaving the backing and seating parts of these furniture. 

Some benefits of the Rattan (Rotan) are:

a) Light and sturdy material which makes it suitable to be moved around effortlessly. 

b) Rattan furniture that also incorporate the use of the palm reed (inner part of the Rotan stalk) which is woody in nature, is very pours and malleable therefore accepts various finishes of paint, varnish or lacquer extremely well. 

c) This type of material does well outdoors (with certain limitations) and even better indoors.  

Some disadvantages of the Rattan material:
Rattan due to its woody nature will have the tendency to fade and loose its stability when exposed to constant strenuous changes in outdoor climate. 

Image of a rooted cane stalk

The skin of the cane stalk is mainly used when making outdoor furniture backing and or seating. The core of the cane stalk is mainly moisture filled and therefore enjoyed for its organic tasty sugars and as a tasty sugar filled drink. 

If you look closely at the Rattan and Cane stalk, they have similar yellowish tones. The Rattan stalk however will display a series of spikes along its ridges while the Cane will display a more ridged darker toned (with no spikes). 

Note: Because of the canes natural glossy skin, it does not accept stains, lacquer or paint very well. Therefore make sure that you are completely pleased with the purchase of this type of furniture which incorporates cane backing or seating weave into their finished product.  

Here is a tip !  In laymen terms, when you heir the word wicker, this is a clue that the furniture may be built using materials that are distinct in nature (synthetic and or natural).  Rattan furniture is typically EXCLUSIVE in nature and will only be built using this robust,versatile and beautiful Rotan woody stalk . Rattan is not Wicker and hence Wicker is not Rattan.

Image result for bamboo
Bamboo is a natural material and tends to resemble rattan therefore when shopping for outdoor furniture many uninformed shoppers will easily mistake the two. Bamboo may also have a glossy outer skin but one major distinction is its hollow inner core. 

The ridges of the bamboo stalk is also much more pronounced than that of the rattan. Because bamboo is much less dense, it's not used as framework for furniture, as it is used mainly for weaving and or strengthening the joint area of wicker furniture. 

Furniture built with bamboo material also tends to do well in the outdoors as long as it is kept away from the constant direct sunlight and rain. 

Resin (Synthetic or Natural)

About 99% of the manufactured Wicker furniture on the market these days are made of the synthetic version of this material. 

Resin or (Synthetic Wicker Fiber) to be specific is one of the most resistant materials used to build outdoor furniture. 

Some Advantages of resin furniture are its ability to take on the wrath of nature by being fade resistant and highly durable. 
resin wicker furniture is also very easy to clean and is constructed mainly of aluminum frame making it extremely light weight. 

If a quality purchase is made, this can last for decades as it is resistant to fade and cracking. 

Resin furniture can also be refinished by painting it in your favorite shade of color by using a high quality spray paint. This is one advantage I am actually grateful for, as I would show you our Refinished Wicker Outdoor Furniture we decided to use for the indoors. 

Above is an example of a wicker furniture built with different materials such as Bamboo (curved back frame) Resin (laced backing and under seating) with some aluminum framing (bottom of the seating) and hardwood legs. Because of the fabric cushion and hardwood legs, this type of combined material wicker furniture will be mainly for indoor use or in an enclosed patio or sun room.  

Note: When purchasing resin wicker furniture be sure to purchase one of quality High Density Polyethylene or (HDPE). Many wicker furniture sold to the public, if not by a reputable retailer may be of very poor quality PVC plastic. 

Above are the two different shades of black by Rust-Oleum ( flat black primer and Metallic Flat Soft Iron) we used to refinish these chairs. 
The flat black primer was used as the main base coat as means of making sure the wicker resin was covered completely. The Metallic Soft Iron was used to give the chair a smoother more glamorous look. 
Even though the Soft Iron is also flat, the Metallic aspect of it will still give a slight overall sheen without the mirror effect.  

An outdoor wicker chair refinished and used indoors

A little close up view of the refinished project.


Outdoor Wicker furniture refinished for indoor use

Outdoor Wicker furniture refinished for indoor use

Outdoor Wicker furniture refinished for indoor use

Above you can see the outcome and new look of this completed 

NoteSome areas of the chair was left with the flat primer as means of giving it a two tone look reflecting both shades. We felt this was the best color shade(s) to use based on the room these would be utilized, where the walls are charcoal grey. 

Please share your thoughts with us on this post. And if you absolutely love 'YOUR' Refinished outdoor furniture project also feel free to share it on our G+ page

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How To: Solutions for Cleaning & Deodorizing your AC Vents and Ducts

By: JoFer Interiors_SMP

Ok, so the seasons are changing and you are planning to clean your vents & ducts. But just where do you start? 
You do your due diligence by searching the web and find numerous companies claiming they will sanitize and disinfect your ductwork for a so called " fraction of the cost". 

Now, pay close attention to the words 'sanitize' and or 'disinfect'. By definition these words require extreme high kill rates and there's no way one can guarantee 100 percent saturation rate. 
Conversely, if the cleaning company is willing to perform a 'before' and 'after' relative test of the amount of pollutants and or saturation rate in the vent air duct systems, then by all means we could give them the benefit of the doubt.  Wouldn't you say so !  

In this tutorial we will simply stick to Solutions for Cleaning & Odorizing/Deodorizing your AC Vents and Ducts. NOT to be confused with sanitizing or disinfecting. 

With that been said, we must assure you that one of the best ways to ensure, or at least maximize the quality of the air in your home is to clean your air vents and air duct system. 
The air vents and ducts in your home collects millions of dust, hair, dirt, pollen particles and other allergens. 

Note: Another tangible benefit of performing a vent and or air duct cleaning, is one you will see on a month to month basis. We are talking about the savings $$ it will bring on heating and air conditioning bills.

Keeping cool, and debris free air flowing into your home is our task at hand for this apartment dweller.
Note: ( We have also placed a short shared video by: "This Old House" to the right of this post.)  arrow, arrows, direction, move, navigation icon

Below are some of the simple items you will need to perform the task:

a) Web Vent Filter pack $2.99
b) Air vent register $8.00(Only if replacing old one).
c) Air freshener of choice ( 'NO' Plug-ins or spray bottles please)
d) Air duct odor neutralizer ( optional )
e) Dust mask & goggles (price depends on quality).
f) Commercial grade Vacuum ( could be rented from hardware store).

Web Filters used in AC Vents

Here is a 12 pack of 4" X 12" Vent Filters purchased at a local hardware store. These are inexpensive an rather efficient. As you can probably already see on the packaging, these can filter out Dust, Dirt, Smoke and Pollen particles by means of Electrostatic Filtration. 

Web Filters used in AC Vents

This is the back side of the filter packaging with brief installation instructions on placement. 

Web Filters used in AC Vents

This is what these filters look like out of the bag. Same texture on both sides. 

AC Vent register

A 12" X 6" ceiling and or wall vent register with directional air control knob that will allow you to point the flow of air or close completely. Even though this is not considered or sold as air tight vents, it will restrict about 99% of flow. 

Note: These registers come in numerous sizes and shapes. Simply take a look around your home ( walls, floors, ceilings ). 

Web Filter installed into AC Vent register

A view of the vent register from the back. 

Essential Oil used to create an air freshner

Here is an example of an oil used to create the concoction that we will then use to saturate the web filters. These essential oils obviously come in various scents. for this particular tutorial, we went with peppermint  for the bathroom vents.  

Some of the items you will need are:
a) small spritzer bottle 
b) a carrier oil. In this case we used plain odorless baby oil. 
c) essential (scented) oil.

Note: Since this is a project for the AC vents, you may not want to use coconut oil. Coconut oil tends to solidify at low temperatures. 

Proceed by filling the spritzer bottle with the desired amount of carrier oil and a few drops of the scented oil and shake.
Take a sniff at the concoction and determine if scent is pleasing enough to your liking.  
Then spray the web vent filters generously and let them sit in a sealed zip lock bag for at least 3 days prior to placing them into the vent register.

You may also chose to only use the web filters and omit the scented oil completely. The choice is yours. 

Web Filter installed into AC Vent register

Web Filter installed into AC Vent register

A view of the web filter being installed from behind the vent register. For this step you will have to use two 4" X 12" filters for the standard vent register size. You will be left with a 2 inch gap on one side of the register. 

To resolve this issue, simply cut a third filter to size in order to fill this gap space. 

Web Filter installed into AC Vent register

Another close up view of filters fed almost all the way through the register. 

A look into the creepy crawly vents. 

Note: (WARNING) Please make sure that prior to removing the old registers form your vents, remember to turn he AC dial to the OFF position. 

Commercial grade Wet & Dry Vac

Wet & Dry Vac that can be purchased or rented from many local hardware and home improvement stores. 

Woman cleaning an AC Duct & Vents

The wet and dry vacuums will be equipped with a generous variety of extension nozzles hoses and brushes. 

Note: VERY IMPORTANT ! When vacuuming the ducts, do not use harsh strokes on the walls, ceilings, or floors. Some ducts of older homes may be lined with fiberglass insulation liner. If this fiberglass if compromised, it may cause this debris to be blown into your living area. If not sure on how this looks like, view here for some images on fiberglass duct lining. 

(These may be foil wrapped with a yellow or bluish/grey glass fibers.)

If you notice signs of deterioration in your duct,('ONLY' applicable to fiberglass linings) or have concerns about possible issues with your air duct liner (NOW is the time to contact your landlord and or an air duct professional).   

There are other great alternatives to ensure the continuous scent of pleasant smelling air into your home. You can achieve this by using products such as the one above (Glade solid gels). We placed this glades deodorizer inside the duct.

This is a perfect alternative considering that you can regulate how much scent you want these to release by simply exposing a small portion of it. (If you have never used these before, simply twist the cap clockwise and lift until the chosen amount of gel is exposed

What if I just want an odorless system ?

If you are not a fan of odors and potpourris, then you may also have the option of using Air Duct products that neutralize harsh scents that may be stubbornly stuck to your duct system. Products like the DIVERSITECH Duct-Fresh Gel claim to be nontoxic with no dyes and meets residential and commercial ductwork specifications. 
Cleaning Air Ducts and Vents followed by using Quality AC HVAC Filters. A Must ! 

AC Filter classification for AC Unit

Filter (a) Standard / MERV- FPR 4

AC Filter classification for AC Unit

Filter (b) MERV- FPR 7

AC Filter classification for AC Unit

Filter (c) Best / MERV-FPR 10 

These are a few of the filters you may see sold in your local home improvement stores. Note the texture and the different shapes of the web on these filters. Many times the feel alone will be a tale, tale sign on the quality of these filters. 
The ratings of these filters are usually stated as MERV or FPR and will range from Fair/Standard, Good and Best

Lets take a closer look at these
when considering air conditioning filters for your home, keep in mind they are classified by categories through the MERV rating and or some type of numerical standard like . This will all depend on the brand furnished by your vendor.  
Filters belonging to the MERV/ FPR 4-5 rating trap larger particles (Dust / Pollen) and have a standard efficiency. 
MERV / FPR 7-8 filter is useful for pet owners and will also filter some bacteria and mold spores. MERV/ FPR 9-10 and above ratings are reserved for those filters with households whom member(s) may suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses. 

Filter (a) Fair: This type of filter is one you would mostly find if you are a renter. Your leasing office may have these changed in your unit on a set day each month. 
This filter does very poorly with regards to smaller airborne particles such as pollen, smoke, fungal spores, etc.

Filter (b) Good to Best: This type of filter is the norm in many cases. It's fairly rigid and does a good job with small (Pollen) to large (Dust) air borne particle. But  Not as good for Fungal Spores and other smaller particles.  

Filter (c) Better to Recomended: Prior to taking much more interest in the air we breathed in our home. I did not pay much attention to types of filters. 
My overall understanding was, well, a filter is just a filter Right.. WRONG
These bad boys are the cream of the crop. These ( MERV 9-10 or FPR 9-10) filters would go as far as trapping very small particles such as Smoke, Mold, Bacterium, Viruses and even Pet odor

Just ponder for a while on how small an odor particle must be  

The overall cleanliness of the AC unit closet area is also crucial to the performance and resulting quality of the air indoors. 
It is an astonishing surprising fact that many home owners or even renters completely miss this area of their dwelling place when performing their home maintenance duties.   

Conclusion: As you shop around for services consider the task at hand and whether what you are being offered is indeed what you will get. Be educated and informed in your decision.  
Cleaning your duct-work  'alone' is not going to create the maximal impact. 
A professional knows that an annual maintenance on your 'entire' system including the air handler is also crucial to your systems overall well-being. Conversely if you have the time and enough " elbow grease " as they say, then this is also a practical money saving D.I.Y task.  

In other Words: An Efficient AC Unit + Quality Filters and a little air duct/vent "elbow grease" = Cleaner Air Ducts&Vents / Better smelling quality air & a cleaner Home. 

Please share you thoughts on this post. And if you have other useful hints on keeping "YOUR" breathable space made perfect, please share.